Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Seasonal mulling...

I love mulled wine and this is definitely the season for it. This last term has been a 'mulling' sort of term, with slightly less on my plate than the previous months and opportunities to think and strategise.  I've found that it's possible to drink quite a lot of mulled wine without ill-effect; on the other hand I think that there may have been an over-indulgence in thinking.
Ingredients for mulled wine: (according to BBC Good Food website)
  • 1 bottle red wine (I never use my best wine - any old thing will do)
    You can't have mulled wine without the red wine -other ingredients may come and go but red wine is a pre-requisite. Vision is a pre-requisite for running a library, whatever the size. Unlike mulled wine any old thing simply won't do. But, just like mulled wine, the vision or strategy that you adopt may be very different to the one that your counterpart down the road adopts. Why? Because the population you serve is not the same as them. Why, for example, would you adopt the policies set up for an Engineering Library when you run an English Literature Library?
  • 60g/2oz demerara sugar (a better flavour than white sugar I think)
    Sweetners do work a treat in mulled wine. One of the greatest sweetners in the workplace is communication. We all do it, we all fail at it, we all assume that we have used it, and we all need to think harder than ever about who, what, when, where and why in our communication efforts. Both with our colleagues and our users. 
  • 1 cinnamon stick (the best ingredient ever)
    This really hits the spot in mulled wine. In fact anything with cinnamon in it has my vote. It just adds an indefinable something to mulled wine.  It's useful having staff with that indefinable something! It may not be something that you can define - there is just something that 'clicks'. It might be their personality or skills, or a whole host of other things. But life would be worse without them!
  • grated nutmeg (mmmmm)
    Spices - best grated. I'm thinking 'grated nerves' at this point which perhaps isn't the most encouraging thought. Libraries at the moment can create stress and tension. We don't earn our income in the way that we would like to. We are allocated income and despite managing it as well as we can, and providing as much impact data as we can to prove our worth, we still find ourselves cut - both in resources and staffing. We dare not say that we have been spoilt in the past by the size of our workforce or the apparent never-ending financial resources. Whatever the situation, we are not enjoying the level of tension that the process of whittling down our services is creating.
  • 1 orange, halved (nice big juicy orange is lovely)
    Fruit is good for you - you can get one of your five-a-day by drinking mulled wine! Work is good for us, but we really do need to take a closer look at what we do and why we do it. Which of our procedures are ones that we are just doing for the sake of it? Laura Woods wrote a great article in the recent Update and challenged readers to think about changing our procedures or shifting our processes to machinery ot other support workers. Lets critically evaluate what we do. It's good for us!
  • 1 dried bay leaf
    Don't ususlly add this myself, but am willing to be persauded. Odd things do work in libraries - and sometimes the very best is the serendipitous application of 'a' to 'b' that suddenly works! I think of bay leaves as possibly a little serendipitous!
  • 60ml/2fl oz sloe or damson gin (optional but very nice)
    One of the very hardest things to do at the moment when there is so much going on professionally (and never before has there been so many ways to tell people everything you are doing!) is to stand back and opt not to join the current bandwagons, either personally in your own CPD, or for your current workplace. We do have a tendency to argue that we must look at the next and best thing - for the sake of our users. But is it really? And how much are we really reflecting and evaluating what we look at. Perhaps there are some things that sometimes we need to say 'no' to. These might include the latest gimmick in social media, or it might be an invitation to do something, or it might even be deciding that your service does not need to blindly go down a particular alley but stay firmly middle of the road.


mullingpresent participle of mull (Verb)

  1. Think about (a fact, proposal, or request) deeply and at length: "she began to mull over the various possibilities".
  2. Warm (a beverage, esp. wine, beer, or cider) and add spices and sweetening to it
At any rate have a wonderful Christmas and New year vacation time


  1. You put this very well, a timely reminder. Cheers!

  2. Great seasonal reflective post

  3. Absolutely spot on Libby, as always!
    Happy Xmas!

  4. We had a story-telling at home last night, w. mulled wine, & I read this piece there. It went down well.