Sunday, July 10, 2005


One of the things that they do not teach in Library School is math. Many a librarian I have met have said one of the "draws" to the field is the fact that no math is required to get into Library School. I know it was for me.

This is why it is incredibly important for me to convey something to all librarians, and librarians-to-be MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT. Maybe the fact that my library has an accounting department reflects the fact I live in a major metropolitan area, perhaps you are in charge of finances, perhaps your manager is, perhaps your director is. My story does not change for you. Make friends with this person or persons!! Its amazing what can happen when you are friends or are friendly with the accounting department.

Case point & example: Branch manager of a large regional division of the library needs to get hold of a purchase order & original req. for money, dating back to November of 2004. She is not able to do this because of the red tape and bureaucracy involved. She calls me, the stylish, cute, and somewhat debonair person that I am. I call my contact in accounting. She locates, and prints out both for me. I scan them. I e-mail them to the branch manager, 10 minutes later.

Why wasn't she able to do this? She had not woo'ed the accounting department. My first week, I baked cookies for the Accounting Department secretary. When I drop off forms for accounting, I say hello to everyone by name. I made appointments with the chief financial officer and his second in charge to be trained on our accounting soft-ware. I have little chats with the departmental administrative staff, and ask after their cats and mothers. All important stuff, they don't teach this in Grad School.

When educators go to Grad School, they are taught to write lesson plans. When medical students intern, they learn to keep stat charts. Librarians are not taught a lick about balancing budgets, or "projecting monies" needed for the following fiscal year. All of this results in librarians over spending their accounts, or billing expenses to the wrong object code in the accounting software, if the librarian can use it at all. We must become budget savvy if we are to keep our libraries afloat. I'm one to talk...I could sweat through a tweed jacket just trying to balance my cheque book. But I've made the effort to win over the accounting department, so now they do it for me.

Its amazing how a perpetually naive grin, a properly placed loose strand of hair, and a stylish ability to lean on a counter with a pencil behind my left ear can win over an accountants heart. Ladies, a little decolletage might help here too. (not too much mind you, it may become an HR issue...)

It is also essential to deliver the line "I don't know how I would have done this without you...." with aplomb and expertly feigned relief. Accounting will take care of you if you feed them properly.

Moral of this blog: Have you hugged your accountant lately?

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