Librarian Friend OR Librarian Liability?

I have a lot of problems with things, rules, structures, hierarchies, authorities, etc. It’s not that I’m an anarchist or anything, there needs to be some sort of organizing factor to people, some baseline stuff so we don’t just rape plunder and pillage like the days of the pirates. But sometimes in libraries or more generally in life these rules/policies/structures don’t make sense to me, so I step around them. Why? Because I can, and because I think that helping people connect with the information they need to better themselves is my first priority here at the library. Connecting with people and helping them better themselves, in general, seems like an awfully sound purpose in life overall. The city government I work for may not think so, they have bigger interest in mind, themselves and their liabilities, etc. The eternal clashing of humanity vs. law suits vs. government vs. corporate interest, I feel this SO MUCH these days.

Today a very polite young man approached me rather shyly at the ref desk and asked if we give all kinds of information, not just about books. I said, sure, try me. He asked me if emancipated minors were able to get their Driver’s License. I said it was a good question, and we found the info on the DMV website on what he needed to have in order to get a license under 18 w/o the parental consent.

I dug a little deeper here to make sure everything was OK, like the stuff at home wasn’t getting too dark. He opened up a little bit, about his parents not allowing him certain freedoms, him paying them for things and not getting them, etc. Another case of teenage angst, so familiar.

Either way this boy was in a pickle. He needed to go online to search for and apply to jobs. Something that would be able to move him forward in life, problem is, he had a juvenile card that didn’t have internet access and the only way to add it would be through his parents, who he currently wasn’t getting along with. I thought for him, can you go to your schools library? YES, but its summer and he isn’t back until end of August. Sometimes academic libraries have free internet access, but he doesn’t have a car or a way to get around easily. Dang.

So, for today, I logged him into the computer using my card and let him search for jobs online. Was this against “policy”? Yes. Could I get fired for this? Um, maybe? (More likely a good write up, gee I hope my bosses don’t read this blog)  But do I stand by my choice? Yes. We make judgment calls every day here at the public, it’s all very situational to me. This kid had nobody to talk to about what he was going through and no way to access the tools he needed. I told him that I wasn’t supposed to be doing it, and that others would probably not let him, but he should try to make friends and see if they would too. I told him that life is all about having friends, and these friends will get you through the hard times when you feel like you are struggling and feel blocked in or trapped. I wanted to be a friend to him. I suppose I did give him some advice as well, about the fact that he was 16, so two years wasn’t too far away and that he was almost there anyways, and then some tips on where to look for jobs.

I was able to help him out today, at least in a very minor way. He left me a copy of his resume, and I’ll see if there is any place I could think of that may be good for him to apply. What really got me at the end was the note he left me. It reminded me why I stick my neck out to help people help themselves when they are in honest need of it, and why I will never stop doing so.

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Now, I do think that he has a lot to learn and some of that may come the hard way if he does go the emancipation route. I don’t think we will be roommates (that was adorbs), BUT sometimes it really can feel like you can’t find a friend, and man is that a feeling I know all too well. It’s a big world out there full of no and can’t and won’t and sorry I’d like to… but. It can make you feel really small.

How is this relevant to my life this week? Well, I ran into an instance where I asked my supervisor at the city for a reference for a job application. She denied it, saying she had to forward the request to HR and they would give a letter only stating that I was employed there and my dates of employment, nothing to the effect of my character. Basically, meaning that now my app would be incomplete, so I’ll have to explain myself on that one and find another reference. I’m very naive about these kind of things, I thought the point WAS to get references from your supervisors, but “city policy” won’t allow it? What if this were my only job, how else would I be able to get references to apply anywhere else? Well, it’s also up to the individual, she could have answered the email and nobody would have known, but I guess it just wasn’t worth it to her and I suppose. Which, again is fine, some people are policy followers and these kinds of things make sense to them.

I talk with my trusted friends here, and they tell me they have all been there before, it’s not news to them. I just wish we could change from a culture of being so afraid of one another and being so worried about covering our own behinds, to one that goes out of our way to help one another and not always assumes the worst. It just feels like butting up against a rock and a hard place in terms of change, but maybe slowly it will happen.

Crush like it’s 1999

It’s Tuesday evening, and tonight in the tech center we are visited by the haunting drums of ancient Mexico. Yes, it’s the mall’s summer outdoor concert series featuring world music that takes place right outside the center’s thin windows. There’s chanting, a strong solid drum beat, and dancers with headdresses. The whole thing is quite hypnotizing and beautiful. I don’t know how the tech patrons really feel about it, but at least it’s drowning out the sound of RATT’s greatest hits, which the newest drifter addition to the tech center patronage is listening to loudly on cheap earphones in the front row. He does this really great thing where it takes him several minutes to settle into his computer, including banging the keyboard around, turning it upside down, lifting and lowering it on the base of the computer multiple times, shifting around his personal belongings in the small space, hanging his hat on different corners of the monitor. He’s actually listening to Iron Maiden right now while searching for telemarketing jobs on craigslist… Maybe he’s not as off as he seems….

Anyhow, I’ve been spinning my wheels so much on this job hunting spiel that I forgot to keep doing what I love to be doing, which is of course finding strange library books and talking about them. I was early to the public today so I went undercover as a patron with headphones on and cruised the stacks. Why have I never done this before in my four years here? I went up and down the adult fiction and non-fiction aisles just browsing like I had nowhere that I needed to be. Here at the public we have end caps where we turn some books cover facing out to “merchandise” or advertise them so that patrons may be more apt to check them out. We are told to put books with catchy covers, or relevant topics. So I was surprised to see this one from “The Need to Know Library” entitled: Everything You Need to Know about Dating and Relationships. It has a wonderful romantic stock photo from what looks like the early 90’s on the cover, and so many fun headings and pictures throughout, I had to pick it up and read it for myself.

book cover

I’m no Casanova myself, so why not take in the ancient wisdom of this dating book while dating was still a real world thing and didn’t exist solely in some swiping app, or perverse supermarket of catchy profile names, bad pick-up lines, over flattering angles and cropped profile pics.

The first picture in the book says “Dating can be confusing and unsettling” (Hovanec, 2000).

book pic

Well you got that right sister. Also, please note the amazing corded 90’s phone/answering machine. The one thing I have noted in non-fiction books is that the stock photos used are usually about a decade behind the release date, although there are many 90’s features, the book was actually released in 2000. Come to find though, 17 years later this caption is more relevant than ever.

The chapters include: To date or not to date? Crushes, flirts, and other scary things. Getting Started: making a date. What is a relationship, anyway? Dating smarts and safety. Getting serious: beyond dating. And finally, When it’s over: breaking up. So this book runs the gamut from dating start to finish.

Reading through it is the normal kinds of stuff, no means no, don’t get drunk or high on dates, communicate, and feel free to kiss on the first date if you feel comfortable with it. There are no rules! One of my favorite parts is when the author describes that moment, you know that moment when you undeniable have…. A CRUSH.

It always happens when you least expect it. There you are minding your own business, and you look up and see Him. Or maybe you’re hanging out with your friends and suddenly She walks by. Time stops, and the world around you fades away. That’s it—you have a crush. (Hovanec, 2000)

This book was for sure meant for a teenager about 20 years ago, the dramatic nature of the description of a crush says it all. Time stops, literally stops, the 14 year old girl in me is definitely enjoying this. I love finds like this, it allows you to take a peek into how much our culture and customs have changed in such a short period of time. If the people in this book only knew about bumble or tinder…..

Hovanec, E. (2000). Everything you need to know about: dating and relationships. New York: Rosen Publishing.

The Discomfort Zone

It’s Sunday, my summer day off, and instead of blogging from the library as I usually do I am blogging from the comfort of my own couch while I re-watch season six of Game of Thrones and have a series of mini heart attacks. Life has been quite chaotic lately, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting my self-imposed duties as a z list blogger. Well If I don’t give myself the job, nobody will, so I should keep it up.

What’s been keeping me so busy you ask? Well that Skype interview I had about a month moved me on to second round, which in the world of academic librarianship is a big to do. So what, a second interview, what’s the big deal? I already work at an academic library, but I’m only part time, I’m staff not faculty, and the hiring process for part time people is nowhere near as intensive as the hiring process for a full-time librarian.

Most Universities will do a national search, meaning they look at the best applicants from all over the country, and will usually select a pool for a first video chat or phone interview. After the first round (some may have more this is just my experience so far) they will invite a few to the campus for a second all day interview process. This is my first time doing the big all day one, although I have a couple of friends who have done it multiple times. There are even some horror stories of being picked up from the airport by other library staff and whisked immediately to dinner with everybody, no downtime to clean yourself up or take a rest. It seems intense, but I guess it’s what you make of it.

The interview itself involves meeting basically everybody in the library, campus tours, library tours, a workshop or presentation that the applicant gives, a sit down with the dean and the associate dean (the higher ups), a short talk with HR and what I can only assume is a whole lot of repeating yourself, smiling, and just hoping that the day would end. There is an actual interview schedule which I got emailed a couple of weeks ago, times, places to be. Think of how nervous you are in a job interview (most last an hour or so) then stretch that out to 8 hours, then add to the mix that you are in a strange place, a city far from home and probably sleeping in a hotel with no knowledge of the city. At least here it’s in my very own home town, so I feel like I have a bit of an advantage. Not in the sense that I think I stand a better chance of getting it simply because I live close by, but in the sense that I know the turf, I know the city and the campuses like the back of my hand because I’ve lived here my whole life, so that aspect of the nerves gets to fall away. It’s a smart process because if you are going to choose somebody to join your team you really need to get to know them, especially for distance candidates, you only get one chance to hang out with them, so you should cover all bases.

So I guess long story short, I’ve been a nervous wreck, prepping my workshop, practicing my workshop. Fine tuning my workshop, researching the library vision plan, yearly report, the staff they recently hired and pretty much just freaking the heck out about the whole thing. It has disrupted my world completely, but mainly only because I have let it. From experience, the best way I know to combat nerves is preparation, so it has been getting all my energy. It all goes down tomorrow so at the very least, it will be over and done with and I can return to my regularly scheduled program, at least for a bit. There is a welcome dinner tonight, which shouldn’t be too bad, I think it’s just with 2 ladies from the search committee.

In the meantime, lots has been going on at the U as well, there is a summer lull with the students, but an influx of donations I’ve been copy cataloging and a surprising number of reference questions through the email and chat functions. Over in the public it’s the same old song. So many patrons, not enough staff, a million passports and carts and carts of cataloging for children’s. Busy, busy and more busy.

On the writing front, I’ve obviously NOT been blogging. But I have been trying to submit to more lit mags, so far 2 more rejections, one was a short story and one creative non-fiction, I have one other poetry submit out, so just waiting on that rejection to come through shortly. Had an interesting talk with a friend who is an artist (in sense that he draws, went to art school and has recognizable, measurable talent) and he really said what I did wasn’t poetry but more of a “writing”. Instead of saying I wrote a poem I should just say I wrote something.  It was well intention-ed and a way to change perspective of what it is that comes out of me and lands on paper, but it discouraged me quite a bit. I think I’m seeking validation from others, but I don’t think I will ever get it. Not in the sense that would ever make me feel comfortable anyways. Maybe really putting out your “art” should make you feel uncomfortable, maybe it should make others feel uncomfortable. Discomfort could be an indicator that you are on the right track.

Seeing as how I try to make these entries part life experience/part research I threw a quick google scholar search using “comfort zone” +personal growth to see what was out there. Most of the stuff talks about social justice, and cross-cultural immersion which is very interesting, but what I’m thinking of for my situation focuses more on individual experiences we seek out that can push us into new realms of existing that are less governed by fear. I came across an article Musings on Adventure Therapy by Alvarez & Stauffer which caught my eye. I’ve never heard of adventure therapy, sounds amusing. Reading the article doesn’t give me much so I thought I’d get a background on it.

Turns out that “Adventure Therapy” is a technique to explore both group and individual outcomes after being given challenging tasks in which the outcomes are based on the choices made by the person or group of people making them. Adventure therapy often takes place outdoors, in nature, and consists of games and challenges that are meant to be metaphoric for things we may encounter in everyday life.  According to the Encyclopedia of Counseling most of the evidence to support adventure therapy is anecdotal and there is no well-defined or widely accepted method to implement adventure therapy. (Martin & Ashby, 2008)

I would do it, it sounds interesting. Although I’m more attracted to individual kinds of therapy it may just be because group stuff is new to me. But getting in touch with nature, problem solving, challenging yourself, all sounds good to me. I also found another new concept called ecotherapy in my digging which is equally interesting, but that’s for another day.

It kind of reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer tries to teach Ned how to “live” and they end up marrying cocktail waitresses in Vegas. Reason number 1,432 why I think Homer Simpson is one of the best characters in the history of characters.

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Martin, J. & Ashby, J. (2008). Adventure therapy. In F. T. Leong (Ed.), Encyclopedia of counseling (Vol. 4, pp. 13-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412963978.n4

http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Las_Vegas