Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking Forward

I'm planning on rounding off this year and then ending this blog. It's been a fun project, and I've enjoyed doing it, but there are a lot of reasons behind this decision.

For one, I need to rethink what this is and why I'm doing it. If the purpose is to regularly reflect on my work, there are other productive ways to do that without involving a public forum. If the purpose is to participate in the profession, again there are plenty of other meaningful ways to do so.

Another reason is that occasionally I want to write about something specific to my particular place of work, but I have no wish to create a problem. I'm no rogue employee; I'm part of a team. So there have been times when I felt disappointed because my writing was not entirely forthright. It's no secret where I work; I'm not anonymous. I'm even wincing a little as I type this, in case it implies there is something wrong with my institution. I don't mean to communicate that, and it's evidence of how strongly I support my library that I am so careful about how I represent it. But I'm weary of wrestling with this.

Also I notice some unwanted pessimism creeping into my writing. Maybe it's just the shiny newness of librarianship wearing off. But when I entered this profession I thought I was being practical, that the world needed librarians and that I would be a useful addition to the field. Now I'm starting to feel like a librarian is viewed as a luxury -- or worse, a trophy -- and that libraries and librarians are a privilege for a select few while the norm for most people is to slog away with google and make do with whatever is free online. I hate this. For me it is untenable to spend large numbers of my working hours defending what I do and justifying my position. I don't mind being assessed, and I don't mind regular performance reviews, but right now I feel I face constant questioning about whether my entire job is necessary, and there's nothing I can do to prove myself. Maybe it's the economy, but I can't believe other professions are facing such severe scrutiny. Believe me, I'm thrilled to have full time employment at all, and I'm not looking for personal praise or reassurance because I think the problem is profession-wide. But what kind of job is it when others regard you as pork fat, when they regard you at all?

Lastly, and most superficially, I'm tired of this platform. Rather than migrating somewhere new, I'd rather just finish this and start another blog somewhere else, if I decide to continue.

I'm not going anywhere yet, though! Here's to 2012!

Update 1/4/12: Anyone getting bummed out by this post should go read this and be inspired.


  1. Hi Olivia,
    I am finishing up my MLIS in May and am a bit perturbed by the state of this new industry that I have decided on. When I first looked at librarianship one reason that it appealed was the projected state of the field at the time I was scheduled to graduate. Now I am a bit nervous as I look at the job market and I wonder if the market is going to favor us new librarians. And if not I wonder how to navigate in an uncertain job market.

    Good luck with your future endeavors.

  2. I don't think the problem is specific to libraries--it seems like the entire public sector is in the crosshairs. High unemployment is decreasing tax revenue, and politicians are responding to this by cutting taxes, which further reduces tax revenue. As a result, everyone who receives public money has to repeatedly justify their own existence, often to people who are more interested in cutting stuff than serving the public. I don't like where this is headed...

  3. Thanks for your comment Wendy -- I look forward to reading about how it goes for you, and good luck! I hope I'm not being discouraging.

    And Doug, in a way I'd be a bit happier to think the problem applies to the whole public sector and that we're all in it together. I'm going to try that theory out starting today :-)