career, libraries, writing

Strengths

I began this post thinking that maybe Librarianship wasn’t a bad place to travel in my career, after all. Then I wrote out a few paragraphs, and realized…no, this…Public Services is something I really shouldn’t do. I mean, really should not.

When I first started a job as a Library Aide, I got a lot of pushback from patrons (including the guy who tried to get out of his fines by doing a “Godfather” impression). I was thinking how, after two to three years, after I learned to expect the unexpected, that mostly ended. Even given that: in reality as a Library Assistant, I was only on the Reference desk for seven months before COVID forced the libraries to close.

That is, I didn’t get the chance for things to become easy. They were never “easy” for me, at the Reference Desk, because that work is basically having to respond to the environment in the moment, never knowing what is going to happen next. It’s fielding random questions that I almost never know the answer to, offhand; and even if I did, best practice is to look it up, anyway. The problem is, when you’re at the Reference Desk, the patrons seem to always expect you to already know the answer to their questions. Because, you know, you’re the Librarian, and Librarians all know everything. Well — no. We know how to help find information, we don’t already know it.

Of course, finding information isn’t the hard part. Even trying to figure out what you really need to know so we can help you, isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is dealing with disruptive and criminal activity (most apparently from what I can tell: stalking), protecting some of our patrons (like youth) from others of our patrons, and routine policy violations: e.g. eating inside; letting one’s “Service” Pitbull sleep in the middle of a walkway around a blind corner where someone can trip over her or step on her or run her over with a 120-lb cart (and we’re trusting her not to bite? Not to bite?); leaving one’s dog tied up outdoors where he’s obviously in great distress and crying loudly for you to come back. For 45 minutes. Or worse, running around loose and unattended.

(Okay, maybe I have a thing about dogs.)

Then there are the people who are lonely and want to sit and talk to the person who is at work and can’t leave the desk (and just assume that she also wants to have a conversation — with them — at that time); or incessantly ask for assistance they don’t need, because they want social contact. As much as I wish I could say that we aren’t paid to be friends with people (which feels one step away from prostitution/consort work), upper Management seems to have no problem with expecting people to do so.

Then there are the people with (usually, assumed) mental problems who behave erratically (and/or ritualistically) and sometimes in a hostile manner, depending on the brain chemistry of the day. Not to mention the ones that will comment on librarians’ bodies (is that worse?), or ask intrusive personal questions. I guess, “because they want to know you.” And they don’t think that maybe you don’t have an interest in giving out facts about your personal life to someone you don’t know.

And yes, I did break up with somebody who insisted on calling me a, “sexy Librarian.” That **** doesn’t help. I don’t get a buzz out of being called “sexy,” especially when you’re simultaneously misgendering and stereotyping me. You are supposed to know better. I imagine you smacking your lips, self-satisfied — I am not the person you want me to be.

That is, there’s a host of interpersonal difficulties that come with being behind that desk, which are made even harder when one gets into libraries for the perceived safety, the inclusivity, and the information; and not, so much, to serve the public (meaning, “everyone who doesn’t violate policy [regardless of whether you agree with policy]”). When that’s compounded with a lack of effective training from Management on dealing with these points (and then chalked up by Management to the employee’s [or Manager’s] personal failing when it isn’t handled well), it’s not a good situation. Especially when one asked for applicable training, and had it denied.

But seriously: it was only seven months. Although that list up there ^ is from 10 years of experience.

Well, actually, maybe it is a good thing that I’m not in Public Service right now, and I really should aim for Cataloging Librarianship. The thing is, I’m not sure to what degree I will be able to both handle a job as a basic, “Librarian,” and also avoid Public Service. Kind of like I’m not sure to what degree I can be a Metadata Librarian and also avoid Computer Programming.

Or how I can learn Computer Programming without my brain screeching out of stress. I’m not a Programmer. At least, not at this point; but I would suspect, not ever. Markup Languages (HTML, XML) and Stylesheets (CSS; I stopped at XSLT) are different, but higher-level functionality (XPath, and I suspect JavaScript) makes my brain hurt. Then there is MySQL and…I think it was, Oracle (that is, an instance of Relational Database Design & Implementation, and language to Query that database). That wasn’t great, either.

And no, I didn’t know what I was getting into before I got into it.

I’m thinking it has a lot to do with all the vocabulary getting mixed up together: entities, attributes, elements, relations, values, etc. And the teachers using the terms like we already know what they mean, when I have to think about the definitions of words within at least three different compound terms just to try to understand a single sentence.

Given that…I realize that, in contrast, I have a lot of insight into social dynamics, even though I’m not a particularly social person. Last night, I was writing a post on my own…facilities, and special knowledge. I realized that my personal experience with disability (my own, and others’), and my mental focus around the area of marginalization in general…probably would help me in a Public Services capacity. (Not so much as a different temperament would, but.)

I do suppose that with everything that I’ve experienced, I’d also likely be good as an Academic Librarian.

What I realized, when I was writing my post, is that I have deep, visceral knowledge of what it’s like to be a multiply-impacted minority in this country. It’s…something that I am not entirely aware of, until weighing the benefit I could bring someone else through my experience, and realize that — for something like Ethnic Studies or Gender Studies (and hey look, there is a Disability Studies [now]), I have direct experience of what it’s like to live through what a lot of people just read about.

That is, I forget that my experience could be influenced by others altering the way they deal with me because of my (ambiguous) race in addition to my sex in addition to my apparent gender (which is not my gender) in addition to my apparent age (which is not my age), while my disability’s stigma (after I reveal I have one) can cause fear in those who are supposed to help, and none of the random sexual attention from men on the job is wanted (that is, I’m not a heterosexual woman, and I certainly don’t want a man who starts off by playing power games based on who he thinks I am [that is, subordinate to him], based on my appearance).

Wow, that’s…clear.

Maybe I should just be a Writer. It’s a solitary vocation. Of course, though, it requires a second income. And also, reading; which is not entirely…something I feel comfortable prioritizing while I’m in classes, but it would feed my writing.

I’m having two issues with my writing, right now.

One, when I spend the majority of my time writing, I cut down on time that I should be spending reading in order to enter into dialogue with other ideas and other writers.

Two, when I write, I write some things that I don’t feel safe publishing (even with the First Amendment; this country can be grievously unfair when it comes to the full protection of minority citizens), and that stops the entire discursive process in my mind. What I know I need to do is write my way through that content, without intending on publishing it, so I can get to what’s after it. Or, develop what I’ve written before. I don’t even necessarily know what I’ve been doing for the last week, but I know I haven’t been working on any of my Creative Writing projects. Or art projects (other than setting up the new palette).

Ah, that’s right: I’ve been working on second language acquisition (which by its nature is very basic) — particularly, new kanji — and my class. Hmm.

Then, there’s the point that major life decisions have come up within the last week.

I’ve also been writing, here, and that takes more time than I realize. One recent post took five hours. I’ve been writing this one, since last night.

I don’t feel so bad, anymore. The thing is, in my evenings, I can write here or in my notebooks, and/or study Japanese language. In the daytime, when my mind is sharper, I should be studying Library Science. Maybe after that, I can read in English and, you know, develop content…though perhaps the book I’m attempting to read isn’t actually interesting to me, right now. Regardless of its disputable topic aligning with my interests.

I still need to be looking at Writing and Editing jobs. Seriously. Even if Editing is an interpersonally-intense vocation, at least I wouldn’t be dealing with the general public. I’d be dealing with approved Writers and other people in the Publishing Industry. Not that that would necessarily be easier…

…but I know Writers. I’ve been around Writers. I’m a trained Writer.

Maybe it would be. (There’s also the fact that if I’m an Editor, the authors of the works I commission probably wouldn’t be as likely to overstep their bounds — because hey, it’s hard to get a book deal. And Editors aren’t designated as, “Public Servants,” which some members of the Public interpret to mean, “sub-human and unworthy of respect.” [And we wonder why minority Librarians are apt to leave the field?])

So right now…I know that I want to be reading and writing, and learning Japanese language (nihongo), and working on my class. That’s enough to plan on — right?

Reading and writing could further my career in the direction of becoming a published Author, which could help me become an Editor or Professor. Learning nihongo could further my career in the direction of becoming a Japanese Language & Literature Professor, and/or an Academic Librarian with a Subject Specialization in Japanese Language and Literature and Creative Writing. And my current class allows me further specialization in Cataloging Librarianship.

As for hobbies: drawing and watercolor, fountain pens/stationery, sewing, beadwork (weaving, stringing, micromacramé) are current…but the only things I’ve been doing recently have been playing with pens and stationery, and trying to organize my watercolors.

As for specializations: we have diversity & inclusion — especially in regard to LGBTQIA, cultural and racial diversity, neurodiversity. Then there are color interactions & color harmonies, which tie together my hobbies. Beaded micromacramé. Jewelry design. Parapsychological thrillers. Library Science.

…and maybe…just maybe, I should work on sewing that blouse I cut out at the beginning of lockdown. Making and altering clothing could be a valuable skill, even if I can’t see myself as a clothing designer, at this point.

And, regardless…it might take my mind off things…

career, LIS, psychology, self care, writing

Learning to die

No, I haven’t yet read Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton (2015). I don’t know how much it applies here, but…it may apply.

Just to let you know, I’m really pushing myself to get back on here and write. I have been keeping an offline journal, for myself…it’s just a bit harder to scan than this blog, though. As regards re-learning a cursive hand, I’ve decided to stop trying to force myself, as it isn’t as legible as my printing. It pretty much looks worse, too…which kind of evades the point.

Things are still kind of tense with me. Since my last class ended, I’ve had nothing that I’ve really been forced to do. I have two more classes which are about to start up, which at least will give me weekly projects to complete…on top of going back over my Portfolio, which it’s obvious (to me) I don’t want to do, but may be key in gaining future employment. Especially if I’m going for a technical position.

Right now I’m at a juncture between Web Development and Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship…the latter two being focused on the organization of information, the former meaning ability to communicate with a computer so it does what I want it to do (which is display information in a readable [and just maybe, hopefully, pleasant] manner*).

*”That’s for the UX people to figure out!” you say.

I should get back to the book, Careers in Writing, by Blythe Camenson. Because…right now, I’m actually thinking about writing for money. I think I’m in too deep with the content angle of Librarianship (after all, I have an Art and an English degree) to switch over totally to being a Web Developer.

Web Development as a career has the possibility of taking over the rest of my life. While it would be good money (if I were competent, which is not guaranteed, with an Art and an English degree), there are things I want to do besides help other people publish online. I might not have enough time for myself if I go for Web Development; it requires constantly staying on top of new technology. I’m pretty sure I’d get fried.

Right now, I’m angled toward Cataloging…and I’ll see where I stand, in a bit. I’m set up to take a class on Statistics, which will help as a foundation for text- or data-mining. Text- and data-mining help in determining the “aboutness” of a digital, text-based document. I’m also in a Subject Classification course, which will help me efficiently determine the subjects of texts in a more cognitive way.

That’s…barring any calamity which may happen between now and August. I took my in-person Spanish test about a week and a half ago (and didn’t pass: not even close; they must have been desperate; it’s like, “just tell me if I need to be at the level where I use this every day, so I can tell whether or not to even entertain this”), and so…I have until Thursday to have to still be on alert to anyone (including myself) becoming sick. (It’s now Monday morning, here.) M had mentioned an irritated throat on Sunday night, which…is not great, but there’s nothing I can really do about it; and the best she can do is rest.

What is scary is that COVID-19 can apparently infect and kill, very quickly (there was one victim in the news who was infected and died within 3 days — which I consider to be on the level of Ebola). At the time I was asked to take the Spanish test, I was unaware that there was a concurrent spike in new viral transmissions in our county. That fact wasn’t available until the hospitals started to fill up.

I am very concerned about hospitals having to make decisions about who gets treatment and who doesn’t, based upon pre-existing conditions…which could easily stray into eugenics, if it is not already eugenics. Especially, now. I doubt that they’re separating out the cases who got the disease by being personally and voluntarily irresponsible from people who were staying at home and doing their best.

Anyhow.

The thing to do, in this case, is likely to prepare myself to be independent as quickly as possible. That means…I should be driven to help cook, at the least. At the moment, I still don’t have the facility to drive, which matters in my area. Those are the two major life functions that I haven’t had to engage. Well, and there’s a third: paying bills. And doing taxes.

If everything turns out fine, that’s great: but if it doesn’t, I might be a little better prepared than otherwise. Maybe it would help me relax a bit (as versus panic)?

The problem I’m facing is a lack of information…and that information (whether or not we are all still safe) will only be revealed with time. And past that point in time, it’s uncertain again. (In actuality, the situation may be constantly uncertain.) My major blessing in this case, should it come, would only be that it would not be my direct fault that my mother became ill — this time.

But yeah…I wasn’t really briefed on the situation before we went out, either; and I have a feeling my parents were both shielding me from the information because they know that I have issues with germ phobia in the first place. I don’t really want to tell them that I didn’t even want to take the test. But we know the level at which I have to function now, in a bilingual environment…and I’m not at it.

I’m honestly not even sure now that I’d be at the level of functioning I’d need to be, as a Spanish-language Cataloger. Which is good to know. (Seriously, I look at some of the subject headings we use in English, and I don’t know what they all mean.) If I want an Academic Library job, though, proficiency in Spanish is likely the easiest route to solidify that “second language” requirement.

And no, I don’t know if it’s good or bad that when I read in Spanish, I immediately start to translate into English. It’s a very different dynamic than with Japanese language.

If we can make it through this…if I can look back on this from the future and see a learning opportunity and not a harbinger, my parents have told me that I don’t have to worry about getting another job immediately. It’s safer to hang back until we either have a treatment or a vaccine.

The thing is, right now, I don’t know how long any of us will be able to survive (especially given the fact that this virus likes to mutate). But I don’t predict the future well, which has always been a blessing — given that I tend to neuroses. I stopped writing fiction because I knew I tended to get carried off with my own stories, have I told you all that?

It might actually be time for me to write down my own, “wisdom,” so much as it may be. Just codify it. Whatever form it takes, just get it out. Then decide what to do with it, later. Decide if it’s true, later. Or leave it to others…like my sister, who told me that I have my own story and it deserves to be told…

career, libraries, LIS, personal, psychology

Retrospective

Granted, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to come out of me as I write my first post in five days…just try to bear with me. One of the things that has been on my mind, is employment. Particularly, working in the private sector of the economy, as versus governmental infrastructure. (In the United States, Public Libraries are governmental institutions, as it is not possible to maintain a liberal democracy with an uneducated public.)

Or…being able to specialize and work in a job in which I know the answers to questions, as versus working in a public service position where all day, I’m asked questions I don’t immediately know the answers to. Maybe I just need to work on my phrasing, like, “Let me see if I can help you find an answer to that,” rather than, “I don’t know, but I’ll try” (which is how I feel, a lot of the time — even though, a lot of the time, I can help them find their answer).

Yes, it’s true: “librarians” don’t possess encyclopedic knowledge about the world. We just know how to navigate the world of information in order to find sources in which your questions might be able to be answered. (I put “librarians” in quotes because not everyone who works in a library is a Librarian — but everyone who works there is assumed to be, by many, many people. Kind of like some people assume the title of, “Public Servant,” to be a hierarchical statement, which it is not. The people at the DMV are not slaves. Neither am I.)

That also doesn’t mean we’ve read all the books. That’s one of those things I learned as a Library Aide (i.e. Shelver), from the professional Librarians.

And I’m kind of tired. I mean, seriously. I’ve only been in this position for nine months (2.5 of which have been on lockdown), and the amount of time I’ve spent having to draw off of my own resources because of system downtime and the like…it’s incredible.

Well — I have been on lockdown for over 70 days, which has caused me to realize how much stress I do have about going in to work. I’ve just been doing it because I’ve felt I had to. Like there was nothing better.

To be honest, a lot of getting into this field had to do with salary, emotional safety, and health benefits — along with the fact that writing, for pretty much all of my undergraduate years, had been one of my only constants (the other was my family). That, in turn, happened because during my freshman year — at a different University — I realized that being asked to write nothing for months, and then turn in a huge paper at the end of the quarter, wasn’t working for me.

I was also aware of being gender-different, somewhere in there, though I didn’t quite realize it until I met people who identified as transgender (and actually figured out what the “T” in “LGBT” meant, and that it was separate from issues of sexual attraction). I’m not sure when that was, exactly: I wasn’t keeping a journal, back then. It’s kind of like I can’t tell if I was actually required to write a 60-page paper at the end of the quarter, or if it just felt that way.


But there were so many things that threw me for a loop in early college. Not kidding. Sociology was one of them. And I did really love my Astronomy course. And my Japanese language classes.

The problem was the extremely high ratio of freshmen to everyone else on the campus (I went despite knowing there was a 60% freshmen turnover rate, which was my fault). There were also unresolved problems with infrastructure, culture, and the fact that at the time I graduated (from a different [commuter] University), pretty much all of my debt had been accrued while I was living in the dorms or apartments, from my first 5 quarters.

Still: living on my own was a really liberating experience, for me. I can’t say I now approve of everything I did, because I obviously was being impacted by an undiagnosed mental disorder at the time; but just to get away from my parents and everyone who knew me (well, most of them), that was instrumental in being able to figure out who I was. Because at the end of high school, I really didn’t know.

Looking back on it, I would have done better to go to Junior College first, and then transfer into a University program after I had better self-knowledge. And, you know, a plan. That wasn’t what happened, though.

Then there is the fact that through most of my College and University years…I’ve been going through without Advisement. I didn’t know how important it was at my first University (where it was not mandatory), and I don’t really remember much of it at my second University. Then, in Grad School…if I had not withdrawn and later returned, I might have had access to a student advisor. Junior College (which I returned to after Undergrad and before Grad School) is the place I remember having people who would actually try to help me figure out a life path.

As it was, no one signed me up for an advisor when I re-entered the system in Graduate work. I tried to get one and was told that the program I had been told about didn’t exist. There was also another feed I was supposed to be signed up for when I re-entered, which I only found out I was missing out on during my last semester when I tried to graduate.

Having worked in a Library for 10 years, I was also repeatedly told by my parents that I, “didn’t need an Internship,” when it was recommended by my school to take at least two or three before graduation. I do have experience, but all of it has been within the same County system, and all (aside from schoolwork, which had me branching out into an Archive) within Public Libraries.


So…you can see my path has been kind of fraught. Not to mention that my upper-division courses in Undergrad were focused on Fiction writing…which is known not to pay the bills. (I didn’t know it at the time I entered the major, however.) That is why I went into Librarianship, because Librarianship, at least, could earn a decent income, and I could double-task my reading. By that, I mean that working in a Public Library requires at least some reading, and writing your own fiction most definitely requires reading others’ work.

(Not that it really…is pressing on me to write a novel, anymore. Things might change if I went back to reading fiction. There’s just so much that I haven’t seen come out, which I could give life to. But if I don’t read it, I don’t notice the gaping holes in content.)

Earlier on, I also had my eye on San Francisco Public, which was one of the only places in the country, at the time, to cover Female-to-Male reconstructive chest surgery. Otherwise, it was a $7000 out-of-pocket expense. Regular health insurance wouldn’t cover it (though this was around a decade ago; some HMOs will cover this surgery, now).

I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted; and I’ve ended up not taking the option, as I’ve realized that what’s going on with me is more complicated than, “being a man.” I’m not really a man. I also knew — as someone with a disability requiring lifelong care (no, I don’t mean my gender issues) — that in an era before the Affordable Care Act, I actually needed health care. At the very least, I needed mental health and pharmacy coverage: the medication I was put on to treat one of my diagnoses (at its worst, it’s life-threatening if untreated), was extremely expensive.

Of course, the patent has expired and now we’re into generics for that one medication, so it is no longer a huge price gouge. But for a time, it was — or would have been, had I been kicked off of my medical coverage after I aged out of the system and had to reapply with a, “preexisting condition,” which the same HMO had diagnosed. At the time, it was legal to charge exorbitant rates if one needed health insurance and wasn’t totally healthy…which undermines the reason behind health insurance existing, but I digress.


During my college years, I did read: and I read a lot. The thing is…I hardly read a lot, on my own. I did it to fulfill assignments, and to learn; with the major exception being learning about Buddhism and Occultism in my University Library. (They actually had Gems from the Equinox!) The problem I can see here is that my reading choices reflect my own hangups and concerns about the state of the world. So…they aren’t the most enjoyable things to read. They are, however, oddly comforting. (Even A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, gives me some respite: if the end of life is actually an end, that means I don’t have to deal with this world being messed up for an age or so, as doctrines of reincarnation, rebirth, or Hell, suggest.)

At this point I know that people getting killed off by disease, for example, has been a norm in enough of the rest of the times and peoples of the world, that I shouldn’t really be surprised if it becomes a norm, now. Also, heard about the end-Permian extinction (a.k.a. “The Great Dying”)? There was about 9x as much carbon dioxide (from vulcanism) in the air as there is today (if I recall correctly: from The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, by Stephen Brusatte). Most life on the planet died off. But as a biosphere, we made it through, somehow.

What’s going on now…dense population centers and ease of global transportation have made it easy for microorganisms to spread. Whereas before, an outbreak like COVID-19 may have occurred, the effects would have been localized. The virus causing the illness may have died out (it’s never a good idea for a being dependent on its hosts, to kill them off — did I read that in The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton? And if so, was he talking about us?).

The conditions we have put in place, however, have enabled, “one weedy species,” to take hold, and instead of the disappearance of Panamanian Golden Frogs, it’s affecting our species directly, this time. (The quote is from The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, page unknown. [Sorry, I decided not to mark up the book until later…])

I wonder if I do read a lot.


Well. I have, in the past. But obviously, not widely enough. It was in high school that I realized I didn’t know how to write female characters. That should have told me something; what it did tell me, I’m not sure. Perhaps, that I was not a woman.

But I believe, from this point looking back, that this development (or lack of one) was largely in relation to not having been exposed to effective, original, fully-developed woman characters with emotional range in the majority of the books I had to read as I was growing up (the major exception being the “Dragonriders of Pern” series by Anne McCaffrey, though I didn’t really see those characters as being gendered, and I didn’t have to read them).

I mean, yeah, we read Ellison and Hemingway and Golding. But name an influential female character in Invisible Man, or Lord of the Flies, or pretty much anything by Hemingway. They aren’t there.

Then there is Anne Rice, whom I may get titters at for having read when I was a teen. (She used to write erotica under the name, “A. N. Roquelaure”…it’s disturbing. Seriously. My University Library had some of it — I made the mistake of reading it.)

Now that I think of it, though: Akasha in The Vampire Lestat was a main player (even though she was likely literally insane). Same with Claudia, though I can’t recall ever actually having read Claudia’s story (I think it was contained in Interview with the Vampire, which I never read…it was kind of painful, being one of Rice’s earlier books). And there is Gabrielle (Lestat’s mother), who comes in as a deus ex machina at the end of Vampire Lestat.

Then there is Violin, which was more interesting to me. Nor have I read her “Mayfair Witches” series. Now that I look it up on Wikipedia, I wonder if I want to…ugh.

Also, the fact that she is a female author writing these things…I would suggest could contribute to the idea that women, you know, can have personalities. But there is the question of why so many of her main characters are male, as well: Louis, Lestat, Nicki, Armand, Marius.

Maybe she had the same problem I did; just having been exposed to so little material that writing female characters who matter, and have personalities and lives and power, and who don’t circle around men, becomes difficult. Also, as a lot of this stuff blends with history…the womens’ stories may just have been too painful to write (though I can see that angle coming in with the Mayfair Witches saga).

So I guess there is stuff out there…it may just not be anything “classical” (unless you’re looking at Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and the like, which…seriously, I hated having to read. Almost as frustrating as getting to page 400-out-of-600-something in Moby Dick [after which, I gave up], but not quite).

Maybe I underestimate the amount I’ve read…maybe majoring in Creative Writing and being around a huge number of prolific readers, can do that to you?


The question I started out with at the beginning of this post was, “If I’m not going to be a Librarian, what am I going to be?” That is still not clear. What this post has clarified for me, though, is that maybe I actually do have a good shot at being a Librarian. Even if I have a side job for a while, working in a bead store or for a small fabric store. Just out of love.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have to set up my own database, but if I do, I’ve had practice at it, already. But what’s clear is that I’m getting a bit old to be consciously attempting to follow in my Dad’s footsteps. I don’t have to be a Web Developer if I don’t want to be. (He wasn’t even ever really a Web Developer — he just worked intensely with computer systems.)

There is a course that has come up, which I’m pretty sure will be useful for me; at least, if I continue in the role that I’m in now, or become a Public Services Librarian. It has to do with dealing with customers with active/untreated psychiatric disorders. (It happens very, very often in Public Libraries.) Essentially, this class will help with any role that puts me into the front line of contact with the public — or into managing front-line workers.

That would apply in a good number of places; and would keep me safer where it comes to dealing with the public. In self-defense they teach how to kill people who are attacking one, but not how to effectively de-escalate a situation which hasn’t yet reached that point (like, if you don’t want to kill them or hurt them or touch them). The latter, I have to learn somewhere else. Which…is ridiculous, but hey. Some people specialize in the latter. It probably isn’t martial arts masters.

Public Services Librarianship isn’t my final goal, but it may be an intermediate step. From here, I think I’d be happy in Technical Services: specifically, Cataloging and Information Retrieval (including Metadata Librarianship), or Collection Assessment and Development — which will probably go by different names, if not different job functionality, by that time.

Particularly, there has recently been a merge between Technical Services (which also includes Acquisitions), Information Technology, and Management Sections which has happened within my professional association. So…however things go in the future, it does look like what I’ve been dealing with and interested in, may actually be possible from within the same Section. Whether that will trickle down to the division of labor within American libraries, is yet to be seen…

Business, career, jewelry, libraries, psychology, self care, work

Relax, kid. You have options.

I remember now, something I learned in Library School: you don’t have to do the most difficult thing possible for you to do, just because it’s difficult. Challenging myself constantly may not be the easiest route forward, in life. Yes, I’m talking about COVID-19 and myself working in a public service position based on gathering and sharing, with chronic OCD and a germ phobia. All that has to happen is for someone to cough on me. That’s all that has to happen.

If I were living alone, this may not be such a big issue: but I’m living with two parents over the age of 65, which puts them at high risk. Given that I still need them to support me (I still can’t drive)…that’s not great. Also given that my sibling is an ocean away and that my nearby family is not known for their mental stability (it’s hereditary, except I’m taking care of my dysfunction instead of denying it)…also, not great.

Right now…I’m at a relatively unique place: a juncture at which I’ve never before been. I’ve got job experience, extensive training, schooling. My debt is taken care of, due to family. I’m still with a program designed to help people like myself (I am legally disabled — though I didn’t realize my OCD alone would grant me protections). I question now, however, how much that program has been or will be able to help me further (aside from assistance with learning to drive…or obtaining a job which is not public service).

I know for a fact that they weren’t aware of the reality of working within a Public Library system when they recommended I try it, for example. I had run-ins with two creeps early on (one of whom was a known stalker), which I was entirely unprepared for. But that’s normal, for a Public frikkin’ Library.

Essentially…I have a lot of freedom, right now. God knows how long that will last, but right now I have the ability to pretty much do what I want. Over the last few weeks of the quarantine, I’ve started to get back to what comforts me: making things. It takes my mind off of the stress. I really don’t know everything about how it works; I just know it does. Today I received an order of cords in the mail…kind of makes me want to cry, but not in a bad way. It’s nice to have the money for these things.

I still need to re-register for a seller’s permit (which will enable me to pay tax at point of sale of finished items instead of at point of purchase of materials)…but I can see an extended market for face coverings right now, as well as for jewelry (although I am very aware that jewelry is not a life necessity: it’s a luxury, and people may not have much money for luxuries in the near future). The key thing here…is that if I get (or maintain) a relatively stable part-time job in order to finance the making, I could bloom that income.

Right now, I know what I have saved, and I know a bit about what I could earn. The question is whether I could emotionally tolerate the work: I’d rather work with objects or data, not people…but the position I’m in now is almost entirely composed of working with people. Then there is the fact that working with data most likely means working with numbers (at least if I’m dealing with Big Data)…not my favorite thing to do. That leaves, objects…from which, I’m learning a surprising amount. (Not least, I’m recalling my Geometry — which was one of my favorite topics when it came to Math.)

As well…the surge in physical productivity I experienced recently…that only happened once I tried to commit myself to language as an art form. Then I realized that I didn’t want to do it. There are reasons for this…prime among them is the fact that language in many ways could be said to attempt (and repeatedly fail) to encase reality. I know about this personally.

It’s much easier to exist outside of the confines of language, for me. Working with other languages highlights the biases of English…however, both Spanish and Japanese (the two non-English languages I’ve been most closely acquainted with) have their own strong biases (gender in the first case, hierarchy in the second), and I’d expect the trend of cultural quirks to continue across the myriad of world languages I don’t know about.

Working with images…or literally with fabric or glass, it isn’t the same thing. Color reaches people on a much more basic level than words do. As for why or how, I’m still not certain — or perhaps the part of my mind that can think and type in words, can’t comprehend what the rest of it, knows. (I wouldn’t be surprised.) But there’s way more to me, than just language; and I’m wishing to explore that, at this point.

This reminds me of a game I heard of recently…I’m not sure whether or not it’s Gris, but there are no words spoken in the game…which has really fantastic implications for the way it is received globally and cross-culturally. This is the same reason I was initially into MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) encoding — everyone had to learn it, it wasn’t language-specific; but right now, as I’ve heard, it’s one of the oldest legacy technologies and is set to be replaced by Linked Data…

Gah, now I’m getting technical and not knowing how to describe this. But Linked Data also works across different languages and vocabularies.

That does give me more of a sense of peace, than not. On that point, I wonder if I should be a member of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions). Even if I only had the opportunity to work in New Zealand or Australia or Singapore, those could be good options.

I think that with the Library work…I’m going to aim to become a Cataloger. It will keep me working with items (as versus people), and maybe it will be easier for me. If I can’t find a job within a Library system itself, I can work for a company that provides pre-cataloged items to libraries. If not that, hey — it isn’t like item description, organization, and retrieval is any less of a problem, anywhere else.

And I do have some coding skills…

Maybe I should invest in that. I could help with website development for bead shops desiring a Web presence, for example…