It's not possible to go into a school without seeing a sign which points to the office of the Janitor. The title of Janitor has, really come into being within the last ten to twenty years, as previously the school Janitor was always referred to as "The Caretaker".
The caretaker's tiny cubbyhole was crammed with "stuff" from top to bottom - stuff which would gather dust even after the caretaker had left his employment. Having said all that, it was remarkable the items could be found when the necessity arose. The caretaker could always put his hands on anything - if any child had been naughty and had to spend the next playtime picking litter - the litter picker was instantly found.
Gradually over the years the caretaker has been replaced by the Janitor. This new breed has an office, complete with desk, chair and comfortable armchair, together with a store cupboard - actually, quite a large room - which is where all machines and consumables are kept. There are many keys to different cupboards which are all neatly labelled - one huge cabinet is filled with toilet rolls, another cupboard has several different signs showing "chemicals" and yet another shows many different types of gloves.
The name of Janitor implies an altogether tidier person who has a place for everything, and everything in its place! That can't be a bad thing particularly when it comes to the storing of chemical cleaners. The modern Janitor is totally aware of health and safety issues, which is vitally important, particularly in an environment which caters for the needs of children. The Janitor may have a couple of assistants to help in the cleaning of classroom floors and the electric floor polishers help to speed the job up. There are also safety signs which can show that the floors are wet, and these too comply with health and safety regulations.
Nowadays there is need to remove graffiti on a regular basis and there are chemical cleaning products which assist in making the task a little quicker. The Janitor's store room is where safety equipment and first aid kits can be found. The modern Janitor is involved with many school related projects and the role is much more integrated than the caretaker job, which was often on a part-time basis.
The Janitor is responsible for all cleaning materials including vacuum cleaners, polishers and brushes and brooms. Additionally they are totally in charge of ordering the cleaning consumables which will be used throughout the school. They are involved with stock control and in some instances have a completely separate budget.
The Janitor is a person in a school or college around which many other roles revolve. When there is a need for light bulbs, paper towels in the cloakrooms or a sink has become blocked, it's the janitor who resolves the problem. It is a responsible position and over the last couple of decades it has been proved that it requires a motivated person, who is able to multi-task, to fulfil this role.
Whatever is needed in any given situation, the Janitor will be there, supplying various bits of equipment and quietly getting on with the job. From the original brief of a caretaker, this new position bears no resemblance at all.