Career musings

To be honest, the last week or so has been mildly challenging. Mildly. I’m actually being able to comprehend that lockdown may be over in a wider swath of relevant futures, and this has gotten me to think about what I want to do, again, as a career. I also look at the business I have hoped to start up (this will likely start full-time after I’m vaccinated), and I wonder about what to do as regards the balance of these two things. Am I willing to deal with a relatively “boring” technical day job to pay the bills, and then have free time to play around with beads — but not dealing with the beads full-time and then having to cope with the financial instability? You know?

Last night I began to read again in a book titled Essential Classification, which I had purchased last year, but had not gotten around to reading. I was in the middle of …well, the fires, my classes, the holidays, and trying to figure out what plans to lay out towards the future: plus, the obvious. I kind of didn’t have the mental resources to deal with this book on top of everything else. Now that I’ve gotten back to it, I find it kind of comforting — in that I know the subject matter pretty well.

But again, I deal with a disconnect — or fainter-than-usual connection — between an idealistic world (internal), and the world as it is (external). That’s a good thing (or alternately, a terrible thing) if I’m a fiction writer (terrible: writing psychological thrillers that freak me out), but a lack of grounding in reality could be an issue, if I become a Cataloger.

Another issue is the fact that Cataloging…well, seems to be undergoing a sea change where it comes to the underlying structure of the information systems in use. (In particular, we seem to be moving from Relational databases to Graph databases.) I can’t say that for sure (especially as my own knowledge of this is not altogether solid), but I had hoped to work with Metadata — which seems to be the next step up from Cataloging, technologically speaking — and there is a lot of new (and challenging) material there.

Particularly, this has to do with XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Last time, I got hung up on XPath (used to navigate XML documents) and never really got into XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations, which for example, can be used to convert XML data [like catalog records] into HTML for display). The problem I see with the systems near me is that at least the one I last worked in, outsourced most of this labor: so I would have to seek a job either in Publishing or with a Vendor or Aggregator, in order to use my skills…and where are we taught about this in Library School? I certainly wasn’t.

I might just take XML at a University, rather than trying to work with the sites I’ve tried: at least, for now. I’m also thinking about re-taking Beginning Cataloging, just to get discounted temporary access to WebDewey and ClassWeb — two Cataloging tools I didn’t see the vast privilege in being granted access to, in grad school. But yes, these cost money.

I’ve found that people who are good at programming are not necessarily good at explaining programming, to newcomers. There’s just a syntax thing on top of a diction thing…sometimes, people write their lectures as though their lectures are an extension of the code they’re trying to explain, and it’s really tough to understand when you don’t know the code syntax (or haven’t memorized the definitions of their words) in the first place. And, you know, they’re just writing like, “of course you understand.”

And looking back on this…I’m reminded again of the Microeconomic principle of opportunity loss, or what one loses in order to do one thing, instead of another. The opportunity loss to focus on my own beadwork and accessories enterprise instead of being employed as a Cataloging Librarian, is significant. Then again, the two life paths can’t even be compared, qualitatively speaking. It’s just that the latter is much more stable than the former (qualified by societal stability) and that’s…if I can find an inroad, which may require moving cross-country and away from family. And therein lies the rub: quality-of-life issues. I may have money, but not be able to stand the cultural isolation.

Trust me: cultural isolation, matters. It’s really tough to be somewhere you don’t know, and the culture isn’t your culture, and there is no real representation of your culture, other than you.

I’m thinking that a lot of this may hinge on where I end up living in the near-future. There’s the possibility of moving deeper into the Pacific region (which I would welcome, if I could bet on having a job where I was respected — that is questionable), and in that case…rather than take a service job, I might well take on a manufacturing job and create artisan jewelry. That is a viable route, though not a very profitable one: at least, not in the short-term, and not unless I use high-quality materials and workmanship which justify a fee which provides a living wage. But it would validate my current efforts, both at creating a small business in the first place, and of learning the language I happen to be learning. (The latter would help in ordering materials.)

If I continue on with the Cataloging Librarianship study, there are only a limited number of those jobs in that field and geographic area, and as we can see from the current pandemic…Library jobs are subject to things like widespread budget shortfalls. Of course, so is jewelry manufacture, especially when it’s focused toward tourism — which can easily be shut down in circumstances like the ones we find ourselves in, now.

Which is another reason I had been trying to get away from depending on it. It’s really interesting that I could know so much about so much, and yet still struggle to figure out where and in what mode, I can apply it. The upshot to starting my own business is that I can do it wherever I go, provided I can obtain the appropriate licenses. I’m not, then, dependent on others to accept me, that is.

But, you know, there are a lot of people that I know have this exact same nervousness around working for another employer. Which really should give me a bit of hope, because it means that there are other employers out there who have been in my position; business doesn’t have to be unduly restrictive or conservative. That’s…actually, a good insight.

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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