career, illustration, LIS, personal, planning, self care, work

Priorities…

Huh. Well…today was the second day of COVID-19 isolation. I spent much of today asleep because of having a gritty throat, last night — it just wasn’t worth it to get up, like normal. Of course, that means that I really don’t know how much I’ll sleep, tonight. For what it’s worth, I don’t think what I got a touch of (which is probably the same thing M is fighting off) was the coronavirus — a wet cough isn’t what one gets with that, and I don’t have a fever.

What is weird is that over the last month or two, I’ve been accumulating materials that I can now, use. So I have some time to get stuff done. Largely, reading: I should get through my reading on Virtual Reference, and Online Searching, at the least. Reader’s Advisory, and possibly Library Programming, I can get into after I look over the first two books. (I will likely not need to know about Programming any time soon, though. Maybe not ever, at this point.)

Last night, I was busy planning classes. The upshot? I can complete all of them by next Spring, and at that time get on with finding a job as a Cataloging or Metadata Librarian. The downshot? I’ll have less free time and less money. However, at the end of it, I’ll have the skills to gain an entry-level job as a Cataloger…at least, it would seem. I should be scanning job ads for these positions, and look for any additional qualifications I’d need.

On top of that…I’ll want to get back to developing my portfolio online. That’s already set up; I’m just updating it, now.

I’ll also want to continue with Japanese language study. That will likely be important, especially if I’m dealing with an Academic Library position. I have a number of books I can use, and a number of online sites to help.

I can also review my HTML and CSS, as I’ll need the coding skills in my not-too-distant future.

That’s…pretty much, enough. As for what I’m doing during the rest of the time…I realize that I could work on the blouse I haven’t been working on for months, if not years; I could also work on quilt piecing or embroidery or illustration. But that’s, seriously, just to relax. Aside from the illustration, it doesn’t really go anywhere — unless I want to be employed by a fabric store, likely again in a public service capacity (which is what I’m trying to get away from).

Given that, some low-commitment stuff like embroidery actually sounds good.

I will definitely be continuing with my writing, but that will mostly be offline and by hand, so I won’t have to constantly weigh whether what I’m writing is worth (the risk of) publishing, or not.

As for whether I’m going to continue with my Adobe training (or subscription)…I’m not sure. It’s a significant financial drain, and it’s useless except for publishing images online or in print (or teaching myself Graphic Design). It also depends on what I do on my own in my free time. It’s possible I could create some PDFs to distribute, here…which might be fun. It would also give me some practice in working with Adobe CC — in case I do end up needing to get back to my roots in writing, and learning how to professionally edit. This is useful.

I’m hoping, however, that I won’t have to get back to Creative Writing as a career. I’ve spent the last 10 years building a place in the Library world. Although Creative Writing is good as an avocation and is complementary to needing to read as a Librarian, depending on it for my livelihood is more risky — and a lot more work for less return, I suspect — than I would like. If, however, I remained a part-time Library Assistant (and not a full-time Cataloging or Metadata Librarian), it could be a useful and enriching addition to my repertoire.

I kind of feel like I need a map, for this…what kind of map, though, I’m not sure. I do have huge paper and markers, though. :)

I also I have an as-yet-unused daily planner. It would be useful to try and plan out the coming days and weeks, possibly using Bullet Journal notation…

beadwork, libraries, self care, work

Another weekend down. Now what?

Another day in the life of an underemployed part-time Millennial Librarian?

I keep hearing from people that now that I have an MLIS, I’m officially a Librarian…even though I just started my present Library Assistant job last year, have never run a program or done outreach, and…yeah. Well, I am getting good practice at Public Service.

I just did the math, and I’m almost 1/3 of the way to where I need to be, in order to pick up more responsibility at work (and have a stable branch). If I keep going at my current rate, I could apply to be a salaried Library Assistant (or a Librarian) approximately one year from the time I started picking up jobs. To become a Librarian would take some training, though, particularly in Library Programming and Outreach.

I’ve just done some minor digging about possible courses, and have found one that suits my needs. Unfortunately, one other course (Marketing) is not at all what it should be (self-marketing, as versus marketing services and programs), and the second…is going to be a huge amount of work, for a population on which I’m not focused. I’m intending to be an Adult — not Youth — Services Librarian. Taking an intensive tour-de-force through the YA section (and paying out of pocket for it, while simultaneously taking a pay cut because I can’t work at the same time as I study)…it doesn’t sound…enticing. I can do that on my own.

I also have the possibility of jamming that course into Summer Session, but…I don’t really want to. I already have my degree, I work in a Library system, and I’m good at self-educating. I also know that I don’t particularly…like to unnecessarily cram a bunch of reading into a limited amount of time. I have a life, u no.

To be hired as a Librarian in this system, though — I will have to be able to drive, by myself. I’m on my way to that, now. With all the trouble I’m giving them with not being able to shuffle at will from branch to branch now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made Library Assistants have Driver’s Licenses as well, the next time they hire.

It’s starting to feel like I don’t know quite what to do with myself when I’m not at work. It’s unstructured time…and for a very long time, I have not had a lot of unstructured time. (I did graduate a year ago…but after that, I was searching and applying for employment while still an Aide, and after that, was in training; and working a lot, of my own accord.)

Today I was talking with a co-worker about trying to gauge how many hours I really wanted to work, or whether I should take a non-Library job in some area of interest, just for the experience (and not the money, which — if it’s in retail, at least — probably can’t compete with LA pay). Then there is the “hidden job market”…which I guess I’ll just have to go out and investigate. As well as applying for jobs in the Academic sector…which may be my best idea out of all of these, though for most postings I just saw, I don’t have enough experience. How they pay less than my current job, I also don’t know: I thought we were on the bottom end of the pay scale (but maybe that’s a rumor?).

I’m still not sure about what I want to do with the hours and the possibility of getting a second part-time job. I should have a better handle on it in the coming month — I signed up for a lot, so I can see how I tolerate it, and how I feel at home (like if I’m even able to relax; though I do have some decent breaks scheduled, as well).

In March…it’s sad. I have Jury Duty. So…there are at least one or two weeks where I won’t know how much I’ll be working. I can’t accept weekday jobs after Jury Duty starts, or I may have to cancel — and cancelling is a big deal in my system. I’m planning on not worrying much about work for that pay period, though that means I’ll need to tone down my spending. During that time, if I don’t have to go in to Jury Duty, I can practice my driving.

And…yeah. There’s a small window of time in which I should be able to sign up for the class I saw, but it isn’t for a while…it should give me something to do aside from work, though. Otherwise…maybe I can be reading? Or making jewelry or playing with watercolors, or embroidering, or sewing, or designing quilts, or something…

Exercising. Ugh.

Writing doesn’t sound bad…

I didn’t post when I restarted my micro-macramé stuff. But it has been restarted. I got sad about not doing anything with all the little colorful beads and cords. I’m sorry. They were so pretty and they were just sitting there… :o

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…

career, LIS, personal, technology, work

It seems I can’t avoid talking about work.

Well, today was fun. It’s been so long since anything bad has happened to me in particular that I’ve begun to get good with working Circulation. Even shelving has been good. It’s really invaluable to be working with the people I’m working with, and to know I have options. Plus, I’m only working about half-time. Even though I’m not at this point doing any eight-hour days, it’s kind of like a game to see how long and in what ways I can maintain my stamina.

I’m not sure if I’m calming down, now that I don’t have a GPA on the line…actually, that’s probably a lot of it! The stress that I have now is more, “life stress,” (that is, “soon-to-be-money-stress,”) as versus, “school stress.” However, in a good situation, I would still have to wait an average of six months before getting a first job as an Information Professional.

I think I would likely have less stress now, had I planned for this phase of my life better, starting a decade or two ago. There are things I realize in retrospect that I could have done differently — like taking a work-study position at my undergraduate University library, or taking a light job in an Academic Library in addition to the Public Library job, or shadowing Cataloging staff and seeking out connections, or maintaining contacts with other students on IM or LinkedIn.

However, it’s relatively obvious to me, when stepping back to observe the entire situation, that I started out in a relatively structurally disadvantaged position (due to uncontrollable historical, combined with current, circumstances). To some extent this has been alleviated by vocational services focusing on equity, which is the reason why I’m in a career now…but I don’t even think that they really encouraged me to take on extra work, or to get into the working world as an intern, while I was still a student.

The latter would have been basically expected of me, but I didn’t have a great hint of this until looking into the Career Center at the end of my program. Trouble is, I believe I was meant to look into the Career Center, possibly before my program even began.

I’m not sure what more there is to say about that, at least that wouldn’t be oversharing.

Right now I can see a few different paths before me. One is being a Reference & User Services Librarian in a Public Library. I have a relatively good idea of what work in this position is like. The second path is becoming a Cataloging Librarian, which is something that my co-workers say I might be well-suited to because of my attention to detail. The third path is becoming a Web Developer or Web Designer.

These three paths have differing skill sets. Particularly, as a Reference Librarian, I would need to work on creating library programs, and work on my customer service and information search skills. As a Cataloger, I would need to work on my Descriptive and Subject Access Cataloging and Metadata encoding and parsing skills. As a Web Developer, there are several more technologies I would need to know with which I would need to acquire a working skill: at least JavaScript, PHP, Drupal, and SQL.

Basically, Reference Librarianship is the nearest possibility to me, but that is likely because general entry-level “Librarian” jobs seem to often be Public Service positions. Metadata Librarianship or Cataloging Librarianship is a little more distant, mostly because I was aiming for a track which, I see now, prepared me for Web Design and Development. Web Development is farthest off, and not something I can adequately do in the immediate future. It is, however, something I have a good start on, and can develop.

Right now, I’m in the middle of the MARC 21 unit in my class. It’s good information, though mostly review to me. The big deal about is is that to work as a Cataloger, one basically has to have a knowledge of Subject Access Cataloging (determining content and assigning descriptors and call numbers), Descriptive Cataloging (describing an item), FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), MARC 21, Authority Records, and at least Dublin Core, if not other metadata schema like TEI or MODS.

But…it kind of sounds like I know a good deal about that, already. Come Fall, I should be done with my four-course, post-Master’s (a.k.a. Professional Development) run, and may actually be set up with the knowledge to start (or continue) in a job that requires Cataloging. If I had a job that pulled enough money, I would also be able to make up any deficits with additional training. Because a lot of this work is being outsourced, I would likely want to look into the people working in Technical Services, and their contacts who work for companies which serve libraries.

Web Development needs ongoing focus and training. Comparatively, it’s easier for me at this point to look forward to Cataloging or User Services! The big thing is that learning for this path never ends and, from my current perspective, seems as though no amount of study may ever be wholly sufficient. Moreso than with the other two paths, this path contains a moving target. I initially got into this because I wanted to make websites; however, is the effort worth the product? I’m not certain, especially as I have had a major downtick in my drive to publish online, recently.

Yeah, I guess…that’s a big thing.

The other thing is the fact that I have realized I’m a relatively versatile person with a lot of interests, who likes challenging themselves…which…well. It doesn’t really rule out too much. Maybe I could get a job as a Technical Assistant while working as a Page somewhere else, just get my foot in the door to Tech Services and Cataloging?

Yeah…maybe this entry won’t make sense to most people…