OVERCOMING THE ODDS

The adventures I have had so far while applying for primary employment is far more hilarious than the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn without a negro called Jim’s help during these expeditions. While the course Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies prepares us for librarianship duties such as managing collections, acquisition, and spaces, organizing events, workshops or programs, circulation and cataloguing using the myriad Library Management Systems available on the market and using the most effective technology for data collection, analyzing, reporting and usage statistics. Modern day demands have given rise to many specialist librarians’ positions; hence, without extensive research, it is impossible to draft a killer ‘essential criteria’ for the advertised position. I have gone to comic lengths to retrieve precise information for the purpose from scholarly or reliable sources. If those efforts are vanquished, then I have opted for demo videos or video tutorials to develop knowledge or understanding about a specific field.         

I am going to skip my previous escapades and fast forward the entry to Home Library Services which is one of the outreach programs gaining much attention these days. For those who are clueless about Home Library services, it is a service that connects the library resources with the infrequent library users and non-users in a variety of ways, which could be a long term or short-term service to those who are ill or disabled and are unable to visit the library until they recover from their temporary illness or injury. Such services cannot exist without volunteers who are bilingual or multilingual and who deliver large print, audio, and e resources in varied community languages to the elderly, the temporarily ill, or full-time carers taking care of the injured. To run a successful Home Library Service (HLS), it is necessary for all involved to develop an understanding of the elderly or frail or disabled community through observations – that they are absent minded, slow, hard to convince or stubborn, short-tempered, have poor eyesight or hearing abilities etc. HLS do not restrict their resources to the individual’s houses but extends it to hostels, nursing homes and hospitals, often in the bulk.

It is interesting to learn about the eligibility processes new clients opting for Home Library Services go through such as doctor certificate or referrals from community organizations, interviews during which staff gather information about the type of resources, the quantity of items, preferred genres, subjects, and emergency contact person’s details, a new volunteer’s allocation and a regular delivery day’s finalization as per their geographic location, creation of patron profiles with regular updates based on new information or feedback obtained while maintaining confidentiality, and organizing different delivery methods. Delivery could take the form of visits to individuals with staff selected items for delivery or with a larger selection of items from which the individual chooses at their residences or at a day-care establishment where a nominator is responsible for the delivery on behalf of the establishment in vehicles modified as per Occupational Health and Safety guidelines. It is important to ensure that the modified vehicle has a PC, workstation, shelving areas, delivery containers, trolley, phone, mobile telephone, protective clothing, photo ID for staff and volunteers for security purposes, and that they have completed the mandatory training required, etc.  It is important to check if electrical equipment such as CD players, DAISY players or other equipment are damaged and hence its testing, checking the working environments and tagging, regular inspection to identify deterioration in equipment are mandatory.   

So far, I have been focusing on the efficient running of HLS. What could go wrong if a HLS staff is not organized and thorough and for some reason has overlooked an issue or two? Would it lead to disastrous consequences? The answer is yes. It could lead to a dog chasing the staff or volunteer; the client failing to remember the delivery day and not giving the staff access to the property; walking into establishments and finding the client dead; tripping, slipping or falling because of obstacles in the pathway; being forced to administer First Aid or CPR until help arrives; client accusing the staff or volunteer of stealth or assault which could lead to investigations; staff entering the property unaccompanied could be attacked; behaviour of clients could be unpredictable;  vehicle could break down on the way; contraction of or passing of contagious diseases etc.   

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While it is a relief to know that well-thought-out policies that could prevent such mishaps from occurring exist, and even if such hazards do happen, the staff would know what needs to be done and how to handle such situations best. Armed with a wealth of information on HLS, I drafted and submitted the application, and like all optimistic candidates, I am keeping my fingers crossed until I make it to the next stage. Should I be concerned or be happy if I make it to the interview stage?

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