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It’s been quite a ride since I started writing this blog back in May of 2007. I turned the corner on a new decade of my life. I resettled on the other side of the country. I became a librarian. Veni, vidi, vici (for the most part).
I am excited that I will finally be realizing my long-standing dream of pursuing my MA in art history at the University of New Mexico. Being a grad student again means a lot of things to me, but unfortunately one of them is that I will again find myself stretched a bit thin. I plan to focus on my intellectual pursuits, my book reviews, and finding new challenges in my work. Though my adventures will continue, I think the life of this blog has run its course.
So…I’m taking just a moment here to wax philosophical. I’d like to reiterate the fact that my career path has branched out in unexpected directions, and I know it will continue to do so in the future. These unexpected circumstances can either be hugely liberating and full of opportunity or rife with anxiety and second-guessing. It’s a choice to say that an alternative career path is just as successful and perhaps even more exhilerating than a traditional one. This is an exciting time to be an information resource professional in large part because of these non-traditional paths. It’s a trying time as well. The state of the economy means that jobs are being cut or left unfilled and cultural resource institutions are being asked to do more with less. Job hunting for new professionals can be extremely stressful and daunting in the best of circumstances. I really feel for my colleagues who are just beginning that search or facing the frustration of months of unsuccessful applications. Some do not have the luxury of choice and just have to settle for a paycheck. To those people I would only advise taking everything as an opportunity to add new skills and experiences. Who knows how these things will come together in the future? Even in trying times, I believe it is true that by doing what you love the money – i.e. the career – will follow. Stay creative, innovative, excited, and always feed your passions. In other words (the words of my favorite fortune cookie fortune), “Listen often to the quiet voice within.” It’s the only one that really matters.
Some recent blog posts on learning programming languages and a thread on the VRA listserv about prioritizing too many professional responsibilities got me thinking. I absolutely agree with the idea that – along with all other continuing education efforts – it is important for professionals to become more technologically proficient. It makes me cringe a little when I read about library staff who don’t know the first thing about word processing, let alone developing a website or programming languages.
What strikes me is that librarians seem to fall somewhere along a wide spectrum in this regard. There are those who want NOTHING TO DO WITH I.T., NO WAY, NO HOW, there are those who get that gleam in their eyes at the mere mention of SQL or Ruby on Rails, then there are those (like me) who really want to learn new things and make databases more accessible and user-friendly and enhance the digital world with more and better information and all that good stuff, but….well….don’t get pumped up by the system side of things. Maybe it’s a bit of intimidation, but really it’s more that there’s so much else to focus on, especially in a small institution.
In much the same way that I could easily learn some basic car repair and yet choose the peace of mind of my trusty mechanic, I like to know I can make a call to my friendly local I.T. guy or gal. I would just rather be spending my time focusing on the things that excite me about information management, such as collection development, cataloging, and reference. And after all that, there’s just not much time left in the day to tweak the database.
I found a great blog called hangingtogether.org, described as “the hangout spot for libraries, archives and museums”(LAMs). A group of people OCLC/RLG created the blog to look at the issues relating to these groups, and they’ve been pretty active over the past couple of years. The publication “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums” is an especially interesting look at the various projects and intersections emerging between institutions.