Monday, December 11, 2006

Today is a good day to count tiny slips of paper

I love statistics, but I hate gathering them. From hash-marks on a calendar to counting hold slips and carbon copies of request forms, ever since I took over the Reading Room the first day of the month has become invested with a feeling of dread, as this is the day when I must (on top of everything else I'm doing) cull the stats from all our various bins, binders, and doo-dads taped to the desk.

Counting them often takes another week or so -- longer if it's a particularly busy time of the year, as the run-up to the holidays inevitably is at any university. While I try to give myself at least a couple of hours away from the public desk so that I can attend to such matters, recently my afternoons have been taken up by other departmental concerns, with the result that it's taken me ten days to sit down and crunch these blasted statistics.

Part of the problem, of course, is the manner in which the stats are originally collected. Too many historical processes have lead to all of these physical forms of tabulation which are not easily replaced with a digital equivalent. I have done my best to replace unnecessary paper files, but there is a certain critical threshold beyond which I would require significant outside assistance in order to get rid of some of the more outdated methods of statistics-gathering.

Fortunately, the new supervisor seems not only willing to help, but capable of doing so as well. So perhaps my days of counting little slips of paper are numbered! A man with too many paper cuts on his fingers can only hope...

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