libraries, LIS, work

New job should help me know what to do next.

I realize it is late at night and I have begun to see things I shouldn’t see; however — today (yesterday, rather) — was my last day as a Library Aide. Tomorrow (or, technically, later today), I have a meeting with someone whose goal is to help me get a job. Another one…I guess. The help was offered, so I took it. Maybe I shouldn’t have…? I’m not sure. At least I’m learning how to write a resumé.

I still haven’t decided whether I would be more suited to information organization, or to Public Service. It would seem I could help more people, more quickly, doing the latter. My major issue here is that I am not really a, “people person,” though I suspect few Librarians get into the field because they are. (Altruism, however, does seem to be very common; as is introversion.)

Of course, this new job will really help me see whether I will do well in Public Service. From the initial time at which I was assessed, to now, I’ve gone through a major change in comfort level in dealing with the public. I’ve also grown to realize the limitations of interacting with the world through a screen.

I suppose it has been almost ten years.

At least I got hired as a Library Assistant before my decade marker of service to the County. It…could have been less than great, to have them announce that I’ve worked for them for ten years and that I was still an Aide (which is almost the lowest rung I could be at, if I don’t count being a Volunteer; though job titles and definitions vary across systems).

Speaking of which, I should really look for that article I printed, which surveys job titles in Academic and Public Libraries. (I think it’s in a pile of stuff on my desk, or maybe in a folder on my bookshelf, with the career stuff.) It could be useful, at least as help in getting an orientation as to what I could actually (specifically) do, having started with a Digital Services concentration. I also might want to ask the person who has been helping me, and the Career Center liaison at my alma mater.

My major issue at this point is not knowing quite where to focus my energies, because I still don’t know exactly where I want to be, yet. Academic? Public? Reference? Digital Library? Web Development or Metadata? Collection Development? Cataloging?

(Of course, yes, I now realize that most of these fall under “Technical Services”…)

Right now I’m trying to focus on Reference Services, which is a specialty in itself. However, a Library Assistant or Librarian is going to be doing a lot more than answering Reference questions…which I’ll come to know more about in the coming weeks.

I still haven’t gotten back to the JavaScript course, which I’ll likely want to, as I reported being enrolled in it to my job search people. I’ll also want to finish Defusing Hostile Customers, and break into Online Searching, though I think I’ve mentioned that, before. I can also review my text on Reference & Information Services…though I think reading through that last 300 pages is a pretty tall order. If I had been going through one chapter a day, it would be something else…but it isn’t an engaging read, and I might be able to find a simpler and more concise version of the same information.

(Note: take some of these books in, tomorrow!)

Or, at least, I’ll want to isolate myself so that I have no distractions and can buzz through it quickly. I also recall a Librarian telling me that it might be more practical to look through the resources we have in our system, as versus reading a book which cites references that we just do not have access to. So maybe I can study our Reference sources, and get into free online sources, and that will be better!

I’m also remembering something from a while back, where it was observed that I’m great at generating ideas, but narrowing my focus to one thing to work on, is itself a challenge for me. So the challenge is to focus. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to leave off of one activity in order to work more intensely with the hand I’ve currently been dealt…but, I also have a tendency to wander (I was rambling earlier tonight and may be rambling again now, for example), which isn’t good when it comes to targeted job searching.

Maybe I’ll want to work on focusing on the Reference Services part of this for the very-short-term, as it’s coming up and will be my life for most of the next month. After that, I can focus on driving (so I can be hired as a Librarian after getting my license), and finding a more permanent (more permanent, not necessarily rest of my life permanent) vocational position.

Of course, being a substitute…I’ll get to meet a lot of people and sample a lot of environments. If I can, from that, work out at least a hierarchy of where I would most like to work, I can then prepare to move into a position as a rooted Library Assistant or Librarian, as my next step. That would come with more stability in hours, job benefits, likely more responsibility (programming!), and I could log my time so that I could find a location I wanted to work at. It isn’t really until I might become senior that I would even have the opportunity to work within the Virtual Library, I think — at least, within my current system.

I’d also have a pretty broad spectrum of skills, by that point…and I would know more about where I wanted to be. Is learning multiple Web Programming languages, and staying on top of them, my best bet? Or can I work with people? Would I like working with people, if I were fully empowered to work with them? How much of my emotional imprint of working with the public been skewed by not being able to try to help our patrons as fully as I’ve wanted to? How many negative reactions stemmed from lack of skill on my part, and have I learned from those interactions? (Every time.)

That’s got to help, in some way…

career, libraries, LIS

Well, that was fun.

We stopped by Japantown, and I got some stationery and new incense (sandalwood, and one with sandalwood, aloeswood, and some other things I forget). I was actually able to get out of the stationery store with just an A5 binder, A5 paper, and A5 dividers, for under $25.

Generally speaking, it’s very easy to spend a lot more than that, particularly because I also had my eye on fountain pens. However — I already have three pens going, here. I have to keep using them so they don’t dry out. There’s kind of an upper limit to how many pens it’s feasible to have filled, at once! On top of that, I don’t have to refill them with the same ink; and I have two untried Iroshizuku inks already, so it doesn’t make sense to get the one I regretted not getting, before. After all, I still have to try out tsutsuji (Magenta!).

I can also talk about this, now: today I had an interview for an entry-level Librarian position. I can talk about it, because I am pretty sure I didn’t get the position. :) Nor am I planning to disclose anything about the interview. It was good experience to have, though.

What I have found is that I’m at about a Library Assistant (LA; paraprofessional) level of skill — because I have not had the experience of being an LA so far. This has to do with my path to Librarianship having been nontraditional. Normally, I would have had to take an LA job much earlier, just to support myself; and I would be doing that while working through my MLIS. If I had done that, I might have been able to take on a Librarian I position right after graduation.

However, because of my path of growth and development (particularly, not knowing what to do with myself after graduating with my BA, and having a lot of extra education thereby), I’ve been supported by family much longer than might have been normal; at least, before this generation.

I have also found that maybe I want to take a Developmental Psychology class…because I may need the understanding in the future, if I go into Public Libraries as a career path. It’s just one of those things where even if I am an Adult Services Librarian, I’ll have to deal with kids, too. Of course, that assumes that I’ll stay in Public Libraries, as versus Academic. The fact also remains, though, that travel to any night class around here just isn’t totally safe. I might be able to educate myself on Library Service to children, by reading about it on my own.

(Actually, that’s a very good idea!)

Over time, working with families and children does grow on you. Most of the time at the library I’ve worked at, I’ve come into contact with babies and children below school age, and kids who are being tutored or home-schooled.

So it does look like I’m going to be able to wholly take on the new LA position, and not have to worry about having two overlapping part-time job offers.

I didn’t mention this before because I was barred from discussing it until it was announced, but it seems I’ll now be able to be a County floater and travel around to fill absences as a Library Assistant. It should be a good experience. It will definitely be more public contact than I’ve gotten as an Aide, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One thing I’ve learned about being an Aide for a very long time, is that the Aide job is not easy. It’s physically strenuous, involving a lot of lifting and crouching. That’s okay if you’re 22 or younger — not so much if you’re 35.

Seriously, I’m glad to have a job now where I won’t have to be moving around, all the time. It will also help to be able to carry more responsibility and have more control over what I do.

It looks like right now, I’m going to have to take a break for dinner. I’ll likely also work on writing by hand. Today has just been…full of things.

career, libraries, LIS, planning

No, I’m not my dad :)

Today, I actually made the effort to go and look back over my work for the Cataloging & Classification courses I’ve been taking (and have now finished). I didn’t do so poorly as I thought I did…most of the issue had to do with getting one concept wrong and then repeating it through questions that kept testing on that one concept.

Though I had the possibility of going back and re-trying the quizzes, I didn’t — for most of them. The one quiz where I originally got two questions right because I was overthinking things and the test was based on “if (x === ‘answer’)” was the one where I went back and redid my work.

(That is, I only got the question right if I typed in the exact string that was defined as correct, while the [∞-1] other possible strings were all equally incorrect, so far as the computer was concerned.)

And I don’t want to get back to the JavaScript training, but it might be good for me. I did invest all that time and money with the hopes of being a Web Developer. The problem for me is, how to tie the Arts, Humanities, and/or Social Sciences in with Web Development.

I also have an inkling that if I became a college professor, I’d really like to do it with History. I’d have the background. It’s just really fascinating. Then I could create OERs (Open Educational Resources) and post them online. :)

That actually isn’t a bad idea.

In regard to JavaScript, I have a really big textbook that is begging to be read…though probably not before I finish reading the Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook. There’s a lot of stuff coming up where …it may help to continue reading this, and looking back over The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness (which I finished, a while ago). It’s not precisely what I want to be doing, but it may make things easier for me, soon. It’s better to be prepared, than not.

I had also wanted to read back over my Reference & Information Services texts. The issue is that there are three hundred pages in one text (of 800+ pages) which we were left on our own to read. I think I skimmed them, and that’s being forgiving about it.

I have read enough of Conducting the Reference Interview, 3rd Edition that I’m feeling relatively confident about that. The thing is, I have another book, Online Searching, that I started and then didn’t even try to get into, because I needed to read Conducting the Reference Interview, first. It doesn’t help to be able to find information if you’re answering the wrong question. Conducting the Reference Interview is about trying to figure out the real question someone is asking, or the “question behind the question.”

If you’re wondering about the last few posts…I’m still trying to figure out how to fuse technology with humanity. There’s a big question as to whether I’ll even be able to tolerate fitting reality into a system like Library of Congress Classification or Dewey Decimal Classification…the systems are just imperfect, but so far they’re what we have (aside from BISAC, which I don’t know much about).

I do like working with Metadata. I’ve reached the point, though, of knowing that there’s so much more I could be doing with my life, than Cataloging things.

It’s also known that a lot of places are shrugging off the Cataloging work onto vendors or other entities before they reach the libraries of destination. At the place at which I work now, for example, relatively little Cataloging is done in-house. While I could work for Publishers or vendors, I know relatively little about that (I didn’t do a Publishing internship in undergrad, so I’m not entirely familiar with the territory).

Aside from Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, the two other specific jobs with “Library” in the name which I have been thinking of are Virtual Librarianship and Adult Services Librarianship. It looks like it will be easier to aim for the latter at this stage of the game. The difficult part for me is likely to rest in dealing with people breaking policy (which is why I’ve been doing the reading I have); the rest of it, I think I’m prepared for.

Anyhow. History, eh?

That…that could/would be fascinating and awesome. I could build my knowledge as a Librarian and then go for a PhD and professorship, or work in an Academic Library as a History Subject Specialist.

The big thing about Academic Librarianship is that you apparently get one shot at gaining tenure, and if you don’t, you’re out for good (or so I’ve been told).

Stressful, much…

The thing with History is that history that has actually happened (as versus propaganda, I mean), shapes the world we live in today. History has an impact on what things are happening, now, and how we think, now. Knowing the context of today is vital if one wants to liberate oneself from the traps of a lack of awareness (which do extend down to the languages and concepts we work with).

Okay, so I need to finish the Defusing book, get back to JavaScript, fill out my Master Application, and break into Online Searching. That sounds like enough, for now.

career, LIS, self care, spirituality, work, writing

Grounding myself, collecting my thoughts.

I have been hesitant to get back on my computer, recently. It seems I’m getting less narcissistic, though something that came up in the composition of this post is purpose.

After having gone through an online Master’s program, I’m increasingly valuing my time away from the computer, and questioning how much computer use is ideal in my life. It’s why I accepted the offer of working for a Public Library just recently, in a Public Services capacity. This is as versus putting more energy into Web Programming.

I’ve learned a good deal about the psyches of my co-workers, and actually, even though people can be irritating at times, getting to know their personalities and why they like (and dislike) what (and whom) they do, is interesting. As well, the difference in worldview and outlook between lower-level support staff through paraprofessionals through professionals, is interesting. Although I don’t think I would get a PhD in Psychology, I’m just becoming more interested in the inner workings of people, as versus machines.

Maybe that’s a reason I became interested in the Humanities, in the first place. Way back, it was just easier for me to experience others through writing, than through interaction. I think I’m getting better at the latter, though.

If I were thinking about things in an alchemical sense, I believe math, logic, programming, and philosophy would be related to an Air element, while what I’ve been doing recently — with writing by hand, and dealing with crystals (which has gotten me interested in geology, chemistry, and physics again) — is likely related to the Earth element. For a very long time, I have had severe problems with grounding…or, in other words, I lived within my thoughts more than I lived in the external world.

In a case like this, avoiding the computer for other projects — like reading physical books (which I’ll have to do, as a Librarian) — it’s a step in the direction of reconnecting with physicality. I actually can say that’s pretty important, even though for me, it’s difficult.

It shouldn’t be: for almost all of recorded history, there was no Web to addict people, or to virtually replace peoples’ lives, or to escape into. But for most of my life, I’ve heavily depended on my intelligence, whether that was my intellect or my sense of spirituality. I also know that I need to continue reconnecting with physicality…like by helping more with food preparation, and getting out and exercising. And, maybe, dealing with friends, or with people I would like to be friends.

It’s possible that having an impact on my environment — via my work and via my social experiences — is helping erode the need to “publish” (or write with the goal of readership) all the time. Connecting better with my body and having greater self-knowledge, is likely another reason I find myself becoming more invested in offline life. I’ve been basically tied to the computer for two years…it’s probably not surprising that I don’t want to be on it all the time now, when I don’t have to be.

On top of that…there is, as I’ve mentioned before, risk to writing online. Well — there’s risk where it comes to anything online, really. At the point one realizes this, the question of purpose arises…why, that is, would I share parts of my experience online? And does the possible fulfillment of that purpose outweigh the risk? How much of it is social, and how much of it is purpose-driven?

On one hand, I know that I write to share parts of my life with others. Being able to explain what’s going on as it’s going on, both helps me remember what happened, and I think also has a normalizing effect on the situation and others like it (or at least, that’s the intent). I do believe that I started blogging, however, without a clear purpose or objective in mind. The exception is this blog, which I started as a companion to Ravelry (which I don’t use anymore).

That then turned to crafts other than knit and crochet, like sewing, beadwork, lacework. Over time, it then shifted to commentary on what I had to do for my school and my job, instead of what I did with my free time.

I see my free time decreasing in the near future, and moreso later, especially if I get a full-time job. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it means that I’m seeing I will have to let go of a lot that I did while I had the luxury of extra time.

At that point…I begin to wonder about the core parts of who I am, and what I would take with me, if I had increased resources and decreased time.

One of those things…is the pen hobby. I now have a few fountain pens, which I love. It is a luxury — one doesn’t need expensive pens to write (although none of mine are too expensive: they’re entry-level). But it’s nice to have them, even if it does mean I need to use them frequently. Using them isn’t too much of a problem, when you have a habit of writing for release, or introspection. And when you want the act of writing to be pleasant or customized — or encouraged.

The other thing that I just got back into is mineral collecting, which ties into my mystic side. I haven’t been doing meditation recently, though I should be doing it: exercise and meditation together will reduce my dependence on medication, so that I have the option of going down on my dosage. I feel stable where I am; the only problem is the tendency to gain weight. That, in turn, pretty much forces me to exercise, which will further benefit my mental state.

What I have seen with this is the possibility of crafting a path which enables me to affirm my commitment to extending the time life has on this planet. I don’t believe it will be all straightforward. But it is possible to desire this. It’s also possible to pray for it, or to do spells for it. There’s no proof that will work, but maybe I have greater reach than I think I do.

There is a paradox in using materials extracted from the earth in an attempt to help heal it. The intent to use them to attempt to help the biosphere and its denizens is the reason I feel okay with it. Without that possibility, it’s just collecting; but if I’m going to be collecting pretty things, and not having a lot of time to work with them, maybe this is better than collecting glass beads. For some reason, it does soothe me.

My nature as a human is to create. It might be possible that prayers or directed energy (I don’t know how to describe it in words; all words I’ve known have fallen short) could be useful, even if the mechanics are unexplained.

I wouldn’t be surprised if other things come up in relation to my identity, as I continue to read and write privately. But it’s fairly clear that I have a motive of furthering peace, understanding and harmony, and working against hatred and bigotry. I place a high amount of value on my own integrity, which is why I work in a library system. I also realize the limitations of what I can do as an eventual Librarian, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take action in private.

In this case…it seems as though those goals — exercise, meditation, reading, writing, healing, creation — might be enough to gather around, and focus this blog upon. When I first started blogging as a youth, I don’t know that I had any unifying cause to establish the blog around. Nor did I have an evolved sense of what I was seeking online. I’ve continued in that sense for over twenty years; it’s time to take it to the next level.

I guess I’m just getting older, and thinking things through more.

craft, fiber arts, LIS, tatting, work

History: mud and sapphires

Some time has passed. I know I haven’t touched the computer for two days…likely due to the fact that it’s associated for me, now, with work. And…things I don’t want to do, now that I think of getting back to my Library of Congress cataloging work. Ordinarily, I would take this work as something to keep me busy instead of bored…but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not sure at all that I want to work as a Cataloger in an Academic Library setting.

Cataloging has a lot of arbitrary rules that serve to make catalog entries uniform (which is essential if we are to find things)…the thing is, they’ve been accumulating and building on each other for a couple of centuries, and the difficulty in changing them to keep up with the times is evident in what remains of the old structures.

Having done this work, I can clearly see why I shifted my focus to Digital Services: there’s less of this traditional backlog of rules, to deal with. There is also, though, a much higher need for the use of logic.

The thing with coding is that it shares the same high attention to detail as is required of a cataloger…it just seems from my perspective that — in coding — there are actual reasons for things to be the way they are. If things aren’t formatted a certain way, the computer can’t make sense of it.

For some reason, I’m willing to adapt to a computer’s constrictions, moreso than I am to history’s. I mean…the computer has no choice. It was built the way it was, without having a say in it. History always has had choices.

And at this point, I can kind of see how the mode of thinking behind, “progressivism,” could work…although in the past, I’ve rejected the term “progressive” as it applies to myself. This is because nothing guarantees that society will move forward to a better future. It can, but that doesn’t mean it will become better, or that it is becoming better. As a mirror to this, that doesn’t mean that all societies before ours, were worse than ours (or that First World countries are the so-called pinnacle of Social Darwinism [I’m going to withhold my views on the latter, for now]); or that things now are worse than they’ve ever been (which are both familiar nightmares to some people I’ve known).

What I try and remember is that people in each era (I assume) are trying to do the best they can, with the world, technology, information, and concepts they have. Now, that’s a big assumption. But I try (and I’m trying really hard right now) not to forget the human factor: that in each time, people confront constrictions, and find ways to exist despite them.

Anyhow, learning Library of Congress Classification has been like stepping backwards in time, and not in a fun way. It seriously feels like I spent a bunch of money for this class, only to learn that I don’t want to do the work (or at least, that I don’t want to do the work, full-time).

Do I want to become a Web Developer? I still don’t know about that: I’ll have to try harder and involve myself, first. But at least, I’ll know one more thing I don’t want to do, as I’ll have had some experience with it. If I hadn’t taken this LCC class, I wouldn’t know how much I don’t want to do it, and how much I should maybe just forget about it, for the short term.

Gah.

There’s a lot of stuff I’m not mentioning, right now. Most of it is political. Some of it does make me wish that I could believe in a good-natured Deity, but seeing evidence of the activity of hatred and stupidity… Declaring something as good also means declaring its opposite, or at least, the state of the absence of goodness (or so my readings in Philosophical Daoism would suggest).

And labeling the absence of goodness isn’t really effective at all, in coming to peaceful resolution and coexistence with someone who is seen to be exhibiting a lack of goodness. Because of this, it basically lines the road to coexistence with land mines.

Of course, the other person has likely had no input into what one considers “good” or not, so one big question is whether they can even be held accountable to standards they had no say in defining (although also, of course, they would likely make the definition of “not good” to be whatever they, themselves, were not — should they be given a say. That begs the question of whether we can trust evil people to define goodness). I have a sense, though, that I’m getting into legal philosophy here, so I’ll stop.

In any case…I’ve been getting tired of this. Tired of a lot of things, actually. There’s the political stuff plus the work stuff plus the study stuff plus the injury stuff plus the illness stuff — which in my case does encompass mood symptoms, which can then make me vulnerable to physical illness.

One of the things I have been working on, recently, is tatting lace…which is relatively calming (which is probably why people did it, before)…it kind of takes up a lot of mental capacity that would otherwise be spent worrying. This is one of those historical crafts that I’ve taken interest in — which, apparently, is a new thing again to people in my generation. It kind of makes me wonder if I were on the front line of fashion as regards retro designs and fiber art, and didn’t know it. (Usually, I’m not an early adopter.)

I’ve figured out how to make each individual stitch, though I’m not sure it will make sense if I explain it in words. If I recorded video, it would be different. I just remember the first book I read on it, which was talking about making half-hitches and flipping them onto the opposite cord (you tug the working cord and relax the other cord, and the half-hitch is transferred to the relaxed cord), and I’m thinking to myself, “okay, first you make a half-hitch — then you reverse it — why would you do that???”

It makes more sense when you do it, though I’m still not sure how much sense that is.

I don’t have photos at the moment. I’m not sure if I’ve given up on that, or not. :) The thing is, when you do tatting right, it basically looks exactly like the photos of all the samples that you’ve seen.

Is that a good thing? I’m not sure…

LIS, psychology, self care

Long way to hell

Yeah…

Yeah.

I just got through this last week’s test, and by the outcome, it’s apparent why I was so intimidated by it. Basically, each week’s work depends on the knowledge gained in prior weeks, so if you didn’t “get” something in the first week, it follows you the rest of the way through the course.

Okay…anyhow, it’s over, and I can stop being mean to people because I hate having to do this work, now.

LIS, self care

Procrastination, intimidation

I kind of can’t believe how much I do not want to work on my homework. Despite that, I know it’s the best thing for me to be doing, right now. At…11 PM at night. Maybe not. I’ve learned that doing unwanted, intensely focused work at the expense of sleep and while half-awake, breeds resentment. Right now, the best I can do is plan.

Tomorrow…and the day after…I can work through the assignments. We basically have one more week of this course — until the end of the month. I’m okay with fitting two weeks’ worth of work into one. It generally looks like a lot, but it’s only been four to five hours of work a week. My deal is that it’s tougher with the time delays between weeks, that cause me to forget and have to review material. I don’t like having to go back over things.

My Sunday and Monday are free — except possibly for gym and showering on Monday, or the Japanese market, also on Monday (I’ve found a type of manju that reminds me of moon cakes, and am missing it). I have nothing important to do this Tuesday night (that’s not always true), or Wednesday night. I can then complete Week 4’s work on Thursday and Friday (though I may need Thursday for general grocery shopping), saving Sunday for unexpected catch-up. The course ends officially at the end of Sunday, June 30. That gives me…seven days, four of which are totally open. If I’m right, my class on Library of Congress Subject Headings should start the day after, on July 1. I can tolerate this discomfort for one more week, can’t I? I’m sure LCSH can’t be this bad.

I just…am really resistant (not to mention, discouraged), right now. If I push myself, it may turn into deep-seated seething rage (do you know how much living I’ve missed because I had to study?), and that…I don’t want. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the sheer volume of information that’s being put out at me; it’s intimidating. Or, maybe it’s more the sheer number of links that I have to deal with, which each have an unspecified amount of information behind them. It’s one of the downsides of using electronic resources.

I realize that I pass if I just try — there’s no pressure to get anything right — but seriously, I hate trying to do things when I don’t have enough information, or I have it and can’t compile it, and have to struggle for air. I hate showing that I don’t know what I’m doing. But maybe the sheer difficulty of this work is the reason why we are being graded on just trying, rather than on the accuracy of our answers.

It’s about 11:30 PM my time, right now. Seeing how I woke up at 5:30 this morning (I blame exercise from yesterday — I totally popped awake, then), I should probably get some rest so that I can get to studying, tomorrow.

LIS, technology

The “fun” part of work?

Seeing my Vocational counselor recently got me to realize that while I’m aiming for an entry-level Librarian position (professional), or a Library Assistant position (paraprofessional), my intent at the beginning of all of this was to go into either Cataloging or Web Design.

Because of issues with Cataloging which I’m now familiar with as persistent and known cultural problems (particularly within DDC and LCC, the two major classification systems in U.S. libraries [at least if BISAC hasn’t crept up and taken more ground from DDC than I know]), but which struck me out of the blue as a cultural minority student, I switched out of Cataloging early on to focus on Digital Services. Particularly, I wanted to learn coding in a situation where I wouldn’t have to worry about being stigmatized or harassed or seen as a non-person because of being female.

While I didn’t go all the way into the Web Programming path…I can see that the latter was what I have been thinking of, when I think of needing to know current versions of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, MySQL (not to mention mastering command-line interfaces), etc.

Maybe it’s not so bad; I mean, I can understand a lot now that I couldn’t, before. My current LCC course builds on a lot that I was introduced to in Library School (like MARC encoding), that I wouldn’t understand otherwise. It’s similar with my Metadata knowledge and the database stuff I had to go through. The last was really difficult, but I now at least have had an introduction to it.

I’m thinking and hoping that the Master’s program was intended just to be an introduction to the current terrain…and not that it was meant to make me fully capable of engaging with it on my own (because I don’t feel ready to do that, yet). I also need to remember, though, that in the real world, teamwork happens. I probably will not need to know everything, myself.

At least, I hope not.

Tonight, I’ve been catching up on Social Media — maybe, “catching up on,” isn’t the right phrase — maybe, “using,” Social Media (as versus, “not using,”) is closer to the reality. While I was in classes, I basically put social interaction outside of family, school, work, a couple of groups, and blogging, to the side; and otherwise limited my interaction. Now that I’m out, there is this emphasis on, “networking,” and I’m realizing how many ties with people I’ve made over the years (although in a lot of cases, they’re rusty ties).

I’ve also been checking in on the Career Center for my alma mater. I think I underestimate myself, my network, and my strengths. Somehow it isn’t surprising: I have a tendency to set very high standards for myself (not to mention that I have a tendency to doubt I can reach them). The major drawback to this in my case is that if I think I have no chance at success, I have a tendency to avoid engagement.

I mean, on one level, that’s really a survival strategy — it’s way harder to get through a class when you’re lost, especially when you’re part of a team (and the team isn’t helping you, and you feel like the slackers who mooched off you in high school, but you really don’t know what you’re doing). On another level, that type of thinking keeps me from trying things that I might be able to do but am afraid I can’t (like taking Project Management or Cybersecurity, both things I know I need to know, but which I am leery of taking in a University setting where my GPA is on the line).

I seem to remember hearing something like this from several years ago, coming out of MIT…how students were punished for failing, when they should be supported for risk-taking — and students who played it safe and took easy classes (resulting in high GPAs) were lauded.

During my time in the Master’s program, I tried to take a middle road and not do something that seemed too easy. It’s part of why I went for a tech-oriented path: I figured that I should learn something moderately difficult, instead of something I could puzzle through on my own.

Of course, going for entry-level Librarian jobs…that isn’t so tech-heavy. It leans more into Customer Service, Psychology, and Politics…

…which, of course, are also difficult, just in a different way. Majorly, they are difficult in ways that have to do with people. Which…isn’t where I thought I’d end up. But without knowledge of a solid Programming language, at this point, and without Cataloging knowledge…or experience in the field (or even really knowledge of the field), I’m at a disadvantage.

Hmm. That means get to know the field! Right? Fill in those knowledge gaps!

And remember that an entry-level Librarian job is just entry-level. It’s not forever.

career, ceramics, craft, libraries, LIS, self care

I wonder if this is what all that fatigue was about…

…which I spoke about three weeks ago. I suppose it is possible that I could have been fighting something off for two weeks without getting sick, until my immune defenses lowered. I guess that means that when I’m feeling fatigued, it actually is an okay thing to get some rest. If I had done that, maybe I could have killed off the invasion (I’m pretty sure it’s viral) before it made me sick.

A bunch of things have happened since I made my last substantive post (the one before the post from earlier today). The one I’m thinking of is having been notified that I may be called in to interview for a Librarian I position. That, in turn, got me to restart my career reading. (I actually finished The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness the other night, which has a companion site, homelesslibrary.com. I like the author, Ryan Dowd, though I can tell we’re of different worldviews. I kind of envy his.

I also wrote in to the Career Center at my school, and was encouraged to push on in the direction of an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting, with which the aforementioned book helps a lot. So that means…three places I’ve applied to have told me that I may be called, but haven’t yet called me (though I took a test with one, and scored decently); one was an overt no; one I have to reapply to; and one (the one I’m currently employed by) hasn’t opened their candidate list to the outside in a very long time.

I also didn’t get into the running for a Clerk position at my current place of employment, and think it may be because I have a Master’s in Library Science, although the form email told me it was because I wasn’t qualified.

I almost forgot to mention that another nearby Library System did send out a call for applications, but as I don’t yet have a Driver’s License, I was excluded. Kind of ironic that I would be considered for Hawai’i, but not considered for a place 30 minutes away.

I did just go and send in another Job Interest Card for Hawai’i. I know I have applied for one position; unfortunately, I’m not sure that keeps me in the running for lower-ranking similar positions. But I’m getting the hang of this job application thing, now; particularly where it comes to Civil Service. (Not that I’ve particularly thought through the ramifications of being a government employee!)

As for more reading; if I can tolerate it, I will want to get back to Conducting the Reference Interview, which I’ve planned to read only until I reach the tech portions (my edition was published too long ago to be current, there); and the book I have on dealing with hostile customers, by Robert Bacal. That one also has a companion website, not to mention two different levels of seriousness. It takes a different angle than the service-to-the-homeless one, due to the fact that it targets a different set of customer cohorts.

The big issue with both of these books is that reading them is actually basically either work or Professional Development, depending on one’s angle. I’ve been particularly triggered by Bacal’s work (in combination with what I’ve experienced and witnessed), though I did purchase the more “serious” version of the book, which is actually a workbook for those employed in the public sector.

They should both be helpful if I get a Librarian I position anywhere, though. Actually, they should be helpful if I interview for a Librarian I position anywhere, too. And I should remember that replaying rough scenarios in my head is likely worse than dealing with them, would be.

On top of that, my next Cataloging class is set to kick in, though it’s only for four weeks. I do, however, have access to the coveted tool that I didn’t realize I’d lose access to when Beginning Cataloging ended in 2017. I should make use of it, while I can. It would be a very good use of my time.

I also have the deadline for re-submission of that last application, and for submitting all graduation information, coming up. And I need to be working on my driving, again. I could have been in the running for a nearby Librarian I position, but didn’t have a driver’s license (which is probably necessary because the crime rates of the area make it dangerous to walk, at least at night). I’ve gotten to the point where driving is less scary and I have more control, but I still need assistance. (I have a tendency to hang a little far to the right.) Sunday mornings are perfect for this…when I’m not sick!

The other night, when I was pretty much too sick to do anything more than just read, I was looking through a number of books on beaded micro-macramé by Joan Babcock (the link leads to her website). In the end of her first book, Micro-macramé Jewelry : Tips & Techniques for Knotting With Beads, she writes of a number of ways to bind the ends of knotting, one of which is sewing (p.77). I didn’t even think of that!

So, right now, I want to go and try and make a bunch of little samples and practice binding the ends of them–!! I could use them as key fobs or zipper pulls or something, yeah?

I also looked her up on WorldCat — I’m pretty sure her books are self-published (the press is “Joan Babcock Designs”), so it’s kind of awesome to see that someone (or someones) has cataloged them. By the way, if you try looking her up, the authorized spelling of her name is “Babcock, Joan R.” You should be able to search that name and come up with at least the four or five things I know she has produced (she has four books and one DVD, last I saw). That spelling, currently, differentiates her from others named Joan Babcock, as one finds in a search on the wider Web. (Sometimes, that’s followed by a birth and death date, or a birthdate only, or more information about their identity — which would help you sort through all the other Joan Babcocks, if there were more than one who authored a cataloged work: in this case, there aren’t [as of May 5, 2019].)

There’s more I could go into on that, but I’ve learned not to expect people to be interested. ;)

I’ve also realized that there is no shame in going back to the craft books, when the writers of the books are still more advanced than you. I do have a little library that I’ve collected, over time; and while it is the case that I’m a relatively intermediate beader, I still don’t know everything. This is because there are some stitches, like odd-count peyote (I know how to do this, I just don’t like to) and brick stitches, that I haven’t put too much root into, as I haven’t needed to. Particularly, where it comes to making increases on the edge of brick or peyote stitch…I just am not practiced. I got a book specifically for this, though, called the Bead Stitching Handbook (by Bead & Button Magazine).

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to look through that thing, again…

The fact that I don’t know this stuff basically shows my own bias against making 2-D art (brick and peyote stitch primarily make sheets, which can then be stitched together into 3-D forms; the exception being tubular peyote). I know I can make 2-D art; for whatever reason, though, I’m not drawn to it as strongly as beadwork or ceramics. It’s actually a reason I can recognize, now, for having gotten out of silversmithing…in most modern work, we’re working with sheet and wire, or casting. Casting requires a lot of specialized tools, and I’ve never been able to really get behind flinging molten metal around in a centrifuge…or using oxy-acetylene to melt it in the first place (it can give you eye damage).

There is always PMC (Precious Metal Clay), which I’m now thinking I should examine more closely. Reason I haven’t is that it basically requires a kiln. (It’s possible to fire PMC with a torch, but I wouldn’t trust myself.) “PMC”, also found as “Art Clay”, (they’re different brands) is basically a clay made of tiny metal bits and a binder; on firing, the metal bonds to itself and the binder burns off. I do have a design book from a while ago, when I was more heavily considering using it. At the time, I wanted to learn “real” metalwork, and felt metal clay was this newfangled high-tech thing…but maybe “real” metalwork is just not what I want to do.

Kilns are expensive, and basically, there’s a very obvious fire hazard. But, if I were going to use it both for PMC and for ceramics, that actually does tip the scale a bit in favor of considering one. The biggest reason I’ve held off is the fact that I tend to pick up and drop off hobbies, relatively quickly. I think the “theory” of the practice sounds awesome, while the “practice” of the practice, isn’t always appealing to me. But I can’t tell until I’ve done it.

There’s that, and the cheapest kilns are still really expensive…so I haven’t felt great about sinking money into one. Also: have you seen the prices of pottery? I’ve been able to get some really cheaply at craft fairs–they’re not even ugly! I’m like, how do you make money selling a little tiny cup — and then I remember that clay is earth! Virtually all its value comes from the skill of the ceramicists (and luck with the firings)!

I should practice with some other clays first, though, like the air-dry stuff, cellulose, and polymer clays, knowing that I don’t have to make things like I’ve seen before. It’s been a really long time since I worked with my hands in the manner clay demands, too…it would just be interesting to get back into it.

career, LIS, work

Creative outlets and work don’t have to align…

Haaah. You know what? I’ve realized that even when I don’t feel particularly creative, I still read to others as, “very creative.” Over Easter we had some visitors, and I got still more encouragement to sell my jewelry. That was, particularly…great. I mean, seriously…my beaded jewelry collection, right now, reflects multiple iterations of design that I’ve undertaken over the years. It’s why I was reluctant to get rid of one of my pieces (a sunstone and gold-finish piece, which I don’t think I’ll ever be able to exactly reproduce).

It was also really nice to be with some chosen family, whom I ended up interacting with more than extended family. That was Sunday. Yesterday (Monday), I hit a craft store looking for a specific type of storage unit — which they didn’t have. (Or, let me say that they didn’t have the brand I was looking for, which I know will match my current storage: they had store-brand versions, which I was concerned wouldn’t have the same dimensions.) What they did have were Kite Beads (kite-shaped), SuperDuos (squashed-diamond-shaped), GemDuos (diamond-shaped), and some other bits of tastiness like this. (It’s an expression, albeit one I just made up; don’t eat your beads!) Those three types of beads, by the way, all have two holes (four openings).

I also found a miniature macrame board (which I had been looking for, for a while), and a sticky bead mat that may just save me from hunting for beads on the floor.

Yeah, I didn’t intend that. But it was a cute little haul.

What I’ve found, though, from the tables I’ve been making, is that it’s relatively more expensive (per quantity) to get beads from a craft store, than it is to get them from a bead store. However, getting the macrame board and the bead mat were relatively cheaper. And if I want (or need) to go super-cheap and basic with my supplies, there is always General Bead in SoMa.

I’ve also been finding additional fields to add to the tables I have now — particularly where it comes to quantity and price per quantity. It’s kind of getting unruly, like scrolling off the right side of the page. I also am getting farther away in time from my Database Management class, so I’m wondering how we actually created the tables in the first place, for the project for that class. I know I had a hand in it; I’m just not sure what I did. (Not that Database Design is likely to be a task undertaken in any established library…but I’ve found that I do have access to at least two places where I can deal with setting up databases, entering data, and querying those databases.)

I’ve also just gotten through my MARC 21 unit, which is showing me that Cataloging (of books and other Library materials) is essentially database work. That’s not something I knew, early on in my training, but I can recognize it now. (Should I go back and take more classes in Cataloging, beyond August??? Maybe it depends on whether I have gainful employment by then, huh?)

I…have also found that training in JavaScript is not a waste of time (though I wouldn’t have known it without reading through stuff at the Career Center). However, if I get into Technical Services with any library, I may be put in charge of metrics and data visualization, which I can’t say I’m confident about. I’d have to take a class in it.

My last (completed) math class was in Statistics, and it was in undergrad. I did try to take Accounting, but I (seriously) got the flu and had to miss a four-hour class (or otherwise infect everybody), and didn’t know how to recover from that, so I dropped. I also began Calculus, but dropped early enough that I don’t know how I did (though I got the concept of derivatives okay).

The hard thing about this is that I’m not highly confident in my math skills, particularly where it comes to working things out by hand. I know I did it for years; I also know that my Math training was so intense that I didn’t have time to check my work. I can use basic Excel formulas fine, but…Algebra (minorly — I just need a refresher) and advanced Trigonometry are likely my weak points. I see that I can brush up on this online, however — and at a place where I’m already a member. For free. (I was never really taught what sin, cos, tan, sec, csc, cot, actually could be used for, in real life.)

At this point — after having gotten my degree — I’ve found a bunch of Advising information online. Of course, I don’t know that it existed at the time I went through the program. (Actually, I’m fairly certain it didn’t; there was a massive reboot of the website just as I left.) Anyway, there are certain job tasks outlined for differing sets of job types…and there are a number that deal with my skill set, particularly where it comes to Web authoring.

What I have found is that I’m relatively well prepared to work in an Academic setting, as I’ve been dealing with the Technical Services angle. Tech Services encompasses Collection Development (what items to gain access to, based on community needs and library mission), Acquisitions (budgeting and invoicing [?]), and Cataloging (describing items with the aim of increasing access). I’m interested in the first and last of those…though Cataloging is seriously full of rules. I’m no longer surprised that libraries are looking for people to do this work; I don’t think most people would want to do it. In fact, the system I’m in now mostly outsources this work, which is part of the reason I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.

However, if one is highly accurate and can tolerate micromanagement (I can deal with both of these — after all, needles are my friend), you know, it’s ideal. Not to be facetious, but there is a lot of Information Work that depends on adhering closely to standards. This is to ensure interoperability and ease of data transfer. Web work is not an exception to this; only, on the Web, bad code won’t run properly. In Cataloging, poorly-formed code is just poorly-formed or inaccurate code (so far as I can tell) — it’s not earth-shattering, like, “NOTHING WORKS WHAT DID YOU DO?!” as happens in Web Programming (which is probably the reason Git exists).

What’s interesting to me about this class I’m in now, is how much I don’t remember from Intro to Cataloging. The big deal about learning this after University is getting access to two different resources: the RDA Toolkit, and WebDewey. (Both of them are subscription-based, and I have experience with both.) I don’t recall at this point what we used to find Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Classification (LCC), though it’s probably in one or another of my bookmark files…or I might be able to just run a quick Google search and find something. I seem to remember them being available, possibly for free.

What’s weird is that I expected hardly any job openings to be available for Catalogers, but it seems there is still a place existent where one can make a living. It does seem like the work is being borne by general Librarians, though…which I’m not sure they would want, to be honest!

So the project now is to figure out whether I want to work in Public Services (it seems fun and different, but I know I’m not a naturally social person), or in Cataloging and some of the other back-end stuff like Web content management, Catalog Maintenance, or Metadata (“metadata,” is, “data about data,” and encompasses a few different types: Administrative, Technical, and Descriptive). I did aim to be a Metadata Librarian…it’s just that I need to widen my scope, a bit. A lot of the work I’m doing now would best have been done a few years ago… I bet if I had talked to someone back then about my misgivings with the program (and Intro to Cataloging), I wouldn’t have been put off the career track. However, next to my Management core class, and later on, Database Management, Intro to Cataloging was one of the toughest classes for me to get through. It might have been due to teaching style, though.

Would I be good being a Cataloger and doing beadwork as my hobby of choice on my off-hours, maybe to relax and make a little play money with (but not necessarily to teach)? I believe the answer is, “yes,” but I haven’t been a Cataloger, yet…