work


Listening to: Couldn’t Do It – Regurgitator (Christ! Am I homesick?)

So it’s been a crappy week, really, but the enormous bag of fortune cookies is still going strong and apparently “[I] WILL BE IN A LAUGHING MOOD TOMORROW”. So that’s something. Tell you what, I am sick of the sight of the library – I was almost grumpy with a student this evening!

It should be okay, though – I forgot about half-term, so I actually have a week off (unpaid, alarmingly, because I’m still in my trial period – I’m supposed to move into Fi’s room in a few weeks, once she finds somewhere else to live, which means a rent hike and a bond top-up). Time to explore London again! Maybe it’ll be like those first six weeks – maybe I’ll start walking to Kilburn again. And if it snows, I have the sewing machine out of hibernation already.

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Listening to: Forget It, Sister – You Am I

When I left my last job, I was given a book voucher but I couldn’t decide how to spend it. Luckily, Patti Smith has been everywhere lately (there was even an interview with her in the Vogue I picked up off the floor of the library today) and I happened to have time to kill in Kensington this afternoon and there was a Waterstone’s… So after traipsing up and down the stairs for a bit, trying to get a straight answer from the salespeople (“I think we’ve sold out, but try upstairs in Music” – “Well, there might be a copy left in the Biography section, if you can find it”. Libraries are so much more sensible – imagine if I spoke to students like that!), I emerged with my very own copy of Just Kids, her book about life with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York from the late ’60s onwards. So far – and I’ve only read the first chapter, which is Patti’s childhood in Chicago and Pennsylvania, her discovery of the power of her own imagination and her introduction to books – it’s beautiful.

Less beautifully, Tony Abbott is a fuckwit, but at least people are writing about it. I particularly like this piece by Karen Brooks:

I wanted to give myself a context for understanding all the brouhaha that erupted last week when our budgy-smuggler-wearing Opposition Leader was quoted as having said ‘women should treat virginity as a gift.’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘You’re a gift, Abbott, with a silent ‘f’.

(Tony Abbott is married! Was this well-known? Gross.) I think I kind of miss Australian politicians. I’ve enrolled to vote here, but to be honest I don’t know what I’m doing. They don’t have Green MPs! I’m not sure how to work with that.

My lovely boss had a nasty accident on her bike last night (thanks to a taxi, which is completely horrifying) and although she’s going to be fine (superficial but frightening-to-behold injuries, apparently), I’m in charge for the next couple of weeks. The day-to-day librarian stuff I can handle, but there’s a massive gap in qualifications between us and the library assistants (who are lovely and competent but are also mostly gap year students and refer pretty much all enquiries to us) and finding a way to maintain a useful service to students from 8.30am until 7.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays is going to be a bit of a nightmare. We just closed early today, but it wouldn’t be fair to do that again and we had a heap of reference queries as I was trying to get out the door this afternoon (I’d normally finish at 3.45 and do the late on Thursday). And I can let the others open on Thursday morning, but then my whole day will be spent on the Help Desk and I’ll miss out on any admin time. Argh!

Listening to: lots of You Am I

I made a firm promise to Heather some weeks ago that My Finest Hour would be back up and running any minute, so – ta-da! I am not all talk and no action.

Being a librarian is exhausting! I think because I’ve gone for months without being creative or interested at work – I got lazy, people. So this is not a complaint – it’s the best kind of exhaustion – but it’s going to take some getting used to, fitness regimes, et cetera.

My new favourite toy is Intute, this database of free, authoritative (as reviewed by university-type people) websites on many subjects – almost as good as the WSRC Wiki!

Other good things: I am off to a training session in Oxford on Tuesday (!!!) and every Wednesday I am leading (I hesitate to say “teaching”) a tiny class of students who’ve chosen Information Skills as their mandatory extracurricular activity for the term (kind of like our Line 8, but more directly geared towards making their university applications look good [rather than, uh – what did we do? Lawn bowls?]). First class yesterday, with an hour’s notice (!), was not a complete disaster (but it probably was a bit boring). Any tips? Next week we’re looking at online research (hence the Intute link).

Today I have been listening to a lot of You Am I. I’m trying to focus my listening habits more and stick to one artist a day (to stave off a nasty case of short-attention-span). I love this song and video (and many others):

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYoBEcvnknc]

Listening to: You Broke My Heart in 17 Places – Kirsty MacColl

Argh! I just tried to rewrite my CV to get it down to 2 pages, and now it’s about 63 pages long.

Is your CV full of achievements? Do you find it hard to think of public library work in that way, or is it just me? I should have viewed the past year in terms of CV fodder, and instead I frittered it away. Even things that I sort of think are “achievements” sound wanky when I try to write about them as such. Should I have been keeping a tally of how many books I personally catalogued? How do you quantify ordinary customer service to make it more marketable when you haven’t actually been selling anything? Why has this never been an issue before?

Listening to: Parents Just Don’t Understand – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Very quick update: I have a new job! I chose the public library one in the end, although it was a hard decision. I think it’s probably the best place for me, despite the long commute, and I’m pleased if a little bit freaked out by the weight of expectation (sure, I can ace a couple of job interviews, but can I actually do the job? What if they regret being so nice to me? What if I miss the bus? What if I miss the bus more than once? Will all the stuff I said in the interview about the importance of informed democracy suddenly ring hollow? Oh, dear). I’m looking forward to regular hours, and I really do like the library and the people.

Accepting this job meant turning down the other one, which was excruciating. But it’s what people do, right? You can’t just apply for one job at a time and hope for the best. (I’m such a wimp.)

Listening to: Girls Are The New Boys – Saloon

This is what we do on quiet evenings at work. It’s fun and educational!

P.S. I may have gone a little bit overboard with the italicisation on that last post. Sorry.

Listening to: Work is a Four-Letter Word – The Smiths

This whole job-search thing has suddenly become less abstract (scary!) – the interview I had today at a far away public library went well enough that they want me back for a second one on Monday, and I also lined up an interview at the closeby university library. I really want the uni one, because it’s within easy cycling distance and won’t be anything like my last academic library because its subject areas include the humanities, but we’ll see. The point is, I will get something eventually, something that utilises my postgraduate qualifications and will earn me enough to stop this whole overseas thing seeming like such a pipe dream (I’ve indulged in some retail therapy over the summer, and my savings are looking a little less impressive than they might) and then I will be like a real adult. Weird (and about time).

A lot of the interview questions today focused on what I thought other people thought of me – what my colleagues would say about me as a team member, what I thought my supervisor thought of me – and I blathered on about getting along well with people and being friendly and supportive, and I guess that worked, but as I was driving home I thought, I always do that. I barely said anything about my skills or knowledge or capabilities – I barely thought of them – because deep down I seem to think the best thing I have to offer is courteousness. I mentioned various achievements, but I always have a hard time coming up with qualities. How fucked up is that? Even now, having gotten my second interview, I’m sitting here thinking “They like me, right now, they like me!”, when I’m way too old to be correlating professional success with likeability. I’m dismayed to find that I embody so totally that gender stereotype of self-deprecation and submissiveness, and that it never occurs to me that I might be intelligent or have valuable life experience or an interesting perspective or decent computer skills.

Did anyone notice the sky today? It was beautiful, full of great big rolling grey clouds.

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