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As I mentioned earlier, I had an interview this week for an Adult Services position in a public library. The process has been pretty intense – round one was a lengthy email questionnaire (more like an essay exam or MLS comps), round two was a phone interview, and round 3 is in-person interviews. This was my first experience with a phone interview, and it was a little rough. First of all, my cell phone reception is a little patchy out here. I’m not sure they could even hear all of my answers. The interviewers were using a speaker phone, making them sound as if they were trapped inside a tin can. I had to have questions repeated several times, which really cut into my concentration. The questions themselves were also not what I was expecting – I spent all morning preparing to discuss my qualifications and experiences relating to the position, and in fact the entire interview consisted of “what would you do if…” scenarios (such as “what would you do if you heard a coworker giving a patron misinformation?”) I hear these types of questions discussed all the time of nexgen and newlib, so they didn’t come as a surprise, but I wish I had more opportunity to showcase my knowledge and ideas. It seemed more or less a way to see how well I could think on my feet.
Today I met with Jenni James at the Institute of American Indian Arts to discuss my project. I’m really excited to be working with them on a digitization project from the ground up. She gave me a tour of the facility, which is quite new and impressive. They have a great collection of Native American art resources. Some of the instructors are pushing for teaching images, so they eventually want to get their slide collection digitized. Right now they have about 700 images scanned as tiffs, but with no accompanying thumbnail jpgs or metadata. The first order of business is to decide on an image cataloging system suitable for the needs of a small collection. Jenny mentioned the Image AXS system (freely available for non-commercial use and based on Microsoft Access), which I have not worked with before. I told her about my experience with CONTENTdm and the VRA Core, and I think my knowledge will be applicable to what they want to accomplish. It will be really great experience to create some original metadata using VRA Core – and also a great way to integrate my interests.
On a philosophical note, this summer is more than anything a personal exercise in embracing uncertainty. I realized I have become all too tethered to the limiting safety net of staying in one place longer than it suits me and settling for opportunities for security rather than fulfillment. I am uncertain about where this path will lead me, and that is frightening. But for once I am going to take that fear and transform it into momentum. I have the rest of my life to work, and I do not want to regret missed opportunities.
I’m in that purgatory between starting to apply for professional jobs and actually getting my degree. It’s challenging, because the general consensus is to begin sending out applications 6 mos. or so before graduation, but most all jobs require the degree in hand. At this point, it is likely the jobs I’m applying for wouldn’t start before my August graduation date, so I’m stepping up my efforts and finding some really interesting opportunities. I’m getting much better at writing cover letters to suit the jobs I’m looking for, which is actually a really helpful exercise in self-esteem boosting. Every time I sell myself in a cover letter I end up feeling really confident and excited about my prospects. Who needs psychoanalysis?
I seem to be doing something right. Yesterday I was contacted for a phone interview for an adult services job in a public library. Yay! My first librarian interview. I’m running through my mind the kinds of questions I should be thinking about. I’m usually pretty good at extemporaneous delivery in interviews, but I think I also need to be prepared for trick questions. There’s nothing worse than dead silence at the end of a phone line as I wrack my brain for something halfway intelligent to say. The thing is, I’ve never interviewed in a public library, and I’m not sure how differently they approach things than a university. It was really great experience for me to be on the search committee at UNL this year – I learned a lot about what to put in a cover letter and what the search committee is looking for. So hopefully that experience will help me out. I’m also glad that I so recently took courses in collection development, adult services, and ethics. I think the information I learned in those classes will be really useful for the types of questions I will be asked.
This last week at UNL has been bittersweet. I’ve come to realize that my work with electronic resources has really been appreciated, and I’ve had so many librarians and staff make the effort to tell me how much they appreciated my efforts. That means a lot to me and makes me feel like I really accomplished something here, even though often I felt like my work went unnoticed. That’s the trouble with cataloging and database maintenance. If you’re doing your job well, no one knows about it and you never get feedback. It’s only when there are problems that people take notice. It would be nice to work in public services and get some face to face validation. But I feel like I have learned so much from the people I work with and all the challenges of implementing ERM and troubleshooting database and e-journal problems. I know I’m at a really good place right now to move forward into the next challenge.
I talked to the librarian at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on Friday about a project automating their serials holdings. They just got a new ILS and at this point still have their records in paper. I think with my serials background this will be a good project for me. So the plan at this point is to split my time this summer between the Georgia O’Keeffe and the digitization project at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Both of them sound really interesting – I can’t wait to get started and meet people in the museum/library community in New Mexico.
I’ve begun a new blogging adventure as I stare towards the horizon of my looming library school graduation, move to New Mexico, and all other adventures that lie ahead. Que sera, sera. Today I heard back from the Institute of American Indian Arts, one of the institutions in Santa Fe where I offered up my librarian skills as a volunteer this summer. This would be a very neat experience in digitizing their image collection, so I am quite tempted. Of course, the Georgia O’Keeffe opportunity still gets my heart thumping as well. Too many choices are infinitely better than none, so I will count myself lucky.
My metadata blog is still available through the blogroll, but any metadata related musings will now be penned here along with my general observations about the field, Library 2.0 and Museum 2.0, my professional development, research, and career exploration in general.