It’s midway through the first week of classes and I am feeling burned out. The amount of energy required to be upbeat, friendly, and constantly available makes my little introvert heart feel like curling up in bed for a week. I love working with students. I think they’re fun and they keep me fresh and engaged, but there’s a sense of infectious energy that becomes overwhelming after a few days. I almost feel like I’m catching a cold, I feel so tired and worn. I’ll be fine next week, but, for now, it takes all my energy to make myself perky enough to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Mind you, I work with college students. I have no idea how the primary school folks make it work.
Sticking to a chapter a day reading plan for the draft read-through, so that’s something. Also, planning activities for an upcoming library fair, and scheming to find ways to stretch my budget. Fun times.
Feeling a little uninspired but I’m going to stick to my schedule. Or else… So updates! I have a new employee starting tomorrow, which means I need to get into full #bosslady mode. Which is ironic, as I am the least boss-like person I know, yet I still manage to get myself dragged into leadership roles. Such is life. I can do the thing and do it I will. Just have to be on good behavior. No shenanigans with the troublemakers. I can be serious. If only until new girl catches on to my ploy.
Anywho… writing! It’s happening. I’m nearly done with the latest draft, just 2 more chapters and an epilogue to go. It’s startling how far the story has come. Deep POV FTW. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from the characters, they kind of get stuck in my head and I feel like I’m carrying these moods that have no bearing on real life. #writerproblems
Progress. Just making progress.
Lifewise… Whole30 is going strong. I’m on day 24 and already looking forward to keeping up my new habits — fewer grains, no dairy, less soy, more veg, and more awareness of sugar. I’ve noticed a real change in my body composition and just feel better all around (PMS drama notwithstanding). I can see this being a thing. I really can.
Oh, and I finally finished Emma (which took me longer than I expected, but distractions), so I’m on to the ever growing pile of books I need to stop checking out from the library.
A former classmate and friend tagged me on a request for advice to current English majors regarding potential, non-teaching careers, which got me thinking about my own career trajectory and how I came to do what I do.
So here it is:
I am a librarian, but I am a writer first. I will save you the usual “I love books” story—I do love books but that is not why I became an English major or a librarian. I started as a biology major (undeclared on paper, but pure science at heart). I loved biology. I dreamed of labs and microscopes and discovering things… but I hated math. Check that—I was really slow at math because I never really learned any. A history of low quality math education meant that I was seriously behind my peers when it came to working the complicated equations that were necessary to pursue a career as a biologist. I was at a loss. What else could I do? I had no idea, but I had time, so I started taking classes, many of them English and other humanities courses. I discovered that I really liked academic writing. I liked research and discovery that didn’t necessarily involve lab work. So I took a chance. I debated whether to major in English or History: English won out. I believed that it provided a better skills set than what I could gain from History (no offense to the History majors). My intention was never to teach; I knew that from the start. However, I wanted to stay in that research environment. I finished my BA and went on to earn my Master’s, carving my own path by focusing on the literature I most enjoyed: books about women being their own heroes. Despite my reluctance, I did teach for a while. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it in the way that I believe a good professor needs to love the work. It did, however, turn me on to librarianship. I like helping students find things and think about their research, nerdy as that sounds. It’s not my passion—that’s still writing—but I enjoy the day to day work of it, particularly the novelty of it (no two days are the same).
I’m an English major. I’m a librarian. But what I am is a writer and a thinker. I consider questions and look for solutions, and I bring these skills to the work I do (both on the job and in my personal life).
My advice: think of your skills, not your label when earning a degree in English (or LIS). What can you do? And how can you use it? The rest is up to you.
I’m in a funk. I openly admit that part of it is due to my own lack of initiative, but there are some days when I just feel the need to wallow and let things fall as they will. I’m an introvert; social situations wear me out, especially when they are tense and hostile and the result of irrational territorial disputes. I know when to pick my battles, and this is one battle I don’t need or care to fight, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the sting of disappointment. I’m definitely disappointed. Partly because I thought I could make a difference, partly because I thought I had proven myself capable. Guess not.
It’s been a cloud on my feelings all weekend and I’ve only just started coming to terms with my decision not to engage. I know it will rear its head again, as such things do. I just need to focus on my needs and let it go. And now, I need to focus on getting past this and back to writing.
Yes, this post is intentionally vague for the sake of my continued sanity.
A bit about me… I am a writer, yes, but I am a librarian by day. Why? Because it pays the bills and feeds the kitty. Every so often, folks ask me why I became a librarian, so here’s the story…
I, like many bright-eyed undergrads before me, decided to go to grad school and get a master’s degree in my chosen field–English. What does one do with an English degree you might ask… a lot, actually, but that’s a story for a different day. If you’re like me, you teach freshman comp as a TA and become an adjunct. The life of the adjunct is a cruel and brutal existence, only compounded by the cutthroat battle for tenure endured by hungry PhDs. I chose an alternative route… I got a library degree, stayed in academia, and managed to find a solid job with decent pay and room for growth.
I should like to share some truths and misconceptions about what I do:
- Yes, I read a lot. That does not mean that I read on the job. I check out books and read them at home, just like everyone else.
- Yes, many library resources are available online. Yes, people do still come to the library for help.
- No, I do not shush people. Actually, I’m a radical sort who thinks libraries should meet the needs of the people not the librarians.
- Yes, I wear a sweater and glasses. Libraries are cold because it keeps the mold off the books. And I’ve wore glasses long before I ever dreamed of becoming a librarian.
- I write a lot on the job. It’s a different beast from my creative writing, but it keeps the wheels going.
I’m in a weird in-between state. My trip was cancelled at the last minute (just as I finished getting my things ready), so what was supposed to be a week away has turned into an ordinary week after all… except, I wasn’t planning on being here, so none of the things I usually do in preparation for the week got done. I didn’t do groceries. I didn’t prepare to edit. I didn’t even fill the gas tank. All day I’ve been out of sorts because I am completely ill-prepared to get things done. I spent the morning just trying to fill in the gaps in my work schedule, since the desk schedule was worked out based on my not being around to handle reference questions. Suddenly, meetings are back on my calendar, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s a strange feeling, like coming back from a vacation… except not.
I picked up a few essentials this morning, just enough to get by, and read over the chapter I was working on last week to get back in the groove. Really hoping that tomorrow finds me settling back into my usual rhythm.
I had my first mid-year review on Monday and I’ve been thinking about one of the comments that my supervisor made. She said, “You’re so calm, sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re just as busy as the rest of us.” It’s not the first time someone tells me I’m calm, or that I have a soothing personality. One of my coworkers says I have a relaxing presence, that my aura gives off good vibes. I’ve heard all this before, and I guess it’s true. I appear calm, but inside my mind is going a mile a minute, thinking thinking thinking and trying to make sense of it all. I appear calm because I often remind myself that there’s no sense in getting worked up and making things unpleasant for those around me. I also do a lot of writing and walking. Both of these are exercises and self-reflection and allow me to take a moment to disconnect and expend all that restless energy that I keep inside. There’s probably a study out there on introverts and how we function, but all I know is what I feel. That sense of inner poise isn’t always reflected in my writing… I think this blog makes me sound more harried than otherwise, but that’s exactly why it helps… it’s an outlet for all the little things that make me tick, cringe, and groan.
I will now go channel my inner Bridget Jones.
There has been a lot of talk in the lib-webs regarding the general state of librarian “rockstarness” and what those of us on the frontlines really do (read the post by @himissjulie that set things off). I too have noticed an unfair, gender-bias when it comes to keynote speakers at events. In a field in which women make up an estimate 86% of the workforce (according to the DPE Fact Sheet 2012), why is it that most of the main speakers at major events are male? At a recent regional conference planning meeting that I attended, only one woman was added to the list of potential speakers. That’s ridiculous. Why are we hearing the same speakers at conference after conference? Admittedly, they present great ideas, but I often find that those ideas only reveal a limited view on librarianship and libraries in general.
I am still breaking out in my role as a librarian, and know I haven’t done enough to promote myself professionally, but I follow dozens of amazing female librarians working in public, academic, and special libraries in any number of roles. These are women who are funny, outspoken, advocates, activists, highly intelligent, and innovative. These are women who produce webinars and tutorials and are active members of their professional communities. Why aren’t they being selected? And don’t give me the “we don’t take a chance on an unknown” bit… just one look at their blogs, twitter feeds, and portfolios. Their presence is there. They have a voice that needs to be heard.
I’m not an expert on hiring practices, but I’ve managed to gain some experience on the hiring process—-particularly the applicant weeding process.
Here are a few things I have learned:
- Your resume and cover letter are the first impressions you will make. These had better be easy to understand and clearly organized. If you lack experience, make your education stand out (especially if it is relevant to the job). If your education is not what is required for the position, your experience has to shine. Find your strong point and make the connection to the position clear, whether this involves citing specific coursework that might help you perform job duties, or volunteer work that helped you learn skills that you can apply in the position if hired.
- Yes, you need a cover letter. No exceptions. If you lack education, experience, or both, your cover letter can help you get a chance at an interview. This should clearly explain why you are a good candidate and what you can bring to the position and the organization. Any skills or knowledge that you want to emphasize should be highlighted here, especially if they can make up for a lack in other areas.
- If you get an interview, be prepared to talk about yourself. If you are lucky enough to get an interview, you really do need to make the most of it. Know what you wrote in your resume and cover letter. Know what the job entails and what the organization is trying to achieve (study the job post and the hiring company’s website). But most important of all, be ready to make it clear that you are the right person for the job, not just because you have the right credentials, but because you will be a good fit within the group. If you are being engaged in conversation, go with it, don’t clam up and give terse answers. An awkward interview can really destroy your chances.
I’m not an expert in human resource management or organizational behavior, but I’ve been exposed to administrative tasks, and the hiring process is one of them. I’ve seen some strange things in my time…
E-books are books. They are not like books. They are not almost books. They are books. The digital format is their container, just as paperback and hardcover formats are containers. Some books are born digital, some are published in multiple formats and include digital options. They are still books, whether reference books, textbooks, fiction, or picture books. It’s just a publishing format. Authors do not like it if you say their e-books are not
“Real” books and librarians whose libraries have e-content licensing agreements to offer ebooks don’t like it either.
Format preference is a personal matter. I prefer to read certain materials digitally, but will buy a hard copy of others. Whether you prefer to read on a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or hold a hard copy is irrelevant. This is a matter of preference and content availability (and cost). Doesn’t mean that the book on your laptop is any less real than the one in your hand.
End library rant.