Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I really didn't mean for this to dissolve into a rant, but what can you do. Once it starts, there's no stopping it.

When I re-downloaded WoW a few days ago, I was sort of afraid I'd fall back into the pattern I developed the first time I played the game: going to work, coming home, turning on the computer, falling into bed five or six hours later after a hefty bout of leveling. I'd never played competitively or even really collaboratively in the past, as by the time I got on board, most of the friends I knew who played had been doing so for years, while the most complicated video game I'd tackled prior to WoW was Ocarina of Time (fucking Water Temple forced me to pull out the FAQs every time). As a result, I'd maybe actually play with friends about 10% of the time, while the other 90% was spent running around blissfully killing everything I could see.

I was listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast on the Vikings the other day, and their discussion of the Berserkers definitely rang a bell when it comes to my video game playing - I am an admitted button masher, and I am not ashamed to say so. This makes me little more than a huge nuisance when I play with other people, so I usually wind up soloing my characters, as doing anything more than moving the mouse WHILE hitting a key or two on the keyboard, like strategizing or attempting to chat during a battle, turns into me dying in a matter of seconds. So while WoW is probably going to be a lot of fun to mess around with during break, I somehow doubt I'll have that much of a problem putting it away once classes start back up again.

School has finally started to get back under control for me, which has been great. After a last-minute crunch to get my IB paper and presentation put together (the latter largely thanks to my incredibly on-the-ball teammates without whom I probably would have totally bombed the thing...or at least certain deadlines), as well as an incredibly frustrating afternoon putting together my final website design project for the quarter, I'm 10 presentation reviews in and looking good to finish out the quarter strong. I decided to only take two classes next quarter instead of trying to squeeze in an elective, since I'm guessing that admissions committee work is going to be pretty intense and time-consuming, and of course, probably going to amp up about two or three weeks before the end of the quarter.

A frustration has begun to surface as of late that I've hit in the past before, but had hoped not to encounter in my library science journey. I've been keeping an eye out for any library jobs in the greater Seattle area that would suit a 23 year old graduate student, and while a couple have popped up, despite a pretty significant amount of library experience and one hell of a resume, I still haven't gotten any bites whatsoever. I'd interviewed with one institution in particular quite some time ago when I'd just graduated from Linfield and was desperately searching for a job, any job, and while the evening shift library supervisor position I applied for would have been the perfect next step, I was passed over in favor of someone a couple decades older than me. Since then, despite frequent follow-up with the library positions I've applied for there during the past couple months, I've never even gotten an email back to thank me for my interest in the position. And sure enough, a couple weeks after the job closes, I see another 40-50 year old in the position.

I'm trying really hard not to draw the wrong conclusions about this cold-shouldering, but getting a foot in the door is turning out to be extremely difficult. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the job I currently have - I've taught myself quite a lot about the legal process, and met some very nice people. But one of the reasons I thought I was hired there would be to aid in legal research using the skills I acquired during 3 years as a student worker in reference, and to date, I haven't done one damn bit of research. My days are mostly spent doing copy jobs, data entry, and basic filing, which I probably could have accomplished just fine when I was 15 years old. Being 23 and trying to find a challenging, interesting job that pays enough to support you is starting to seem like a mythical state of being at this point.

While I know my eventual MLIS degree will probably help, I suppose I'm just afraid that after graduation, I'll run smack into the same wall I'm beating my head against right now - it'll just be a little further along the path. I don't expect to waltz my way to the top of the library world, but I'd like to be given the chance to accomplish the things I know I'm capable of doing, and want desperately to do. I miss working in a library. I miss interacting with patrons, and having every day hold something different. I miss the feeling of being excited to go to work. I suppose that's one big reason I volunteer at SPL, but even there, I get chewed out pretty frequently for stepping beyond the established boundaries for volunteer aid. About a month ago, for example, a patron came up to me who spoke only Korean, and he managed to convey he needed a translator. I asked the circ desk worker what the normal procedure would be for that, and she handed me a placard with the number of the free translation service used by the library. I called the service, explained the situation, and set up the call for the patron. After speaking with the translator, he handed the phone back to me, and the translator conveyed his request (he'd forgotten his library card at home and needed someone to look up his number for him) to me, which I passed along to the right person. Simple enough, right? You'd think I'd have run up to one of the stacks, doused it in whiskey, and lit the thing on fire based on the librarian-in-charge's reaction to my account of handling the situation myself.

I think half of what attracts me to library administration is the concept of self-management, and not being constantly bitched at by people higher up on the food chain than me. Realistically, you can learn all there is to know about an entry-level job (if you aren't a total idiot) in a month. Why 3-5 years of experience on average is required for most of these positions is totally beyond me.

Okay, enough ranting for now. Trust me, I could go on, but that isn't exactly productive. For now, I'm going to stick with networking as much as humanly possible, which doesn't really feel like work, actually. My interest in the field is absolutely genuine, so meeting and interacting with as many people as possible that are currently in it is extremely interesting, and I've really enjoyed talking with the folks I've met so far! I'm hoping to get a chance to speak with some of the reference librarians at SPL sometime soon about what exactly they do, and in an informal, conversational context. I'm interested in getting to know what people really think about their jobs as librarians - not just the rainbows and butterflies that's projected to everyone that doesn't know better.

Sorry about the enormous post - despite taking an HTML class, I'm still trying to figure out the easiest way to hide chunks of text behind links in a blog post. I was a champ at that during my Livejournal days, but since there isn't a handy little button anymore, I'm a little lost. Hokay, time to Worgen it up for a while before bed. Later!


  1. 1. I hate to talk about "this economy", BUT one thing I've found that in this economy...employers know that there is a glut of overqualified people out there looking for a job. I think they're asking for 3-5 years of experience for an entry-level job, just because they can. If you could hire someone with 5 years' experience and pay them as if they had no experience, they're probably going to do that.

    2. If it makes you feel better, my friend Sara got a full-time youth librarian job a few months after graduating. A lot of her classmates did as well, a number of them got jobs even sooner. It's not all bad out there!

  2. Ugh. I agree with way too much of this. :) I've never before been so frustrated with being young in the working world. Good job doing grad school now. and good choice on the no-elective; admissions work is nuts, but I think you'll enjoy it!


    PS: you're cool and I want to hang out with you.

  3. Hi there!
    As a veteran of 20 years, I'm gonna take a minute to reply to your frustration. When I completed my MLS I was 38. After 2 years in Tucson I was so ready to return to the Northwest, specifically, the Willamette Valley. I knew folks up here in libraries, and I networked and I was told flat out (remember, this was 20 years ago) that people couldn't justify making a cut at less than 5 years experience for an entry level job when they had over 100 applicants (and they usually did!) including over half the pool with that length of experience. I was advised to look beyond the W. Valley: in areas that were less desirable! I ended up in Spokane, which to me seemed like the END OF THE WORLD. I sucked it up and went, not even to an academic library (my other intention, along with location), but to a public library. It turned out to be one of the best choices I have ever made. Spokane was a great little city in 1990, growing fast, still sorta folksy, but with more cultural appeal than I had expected. I networked with librarians all over that region and was able to, after a couple of years under my belt, move to an academic library (GU). Wonderful, again! I target the Willamette Valley (family, old friends, green, temperate climate) again when I had that 5 years' experience and landed the type of job I had originally wanted: academic librarian at OSU; and thence Linfield. Happy. The 5 years in Spokane flew by and I met great friends and colleagues there. Keep your eye on the prize, but allow yourself openness to the unexpected: especially LOCATION. You can move? Don't let yourself get stuck due to geography!
    Best wishes and Happy Holiday!
    Love your blog!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, guys! It definitely helps when I feel a little stuck. :) And great advice, Jean! I'm definitely going to be searching outside of the city as well when I graduate - hopefully the E Coast will be in my future for a while, even though Seattle will always be my home base.

    And Christine, you are also cool, and I would also like to hang out with you. Preferably soon. And by soon I mean next week. Yes? ;)

  5. I agree with so much of what you said. Two years ago I graduated with my MSLS and I'm still trying to find an entry-level job in the field. I live in NJ but I've started applying for jobs in PA. It's frustrating at times but I find comfort in knowing that I'm not alone. If you're interested, check out my blog: I think the name says it all. :)

  6. @Jobless Librarian - You definitely aren't alone. :) Also, that Holland America cruise ship librarian job you talked about in your latest post? Totally considered applying...right until they asked for a headshot. I like to think I'd make the cut, but I'd feel just slightly gross about it.