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…

organization

I feel kind of bad, for not wanting to make a bead database.

However, making a database to catalog my beads, is overkill. At the end I would have something that could be utilized for (at least a section of) a small bead shop. Do I really want that? No. Not unless I want to be the Inventory Manager for a small bead shop…which I have thought of…

I have, however, thought of taking the label-maker and labeling different storage areas. It would be a step in the right direction. Then, when I separate out beads into these areas (as with the kits I occasionally create), I can note which drawer they’re in, or something. That way, when I’m looking for a specific tube of beads and I know it’s in a kit, and I don’t remember where I left it, I can look back at my records and the last action date, and it will give me a place to begin looking.

The major issue I can see right now is not having recorded (or even, sometimes, not even having the data to record) the descriptive information on each type of bead I have. This collection dates back to the 1990’s, so it’s likely that there is data that has been permanently lost (particularly price, initial quantity, and color name), because I didn’t think it mattered.

I guess I could remedy this by making a numerical Item ID field (with information correspondent to a record on each bag or vial…reminiscent of what I’ve seen in use, in bead stores, and in my library), but somehow that also seems to be overkill…

And I find myself going off-track with this stuff. I was on a roll until I tried to bring Information Science into it…whereas I think I was good before, because I was doing what I wanted to do (making jewelry), not what I thought I was supposed to be doing (organizing).

Anyhow, I still need to re-pot my Dwarf Umbrella Plant, and clean my bedroom and my office. It’s not like I really want to do either of the latter two things, but it will help. I’ll just have to take (yet another) shower, tonight…though if I bind up my hair right now, it will be much easier.

I should also remember to look at my records here, if I find myself without any idea of what I should be doing…

Business training

Bead database?

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, but the biggest thing I have to report is that building a set of spreadsheets detailing each bead type, cost, color, and location, is a bit forbidding. However, it could make for an interesting project, if I were to design a database for this information (just for practice, and to show to potential employers).

This would take me from my 202 class, through Relational Database Design and Implementation, and possibly further, into actualization…though that does mean that I have to do further work in programming. I would likely be using some form of SQL (Structured Query Language) for information retrieval. That means that once I get to the point of having tables in the correct configuration, and have populated those tables with data, I would need to run some type of SQL queries in order to retrieve anything.

Data entry is its own big thing, though.

To create a database of this type, I need to analyze my needs; isolate the information categories and types that would fulfill those needs; create a Data Dictionary to standardize data entry among the different categories; organize those categories into conceptually-related tables; determine the relationships between the tables; determine whether each pair of tables is in a one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many relationship; determine the keys for each table upon which all else depends; normalize the tables; create the tables in proper order within a database program so that they build upon themselves; populate those tables with information; then create structured queries to retrieve needed information.

It’s a lot of work just to get to the end point of knowing where I’ve stowed things. I mean, I could just look (because my collection is small enough, for now). Not to mention that I’ve brainstormed 24 descriptive fields so far that would be ideal to include, though some of these are dependent upon others. For instance, beads of Type, “seed”, would include an “aught” category, whereas no others would. Also, I could include different “Size” and “Appearance” tables, so that I would only have to put in a masstone color (e.g., “blue”), once, and be able to mix and match those variables across items.

I guess…if I want practice, here’s practice. And it’s practical…practice.

I’m too tired to think about this now…but I still have my texts and my notes and old assignments. Maybe even my slides. I can review, tomorrow.

craft, organization, storage

Disorganized, despite it all

Yes, I spent at least 20 or 30 minutes tonight looking around for a vial of Crystal Celsian MiniDuos that were right in front of me, on the table. DIS-ORGANIZED. Or maybe just absent-minded. (Google “Crystal Celsian” to see photos of this surface treatment; it’s basically a light transparent gold.)

I’ve recently been dealing with the use of specialized bead shapes — SuperDuos, MiniDuos, 3mm Magatamas, 3x4mm Drops, O-beads, and Miyuki Spacer Beads (as versus Toho Demi Rounds, which is what I thought I had, last time I wrote).

I believe that I’m becoming interested, now, in more and different things, than the main design I worked out last. I suppose I did make two samples, one trial and two final versions…though I need to replace the clasp on one (the blue one), and I have identified at least one more colorway I could work through. Well, two: one in rose and green (like the second sample I made), and one in magenta and teal.

Yeah, that sounds kind of close, but in one, the pink dominates; in the second, the teal does. Right now, I’m interested more in the dusty rose one, as it looks less like a daisy chain than I believe the teal one may work out to appear. It has to do with color placement.

I should note the C-Lon colors I used in the previous three; the first two (Capri Blue 6/0s plus 4mm Green Iris fire-polished rounds) were “Eggplant”; the third was “Persian Indigo”. That’s in case I need to replace these spools, if the colors are still being made. The color was on a sticky band on the outside of the spool — designed for identification among many similar spools — not designed to be kept.

I’m trying to figure out a scalable method of reliably storing these things, and figuring out a way to keep notes on what I would otherwise keep together in a kit for future use. The disadvantage of kits is the fact that when something’s stashed in a kit (like a vial of SuperDuos I was looking for tonight), it’s not findable — unless there is a designated place for that kit. Like a special, labeled drawer.

Right now I have a toolbox with — well, tools — but it is not large enough or organized enough to reasonably take my beads.

I’m thinking of putting what I can, into my flat storage. There’s not much point to my keeping my flat archives in that space and losing the use of it, when I could be putting actively used materials in there. There is the fact that if I did get a job in an Academic Library, and did go into making art at the graduate level, I might want some of this stuff as portfolio material (if I tried to get into an MFA program). But — not everything is portfolio-quality material.

At this point, I know that it would be best to store beads of the same shape and size, together. When I was younger, I mostly collected size 11/0 beads; they’re about 2mm long (smaller sizes have higher numbers; thus, 15/0 is smaller than 11/0, and 8/0 is smaller than 6/0). This is…very small to me, now. As an 11-18 year old, 2mm is fine. As someone whose eyes are aging, it’s not the size I want to work at, unless there actually is a reason for it.

That makes me sound kind of old. Not that there’s anything wrong with old (I prefer myself at this age to myself with less experience and understanding), but still. I’m watching everyone around me aging, and I’m physically aging, as well. What I mean, partially, is that when you’re small and your vision is better (like when you don’t routinely get eye strain and unclear vision from not wearing your glasses), tiny beads don’t seem so tiny.

Mostly, when I’m working with micro-macramé, I’m not going down to 11/0 size beads, even though it is possible with standard C-Lon cord. A lot of that is just a convenience factor. When being threaded, 11/0 beads tend to flex the C-Lon and then launch onto the floor, where they bounce and roll and get underfoot: that’s a risk of broken glass, if they’re lost. Beadweaving with 11/0s is a different matter, mostly because it’s a very different process; needles don’t spring the beads away. (I draw the line at sizes smaller than 15/0. [I wonder what it would be like to be nearsighted–!])

I’ve done a lot towards the end of organizing vials and hanks of beads, moving through storage solution after storage solution. First it was plastic shoeboxes; then milky plastic stacking organizers; then tubs from IKEA; then free-standing vial holders (which are still useful); now clear drawers and sampling vials (also useful). The major issues are the fact that most of these storage solutions are temporary, in that they stop being available; and that the level of use of each of these sizes and colors and shapes of bead really should have a say in how I store them.

I’m just not sure how to implement that — especially as mixing the beads up encourages “happy accidents” which would not otherwise occur. There’s the possibility of building a database…which I’m probably more prepared to do than most people, but that’s — seriously! — a lot of thought and a lot of work.

I also don’t know if I can reasonably reformat a database that I create and then can’t properly delete (this has to do with table dependency…not to bore you with the details, but tables [think spreadsheets, but fragmented according to purpose, and more organized] must be created and deleted in proper order to make sure things will function or be deleted properly, or that a table can be created without error, in the first place. This is part of relational database design and implementation, one of the only classes to recently frighten me).

The possibility of using a purchased database system (right now, I’m thinking of Access, because it likely natively integrates Excel tables; but Access likely doesn’t look as good as, say, MariaDB, in a tech environment) has occurred to me, but the cost there is even more prohibitive. There are likely one or more free and/or open-source solutions that don’t involve cloud storage (I’m looking at some, now), but I’d have to be on top of my programming and querying skills to actually make that work.

I could do it. I just don’t want to (right now), because I’m not confident enough. It would be something that would make me a good candidate for certain jobs, though…

Then there is the question of what to do with the nine left-over beads from the 1990’s (fashion faux pas?) which I just used in a bracelet, or the eight rondelles that are taking up space in their own vial which is way too big for them, but the tiniest I have. I’m heavily considering moving back to tiny baggies; the environmental impulse in me just hates it because I know all plastic eventually disintegrates, and there’s no saving tiny baggies that shred from age. They have a lifespan — after which, they’re useless and basically just choke sea life.

Of course, there’s also the question of what to do with your vials, once the lids begin to crack and smell and decay. It’s not much better. At least the baggies don’t give off volatile compounds when they get old…

Right now I have six sets of clear plastic drawers (one here is empty; the third, I just began to use; the other two — I don’t recall what’s happening with them. Oh, right. One of those has hanks of Czech seed beads; the other has unique-to-the-collection beads, like multi-hole beads that wouldn’t fit with the other Czech glass). There are also at least four sets of small vials in transparent cases. I mostly use the latter as a way of visualizing color combinations, and have been using the beads from the vials. I have not had to refill one yet. I’ve also been reusing older, now-empty clear vials that came with purchases, which are still functional.

I guess in this age, mitigating waste is a better option than mindlessly throwing things away. It would just be nice if there were a convenient, inexpensive, transparent, and scalable design solution that involved something that wouldn’t outlive me.

But yeah, I just described plastic…and the main drawback to using it. I’m confident something will eventually be developed, but it’s not here, right now.

Well, tomorrow I have three main things to look for at the bead store, and one optional:

  1. brass toggle clasp
  2. clearly green drop beads (3x4mm)
  3. green SuperDuos or MiniDuos.
  4. (optional) brown fire-polished beads

I think I can get the rest of it through other sources. I’m seriously considering selling, again, if not looking forward to, or planning on it…

…and none of this is going to help the fact that making designs that are actually creative and unexpected, comes only from getting a bunch of stuff out so I can see it all at once. (“Yes, a bracelet came from this disaster zone. Why?”)