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A popular ongoing discussion is making the online presence of the library more comparable to how our users actually interact, or breaking out of the traditional mold of card catalog transferred online. In my mind that’s the whole idea behind Library 2.0, but so far the “innovations” haven’t been all that earth-shattering. Does Aquabrowser provide a glimmer of potential? I’m not sure yet. Aquabrowser, which is a product of Serials Solutions was created as a “search and discovery platform” to integrate the ILS, databases, websites, RSS feeds, and local repositories into one online location.

One of the main selling points (besides centralized functionality) is versatility – this is a system that can be used in public or academic libraries. It’s also Web 2.0 friendly. Users can tag, review and rate library materials, including links to LibraryThing tags. The content can also be shared with other libraries.

Aquabrowser works with a variety of ILS systems and is currently in use in a variety of institutions (mostly public libraries, but also universities such as Tufts, Oklahoma State, and Trinity College). Worth further exploration…

It feels like an accomplishment that I just had a book review published in a professional journal (ARLIS NA Reviews of the Art Libraries Society). I wrote about the Lawrence Weiner retrospective book of essays titled As Far As the Eye Can See, which gave me a chance to think about contemporary art in a more critical way than I usually do. I definitely learned a lot from the book and the experience.

I really enjoy writing book reviews, particularly about art-related subjects. I feel really fortunate to find an outlet like Moonshine, which welcomes my reviews every couple of months. I don’t get paid, but I definitely reap the intellectual rewards. It keeps me reading and pursuing new subject matter, and forces me to think critically. And hopefully it is helping to polish my resume, regardless of the direction I take in the future.

I just read about a fascinating social experiment on the ARLIS-L discussion list. The contributor is a librarian at Provisions Library in Washington D.C., which is described as “an arts and social change learning resource that amplifies compelling voices that challenge and redefine the mainstream. Its library and online services are a trusted source for alternative perspectives on a wide range of social change topics and its innovative exhibitions strongly engage the arts as a powerful means of exploring social issues and as an agent of change.” That in itself is worth further exploration.

Anyway, apparently this librarian was contacted by an artist with an idea inspired by the recent near-closings of Washington D.C. libraries. He wants to leave small locked boxes around the city that contain books and other objects. Subscription to these “libraries” would be keys mailed to applicants. The interesting concept is the interaction with the boxes and their contents. People would be encouraged to contribute art, poetry, etc. to the boxes. According to the librarian, “the effect would be a dialog between and among the library and its users”.

I think more ideas along these lines should be explored. Not only is this a way to counteract branch closings (if in a very limited manner), but also a really innovative and creative way to integrate art into library services and give people an outlet for creativity and collaboration. Pretty cool!

I went ahead and set up the meeting with the other library last week, which basically turned into a second interview. I guess the director wanted to be able to ask more in-depth questions without the constraints of calling it a formal interview. Doesn’t seem quite kosher, but then I’m used to the uber-bureaucratic structure of large university search committee hiring. The conversation went well, and she basically asked me to explain in great detail everything I’ve done in my past library jobs. It was pretty intense. Though I felt like I could have explained a few things better (I must admit I was not quite prepared for that level of interrogation), by the end she was pretty enthusiastic. She was talking about how she was going to rewrite the position description to best reflect my experience, and that she was so glad she called me back in to get a better feel for what I would bring to the job. She even talked in detail about the salary and benefits package and showed me what would be my office. The meeting ended with her saying she needed the weekend to think out the details, then would give me a call on Monday.

All weekend, my thought process was along the lines of “is this the right job for me right now?” as I was 95% confident of getting a job offer. Then Monday came and I was informed in a voice mail message from the director that she had reconsidered over the weekend and realized she doesn’t really have the time to train me right now, and couldn’t offer me the position. Then she apologized for wasting my time. ?!?!?!?!?!? What caused such a major 180? I suppose she was thinking about the large amount of collection development involved in the position, and really wanted someone with more experience in that area. But why didn’t she realize that before basically offering me the job? It’s just perplexing. All I can say is that I wasn’t getting the greatest vibes from her or the position, so it’s likely not the right fit anyway. Still…I feel totally misled, and yes, she totally wasted my time.

It’s hard to turn this into a learning opportunity, but that’s been my modus operandi with all my experiences to this point and has worked out pretty well, so I’m going to try. First of all, I got a better perspective on some possible interviewing weaknesses. The things I thought I spelled out pretty clearly in the first interview about my experience obviously were somewhat obtuse. I think sometimes I expect my resume to speak for itself when it’s really up to me to talk up my skills to a greater degree. Second, I should have been better prepared for the second interview. Even if I didn’t know for certain what to expect, I should always be well prepared to describe my past employment in detail, especially as it relates to the position at hand.

Third, and most importantly, I do need to trust my instincts. I don’t think this was ever the right job for me, whether I got an offer or not. The hours were bad (11-8), the location was bad, and the job itself was just too vaguely defined. Obviously the director does not know what she really wants, and that’s a huge warning sign. I just kept going with the “cross that bridge when I come to it” mentality, which now strikes me as a really unhealthy approach. As soon as I realize that a job is not going to be the right fit, I should withdraw from consideration. The thing about my job right now is that I LOOK FORWARD TO GOING TO WORK EVERY DAY (According to anecdotal data, that differentiates me from 80% of Americans). That is huge. I have worked enough jobs that were intensely boring, unchallenging, unstructured, or just a general bad environment (or all of the above) that I have great deal of respect for a job that is personally rewarding and doesn’t cause me anxiety on a daily basis.

I guess it was a learning experience after all…

August 2008
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