Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cleaning, Spring

Spring cleaning. On this first day of Spring, could there be two words that could make one happier? Perhaps Macy's Sale, Bow Tie, or Russian Blue - but those perhaps are only words that would delight me.

Spring cleaning, as any good librarian knows, is not confined solely to ones home. It also applies to the workplace.

And while one is tempted to remind the custodial staff of this grand task, it is my self imposed duty to remind you, gentle reader, that it is time to say out with the old and out with more old.

I can imagine clenched fists, firmly set jaws and the occasional roll of the eye. Though this may be genetic, as I've met several people with eyes that wander, or roll without any particular reason evident.

"WDL, how to I know where to begin?" you ask. Quite conversationally, it would be my advice to start in the place you use most. Perhaps for some of you - this is your office, while others may become excited that I mean their kitchens. And nothing is as rewarding as a clean space. So for the time being, let your maids have the day off - and pull up your yellow rubber gloves. It is time to start the spring cleaning.

Signs that you are in your "most used space"

When you enter this space, you are comfortable. You have your coffee here, you keep an extra pair of shoes here. You may even have little boxes of chocolates in the drawers of this space. To begin, you must assess the situation. Using my standards, of course you should begin cleaning here. And I am unanimous.

To begin, you should have a box labeled "to do", a box labeled "done" and a rubbish bin. If done properly, most of it should end up in the rubbish bin. Or recycling bin, if you are expertly efficient. Give yourself a time limit. 20 minutes. Sort with your first instinct. If you don't know if you are working on something, chances are you aren't, and won't for a while.

The bonus of Spring is that it lasts for several weeks. This gives you ample opportunity to get into the corners often neglected during your daily routine.

Why stop at your desk? Co-workers who are off for the day, or on vacation are excellent candidates for your help. I'm sure they would be pleased if you made their spaces look as tidy as yours. After all, a clean desk means an organized mind. Again, I'll stress that you all agree. Lots of clean desks just show how organized your mind really is. An additional perk is that it is sure to spark conversation with your office mates. They may feign indignance, but I assure you - it is only a clever playground trick to make you have a nice cup of tea with them. Maybe even some small biscuits.

Once you have filled up your recycling bin, and sorted your whatnot, this is the perfect opportunity to bleach your desk. Nothing says I've cleaned my office like the smell of bleach. Often, it can be found in the custodial cupboards . I know you have access to them because we've all cleaned up vomit, or a powder room messes at some point in our illustrious career's. You can use papertowel, or cut up that county crazy quilt that has been hanging on the wall for years. No one will miss it, and they will all be happy the office is tidy.

Leaving post it notes for the custodial staff to wash your trash bin with soap and hot water will round out your office cleaning adventure. Your custodial staff will appreciate the fact that you acknowledge and recognize the importance of their jobs. You may even want to leave a few coupons for ammonia or floor wax for them. Nothing says "I'm thinking of you & bully for a job well done" like a well written note on office stationery. Really, it IS the details that matter. I feel silly even reminding you of these things.

Removing books from the shelves for the pages to dust is also another thoughtful gesture. Common sense dictates that we start in the most heavily used areas of the collection. Customers won't mind searching through carts of 700's and 800's with the knowledge that the shelves are being washed, and polished. If you have the time, finding an extension cord for the Hoover, and leaving it in the stacks just ices the cake. One must think of the public while Spring Cleaning.

And while you are in the stacks, a good weed couldn't hurt either. After all, it is less for the pages to put back. Tidy stacks are happy stacks I always think. Be sure to take the carts immediately down to Cataloging for them to discard. I find it best to attach a quick note with ribbon to each of the carts I take down. This not only ensures that the note will stay in place, but the aesthetic value is beyond words. I once saw our cataloger weeping when I brought down just two carts. It warmed my heart to know she was so moved.

There are other projects one can take the lead on - steaming the public furniture, polishing door knobs, and refreshing the paper shredder with perfume samples from the magazines. There is nothing quite like a paper shredder that smells like roses on a warm summer day.

Another helpful project is collecting all of the rubber stamps and soaking them in a simple solution of rubbing alcohol and water. While they should soak for a few days, you may see colleagues grabbing them out - circulation staff have been so surprised that I've done this for them in the past that they have taken to putting them all in a locked drawer. Kind of them really to put them all in one place for me!

And who can clean properly when the windows are closed, and the blinds are drawn? No one! Open them all up, and set to work. One must make the most of their off desk time, and nothing leaves you feeling quite so rewarded as productivity.

If the spirit moves you, head straight into the staff lounge. Cleaning out an icebox can really improve staff morale. You should see the looks of surprise when they open the door to the icebox! I've seen many leave quickly, and share the news with other coworkers. While the freezer is defrosting, this frees up time to wash staff mugs and toss any that are cracked or permanently stained. Putting them back on the shelves in color order reminds them that they work in a library. Crack out that label maker to let the staff know where their freshly cleaned bits of crockery are: Cleaning People, Paraprofessionals, and Professional Staff a.k.a LIBRARIANS. Do capitalize librarians to stress the importance. Add italics if you feel the need - and of course place them in order of authority.

With all the extra room you've created in the shelves, you are saying "We have room to grow." Your message will be loud and clear that you are a team player AND tidy!

With the custodial staff tasked to all the other details - someone has to take care of the rest. Make yourself that special person.

Moral of this blog: Cleanliness is next to G-dliness.

No comments: