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.

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.

food, self care

Restarting cooking.

Today marks the start of my cooking again for the first time in…likely, months, if not longer. I’ve needed to begin learning (and practicing) again. One of the few things that I actually know how to do without any help (and have done relatively frequently) is tabbouleh. There’s that, cornbread, and various salads (mixed green, Waldorf, fruit, bean, etc.), that I can remember offhand.

Because I have a tendency to be overly cautious (verging on paranoid) about kitchen hygiene, I’ve been hesitant to prepare things containing meat…particularly poultry. For about as long as I can remember, we’ve had stomach trouble from various…sources. Which I won’t name. What I can say is that growing up and eating other people’s cooking (outside of my immediate family) has frequently and repeatedly resulted in food poisoning.

However, I still do appreciate some meat, as versus going totally vegetarian. (I just am not a person to think of meat as always the core of a meal.)

I know that I have done ground turkey before, as a flavoring for stir-fried long beans…I also would be partial to beef, lamb, and fish. I think I can remember also making won ton with pork and shrimp, which really wasn’t that bad, even though it is most easily mixed manually. The other option is humanely-raised organic chicken, though I’m fairly certain that this will be a treat rather than a mainstay, at least until I can get used to working with meat.

I mean, I’m a type of person who would cut my nails short (which is almost a practical necessity in my line of work anyway), wash (everything) frequently in soap and hot water, and use a nail brush after working with poultry…

Otherwise, I’m most likely to do stir-frys with various mushrooms, and things like summer squash or fresh string beans or bok choy or choy sum. It really would be great to be able to do mushroom chicken; like Criminis or white mushrooms, zucchini, crookneck or Patty Pan squash, and chicken breast.

Now that I think of it, I’ve also done some work with baking sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, and winter squash, which isn’t really difficult (other than cutting the squash in half, which can be hard).

Oh hey — and there are also the miso soups that I’ve done in the past. Because there have been Prop 65 (carcinogen) warnings plastered on dashi iriko (tiny dried fish used for stock) in the recent past, I haven’t made it in a while. I’m not sure why the warnings are there sometimes and not others, but I’m waiting for a cleaner harvest.

Also, there is hiyayakko (had to look up the name), which is basically just cold silken tofu with dried seaweed (nori), bonito flakes, green onion, grated ginger, and shoyu. I also read (at justonecookbook.com) that mentsuyu can be used (men = noodles; tsuyu = the strong sauce sometimes put on top of noodles [this is sold bottled]), although I kind of can’t believe I was able to translate that out, having never seen it before. Japanese lessons must be working.

I’ve just found myself a bit upset over being dependent on others to bring food for me, but since I am graduating, I don’t have to deal with University or GPAs anymore, and have time to devote to actually living instead of just studying. That is, I’m transitioning into a phase where I’m beginning to take care of myself, rather than letting family take care of everything for me. I think it’s important.

Today D and I took a ride to the produce market so that I could get ingredients for the tabbouleh. While I had a few free hours alone, I basically made it and cleaned up everything.

Right now I’m not sure whether to focus on the job search or cookbook browsing, the next time I go in to work. I’m not certain what the different subdivisions of the 641.5s (cookbooks) represent yet, either. However, I just found a map of the 641.5 divisions at LibraryThing! AAAH!

It looks (from that page) like the “Melvil Decimal System” (which they show) is a public-domain and early version of the Dewey Decimal System. Not equivalent to the current Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) version (which they say is copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center [OCLC]), but close enough.

I’m also getting to the point of being creative with my creativity. By that, I mean that I realize that I could direct my creativity into areas that could help me survive, like into work as a Librarian, or into cooking. For a while I’ve had an identity as a creative person, but I don’t really know if channeling that creativity into arts and crafts is serving me, in the long run.

Of course, though, making my own jewelry and clothes does give me a sense of control over my presentation, which is obviously very important. That’s especially so, as I have had stretches of time where I loathed and had anger towards almost everything that fit me and was in a gender deemed “appropriate.” So…maybe jewelry and clothes-making, I can keep. That does serve a purpose.

It also depends on whether I end up becoming a Reference and User Services Librarian, or a Cataloging Librarian. They’re way different paths. Right now I’m aiming for a Cataloging position, but I’m not sure as to whether I can even become a Cataloger in a Public Library system, fresh out of Library School (or if I’ll need to log hours as something more like a Reference Librarian, first). I need to ask a particular co-worker about that.

Still don’t know what to do, tomorrow. I guess it depends on how much time I have free, and whether I feel like browsing job ads or looking in the stacks…

career, personal

Today worked out.

Well, I can say that…at least this day wasn’t wasted. In addition to finishing my Cataloging work for the weekend, I read a bit into an optional reading, worked on my Japanese skills, and read a good number of pages in my book on Reference Interviews. I also reviewed the fact that I have signed up to walk the Stage in Spring, and that I still need to complete my submission for the second Convocation (not to mention dealing with the regalia), but have a lot of time (at least a month) to do it.

Over the past several days, I’ve been able to find that I am best prepared, right now, to work in a Public Library. Probably in Technical Services, or Reference Services…though most Librarian I (that is, entry-level) positions seem to be in Reference & User Services. Knowing this means that I know where to focus my energies in the near future, because I have some skill gaps that I can recognize and work on (and am working on).

And…I can work on JavaScript if I have extra time. I won’t be able to do this all immediately, after all.

I just sent out a posting offering to help people understand “entities” versus “attributes” and “relationships”…because it’s going unexplained, and I feel for everyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about. (I was in that pool, once.)

So aside from this, I know that if I really…am working on all this stuff, I’ll need to “build in” time to do things that aren’t related to libraries or computers or tech. (I don’t know if there’s yet a term for this.) I did this recently by teaching myself Feather Stitch in embroidery (it’s possible!)…I can also read, and make jewelry, and sew. And maybe finish that **** blanket. I am on the verge of beginning a kick having to do with Transcendentalism and Muir and Ansel Adams, the Sierra Club, etc.

It started with becoming interested in Cannery Row by Steinbeck, but I haven’t started it yet, and going by what I see online, I may be more interested in Muir’s work than the former.

Then, there’s also the fact that Roosevelt (Theodore, not Franklin) was highly involved in taking over Hawaii, which is more than mentioned in some of the books I picked up on my last visit there (which I haven’t yet completely read).

I don’t know what it is about the mid-to-late 1800’s and on that’s so interesting to me, but my studies keep pulling me back there. I suppose it doesn’t really help that Spiritualism also started around that time; I’ve had an interest in that, but I wouldn’t have known without becoming irritated with/excluded by the occult wing of the Western Mystery Tradition, and trying to look beyond it.

Yeah, so not going to get into that. Not that Spiritualism is necessarily better, but at least it’s something I can understand, as an outsider to the religions that typically informed the Western Mystery Tradition.

This is what I do when left to my own devices. If I’m going to be a Public Librarian, though, it would indeed help to get some leisure reading under my belt. Right now I’ve got White Fang waiting in queue.

Well, it wasn’t a day wasted, which is kind of surprising, because I have had some wasted days, in there…I wonder how much of it is related to having been social (IRL), yesterday? Or, no: actually, I know what it is: it’s the fact that I did the research to narrow down my job prospects to something recognizable and actionable. In addition, I can clearly see some skill gaps, and everything I did today was to work on those skill gaps. Well — almost. The graduation stuff doesn’t have to do with career, so much as celebration (and basically recognizing that I’ve achieved something, rather than plodding along endlessly).

Of course, I still feel the need for additional training in Cataloging…but we’ll get to that when we get to it.

I also need to deal with a particular professional association…