Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘jobs/career

In 2018, I made a self-imposed moratorium on reading any book related to politics, social issues, social justice, activism, or other similar topics. After reading White Trash, which I did for our campus Dean’s Faculty Reading Group, I mostly got burned out. So I am pretty much reading a lot of light and escapist stuff. However, I do anticipate a day when I may go back to reading such books, so I am including some of those on my list. Yet it may be a good while before I read those kinds of books again. I pretty much embarked on the #AllOutOfFucksToGiveTour, and I am pretty happy about it. Meanwhile, let’s see what books I am adding to my ever growing TBR list this time. As always, book title links go to WorldCat unless otherwise noted.


Items about books I want to read:


Lists and bibliographies:




Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

This is my list of books that I reviewed on my blog, The Itinerant Librarian for the month  of October 2016. If you missed any of them, or you wish  to check them out, feel free to click on the links below. If you read any  of them, let me know in the  comments. Also, if you have any ideas for books you think I should read, you can comment as well.

  • I finally got to read Gaysia, which I have wanted to read for a while. Here is a bit of what I wrote in the review: “This is definitely a great travelogue and observation of the LGBTQIA experience in Southeast Asia. If you were to travel that part of the world, then Benjamin Law would make a great guide. He has a great ability to observe, which he combines with great writing plus a very descriptive and evocative style.”
  • For the most part, people tend to loathe meetings. But since we cannot totally get rid of them, you can at leas try to appear smart at them. To this end, I read 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings.
  • I needed some humor this month, so I reread Cable on Academe. I realized I had not written a review for it previously, so I finally wrote a review this month.
  • Finally for this month, I continue  my Tarot studies, and I read Barbara Moore’s Tarot for Beginners. I read this one as an e-book via my public library.


Another week, and another list of books I would like to read someday. So, let’s see what we got this week.

Items about books I want to read:

  • AlterNet recently featured a profile piece on Ta-Nehisi Coates. It mentions his new book Between the World and Me. Given all the recent racial tensions going on, this may be a timely read. It certainly would go well with a few other relevant books I have been reading recently.
  • Via Liberation News, the book Revolution Manifesto: Understanding Marx and Lenin’s Theory of Revolution (no WorldCat record available as of this post). Some may say Marx and his ideas have no relevance today. I say given today’s climate of inequality and oppression Lenin’s and his ideas on revolution may well be relevant once more. As the news site states, “whether it is brutal murders by the police, the injustices perpetrated every day in the legal and prison system, or the military interventions around the globe—the state remains a topic of utmost importance for today’s revolutionaries. In the everyday struggles of working class and oppressed people the state often presents itself as the main enemy.” That may be a good reason to read this.
  • This I just saw on my news feed, and I knew it was timely and had to add it to my list right away. Via Counter Current News, a review and discussion of the book Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America’s Police Forces. This is one I will very likely order for my library as well.
  • The next item is for one of those phrasebooks you can use in a workplace. I have used one or two before, usually to help fill out annual job reviews that require very specific language and usually use Likert scales to measure competency (as if, but that is another conversation for another day). Since then, I have a small interest in this kind of workplace book, which can either be good aids when you are short on words or right out workplace bullshit enablers. Anyhow, here is Powerful Phrases for Dealing With Difficult People. I am sure this is the kind of book you need if yo are doing annual evaluations, and you need to say “Bob is basically a sociopathic uncooperative asshole” in nicer terms. The book was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review.
  • We have two cats in our home, and they help keep life interesting. To that end, learning more about felines is a good thing, and the book Cat Sense may be helpful for that. It was also reviewed at San Francisco Book Review.
  • This is a different book about Alice in Wonderland. The book is a documentation and look at ways the characters of Alice in Wonderland have appeared in comics over time. In other words, how those comics somehow brought in the literary characters. The book is Alice in Comicland, and it was featured at Wink Books.
  • Here is something different, a book about mazes. The book is Labyrinths and Mazes, and it was also featured at Wink Books.
  • Moving to a different track, here is looking at food in terms of it being a commodity. Via the Food Politics blog, a book on the food commodities trading world. The book is Bet the Farm.
  • Also via the Food Politics blog, a book looking at industrial farming and its consequences for the world. The book is The End of Plenty.
  • I always have an interest in higher education books. This looks more like a book for my library, but if I do order it, I may pick it up. I do also have an interest in international affairs. The book is China’s Rising Research Universities, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • Also discussed at Inside Higher Ed, a book that “makes the case for all colleges — not just those religiously affiliated ones that were part of the Lilly experiment — to talk to their students about living meaningful lives.” The book is The Purposeful Graduate.
  • As I am always looking for new manga to read, preferably with some kind of dark twist, this seems to fit the bill. The book is Alice in Murderland, Volume 1, which was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
  • Let’s toss a little smut in for fun; yea, I do read some low end fun stuff once in a while. I got Becoming a Thug Wife (Amazon link. Check the pricing as it may have changed) when it was a freebie on Amazon, and I have been reading it in bits and pieces; it’s written as a set of short episodes. When I do get it done, I will likely review it. Anyhow, I saw that Bending the Bookshelf posted a review of it, so jotting down here as a reminder for me to finish it. I can tell  you the book does have its entertaining moments.
  • And now, let’s go for a little armchair travel with Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen. It was reviewed at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • A couple of books on drinking and spirits via Drinkhacker. One of the things I enjoy doing is visiting wineries and distilleries. I do find the process of making alcoholic spirits to be quite interesting, and often you get taste the product. First, let’s learn about the science with Proof: the Science of Booze (reviewed here). Second, the book Whisk(e)y Distilled (review over here).


Lists and bibliographies:

I initially just jotted down in my personal journal some ideas prompted by Jenica Rogers’s post with “Questions About Library Leadership.” However, maybe because I don’t know better, I am blogging them now even if it is on the “not quite ready for primetime” blog. At the end of the day, I am just clearing my thoughts a bit. So, with some minor modifications from what I wrote in my personal journal, here goes.

# # # # #

Once again reading through my library feeds, and I come across another post on library leadership. This time is Jenica Rogers, library director at SUNY-Potsdam, reflecting on her blog. By now, this is the kind of topic I just read, nod in agreement, and move on. I learned a while back that in librarianship some topics come and go, almost like the seasons. So I just do the best I can with what I have. It’s not that I don’t care. I just prefer not to be too public about it. In addition, I happen to be one of those librarians who have been told they have a bad attitude because they have no interest in management. I have made notes on the topic here or there, and I did note Ms. Rogers is one of those who brings up “bad attitudes” in the profession if we hold no interest in management. Actually, I don’t feel a need to “get over it .” I have high expectations of my managers, and I expect them to be accountable. If they suck, they should be called out and fired if need be. To use the term as Bob Sutton uses it, asshole managers should not be tolerated no matter how talented they are. Period. All they do is bring down their organizations, not to mention turn off any people with potential who see that and say, “there is no way I want to be like him.”  If they are good, they should be praised because here is something else I believe: not everyone has the same gifts.

My, gift, was to be able to persuade people, to give, to the Holy Church.” -Archbishop Gilday, in the film The Godfather, Part III.

Some people have the talent to be managers, handle the bills, the big decisions that keep the lights on, etc. Some of us have talents better suited for the front lines. When a manager is good at what they do, it is certainly appreciated. I happen to have a healthy respect for those with the gift to keep the building running. I personally have no interest in that, and it should not earn me a label of having a bad attitude for saying it.

I probably should qualify that it’s not that I have no interest in management. I am able to reflect and read on the topic (feel free to click on the “leadership and management” tag on the right side column here, or on the “librarianship” tag over at my main blog, The Gypsy Librarian. I’ve had a small thought or two on the topic. As someone who gets managed by others, I do have an interest in management, and to a small extent, I have an interest in what makes managers tick. I’ve been fortunate that some of my managers in previous jobs, even when we had our professional differences, were willing to let me ask questions now and then for me to learn more. In some cases, I’ve learned things not to do from managers who were less than ideal as well.

If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material.”  -Captain Spock to Admiral Kirk, from the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

What I don’t have an interest in becoming is a manager, or to be exact, a library director. As I’ve said before, mostly as a joke, no one in their right mind would put me in charge of a library. On a serious note, I don’t aspire to a high level management position because that would take me away from what I love and do best. I am an instruction librarian, pure and simple. It is my best destiny.

At any rate, the questions Ms. Rogers raises on in her latest post are interesting and ones that should be discussed. I will say that in regards to the desire for external hires that I have often seen a reverse: an institution that already has an internal candidate in mind, but they have to go through the rigamarole of some bureaucracy and bring in a few token candidates to cover their posteriors. I know: I’ve been one of those tokens. If you are observant during an interview, and you ask a well-placed question now and then (yes, you should be asking questions of your interviewers just as they ask you questions), you can tell when a search committee is just going through the motions. Some committees can hide it better than others, but again, if you are attentive, you see enough to know.

But I have seen some of the other issues. For example, the desire to bring top talent but not being able (or willing) to pay for it; the location issue (which, personally, is not one that has bothered me much when I have been on the market. I’ve been more than willing to go to places most people probably would consider beneath them. In my case, if a job is good, I can make the place work. Paradise, on the other hand, can be shit if the job is bad); and search committees looking for pegacorns. No, not just unicorns, but full blown winged unicorns. Some of the job ads I’ve seen in the days when I was in the market…goodness gracious. Some institutions clearly have no shame.

I will note that I do fall in that “ripe for top management” positions demographic. Heck, to some people, I may be a bit “too ripe.” I’ve gotten questions once or twice such as “are you sure you want to work here?” or a variant when I have applied to other front line positions. My answer is as before: this is what I am passionate about, what I do best, so why take some higher steps up the ladder that would take me away from that?

A man’s GOT to know his limitations.” — Inspector Harry Callahan, from the film Magnum Force.

It’s not that I am not qualified or capable. It’s that I don’t want to, and if some see it as bad attitude, well, that is their problem.

Now my four readers might point out that I am a Coordinator now, which does involve some management. To that I will say it does, but it is more a leadership position. In very simple terms, I don’t just manage people. I lead a team, and I do so by example and being in the front line with my team members. And what little I know and have learned along my journey that can be offered I share as generously as I can. Because I also believe that one has to pay forward. I’ve had leaders who have inspired me, who have given me wisdom, advice, an example, help, so on. I would not be here without them. So, now I have the chance to do some of the same. That’s my nutshell definition of leadership, for what it may be worth to folks out there. All that and the responsibility to keep on learning.

So here are the musings of a librarian who has been around a couple of places and seen a thing or two. Take it for what it may be worth. Now, what I learn in this new role could be a topic or two in future posts. We shall see.

En la lucha. . . .


Once I left school teaching and graduate school, I embraced the philosophy of leaving work at work at the end of the day. Once I walk out the door at the end of the day, work stays there. My home time is exactly that: mine and at home. Besides, the bosses do not pay overtime, so they are not getting anything extra. One has to learn to keep a life balance and boundaries.

Via Lifehacker, this short video of a talk by Pam Selle is a must watch (link to post with the video). A little FTA: “Time is money. When you work extra hours, you’re earning less money.” In other words, unless you get overtime (and even then, be selective if you choose to go for the overtime), they are not paying you for it. So tell them you are going home. Do your work at work (don’t slack much), then leave work at work.

The video itself, from YouTube:

July 2020


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