Remembering why I’m in the LIS program

I’m being told to “do my homework,” or otherwise all my planning will be for naught…

Despite this, I am now aware that now is not quite the time to be doing homework (it is 10:45 PM, here), and going to work today reminded me of why I wanted to work in a library.  It was only a six-hour shift, but it was surprisingly pleasant — even with the babies occasionally crying.  😉  It was okay, she was really upset.  😦

I think that my vacation distanced me somewhat from the reason I’m in Library School (“LIS” = “Library & Information Science”) in the first place, and the realities of dealing with the workplace, as versus the curricula and the teachers (and the history and politics).  Knock on wood, I have been witness to very little trouble over at least the past six months — though this could be because I am now working only two days a week for 3/4 of a day, each.  (Given my workload this semester, I was overloaded at 18 hours a week of work and 30 hours a week of school.)

I am also seeing what the technical track looks like at my school, and am wondering if maybe it actually is going to be easier for me to deal with people face-to-face than online and on the phone (I don’t really envy the people trying to communicate through the phone).  I’ve been also doing some digging around job specifications…and I don’t think it has to be as hard as I’m making it.  I also don’t think that I should take “I don’t work well with people” as an axiom by which to live my life, as all that’s doing is limiting me and my choices.  Even if I do have autistic traits (not enough to be called “autistic,” though, I’ve heard) that doesn’t mean I have to define myself by what I think autism is.

My major qualm is losing motivation while I’m in school because of having an unclear and unresearched end goal.  Right now, the only places I’ve worked have been Public Libraries…which I know pretty well, and which I am getting acclimated to.  What I’ve found with the Metadata and Cataloging courses is that I probably don’t want to be a Cataloger…and maybe I don’t want to try this path again with Digital Services (i.e., try it and see if I like it:  what happens if I don’t?).  What I’ve found with my prior courses, particularly the Intellectual Freedom course and the Diversity course, is that I may very well be more aligned philosophically with the institution of Public Libraries than I thought.

In the absence of any clear better ideas…library work does seem suited to me. Maybe the variation in quality in regard to my experience of public service has more to do with that experience starting from ground zero (when I didn’t know how to set limits with people, and thus at times have had my boundaries overrun.  That is a much rarer occurrence, these days).

When the Clerk positions open up, I’m planning to get tested and hopefully get on the list to be considered for hiring, especially as I’m doing most of the job of a Library Clerk now, but am not being paid for it.  I asked my supervisor today to alert me when that happens, though I think I can get notified of this on my own.  I did this because I can recall having a dream where I was saying that I didn’t resent the work, so much as didn’t feel I was being compensated fairly for it.  (Yeah, I dream about work…when do I get a rest?  I don’t know…)

It is…pretty clear that the job I have now is preparing me to be a Library Clerk (which in turn can move up into a Library Assistant, though they are parallel paths with different skill sets and endpoints).  Clerks get paid a wage at which one may be able to support oneself; I, as an Aide, don’t.  It is the case, though, that I may not be able to take on the workload of a Clerk (I can probably do 20 hours a week, max.) while still in Library School.  But Library School should be over in two years.

I’m not certain about this — I have tonight plotted out a course which fits in everything I can take which is of the Public Library track — but I think that more Humanities/Social Science classes will be easier for me than the tech stuff, which I have wanted to do (before I started in on it and started getting some of the worst grades of my life).  Although I have wanted to do tech work, I’ve lost some confidence around that.  In particular, I find it stressing me in a different way than people-watching, stressed me.  In this case, I feel like there actually are right answers, and that derivation from that is easy to spot.  It’s also very possible that my mind does not work in a standard way, which doesn’t help me catalog in a standard way.

My program should also be built around Library service — as versus, say, Information Architecture, which they do give a specialization towards, but it’s the same class over and over again with different topics.  In contrast, the Public Library track is fairly diversified.

Once I can finally get my Driver’s License (I’m close, but not quite there yet), I will then be able to become a Library Assistant and drive around the county to fill vacancies (which is very much not what I want to be doing, but it is experience toward becoming a Librarian, and that means one step closer to financial independence).  The upshot of this is that I don’t have to work when I’m overloaded with classwork…although reading, papers, and oral presentations are things I can easily do.  Coding is something else.  It’s simple when you’ve got the framework down already…but I don’t know if I want something that simple, and the framework…well, it’s complex.

The higher jobs specific to the Library, oddly enough, also look easier than the Clerk jobs, and pay more (sometimes, much more).  I’ve realized as well that I don’t have to stay within this community, although the ones I’ve worked with have generally been pretty decent.  The surprise for me came with the prospect of working as a Librarian in Hawaii…which I believe would contain communities that I would in no way feel bad serving.

I’ve also gotten over a bit of the fear of people I had when I initially got this job…years of being treated decently (by surprise) will do that to a person, eh?

It’s now 11:30 here:  I should get some rest and try and work off this jet lag…

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Lots of stuff going on. What do I do when I actually *don’t* have to do anything?

I’m kind of tired of browsing others’ artwork while my own voice goes quieted (self-censored?).  Not that it isn’t a good thing to have exposure, but looking is not equivalent to doing.  It’s the same thing as reading without writing.

Last time I met with my usual counselor, they were encouraging me to take time out for my own self-care.  I’ve had an easier time looking forward to the next three years, realizing that if I take time out to care for myself, it won’t be three years straight of all-work-no-play.  (During high school, which is likely where I initially refined my study skills, it was this way.  I had to play-first, work-later, or else work would eat up all my time.  I was supplied with more homework than I could ever complete, which did jack for learning good work habits.  Or, rather, work habits that wouldn’t erode my will to engage.)

Today has been nearly nothing but taking it easy…which isn’t a good thing, but I couldn’t bring myself to think too hard, after the last two days.  I did manage to get my homework done, which was relatively easy, and fun (my Database work), though there has been no progress on the readings (I can’t concentrate around other people, and didn’t want to be alone again to get quiet time).

I also managed to get the daikon pickles started.  🙂  After that, I wasn’t totally hot on cleaning my room, or the bathroom.  I know it needs to be done, but it’s waited this long.  It can hold off a bit longer.

It also helps that I’ve accidentally read too much of my tutorials, and listened to an optional reading that I thought was required.  I have a good way to go for my Database class, where it comes to optional readings; not so far, to finish the required ones.  But I have another week, to do it.

I can get to work on the next lecture…and answering the question posed at the end of it.  In my last class, I need to finish a reading, then answer a post on it.  I think this will be it for the rest of this week, though I can’t be sure, as the days the lessons change over are not aligned with each other.

I just kind of can’t believe that I was able to complete everything.  I thought that I might not be able to get full credit on last night’s essay — but that could have been because I couldn’t imagine that the assignment was as simple as it was.  I was willing to settle for half-credit.

There is also the “homework” of reading for my Vocational program (which I have time to do, now), and talking to one or more Museum Librarians.  I think I have enough information to hypothesize that I won’t need an advanced degree in Art to be competent…but it would be nice to talk to someone in the field.  It would just clarify things.  My fear is that they will ask me questions about Art that I can’t answer.

Although it will help in getting a clearer idea of the field.  My meeting with my old co-worker did clarify that Digital Services is likely not a great bet for me, because it does still deal with customer service; in a Public Library, this would be Public Service.  An Art Librarian position would still be customer service, but my “customers” would be people in the Art field, I’m thinking.  These people seem qualitatively different than “anyone off the street.”

And then there is my “homework” from Counseling, which is to work out my time management.  I’ve been OK so far, but I’ve only been through the first four weeks of my courses.  It is relatively great that I only have one course that I have to get a good grade in…

I do need to work on my note-taking, though.  And in addition to my housekeeping and cooking, I still need to learn to drive.

Thankfully, though, I think that (and exercise) are all I have on my plate…

My life is now officially circling around employment.

Today was another day of work, down.  It wouldn’t have been as tough as it was, but …we still had backed up shelving from over the Labor Day holiday. That, and we were understaffed.  As long as I was there, I was the only shelver; however, I did get to meet a new applicant, who might actually be able to help.  (I hope she didn’t feel that I snubbed her by not speaking; it’s just my way not to speak unless I have something of effect to say.)

The really nice thing about my work is that at this point, to the best of my knowledge — at least — people are generally decent.  There are some quirks and things to be ironed out, of course, but it isn’t my job to deal with them.

I meant to let one of the higher-ranking members of my staff know about a specific patron interaction which …kind of highlighted one of the reasons why things don’t work ideally.  Patrons will often come up to me with questions which I’m not prepared to answer, and which — because of my rank — I’m not expected or permitted to answer.  But apparently, I’m easier to approach than anyone sitting at Information, waiting just to answer questions like the ones that are frequently lobbed at me.

When I can’t answer them and redirect them to Information, a relatively high percentage of them will go without an answer, rather than ask the person who can give them a correct answer.  In turn, what prohibits me from answering these questions is, in effect, both reasoning which indicates that I am not expected to know all of this stuff (like who wrote what book series, off the top of my head); and also a political climate that we all have to deal with.

I’m fairly certain that professional standards inhibit me from disclosing the nature of the one particular exchange I’m thinking of…but I do mean to tell at least one person about what happened.  When I go in next and see this post on my break, I should remember the exchange.

This post will probably mean nothing to me in a year’s time, because I will have forgotten the content.

Haaa…right.

Well, the only other big thing going on in my life, rather than — well — life (and my Vocational program), is the University program.  I did successfully submit my Database assignment last night, and got full credit (and a nice comment)!  I was really happy about this, because that project was a substantial amount of work.  It was also hands-on and analytical work, which I appreciated.  Theory isn’t everything, you know?

I’m a little behind in my readings, and just now have been able to fully concentrate on next week’s assignments.  Because I was up until around 2 AM this morning, though, it seemed like the thing to do after getting some food into my system was to nap.  I’m hoping this doesn’t become a pattern (again)!  The good thing is, largely, that I have no other major responsibilities than caring for myself, work, University, and the program which should help me obtain a higher-paying job…so everything is pointed in the direction of really eventually becoming financially stable and independent — with a focus, more or less.

I do still need to figure out what to do about asking what would be required to succeed as an Art Librarian.  It is a dream; I’m just not sure if it will hold up to reality.  My major problem here is fear, around making a poor first impression.  And fear, around not being sure that I will indeed have enough time to educate myself on Art History at the same time as I am intensely engaged in classes.

I’m just not certain how much work it would take to become qualified:  in particular, I don’t know how much background knowledge I’d need, that I don’t have.  I am pretty sure that I want to work in the Special Library field, though:  it just seems like there is a much wider range of roles than in the traditional library settings (Public and Academic).  Managing vast amounts of data in a manner which makes it findable and usable seems like something I’d like to do.  I wouldn’t say I’m naturally talented at it!  But that is what Information Science (as versus Library Science) seems to be about.  It would have been nice to know this before having entered the program, though.

For that matter, maybe I should have taken that work-study job at my University Library, back when I was an undergrad.  If I had done that, I would at least have known what it would be like to work in an Academic Library setting.  Right now…the only experience I’ve got is in Public Libraries…and though the kids can be cute, I’m not sure I want to stay here for the rest of my career.

Maybe I should bring this up with my Vocational counselor…it will give me some direction, in the short-term.  If I take a job at a University library, it should help me know whether I want to work in an Art Library for an educational institution, or whether I want to concentrate on Museums and/or Business, within an Art-related field.  (Of course, that’s a hope.  I am uncertain just how much being in a role like a research assistant [which I’ve never been, so I’m not sure it is similar] will require my actual knowledge of the subject matter.)

Then again, speaking of fears:  I am thinking that this Database course may turn out to be one of my favorites, although I was afraid of it at first.  Apparently, this course intimidates a lot of people.  Maybe I don’t need to be afraid of meeting some Art Librarians?

Coming up for air: Week 1, down.

I’ve been away for a few days, haven’t I?

Wow.  A week, basically.

Well, classes have begun.  I’ve been spending more time studying than I really…would have expected to enjoy.  Then there is all the technology to handle, but most of all the best point is the window up and out of my relatively manual and clerical and low-paid position.

Point-blank, though, it gives me a reason to interact with others locally and through the computer, explore and gain new ideas, and it gives me interesting material to read which I can (and am expected to) then think and write about.

In comparison — at least prior to the unofficial series here which I’ve been writing on what I’ve been reading; and excluding the posts on Art process which have gone back some number of years — it has seemed that I’ve somewhat been spinning my wheels.  (So it wasn’t just a feeling!)

My database/technical course is interesting, and ties right in to the problems of organizing my digital photos which I was talking about, some time ago.  I can try and figure out when, another night.

The other two courses, I will need to get working on; along with setting up some kind of calendar, and trying to figure out where I really want all these communications sent.  The technical course is just much faster-paced than the other two, which reflects what I’ve been told at work:  that the core courses are difficult, and the electives are not as intense.

I can see that I may need to rethink (or at least loosen my grip on) my career direction, though…if I do find that I really like this database thing…

Reading is much easier than writing…

…for me, at least.

Apologies for the unannounced absence:  I’ve been without significant internet connectivity for the past several days.  In the meantime, I’ve managed to finish Where Does Art Come From? by William Kluba, and have broken back into The View From the Studio Door by Ted Orland, one of the authors of Art & Fear, which he co-wrote with David Bayles…and which I read in one or another of my drawing classes.  (The last book I mentioned wasn’t required, but it was mentioned in class, and I found it on a trip to the Legion of Honor’s bookstore.)

What I can say is that it’s much easier for me to absorb information via reading than it is to come back to writing without having practiced for several days!  (Kind of parallel to viewing art being a much different experience from making it.)

Right now I am getting a little…a little hesitant.  Classes start up in about a week:  I keep getting emails from the University…most of which don’t apply to me, but…it’s a little scary to have this all becoming so real this soon.  I’m about to jump back into 9 units (!), which I don’t think I’ve done since my undergraduate days.  Next week I talk to my old contact who has worked in Digital Services; I go to meet my personal counselor at my Vocational program, and I have a mandatory meeting of the most important of my classes.  Before that time, I will need to finish filling out my paperwork for the Vocational program, clarify my questions for my old co-worker, become acquainted with the school’s interface (which has changed since the last time I attended), and install a couple of things.

I hate installing things.

In any case, work also starts up for me again on Saturday; and I will need to return some career-oriented Library books.

*sigh*

Most of today, I’ve been asleep.  Over the past several days…it’s been a bit stressful.  We had a family reunion, which actually wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be.  Trying to figure out where to eat, how much it would cost, and weaving through the casinos and drunk people…that was a lot more incoming information.  Not to mention that my sibling is now with us, and we haven’t seen each other in-person in months (meaning there has been some friction).

I’m thinking that the best things I can do for myself right now are to begin to read in my textbooks, and read over the tutorials for the learning platform.  I am not sure if I will have to install more than one program (as versus peripherals)…but I know it is at least one.

Or, if I wanted to burn off some anxiety, painting would probably be a good outlet.

I think dinner is almost ready, and this is a good breaking point:  I’ll try and continue to think about what it is which I could post, which wouldn’t be too much to say, here.

And…I think we are a go

Not to be too optimistic, but it’s actually so much more motivating when you have a goal that you at least (think you) want and would love.  I’ve…it’s 10 PM already?!

I’ve spent the last several hours working out what needs to happen for the Special Librarianship track to be a go, and what courses I’ll need to take over the next three years.  I have three semesters where I’m at 12 units, and the other three are at 9.  (This is without Summer Intensives.)

M has told me not to worry about the BA in Art History being the minimum qualification for entry into the field of Art Librarianship.  As I already have an AA in Art, it may take 1-2 additional years for me to achieve that BA; and after all the schooling I will have been through, it will probably be easy.

I got to this point after attempting to break into a couple of books on Art History (as versus the books on art practice) and realizing that although I wanted to know this information, a lot of it was relatively new to me.  Particularly, “Art after 1960” is best prefaced by “Art after 1945.”  😉  At least this much I have realized!

I have had the pressing need to work on some art, but in reality, most of my time today has been taken up sleeping, eating, or working on the schedule…not necessarily in that order.  (And yes, my back is getting sore on the mouse side of my body.)

And can you believe that little tomatillo I’ve been drawing is still alive???  I’ve been thinking of trying to do an acrylic study of it in low light — the low-light thing being relatively critical, meaning I’d have to work quickly in the late afternoon…or bring down a desk lamp and work at night.  I have no idea how long that little thing is going to last, or if I should get a new one.  😀  In any case, it’s here now and it will (probably) still be here after I get off of work.

Part of the reason I’ve picked Art Librarianship is that I’ve been asked to think about what demographic it is I want to serve.  It could be really cool to work with arts-type people, and help find information for them to help them facilitate upcoming programs and research.  I have heard that the money isn’t all that great, but I think that the environment and the people I’d be around and working with — plus my own interest in the subject matter — would more than balance that out.

I think that working in that environment, as well, will be easier for me so far as both inspiring me to work on my own art, and not having to worry about public opinion where it comes to what I do with my own artistic expression.  Well — maybe I should say that the public can have an opinion, but that opinion won’t be expressly and directly tied to my means of living.

This has all really only come together over the past week.

I have about three weeks to prepare for my Vocational intake appointment…and three weeks before University starts.  I still need to read over my tutorials, and probably make some effort to read ahead in my textbooks, while I have the time.  There is also that awful Management text that I never finished, which I have been avoiding like the plague because it’s so poorly written as to be incomprehensible in some areas.  But I will have to show evidence of knowing what it’s trying to say, so I suppose I should get back to the attempt, at least, to plow through those last 1.5 chapters.

Planning classes and course load…

The majority of my last 12 waking hours have been spent trying to figure out what to do with my classes over the next three years (and it is, seriously, only the next three, despite my earlier confusion.  Turbo time?).

The biggest thing I can see happening is that I will need to decide whether to go for Digital Services or Special Librarianship, and tailor my course load one way or the other.  I’m leaning towards Special Librarianship, but I am not certain that having an AA in Art is really sufficient background preparation to become an Art Librarian.  I would need to do extra studies on my own, or pick up enough background information through research in the program otherwise, so that I know what I’m doing.

What I can do about this now is read some of the books which I have picked up from the Library on Art History, and see how I like reading about Contemporary Art…