my response to the rockstar librarian hubbub

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.

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Why I deserve my office space – a manifesto

My cubby hole is under siege! Or near siege. I have been told that another department is eyeing my office with ill intent. It seems they are seeking to promote one of their own to an office at the cost of someone who already has an office and does not belong to their department–namely, me. I refuse to give up without a fight! I am a vital part of my department and serve the university’s students well by providing all manner of support services – from telling them where to find help for all manner of financial or educational issues related to the university, to providing help with assignments (including but not limited to research, how to write/respond to their assignments, technology and computer help, emotional support and encouragement, and help with all manner of issues and questions that arise).

Here is why I deserve to have an office space of my own (with a door and four walls): 

  • I need a quiet spot to read student theses and dissertations. I provide editing and proofreading for the final stage in the publication process and students in graduate programs requiring these cannot graduate until one of the reference librarians approves the final copy.
  • I also edit articles for the university’s academic journal. This is a process that takes time and requires care in producing a clean copy. The journal is one of the ways the university puts itself in the public eye–I help make it presentable.
  • I need a space in which to write policies, tutorials, manuals, pathfinders, articles, reviews, blog and web content. This is not possible in the middle of the reference area.
  • I maintain and write content for the library’s new website. I need a space in which to focus.
  • I help clean up the library’s records. Any task that requires delving into a library’s main access point for content retrieval (ie – the catalog) necessitates a space where the worker can concentrate.
  • I plan library events, conduct research on trends and happenings that might interest our students and faculty, and identify ways to engage students through interactive programming while working in my office.
  • I conduct research on new materials and resources for the library’s physical and digital collections while in my office.
  • I need a space to meet with students and faculty to discuss their needs – whether this involves content editing for papers, questions of collection development, or just a meeting to talk about school/life/goals.
  • I need an enclosed area in which to attend online conferences and webinars for professional development. I definitely can’t do this in the reference area.
  • Everyone needs a place to unwind and let the creative juices flow. I love my office and produce some of my best ideas in there. Just because no one can hear me does not mean I am not in my office a lot of the time (except when I am working my hours at the Reference desk, meeting with a patron, or working on a project that takes me into the stacks), it just means that I realize I am in a quiet part of the library and comply with our patrons’ need for silence.
  • Sometimes, I even turn up on the weekends to finish working on projects that I could not complete during the week because of distractions. This is why I need a private spot.

I am going on vacation next week, I expect to have an office when I return or there will be a rucus.

This is my library happy place.

a little culture

Saturday was Smithsonian Museum Day, so my b-chan and I went to the Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach for a mix of modern art, Rennaissance masterpieces, and a story-filled scavenger hunt. The Bass was one of the art museums that I never got around to visiting when I was in high school (my art teacher loved taking us on field trips), so it was a treat to finally go. It was also an unexpected surprise, for such a small place, they really do have some amazing pieces. Miami isn’t necessarily known for its high art collections, but the “Endless Rennaissance” exhibit provides a nice glimpse of the masters. The “Tiny Stories” collection of… well… tiny stories–short vignettes scattered throughout the gallery–was also interesting, part of the fun was finding the stories, some printed on cards no larger than a business card, tucked away around corners and posted on the outside of the building.

The building itself also presents an interesting mix of traditional and modern.

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Bass Museum

I also got a chance to visit the Miami Beach Public Library, located across the street from the museum. I get a kick out of visiting libraries around town; the Main Library in Downtown is wonderful, but if I could, I think I would love to work at this particular branch. The place was full of patrons of all ages. The first floor houses the main collection, a computer lab, and a section showcasing new arrivals. The second floor features and area that is specially designed for children and teens up to age 21, a YA room, a children’s room, and a storytelling room. The reading areas are very spacious and there is a lot of natural light, making it a very welcoming space. I would love to spend some time here reading, if only it weren’t so far.

Miami Beach Library

success!

I got the job! And the best part is that it was the one I really wanted :).

I have been applying for jobs for months, even before I quit the teaching gig, and getting no reply (to be expected in this economy). Most of the jobs I applied for were administrative assistant gigs, as there are not many non-teaching jobs for English majors at the moment and I am not looking for anything too permanent so long as I’m between programs. Since I am trying to get into a library science program, I really wanted a library gig, but most positions required years of experience for full-time openings and many of the part-time ones were located miles from where I live and paid less than I earn for tutoring (didn’t want to quit tutoring for something that will result in more travel expenses and less pay). Then I found a part-time opening near my home at a small technical college that would allow me to continue working at my current job and offers me the same wage (so it’s almost like I have a proper full-time job!).

And I got it!

I received a promising email from the head librarian and she seemed to like my response, then the interview was going so well that halfway through I knew that I was going to be offered the position :).

It looks like it will be a nice fit. I liked the environment and the library is small enough that I will almost be like an actual librarian.

Am ecstatic and so glad that I will finally be doing something that I am truly interested in.