Some of you will be aware that I have recently been undertaking a rather large task - that of reorganising the library of knitting guild.
It is not, as libraries go, that large. It has around five hundred books.
It has still been a big job. All we had before was an out of date list of books. I kept adding to that. I had roughly divided the books into categories - something the previous "librarian" had not done. She was a lovely person with, as she freely admitted to me, "no library skills". Now she is no longer with us I feel free to do more.
I knew more needed to be done. We have younger members now and they use the library more than the older members. They are also more computer literate, more likely to find information and more likely to ask, "Have we got a book about?"
I know the stock well. I am familiar with the content of the books. It is my job to know these things.
It is also my job to organise the library, a means of finding the information it contains, a borrowing system, the acquisition of new books etc.
I don't mind doing these things. It is my contribution to the group. If you belong to a group you should contribute in some way. I can't do "door duty" as other responsibilities mean I can never get there early enough. I can't do kitchen duty because it means carrying thinks that can be dropped and broken or which leave liquids across the floor. So, I do the library.
People do door duty in twos. They do kitchen duty in two or more. Several people will put away the chairs and trestle tables.
So, why won't people help with the library? Now I hasten to add that I did get some wonderful help from four people - one of them the man who is the "key-holder" for the hall and who never borrows a book - for a day when we did a lot of the work on reorganising the library.
But I needed a bit more help than that. There was a job I simply couldn't do myself. I changed the borrowing system to make it easier for everyone to know what was in and what was out. It is a little old-fashioned as we don't have the capacity to have a computer based system but it will work. It means writing a card for each book.
That's around five hundred cards that need to be written. They need to be written legibly.
I tried to make it simple. I bought a box of cards. I bought pens. I printed off the catalogue.
At the meeting, after talking to the President, I got up and asked for some help. Would some volunteers please take a sheet and help by printing the name of the book on the card? The books can then go in envelopes stuck in the back of the book.
I explained it was a job I could not do myself. I can sign my name but I rarely write anything else. I don't have the necessary manual dexterity to write well. I'd love to be a calligrapher but I'm not and nothing is going to make me into one.
Yes, I got some volunteers - people who know me well and knew that the request was made of necessity, not laziness.
But someone close by where I was standing muttered, "If you can't do it yourself then don't ask us."
I wondered if I had misheard but it seems not. She complained I couldn't do the job "properly". Did she want to do the job herself? No, she is "too busy". It "just needs someone who can do the job properly".
I am still not sure what this means but apparently it is wrong to ask for help.
My thanks to those who volunteered anyway. I really appreciated it.