book and red wine on a marble table

I Don’t Read

I don’t read.

That’s not really true, of course. I read, some. I suspect that I read more than the average person, and especially the average man, but compared to other librarians, I don’t read.

If you look at my Goodreads page you’ll see that it lists five books that I’m “Currently Reading.”

  1. Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, begun September 30, 2018, 397 pgs.
  2. Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach, begun September 15, 2018, 285 pgs.

  3. Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (eds.), begun April 18, 2017, 632 pgs.

  4. Be a Great Boss: One Year to Successby Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, begun July 27, 2018, 215 pgs.

  5. Build a Great Team: One Year to Successby Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, begun August 1, 2018, 224 pgs.

Three of the five of these books can be considered professional reading, and one of those is actually an old textbook. The other two are my fun reading.

I’ve read more in the past. If you look at my years on Goodreads since January 2010 I’ve marked 161 books as “Read,” nearly all of which were marked so upon completion (and by “completion,” I mean “stopped reading”). Yes, that’s less than 10 a year (1.53333… per month through September 2018, actually), but the first year I only marked one book “Read.”

Going over my reading challenges, I read 12 books in 2012; 8 books in 2013; 34 books in 2014; 43 books in 2015; 26 in 2016; 17 in 2017; and thus far 8 in 2018. Thirty-four, forty-three, and twenty-six books in a year are pretty good, though. What happened? What happened is that I stopped listening to audiobooks. Prior to my move to Vegas I frequently had 1-2 hours a day commuting to work in which I could listen to books as much as I wanted. I also had a job that was so pointless that I could listen to books at my desk with no repercussions. Since summer 2017 I’ve had no such luxuries. I live two miles from work and am so busy that that I don’t have time for anything but work. I would have to walk to work everyday alone to be able to the through half of the books that I got through in 2015. But I have a car and a wife who also works on campus, so that’s not going to happen. I like my car and talking to my wife.

Why does this matter? Why should you care? Who even are you?

Honestly, you probably don’t care. But, every time I try to read librarian blogs or search for new ones I’m inevitably met with “Sally’s Best Reads for Autumn,” “Bill’s best Sci-Fi Books of 2018, So Far…,” etc. I have to ask. Who are you people? Where are you making time to read this much and still get your job done? How do you read this much and still be able to watch television or movies, or listen to music, or watch sports, or spend time with your family, or go grocery shopping, or eat? I don’t believe you people are so removed from the culture that you just sit in a quiet room with a stack of books in all your waking hours, nor, do I believe the stereotype of the socially awkward librarian too inept to make eye contact with other humans.

I know you, librarians, you are frequently the most outgoing and dynamic people I’ve ever met. I don’t know any of you that are book hermits afraid to speak to other humans. You can’t be, or you couldn’t function in your jobs.

I grew up in a reading household. My mother was fond of romance and historical fiction. John Jakes was a particular favorite of hers. We saw her reading and also read. My sister read. I seem to remember several Babysitter’s Club and maybe a few Sweet Valley High around the house (It was the 80’s!). I was fond of Bunnicula. My first “adult book” was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, still a favorite. Later I read Jules Verne and Ray Bradbury. I had a Steven King phase in high school. Those were the first books I read with swear words in them. When I found Carl Sagan as a late teenager I really began the transition into my adult life. I had a C. S. Lewis phase, too. I read about both eastern and western religions. I read about science. I saw the first Harry Potter movie so that I wouldn’t have to read the books and it just made me plow through all the extant books at that time and continue the series through its fruition. I read through my teens and early adulthood. I started college at 23 years-old and spent all my time working on my bachelor’s degree over the next five years. I read more on religion and fell in love with theatre in which I read a great many plays. By the end, though, I was so burned out that I just couldn’t bring myself to read anything anymore.

It took six month after graduation before I could read again, and it was Harry Potter that got me back to it. It was 2007 and the sixth book was out. Everyone else was reading it, and the fifth movie was about to come out. I had managed to read book five, but couldn’t muster the energy to continue. Then, I think, we saw HP:5 and that was what peaked my interest again, and I finally picked up book 6. After that I was more or less back on the reading train.

Throughout my life, my pleasure reading had almost exclusively been done in bed at night before going to sleep. Typically, I’d read for twenty or thirty minutes until I got sleepy and then go to sleep. It was rare that I was so enthralled with a book that I would stay up late to read. That was my connection to reading. It was an activity for the end of the day immediately before going to sleep. So, through out my entire school experience studying by reading a book was an extremely difficult thing for me to do. I’d read for twenty or thirty minutes and start to nod off, because that was what my brain associated with reading; sleeping. Then, later, in my thirties I went to the eye doctor who told me that while it may well have been conditioning it was also that I have an astigmatism that creates eye-strain and that also makes me sleepy. That’s when I started wearing glasses regularly.

Since getting glasses I can, indeed, read for longer periods of time. I find that I get bored only getting one kind of entertainment for too long. I prefer to have at least two different books going at one time. Usually, there is one fiction and one non-fiction. Usually, also, there is one ebook and in paper. They both have their charms and their conveniences. I tend to read a chapter of one, then put it down and read the chapter of another. (BTW, I don’t like to binge watch, either, after one or two episodes of something I’m bored and want new flavors in my entertainment)

Reading, this way, only increases the amount of time it takes to get through a book, though, and I’ve always been a slow reader. Primarily, this has been because of the limited amount of time I can give a book once I’ve found or made the time to read it.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

I think this blog post began as an expression of self-consciousness about my reading habits in a profession so closely associated with book-nerds and voracious reading. They’re out there, certainly. I have a good friend with whom I work that will go through six YA novels in a weekend, and she’s not a YA librarian of any sort. But so many of our jobs really have nothing to do with books or reading. I’m a public services librarian. My job is to keep the library running smoothly on a practical on-the-ground sense. My job has more in common with retail management than any lofty ideas of Librarianship. I have a colleague with librarian job whose main purpose is to manage space and building projects. What does that have to do with books? We’ll soon be hiring a librarian whose whole job will be “reputation management” for our tenure-track faculty, and by extension, the library and university. I think ultimately, this blog post is about librarian stereotypes.

I wrote a post last year that got into some notions of masculine-specific librarian stereotypes. That post dealt with it lightly and I came down more-or-less ambivalent on the matter. Interestingly, it garnered the most passionate responses of any post I’ve ever written. Mostly, it was people who were not familiar with the term “guybrarian” and had viscerally negative reaction to it. But maybe we should take a more serious look at librarian stereotypes and how they affect us individually, or as a profession.

I go to conferences. I associate with librarians inside my workplace and outside. I see librarians of all sorts. A great many librarians readily adopt the stereotypes in terms of their dress. There are lots of horn-rimmed or cat glasses, lots of cardigans, lots of hand-knit sweaters and skirts made from natural fabrics, lots of sensible shoes, lots of self-proclaimed “nerds” who wear their passions on their sleeve. There are lots of librarians that can be identified at fifty-yards as they walk down the street.

Those are the fun stereotypes. Those are the stereotypes that we love associating with and reinforcing. But there are other stereotypes, too. The purse-lipped, bitter, shushing old maid. The mousey simpering man not masculine enough for a “real” job. The person who wants nothing more from life than a quiet room, a comfortable chair, and all the books one would be able to read in a lifetime. The person who is so socially inept that they can’t work in an environment that they have to speak with or look at another human.

Stereotypes never come from nowhere. Some version of all of these stereotypes have always existed. I’m starting to think that my self-consciousness about my reading habits comes from the book-nerd stereotype that is really starting to feel negative an anachronistic. One of my employees (who holds an MLIS) feels no shame in saying openly that he doesn’t read books. It’s just not how he chooses to spend his time. He researches on the internet a lot and builds his knowledge and interests that way, but he has absolutely no interest in sitting down with any kind of book and reading for extended period.

I know that some of you out there have library jobs that require you to stay current on selected areas of publishing, especially in public libraries. It also seems to me that a great deal of these lists are for YA or Juvenile titles that are much shorter than the average adult oriented book. I also know that it is bootless to use others as a measuring stick. So, comparing my reading habits to those of other librarians is never going to be a productive use of my psyche. It’s like the year I tried to do NaNoWriMo and ultimately just felt worse about my lack of literary productivity. I don’t read as much as I’d like to. That is something I can work on. I don’t read as much as many that I share this profession with. There’s really nothing I can do about that and it in no way reflects on who I am as a person, or a librarian. I just have to learn to keep that in mind until I just don’t care how much others are reading compared to me.

man awaits airplane

My Worst Job Interview Experience, Part 2

The interview wasn’t until the afternoon, so I had the whole morning to myself. I slept in, drank whatever passed for coffee in my room, and did more prep for the day. All the while I was still angry and wondering if I really wanted this job at all. I was also trying to confirm my transportation from the hotel to the library with my contact, who wasn’t responding. I had absolutely no confidence in UC at this point. Eventually, I got an email back from my contact apologizing the she was at a conference that morning and would have limited availability.

Are you freaking kidding me? You made someone travel 250 miles further than necessary on their own dime and you couldn’t be bothered to be present to assist them?! I was done at this point and was seriously considering telling them to go fork themselves. I was raised to be a good boy, though, and to not burn my bridges. I was also raised to be a far-too-practical Midwesterner who couldn’t turn down an opportunity.

Eventually, it was time to pack my bags and check out. Downstairs at the desk I described my purpose and recent experience to the staff to both to establish how to get to the library, as I didn’t trust what UC was telling me, and to make sure they could hold my bags until after the interview was completed. There was a university shuttle that I was supposed to be taking, but given the previous night’s disappointment I didn’t want to count on that. I had even worked out how to walk from the hotel to the library, just in case. Being professional hotel staff, my luggage was safe there and they had their own shuttle which could take me there that I was welcome to use. Excellent.

After that contingency was in place I left my bags with them and went to the restaurant for a late breakfast. I just barely made it before the kitchen closed until dinner and still managed to have a very nice, and very large breakfast. I was intentionally calorie loading as I was all but certain this was the only meal I was going to get that day. After breakfast I sat in the lobby for what was supposed to be an hour, or so, before the hotel shuttle would shuttle me to my destination. However, sitting there, the driver came to me and asked if it was okay to go early, because he had a pickup to make. I consented and before I left made the conscious decision not to take my notebook or even a pen with me to the interview, as I normally would have, because on some deep level I’d already decided that this was not the place for me.

I got dropped off at the appropriate spot and now had more than an hour before my actual interview was to start. I took a walk around campus and through the library to kill time doing my best to be incognito. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be incognito on a college campus while wearing a suit and tie? Here’s a hint. It’s impossible. I got all the way through the building and nearly made my way out when a member of the search committee cornered me and introduced himself. I apologized for being so early and he politely mentioned that they weren’t ready for me yet. I was gracious and said that I’d occupy myself until a more appropriate time. At which point I went back outside to walk around campus some more.

The University of Cincinnati’s campus really isn’t all that big.

Sidebar: Aside from the free booze the day before, the other positive I got from this experience was seeing the Triceracopter. “Triceracopter?” You might ask. Yes, indubitably, the Triceracopter.

triceracopter
I bring you the Triceracopter.

The Triceracopter is a 1977 sculpture by Patricia A. Renick that is supposed to represent the extinction of warfare. It’s also clearly supposed to be an outdoor sculpture which is kept indoors and poorly lit. It’s also one of the most wonderfully terrible and tacky pieces of art I’ve ever seen, and I live in Las Vegas. I love it and hate it all at once. It also makes me want to write a 1980’s era animated fantasy serial in which the Triceracopter is both the hero’s best friend and primary mode of transportation. WHY DOES THIS NOT EXIST ALREADY?!

But, I digress.

Triceracopter.

I’m sorry. Moving on.

The interview happened. It was unremarkable. I did my best (at least, under the circumstances) and gave an unremarkable and unrealistic presentation. I’m good in front of a crowd, but my content wasn’t very good. Afterward, I finally met my contact who had been unavailable prior to that moment who assured me that my cab fare from the previous night would be reimbursed, as well as the hotel, and otherwise apologized for the confusion. I met with a few different groups, an HR Rep, and the Dean of the Libraries. At the end I was shuttled (by the university, even!) back to the hotel where I collected my bags and took another shuttle back to the airport. Turns out that one of the two shuttle companies I saw the night before was whom I was supposed to get a ride from, but I had no way of knowing that based on my information and their behavior.

So, I was back at CVG with enough time to buy a souvenir coffee mug (something Wifey and I like to do when traveling) and even dinner, something I didn’t think I was going to get, earlier. I got my flights without incident and got home after midnight, physically and emotionally exhausted.

Epilogue

Yes, this story has an epilogue. When I first applied to the UC job I was automatically enrolled in a weekly bulletin about open positions at the university that went out every Friday. The interview was in early December. I was told that I wouldn’t here anything about the position until mid-January. This is not at all unreasonable. About two weeks after the interview I’m having a birthday dinner at a restaurant with Wifey, my parents, my nephew (also near his birthday), and my niece. I had just finished telling this whole story when I casually look at my phone and check my email. It was a Friday. I received the UC HR Newsletter with the list of open positions and the job I had just interviewed for sitting at number one, with a bullet. To be sure, I checked the posting date to see if this was an old listing or not. Nope. It was fresh since I’d been there. It took them a full month more — when they said I’d hear initially — for them to send me the thanks-but-no-thanks notice. For a full month I knew they had reopened the search. This was the last indignity I was going to take from them, so I took it upon myself to write the dean and in the most professional way I could I detailed every issue and hardship I had with my trip. No one should ever be treated the way I was treated an University of Cincinnati as a prospective employee. I told the dean that I would create circumstances in which to tell anyone I met how the University of Cincinnati abandoned me at the airport. And I have made it so. I will tell anyone who will listen about my experience. Usually, in the short version, opposed to what this has been.

You may be thinking that I’m whining, and that I shouldn’t have expected the treatment that UCCS gave me prior to my experience with UC. To illustrate, the experience I had at UCCS was duplicated just a few weeks after the UC trip by Georgia Southern University, in which I was allowed a second night in a hotel room, treated to a shared meal, and generally treated wonderfully. The same several months later when the University of Texas, San Antonio brought me in to interview for their ILL Librarian position. In fact, UC is an outlier to any reasonably funded university. Just before accepting my current position I was offered an interview with tiny Randolph College in Lynchberg, VA. Even they had it together enough to buy my plane tickets and put me up in a dorm room. But this Division 1 research university in southern Ohio couldn’t get their shit together to even pick me up from the airport.

Do not apply for a job at the University of Cincinnati.

 

 

 

 

PS: Triceracopter

steg-2

Waiting Professional Man

My Worst Job Interview Experience, Part 1

Do not apply for a job at the University of Cincinnati.

It took me two-and-a-half years to get a job after I started looking for professional positions. In November of 2015 I was invited to interview with the University of Cincinnati’s (UC’s) main library, Langsam. I, of course, was very excited. I was almost a year into my job search and hadn’t landed anything yet so to be considered for this position was heartening.

Earlier in the year I’d been asked to interview at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. This was my first time being flown out to interview for a job, and the experience was nothing but pleasant. They paid for my flights, put me up in a hotel for two nights, took me out for a meal, arranged my ground travel, and everyone I met or dealt with was kindly and professional. Even though the position was not a “professional” librarian position they still treated me like I was a “professional” with all the respect and dignity that that word implies in the academic librarian context.

You can imagine that when UC called to offer me an in-person interview I had a certain set of expectations. It was a little odd, then, when UC said that I’d have to pay for my travel to be reimbursed later after the interview. “Well, okay, that’s fair. I guess.” I thought. The sense of oddness grew to disappointment when they refused to pay for a second night in the hotel. I’d have to pay for that myself. At the time I was making less than $25k a year. It would have been fiscally prohibitive for me to have an extra night in a hotel room. So now, I knew that no matter what I did, I’d have to travel and interview on the same day.

These reservations aside, I was still excited for the chance to interview, and I dutifully began making my arrangements. Because I was having the foot the bill for my air travel myself I took the cheapest flights I could manage for my time schedule. This meant that I’d leave the day before the interview and fly from St. Louis, to Chicago, and then down to Cincinnati. Then, the next day I would have a half-day interview before getting a flight from Cincinnati, back to Chicago, back to St. Louis. Overland that’s 594 miles, one way, for cities that are only about 355 miles apart. I will never understand airline economics. How is it cheaper for the airline for me to do that than to fly directly? I’ll never know.

STL-CHI-CIN
An overland map of my flight path because Google Maps won’t allow you to daisy-chain flight directions.

That was November and my interview was in early December. As we got closer to the interview date I began to learn more about what was to come, or not come, as it were. It became clear that there would be no shared meal, and I was told that “a shuttle would be provided” for my ground transportation from the airport. So, no one from the library was going to be meeting me. If you’ve never been there, the primary Cincinnati airport (CVG) is not in Ohio, but Kentucky. It’s at least a thirty minute drive from the airport to the University on whose property my hotel was.

Flash forward to the two days of the interview trip. I, of course, have had to take vacation days for this — another cost to me on top of the flights, albeit a normal and expected one. At 8:30 in the morning (Central) I got on the Metrolink with my luggage and proceeded to the airport for my flights. I don’t know now the sequence of events, but there was some relatively short delay in either St. Louis or Chicago and by the time I got on the plane in Chicago and we got in the air I was well stressed out. The flight between Chicago and Cincinnati is only about an hour, give or take, but the attendants still proceeded with the drink orders. I was ready for a drink and asked for a whiskey on the rocks. The attendant huffed a little and excused herself, because she didn’t have the machine to process my debit card. Prior to her leaving, though, she poured my drink. Then, just as she got to the front of the plan, “Bong!” goes the intercom before the pilot asks the attendants to secure the cabin for landing.

whiskey-clipart-whisky-glass-clip-art_418920That’s right. Free booze.

I still had plenty of time to finish my drink before landing and did so dutifully. We were approximately forty-five minutes late getting into CVG. Not terrible; and besides, a shuttle had been provided for me. I made my way through the airport. On the way to baggage claim I saw several drivers with signs expecting passengers. None of them had my name on them, nor did any indicate UC. So, I kept walking and looking for my shuttle driver. I had one bag checked and since it was after 6:00 PM (Eastern) in northern Kentucky there wasn’t much air traffic so it didn’t take long for my bag to arrive. Picking up my bag I next went out to the ground transportation area to continue the search for my shuttle.

Remember the oddness and disappointment I felt earlier in the process? I was now starting to approach genuine concern. Still, there was no UC shuttle. I knew I was staying at a Marriott and I saw a Marriott shuttle. I walked up to the driver and told him where I was needing to go and he shook his head saying in his thick accent “No. Not that Marriott. Airport Marriott only.” I thanked him and walked back toward the building. There were two other shuttle companies represented out there, that night. I approached both of them while they were chatting and smoking, but neither of them acted like they were expecting anyone, or in anyway acted like I was a potential customer, so, I gave up on them and went inside. Concern was turning to panic.

This whole time I was calling and emailing my one-and-only UC contact and checking my emails searching increasingly desperately for more clues or information about the shuttle that was to be provided. There was nothing. Only “a shuttle will be provided” was the information given to me. Inside the terminal I found an information desk with a kindly white-haired man posted to it. “I’m sorry. That’s not the kind of information I have.” He said, sympathetically.

At that time, one of us noticed a young man in a UC jacket standing by himself. I went to him and explained my situation. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m waiting for someone else.” I paused for a moment awaiting an offer of help in my plight. None came.

You can imagine how I felt at this point. It had been over eight hours of travel by train and plane for a trip that would have taken me five-and-a-half hours if I had just driven my own car. I was in a foreign airport outside of a foreign city with no one but myself to get me out of this situation. I was tired. I was hungry. I was angry. I was confused. I was scared. The University of Cincinnati had abandoned me at the airport. I did the only thing I could do in this situation. I got a cab that took me to the hotel which I paid for with my own money. “A shuttle will be provided,” rang in my ears.

The University of Cincinnati had abandoned me at the airport.

I get to the hotel, check in to my room, call my wife and regale her with my thus far harrowing story after which I head downstairs to the hotel restaurant. By this time it’s after 8:00 in the evening and I essentially had the restaurant to myself. I decide to treat myself after a long day and order something expensive-ish and a Manhattan, straight-up. Since I was the only customer the waitress and I were talking and I told her about my day. She was very sympathetic and earned a good tip. After a little while my drink came out and I started to sip it. On the second sip I realized that it was, in fact, a very pleasant Old Fashioned I was drinking and not a Manhattan. Right about the same time the waitress and the bartender came rushing over to my table to apologize for the mix up. This was hardly the worst thing that had happened to me that day and I took it in good humor. “Do you still want the Manhattan?” They asked. “We won’t charge you for it.”

13_1789356531_l“Yes.” I said. “I’d like that, very much.”

Free booze, twice in one day.

After dinner, I went back up to my room. I took some time to rehearse my presentation before heading to bed. But already I’m remembering that job interviews are your opportunity to interview your would-be employer as much as they are interviewing you. Thus far, UC had done nothing, nothing, to ingratiate themselves to me. In fact, they hadn’t treated me with any respect at all. Did they really want me, or not? Did they treat all their candidates this way? Did they consider this to be a “professional” position, or something less? If this is how they treat their candidates, how do they treat their employees? Did I really even want this job anymore? These are the thoughts I was having as the booze, food, and exhaustion took me off to sleep.

Continued in Part 2: Getting Out of Ohio

book and red wine on a marble table

I’m Fully Staffed Again!, or, I Needed a Drink

Recently, a candidate accepted a job offer to work for me. This means that for the first time since the end of June I’m fully staffed in my department. Prior to that I was fully staffed for 4-6 weeks, maybe. Other than that, from October 2017-May 2018 I was down one or more positions in my department. That’s most of my first fifteen months in this job. That’s not to mention my hiring manager who sought other opportunities after my first seven months and is not being directly replaced. Of the six positions under me I have now hired five of them, all five of whom are still in their year-long (!) probationary period which will require three performance evaluations each through their eleventh month on the job.

Now, no one is allowed to leave for two years, minimum.

I’m nailing them to their desks, dammit.

I’m tired of this crap.

Don’t get my wrong. I’ve got a great staff, now, of which I’m very proud, and I think our new edition is going to fold in nicely. But while I’ve gained a TON of experience in employee recruitment, it is not one of my favorite tasks. In particular, I hate reading through the cover letters and resumes, although it does give me plenty of opportunities to be judgemental, which is always nice.

  • Why did you put that comma there?
  • Don’t tell me about your reading habits. I don’t care!
  • Yes, it’s great that you volunteered as a puppy petter for three years, but how does that help you deal with an angry patron at nine o’clock in the evening?
  • So, you’re just looking for any job that’s not your current one, then?
  • “Library” has two “R’s,” thank you.

Okay, going trough the resumes and cover letters I find annoying, but the worst part, the absolute worst part is having to call that finalist and tell them that you went to the other candidate. I had to do this, again, and this time there were tears. Not blubbering and wailing (I’d guess that came after we hung up) but quiet disappointed tears. That was the absolute worst. While I’m confident I made the right choice, I felt like a terrible person. There was booze later.

In my earliest blog posts I concentrated on my job search. I did that because I really didn’t have anything else other than the persistent Hell that was my old job. I’ve been in this job less than two years and I still feel like a new-hire in a lot of ways. I also still remember what it feels like to be a job seeker and how frustrating that whole process is. Because of that memory and some of the horrible experiences I’ve had made a particular effort to be sure that I treat all of my applicants with as much respect and dignity as possible. Anyone that I give a telephone interview to gets an email response of a thanks-but-no-thanks that is either generally or specifically encouraging. Anyone who is brought in or otherwise gets a second interview gets a phone call from me, personally. Again, the phone call is personal, supportive, and encouraging.

These are small acts, but so many would-be employers don’t bother. When you have dozens of applicants for a position it’s not practical to email each of them individually, obviously. Hopefully, HR informs them eventually of their status, but many times they don’t. No one should ever be left to guess what their status is for any open position. Job searching can be such a bleak and horrible valley. It is an undignified chore, regardless of your skills or qualifications. It really doesn’t take much to treat others with even the smallest amount of respect; the respect they deserve.

So, Where Am I Going, Anyway?

In reference to my last post, and maybe in continuation of it, I’m asking a question about the rest of my career. This is also a continuation of the question that I first asked in my earliest blog posts,”Why do I want to be a librarian, anyway?” While my official job title may not say so, I’ve effectively reached my primary career goal coming out of library school: Become a Head of Access Services at an academic library. Great! Success! Now what?

What is the career path for someone in my position? My two previous supervisors became a head liaison librarian and a university librarian. Both would be remarkable and unrealistic jumps for me. My only publications are a promotional story about the library in a student newspaper and this blog. My two presentations were good, but not of the substance to show real professional staying power. Whatever is next for me, it will be hard for me to be taken seriously as a candidate without some highfalutin street cred.

I happen to work in a professionally prolific division of liaison and teaching & learning (T&L) Librarians. These are people who regularly publish and present and win awards for their efforts. While my job does not require me to emulate them I’m starting to feel like I should. I’ve always said I wanted to be active in the profession, regardless of my job description, but I have few ideas on where to start. One idea I mentioned in my previous post: get on a committee or committees. That, I plan to accomplish by Thanksgiving. But my experience with professional librarian committee work has not been all that positive, thus far. So, I can’t put my name on a committee roster and think that’s enough. I need to do work that is published in an industry publication. But again, where to start?

Paul Sharpe is my old boss and currently he is the University Librarian for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He also is the former editor of the Journal of Access Services (JOAS) and is still listed on its editorial board. Because of this, I’ve long known about JOAS‘s existence but never have I made the effort to see what they’re actually publishing, until today. Here’s a smattering of their recent article titles:

  1. Assessing Access Services: Building a Five-Year Plan to Sustainable Assessment
  2. Clinging to the Past: Circulation Policies in Academic Libraries in the United States
  3. Enhancing Access to Reading Matieals in Academic Libaries with Low Budgets Using a Book Bank System: Makerere Uinversity Library Experience
  4. When You Are in Charge: Reflections on Managing Staff in the Library
  5. Opportunities for Improved Patron Service with a New Integrated Library System

A few of these, and some others I didn’t type out actually look interesting to me. I hope to get to some of these in my professional reading discipline that I’m starting to build. It shouldn’t be surprising to me that some of these look interesting — it is my profession, after all — but considering my ambivalent attitude toward my profession the surprise is still occurring. Perhaps I’m not as jaded as I thought? Or perhaps they’ve lulled me in with their gentile song? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

I’m good in front of crowd and I word good.

I was speaking with a colleague recently, one of the T&L librarians, after I read a series of blog posts she co-wrote for The Librarian Parlor and without getting too much into my professional ambivalence told her how I didn’t know what I had to contribute and wouldn’t know where to start. She completely empathized with me and knew exactly where I was coming from. It’s some form of impostor syndrome, we agreed. It’s not that I don’t think I could do the work. I’ve always believed that I’m a good writer and a good public speaker. I’m good in front of crowd and I word good. That’s not the problem. The problem — or the question, anyway — is what situation do I have to describe that would be of interest to an editorial board or reader that may actually be professionally useful? What new data could I collect that would be illuminating? I have no freaking idea. What am I doing? Where am I going, anyway?