Rational vs. Irrational Planning / How I became a Librarian in the first place

I’m trying to make rational plans regarding the fact that I am about to, once again, face a big jump into the great unknown. Now when I say this I mean I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to leave the public once and for all. However, the fact that my small two days a week here basically pays my rent every month is not to be ignored. I remember this feeling, during my first year of grad school, let’s flash back to 2011. (The story of how I became a librarian in the first place).

In 2011 I was working a miserable job in real estate that often left me in tears at the end of the day, which was, what led me to going back to school in the first place. I was doing well in my first year of grad school, but it was hard to juggle working full time and doing a part-time load online through the University. On top of all that I was in a lousy relationship living with somebody who really wasn’t very motivated in any facet of his own life, and frankly, somebody I had no interest in spending my future with. I had been applying for jobs in the library world, all jobs that I could find, and getting rejection letter after rejection letter, after rejection letter.

I was stuck. I spent my days frustrated, angry, irritable, and somewhat hopeless while I plundered on doing all those things daily that I knew were slowly killing me inside. I wanted to do an internship which I felt was so important, since I had no prior library experience, but I couldn’t with my 9-5 M-F gig in hell. So, I kept on, saved all I could, worked my butt off and gave myself enough of a nest egg so that I felt comfortable for a bit launching off into the great unknown (with the backup of student loans if need be), AKA leaving my job without another lined up. In February of 2012, I cut the cord, and celebrated.

Many people in my life told me this was stupid. I even felt like I was a bit stupid myself, but I just knew that I needed to do it. It had never felt so good in my entire life to put in that letter of resignation, I felt so free and hopeful and full of opportunities.

But, my smile didn’t last too long.

It was hard to get a job, very hard in fact. What was nice about it is that I at least had a partner that paid half of the rent. This helped quite a bit and may have been one of the reasons we (both) stayed in a bad relationship for as long as we did. The first summer and fall seemed OK. I enjoyed taking my time with my school work, really absorbing it, being present with my studies, which is what I really wanted in the first place. I got to do an internship in an archive which I am so thankful for.  I eventually found a very small PT gig at (of all places) a synagogue, where I made very little money and even less friends. I kept trying and trying, time went on, I watched my nest egg decrease and man do piles of money burn fast.

Luckily, as the synagogue became less and less of a good gig, I landed a PT job at the public in 2013 (where I am typing this from today, the very seat I started in almost 5 years ago) and I could leave the synagogue and work at the public part time only. Things seemed to be looking up, my coursework was going well, and I was getting actual real life public library experience.

Until I got left suddenly and very out-of-the-blue like by that boyfriend. Now, getting left sucks in and of itself, but the bigger devastation for me here lay in losing half of my rent and household expenses. Sounds like a shitty thing to say, but it’s true. Sometimes in adult land we rely on partners for more than just emotional payments. Things descended a bit from there, yeah, they got a bit dark. I remember a specific night where the cat and I went tumbling upside down when I rolled to the side of the Walmart futon and the weight made it topple over, that may have been the rock bottom. I laughed until I cried in my half-empty apartment. It was quite the ride. I kept on with school, kept my head up, and just tried to make it through living on the tightest of budgets but somehow always squeaking by. That was what 30 looked like for me.

More things happened, more changes. I landed a second part time gig at the U in 2015 where I still am today. I gained another relationship that I had high hopes for, then lost it. I had what was close to an emotional breakdown somewhere in there and began therapy and trying to heal myself. I broke addictions, gained knowledge really dug deep down in there and faced some of those demons I had been carrying around for way too long. (That’s wildly oversimplifying it, but I don’t need to bore you with all those details.)

Through it all I was working 6 days a week, and juggling so many new roles looking back I have no idea how I didn’t completely lose it, but I didn’t. Let me tell you, working six days a week when you live on your own and should do all the house things and try to relax on that ONE day, really catches up to you after 3 years of doing it.

If you follow me at all you will know that I’ve had a lot of failure in the library world these last 3 years, most of them very unforeseen. But it’s also reconnected me to writing, which I’ve been trying to push myself to do these last couple of years. Baby steps are still steps you know, they count.

Now I’m at another crossroads, that is pretty similar to the one I had 6 years ago.  I’m spent. Like totally spent, and I need to take time and focus on things that can move me forward, and open doors for me. I have 3 things. Public, University and Writing.  Out of these 3 the public has become a bit of a dead rot. I can’t move forward in my position, and I no longer find much happiness in being here. Worse, it takes up so much of my time that I have no energy to spend looking for other jobs in either writing or library capacities. I feel like I must let it go. But, this means that I literally will only be making enough money with the one job to feed myself very frugally after bills are paid, and god forbid any craziness is needed like dental work or medical stuff because that would just throw the whole operation for a loop. On the flip side I will have a glorious 3 days off a week to recover from this burnout, write, be productive, and think of my next big life move because well, it’s time.

But I’m scared. What if I can’t make it? What if I don’t? I just don’t think those are options. Why do I never consider the What if I die tomorrow? Fear is the number one reason I would think with money being a close second that I don’t do SO many things in my life. FEAR. Just plain old fear. I think about the things I can’t buy like any new clothes or frivolities like smell good candles or massages, all these things I’m able to do now to try to quell the misery that the job that makes me the money evokes. See the vicious cycle here? But we don’t NEED these things and it really doesn’t stack up to much when you weigh it against following what your heart desires and what you know your person needs does it?

It’s like operating without a safety net. I’ve done it before, I’m pretty sure I can do it again. *Sigh* I always thought by 34 I would be settled, whatever that is. It could be that I’m afraid of doing the work all over again. Either way I know all the “rational” plans I have made for myself up until now never panned out, maybe it’s time for some irrational ones.

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What librarians do (according to the feds)

Another Monday, another 4-hour long stint in the tech center at the public. I have my cataloging cart to keep me company, and the general public using the computers seem to be well behaved and have all woken up on the right side of the bed (Hooray!). I hope I’m not jinxing myself here, but times like this that it’s not bad at all, just sitting in a computer lab, cataloging and blogging. As I was putting some notated books on the processing shelf in the back I noticed a giant copy of a reference book that was moving from reference to circulating, probably because we are getting an update. The book is called; The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a yearly publication complied by the US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics that essentially gives a description of, and projected outcomes for specific occupations. The book is very large, so I’m pretty sure that it covers most traditional job roles and titles.

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I had to see what is in store for me for the next couple of years. When I flipped to the first page of librarian I found the heading What Librarians Do. Hey! That’s the name of my blog, I had to read on, the US Dept. of Labor answers the question I’ve been trying to figure out the last 4 years in two sentences:

“Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in such as public, school, and medical libraries” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, p.373).

It’s a pretty vague description but I guess I’ll take it as a general entry point into what being a librarian encompasses. It goes on to describe the different kinds of librarians: user services, technical services, school librarian, public librarian, academic librarian, law, government, medical and corporate. The projected increase in jobs to 2024 is 2%, at least it’s a growth but it’s slow compared to other industries. The job prospects indicate strong competition since there are a limited number of jobs, but it’s supposed to turn towards the later part of the 20’s when more people start retiring.

I recently advised a friend who is applying to library school to do so, even if being a librarian isn’t the best “prospect” wise on paper and reports. I remember Forbes putting out an article for the WORST Master’s degrees listing the MLIS as #1 the exact month that I started grad school back in 2011. I don’t know as much as I may complain about the random patron here or there, and the politics that happen all over the place being a librarian really is a pretty sweet gig when you aren’t getting yelled at or having somebody attach themselves to you and suck the life out of you for all their needs of the day (both information and otherwise). Reading on I also found an answer to another question I get asked all the time, do you think we even need librarians? Well, the US Department of Labor sure does, they say:

“However, there will continue to be a need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, p.374).

It’s hard to describe a thing in words. I know I try it all the time, but these over simplified descriptions offer a general overview of the world of librarianship and why it’s not going away any time soon. Since I’m bored, and stuck here with this book, I’m going to pick a random page and see what I should have been instead of a librarian….. drum roll please….

Paralegals and Legal Assistants?? Um, yeah I don’t think I would last in the legal world, but they do have an 8% growth outlook. Maybe in a couple years if I’m still stuck in part time limbo I’ll reconsider. Anyways, if you are looking for a new career, or just wondering what the prospects are for your occupation I’m sure your local library has a copy. And like most things, you can also find this information online HERE.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.

On exes, Christmas, and people who apparently hate earphones…

I’m sure at this point I’m not alone when I say that 2017 can just be over already. Just end, be done, leave, bye…. I’m hoping that 2018 will be a better one for everybody, and the end of this one hasn’t been so bad so that’s a good start.

It’s the last day before break here at the U and the library is a ghost town, most staff have already started the break, and I think I saw 1 person in here when I went to the bathroom just now, but he’s the brother of somebody who works here so I’m not sure if that counts. I’ll say it does, to beef up the door count. Earlier this morning I was recounting an interaction I had with a student who I thought, was being rather rude and listening to a movie full blast on his phone while at the computers where other students were trying to work.

Here’s how that went:

From my desk, which is a reasonable distance, I hear some phone stuffs. I see a kid working on the computer with his phone propped up against the side wall of the computer cubicle, he looks at the phone, then the computer screen, then the phone again. I give him the benefit of the doubt and think, OH, maybe he’s doing a tutorial in excel or something. I’ll let it go. So I do, even though it’s disturbing me, and I know as a general rule if I’m bothered then so are others. It’s on and off a bit for about 20 minutes, then I go in the back room to get some water. On my way back I pass the kid, and hear screaming from the phone, this is definitely NOT a tutorial. I look down and he’s watching a movie. A freaking movie, volume all the way up and no headphones. I stop by his station and look at the screen.

Me: “Oh, I wondered what that was. Don’t you think that’s a bit loud?” *

*My best passive aggressive, oh we don’t really monitor noise, but come ON your level of courtesy and general respect for those around you trying to work is not cool.

Kid: Blankly stares up at me with mouth open

I stand there in a silent standoff for about 15 seconds, then turn to leave, kid does not stop watching or turn down.

Could I have asserted my power more, and been like, HEY you need earphones, or turn that down? Yes, but I didn’t, and I don’t because like most introverts working in the library I hate confrontation and I just generally don’t like policing people. It blows my mind how much people just don’t generally know how to be courteous to others in shared public spaces. Earlier in the week I had a man clipping his nails and letting them fly all over the place at a table in the public. Gross. Stuff like that just riles me up more than it should, especially the newest trend of everybody just putting everything from phone conversations to their music or movies full blast on speaker in all the public places. When did we decide this was OK?

Regardless, my coworker gave me some good advice that I was able to connect to another event this week. He said just forget about it already, that kid has. Every time you talk about it or think about it you are just re-living the event and there’s no reason for that.

Hmmmm. What a sage.

This brings me to the story to something that somebody who showed up recently for me. The holidays always brings the ghosts out the woodwork and I know this, I expect it, but this one was a really old one. Begrudgingly joining Facebook so I could online date was going to bite me in the butt for sure, but I really didn’t expect it to this way. A very, very, very old demon of mine from almost 2 decades ago came up, one that I haven’t wanted to face for as long as I can remember but have been trying to take steps to work through it. Anyways, there were some messenger exchanges, which ultimately led to me giving this long (and rather unsolicited) heartfelt spiel about life and forgiveness and happiness and fatherhood and all the life things which I was proud of. It took a lot of courage for me to do. The response was like, yeah, well we were kids, I apologize too, we should talk more, etc. It looked something like this:

Me: Pouring my heart and soul out, standing up for myself finally and airing out all those old demons I’ve sat on for so damn long, while attempting to break my cycle of trying to fix tragically broken, yet beautiful men.

Him: Yeah it’s cool, same. Hey let’s grab lunch sometime if you want.

Wow. I mean I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess most people don’t know what to do when hitting up long lost exes but it made me realize that I was the only one that carried around this sordid past with him in my head. It was allll me, and I’m sure over the course of the years it’s mutated and changed like a sick game of telephone. It wasn’t the response I wanted, but it helped me finally to put everything to bed here for good which is what I really wanted in the first place. So that was it. The big face off, and it wasn’t nearly anywhere as scary as I thought it would be. We are the ones that have the power to stop reliving the past, especially the parts that hurt us. Like that big scary monster under the bed, all you have to do is tell it to go away and it does. Why? Because you are the one that imagined it in the first place.

Christmas is a season of forgiveness, and the turning of the calendar year is symbolic for new beginnings. Tell somebody that you have been at odds with you forgive them, for whatever reason, however you can. They might not even care, but it will probably make you feel a whole lot better. You might as well evict a ghost to make way for something living.

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Tell em Jasper..

 

Image obtained from: https://memeguy.com/photo/112398/they-always-yell-making-it-even-more-obnoxious

Love in the Upside Down

So you know how I mentioned I started using some online dating apps?

I quit. It kind of looked like this.

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I only lasted a week and a half and I just couldn’t do it anymore. If you watch stranger things you will understand this reference (If not, sorry and you should totally go watch it). I couldn’t help but feeling like I was in the “upside down” aka this odd version of reality that was kind of dark, confusing, and gave me nightmares. No really, it gave me nightmares.

So let me explain. It’s not that I make myself super accessible to the opposite sex but I’m out there in the world, and ringless. I work in two very public buildings full of all kinds of folks, I go out to bars with friends, or sometimes even solo. I attend weddings, and functions for both work and a vast network of friends from all walks of life and nobody even talks to me let alone asks me on dates. Every person who talks to me wants something, a book, an article, headphones, for me to help them edit their paper randomly at a Starbucks, you get the idea. Ok, I’m not counting the 2 or 3 weirdos that kissed my hand or slipped me their number at the public, sorry it just isn’t valid as being something worth pursuing on my end that could lead to anything.

You can imagine what it feels like to suddenly have people interested in you. Or, what they think you are or could be, or whatever. As I mentioned in my last post, is that the right kind of attention? Well, it may be the only kind we have immediate access to. I got asked a lot of questions, and the one that kept coming up was “What do you want?” I wasn’t trying to be snarky or anything but what I really wanted to say in my heart of all hearts was “To NOT meet a man online.” But that wasn’t going to get me anywhere, was it?

So I had some conversations with amazingly candid dudes that were looking for love. I appreciated the forwardness and truthfulness of it all, but at the end of the day it felt like more of a business transaction or interview, and it was not fun. Some people may have fun, I’m not knocking it for all but just saying for me there was nothing fun about it.

Let’s sift to my two actual (kind of) transactions. I talked with one guy for almost the whole time, and really it was good conversation. He seemed like a really great person, and had a good sense of humor and I kind of got all weird on him once about needing time before we met and he even talked to me after that, which was a major plus. But then, the meeting thing came up again, and I felt like maybe he didn’t really hear me the first time about needing time then said something kind weird that I thought might be one of those passive aggressive cryptic things so I just kind of cut it off there. I mean, I could have been wrong and maybe just jumped ship out of fear and my own personal issues, but I guess I’ll never know. That’s ok though I’m learning to trust my gut a bit more these days. We wished one another well and that was that.

And then, I agreed to meet up with somebody because something about them piqued my interest. Weird thing about this profile is there were 6 pictures that all seemed to look different. I actually on first instinct thought it was somebody that goes to my hot yoga on Sundays based upon one of the pictures and his description. But, who can be sure right? We made plans to meet for coffee on a Wednesday and guess who never showed? Yes, yes, my first actual step out of the box and I got stood the f* up. Ugh.

I waited 15 minutes, then took my coffee on a walk and actually was a bit relieved. I went home and thought, eh, I’ll give the app another night see if this guy actually says something about the no show. Crickets. I deleted that app, and the other one I had and have since been able to resume a semi normal but still rather lonely life. Well almost normal. After the great stand up I couldn’t shake the feeling that this guy is the same person that, two weeks ago, was half naked next to me in a room that was 105 degrees struggling through eagle, camel and locust pose right along with me. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but it was distracting and it threw off my practice. I told some people about my suspicion, and they said to check the sign in list and see if his name is on there. (From our very brief exchanges I do know his first name). I never got around to this, and honestly it seemed a bit weird to do. But this morning…

My regular yoga teacher is amazing, and she knows everybody by name, and will often talk to us in class. So when she was welcoming a certain suspiciously tall 30 something who came in late by first name I almost fell over laughing. Yep, I was right!! It’s the dude that didn’t show, unless by the biggest coincidence in the world this other guy just happens to have the same name. She said his name a couple more times during class and each time I wanted to laugh so hard I just had to hold it all in. I have no clue if he recognizes me, my bangs are back, and I have workout glasses on and horrible outfits and am covered in sweat, but he may…

I’m not mad. In fact this is one of the most hilarious and eye opening things to me about online dating and the “upside down” world. I don’t even have the idea of how I can communicate with this person and perhaps share a laugh about the whole thing. I wanted to but didn’t, what am I scared of? What if he just pretends it all never happened and I’m some crazy lady? What if I make him feel horrible? What if he tried later to hit me up and I was gone? AH! Who knows, we don’t really know one another and we don’t owe each other anything but it’s just so darn ODD. In the alternate universe of the “upside down” where neither of us ever really existed we could complement one another, make plans to meet up with the possibility and intent of seeing if we could actually have a friendly, and/or physically intimate relationship. While here in person, in flesh and the vulnerability of our sweaty yoga practice we are complete strangers. The plane we connected on disintegrated with the push of a delete button.

Online dating is a reality for so many people, and I’m sure there’s many more stories such as this one. I found some interesting stats on online dating in an article that cited a source called Statistic Brain. I’m a bit weary of the site, seeing as it has ads throughout but, the article that used it IS published in an academic journal so… anyways here’s some numbers…

According to this site, there are 54 million single people in the US. The total number of people who have tried online dating is almost 50 million. That is incredible. The online dating companies are becoming quite the lucrative business profiting about 2 billion per year collectively.

71% of the people surveyed believe in love at first sight (yes!), blonde is the most desired hair color for females at 32% followed by brown and black both at 16% (I’ll call that a half and half since those add up to 32) and guess what, 38% of women prefer “nice guys” and the top kind of preferred lady is the “modern career girl” at 42%.

(Statistic Brain, 2017)

For the full site and more info click here

Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2017, May 12 Published). Online dating. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/

 

Librarians gone wild

Summer is over. It came and went faster than any summer before it, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was the prep and stress for the job interviews that I endured that ended up ultimately going nowhere, the vacation to Oregon, or just the fact that the older you get the faster time slips by you. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that the kids went back to school for the public last week, and at the U, move in day is tomorrow for the new freshmen.

I won’t get too nostalgic on you, even though fall IS my favorite season (if you can call them that here in So. Cal).  It’s a new beginning, leaves fall from trees and shed their skin, and all that poetic jazz. There are new students to teach, and new books to read. It’s all so furiously paced and you can see it in the stress on the parent’s faces of both the young ones and older ones alike.

Not much has been going on, just letting go of the summer feels and getting ready to do instruction for subjects that I have never taught before. History and Anthropology are the 2 so far to prep for this week at the U, and here at the public answering 1,236 calls about the stupid study rooms, or fishing out the oh so sought after “Battle of the Books” titles.

I had been struggling lately to think of a topic to come back and blog about, when I remembered a run in I had with a friend’s father the other day. I’ve known this friend and her father for over half my life, and I ran into him while having lunch one day with my bestie who also knows them well and she’s way friendlier than me so we stopped to say hello. It was the normal small talk pattern. How are you? Fine. What have you been doing? Working. You seeing anybody? No. After we got all that out of the way, he said something that I can’t remember exactly, but it went something like this:

You know, librarians are all supposed to be quiet and mild mannered, but from what I hear you are actually the loudest most wild of the bunch. Is that true?

I thought for a moment. Well, I am pretty loud. I love to talk, and I have been shushed by patrons before, multiple times. But wild? Am I wild? What kind of weird fetish-y style comment is that? What did he mean by wild??  Does this mean I am promiscuous and impulsive, that I stay up all night taking tequila shots, dance on tables, and don’t pay my electric bill? I don’t think he meant it in any harm by the comment, but it definitely made me think for moment. I ended up telling him, yeah, I think I found my people. As I walked away I wasn’t even sure what I meant by that.

What does “wild” mean, Webster’s has quite a few definitions that pertain to forest life, or playing cards, but the ones I will take into consideration here are:

b:  marked by turbulent agitation :  stormy a wild night

c:  going beyond normal or conventional bounds :  fantastic wild ideasalso :  sensational

d:  indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion

(Webster’s, n.d.)

It made me think even further about this stereotype and where it came from. For those of you that don’t know, which is probably anybody NOT in the field that may read this, is that the American Library Association (ALA) has a bill of rights that most librarians use as pillars to the profession:

This Library Bill of rights from the ALA can be found here:

So where does the idea of the wild librarian stem from? Could it be found in the pillars of our profession? Is it the fact that we challenge censorship and believe in upholding the first amendment? Or is it because we believe in equal access to information and resources despite race, origin, sex, or socioeconomic status? Maybe it’s the promotion of free idea sharing, free resource sharing, and advancement of everybody in society as equals? Is that such a wild concept?

I can see how these ideals could be considered wild, but only in some sad skewed way to those who feel threatened by it. Access to information and resources coupled with literacy skills will always be important tools for the advancement of equality in society. We have come so far from the days when a large amount of the population was illiterate and only the wealthy had access to and control of books and other types of information. I am so thankful for that and the fact that this profession, and these ideals exist.

So, if that means I’m wild. Then yeah, I guess I am one of the wild ones.

 

Wild [Def. 3b-d]. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild

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.

Sorry, not sorry…

I have had two co-workers in the last week tell me that they are thinking of going to grad school to get an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) degree so they can pursue librarianship. Many people are surprised this degree even exists, but if you want to be a librarian pretty much anywhere in the United States you eventually will end up needing to get this degree. It’s one of the standard minimum requirements for a lot of places, but not all, especially the more private or special interest libraries or museums.

My two co-workers are very different people with very different interests, but the degree seems to fit well for both of them. One works at the public library, she focuses on children’s services, and the other works at the University mainly focusing on tech services. My advice to both of them… GO for it.

When I first decided to go to grad school about 7 years ago, it was a big decision. I didn’t know anybody who had been to grad school before; I had never even so much as volunteered in a library, so I wasn’t sure if it was a good investment. I didn’t get in my first year, since I applied late, but got in the next year for fall 2011. It seemed to start out well; I felt a bit underachiever-y compared to my classmates, some of which already had successful careers in libraries, with blogs and volunteer projects. All I had done up until then was work in a totally unrelated field of real estate investment and stone shipping. In 2012, after my first full year of the program Forbes magazine released their annual list of the worst master’s degrees. Guess what #1 was??  Yep, the MLIS. In fact, even last year in 2016 Forbes still thinks that it’s in the top 5, rounding out at #4. So, am I sorry I chose this route? Nope, not one bit, not at all. If I were to listen to Forbes I would be somewhere getting a degree in statistics and being miserable. It’s just not me even if it appears to be profitable.

2012 Forbes list here

2016 Forbes list here

It seems that the things that I love in life most won’t make me any money (according to these list and most people I talk to). The MLIS rounds out at 4 and creative writing at 12. But you know ,even though it can seem bleak at times; I wouldn’t trade pursuing my interests and the things I love for a bigger paycheck, or for something that seems more “secure”. Everybody is different, some people don’t find fulfillment through their careers, and they choose to just work to get money and support families, and find joy other places in life. Which also works, but when I hear that a student here is pursuing a particular degree just so they can make money, it just makes me a little sad.

So where am I going with all this? Well, number one; always follow your dreams people!  Two, as I’m having this conversation with my co-worker at the public I look up at the new bookshelf directly in front of me and find a book titled: This is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy.

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It’s a collection of pictures of actual librarians from all walks of life across the United States talking about why they got into librarianship and why they love it. It also includes excerpts about libraries by authors such as Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Obviously, as somebody who shares a passion for libraries it was great to read what like-minded professionals like myself had to say in defense of our libraries and how they affect the communities that they serve, so I get it, but if you are one of those people who doesn’t understand why libraries exist then maybe it could shine some light on it for you.

A while back I applied with the California Department of Corrections with the thought that maybe I would like to be a librarian in a correctional facility. After talking with some people in my life and researching online I don’t know if it’s a path I am interested in any longer, but something about being a librarian makes you want to help out those that need it most. There’s a Correctional Facility Librarian from Colorado named Sam Leif that put it into words that really touched me the most, he said:

“Libraries can help stop a generational cycle of abuse, victimization, or anger. They can rehabilitate, help people grow and change in life.” (p. 112)

One thing that I’ve noticed in this profession is since we don’t generate revenue we are constantly keeping stats on how many questions we answer. We need to generate reports that remind people that we are still relevant and to fund us (pleeeassseeeee??). As much as we have proof on paper in the form of tick marks or computer generated data from online sheets I think that our biggest success stories can be in the form of the lives we change and opportunities that we can provide for people who otherwise might not have had a chance.

Can you think of any ways that a library has changed your life, influenced you positively, or just gave you a place to hang out for a little away from it all?

 

Cassidy, K. (2017). This is what a librarian looks like: a celebration of libraries, communities, and access to information. New York:  Black Dog.

Dream Job Daydreaming..

I got a pretty amazing text today from a friend tell me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is hiring for a librarian. Holy mother of pearl. I got that text, and within two hours whipped up a new cover, tweaked the old res and send in the application. When you see something like this you jump on it, I can only imagine that everybody in the known universe is going to be applying for this one.

I think that often people have a narrow view of librarianship and what kind of jobs you can find in the field. There are libraries everywhere, at zoos, botanic gardens, museums, churches, schools, pharmaceutical companies, big businesses, historical societies, and the list can go on and on and on and on. It is always to the dream to meld all your passions into one gigantic ball and make enough money to live at the same time, and this, well this would be astronomically cool.

I do live right here in reality. I understand that I’m just starting out, and applying to something like this is pretty much a shot in the dark, but you know, if you don’t put your name out there how will you ever know.

The museum has a library and archives that is accessible by advance appointment only.

They have a really cool tutorial on how to navigate the online searching and finding all the things. If you scroll down on the research guide you can even search particular artists, a Bruce Springsteen subject guide, I’m dorking out, but if you love music, and you have a second, poke around at these, its fun.

They have archival collections, but the material is only available in person. They don’t appear to have any digital collections, which is bumming me out a little because I’m of the computer age and want instant gratification. I get it though, with items and memorabilia of this kind, it could easily taken off the internet and  be used without permission commercially, so a digital collection doesn’t seem suited for a library like this. Just another example of how different kinds of collections and their accessibility is defined by the library and the items it holds.

So far I’ve worked public library, academic library, and special interest library, academic archives and special collections, but I have yet to step foot into thinking about music librarianship. I wouldn’t say that the RRHOF library IS strictly a music library because it has normal library materials and archival items as well as sound recordings, but there are places that just strictly catalog and keep collections of music. The difference between this library and a normal one is that it’s all treated like one big special collections unit based around the subject of music and music history, I’m pretty sure none of the items circulate.

OH my god they have handwritten Erasure set lists, ok ok, see it’s a rabbit hole I can search all day. Even if I don’t get this job, I would like to at least add this to the very very long lists of libraries that I need to visit before I die.

Book hoarding

Librarians are the worst kind of library patrons hands down. We hoard things, check them out and override max number of check outs, or just keep the items forever since we get no fees. Sorry it’s so true. Part of the time you feel like a kid in a candy store. There so much out there to get your hands on. And with both public and academic libraries at my disposal it becomes even worse. I pick up so many books and hold on to them for months and never get around to reading them. It’s a balance, you have to force yourself to do social things occasionally or be a shut in with your books. Half the time when you are out you just wish you were at home reading with a bottle of wine. But then I guess a lifetime of that and you die alone with the cats. OR find somebody that just wants to stay at home and read with you. I may be wishful thinking.

One more month and its back to school here, which sounds good to me. It’s like a ghost town around here, and although I don’t need the constant flow of people that happens at the public, I do enjoy the bustle of a new semester, and new students that breathe some life into this old re-purposed Alpha Beta. But there’s still 3 more weeks in August to get through before that happens. Fall weather is something to look forward to as well but that doesn’t happen here in So Cal until November. (grumble) Tomorrow I’m going to meet with the archivist and talk about possibly putting together a digital collection for our 125th anniversary as a college. I’m excited because it’s something I worked on pretty hard last year for the history wall that never really got anywhere, so it won’t be much work to put together at all it’s mostly done. Plus it’s a digital collection, my child, something I created for once, I guess it’s not the next great American novel, but it’s a start. Still trying my hand at being more creative lately, but I’m lacking a muse, or creative partner. How do you find one of these? Craigslist? Instagram? What about that saying.. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear… I’m pretty sure I’m ready, and figuring out that creativity doesn’t live in a drunken vacuum, as I previously believed.

Librarians as Doormats

Yesterday I worked 9 hours on reference, 4 in tech and 5 at the information desk at the public lib. Honestly, today my brain and nerves are shot. It’s hard to be nice for so long. I mean I like to think that I’m naturally a nice person, but after this amount of time, it’s just hard. OH and I also made about 20 scripted phone calls to let kids know that they were a winner in our summer reading program raffle. Congrats you have won a ____. It gets hard to leave voicemail after voicemail and eventually I was saying come GAIN your prize instead of claim. I don’t know if gaining a prize is even a thing? There’s got to be a better way to do this, making 100 calls, probably about 85% of them being voicemail isn’t very time efficient at an already short staffed and super busy library…But I digress..

Today hasn’t been so swell either. My patience is at about 2% and I literally almost said some rude things to a patron who didn’t understand WHY I couldn’t just make her an appointment for a passport when I already explained our procedure to leave a message on the voicemail line and she would get a call back within 24 hours. WHY would she have to wait like everybody else?  WHY wasn’t a library staff assisting her immediately with her passport application process, since it was clearly the most important? WHY Couldn’t she just butt in right now since she was being rude enough, and bypass all the polite people that actually just waited their turn to get a call back?? I almost asked her WHY didn’t she know how to inquire about things politely? WHY had nobody taught her any manners or demonstrated for her know how to talk to people she was asking help from? I think my coworker picked up on my frustration and came over to save the day. I owe her some chocolate I really do. And, of course, back to about 20 more scripted phone calls while on desk in between helping people.

Sometimes I feel that I’m just at a point of complete deflation with my patience with people. I don’t know if any sort of long vacation, or tropical drink, or good amount of awesome patrons can wash this bad taste out of my mouth. I’m pretty sure I’m just not cut out for public librarianship. I’m sick of the people who don’t help themselves. I’m sick of entitlement, and lack of manners. I’m sick of the weird creepy dudes that know my name and come in the tech center. There’s one that just walked in now, like right now. He used to come all the time to the other branch, he’s an architect who sometimes prints stuff out. I have no idea how he has a job and deals with people in the real world. Half the time he’s on the computers he’s cursing to himself, and mumbling.  He knows all the women who work here by name, and for a long time when I saw him regularly, would deal with him cursing and being continually upset because the server on his weird Russian mail order bride website would not be working. He had some girlfriend in Russia that he was sending money to, Svetlana I think really that was her name. Then another time he went on a loud tirade to me once about how he lives with his brother and his brother’s wife is a you know what and won’t let him use their computers because she thinks these weird sites he goes to are pornographic. Then proceeded to tell me all about all the fat women he sees everywhere here and how it’s disgusting and fat women are disgusting, (mind you he was talking really loudly in a quiet room and I was hoping somebody would get up and kick his ass, but it didn’t happen) then asks about my husband and if he lets me go out on my own. I just tell him my husband is large, and likes firearms. NO really, I did tell him this. Even though my husband is imaginary and if I WAS married to anybody they certainly wouldn’t like guns.

There are so many ways to live. I get that. We all have bad days. I get that. There are a billion people with a billion different upbringings, reasons why, stories, lessons, social and mental impediments, etc. But I just don’t know if I am tolerant enough or strong enough to take it much longer. I don’t like what it turns me into sometimes, and that is the scary part. I don’t get much respect from people in the public realm. It’s sad but true that most of the time I feel much like a doormat, a sad used up doormat.

On the plus side of things. Here is something I didn’t know existed. A nose aerobics basketball toy. I got to inform 5 very excited kids they will be the proud owner of these bad boys. I wish there was an extra one I could steal. I just want to watch somebody use one of these in real life.. Excuse the YES’s, this was from a snapchat..

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