Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘jobs/career

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.

CuriousGeorgeReading

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:

This is basically a link dump post of items that I have found contain useful information related to work, career, and professional development. In essence, these are links to things I want to remember for future reference.

  • This was written mostly for PhD students, but I think it is applicable for anyone who may have been in academia for a long time and now needs (or desires) to find a job outside of academia. It is a given you may have to reinvent yourself in such a situation. So, via Escape the Ivory Tower, remember that “they don’t know how awesome you are.”
  • Barbara Pachter provides some pointers on how to stay in touch with former bosses or other professional colleagues. Networking is always important for your career growth, but you also need good manners.
  • Via The Bamboo Project, here are “Six Positive Professional Development Strategies for the Toxic Workplace.” In my line of work, contrary to what a lot of celebrity blogging librarians would have you believe (at least non-pseudonymous ones), libraries are not little slices of heaven on Earth. Some are nice, and others not so much. If you happen to be stuck in one of the toxic ones, you need to take care of yourself. You still need to continue your professional development regardless of whether you choose to stand and flight or send out your resume to get out of town. This article offers some small places to start a more positive process for your professional development.
  • Also via The Bamboo Project, “Tough Questions for Your Professional Development.” These can serve as a good reflective exercise.
  • On a related theme, via Dumb Little Man, here is some stuff on “How to Deal With a Job You Hate.” Again, not everything is Eden on Earth. When it is not, you need to find constructive ways to deal with things and still keep on growing.
  • And to pick something in librarianship, here is In the Library With a Lead Pipe. They have an article offering a Q&A on Professional Development. This is mostly geared to library school students, but there are still some useful things for those of us already fortunate enough to be out in the field.
  • Via Hack Library School, a post on “The Skills You Don’t Learn in School.” That refers to library school. This is a topic a colleague and I often talk about, and I suppose it could be a topic for a longer post over at the professional blog. But for one, I don’t really feel the inclination nor the time to write that longer post up. But the post on skills does offer some food for thought.
  • Idea Sandbox offers a nice diagram on the “Magic of Thinking Big.”

This article from The New York Times on the work that the public libraries in Queens, NYC do caught my eye. It is about how they cater and meet the needs of a very diverse polyglot population. I will admit that if I was single with nothing to lose, so to speak, this would definitely be the kind of librarianship I would want to practice: in a diverse multicultural setting where various languages thrive. And I’d be happy too if they sent me to the Feria de Libros in Guadalajara to buy Spanish books (haha, that’d be a bonus). In the end, much of it would be low salary in relation to cost of living issue for me; I probably could not afford to live then in relation to what they pay. Certainly not an academic setting, but maybe the community-mindedness in me, the opportunities and challenges for things like outreach, like instruction (to an extent), working with diverse people that have clear and significant needs are things that make this kind of work appealing to me.I think for a bilingual librarian like me who is comfortable working with diverse populations and is willing to keep on learning this could be a good job.

Anyhow, just some random thoughts.

These are some items about work and jobs that I have found thought provoking and/or useful. These are things I have shared individually now and then with others via Facebook or Twitter (though I am not a big Twitter user). I wanted to compile some of these things I have been reading lately to have them for reference purposes. Maybe I am also compiling them to spur further thoughts for blogging down the road.

  • Bob Sutton’s book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, has been on my TBR list for a while. I enjoyed his previous book, The No Asshole Rule very much, so I am looking forward to the new book. So until I can get my hands on the new book, Professor Sutton points to a pretty good summary of it (warning PDF). The summary is pretty much something that I think is worth sharing more, and I wish I could put it in my office door. However, I don’t think some of the locals would appreciate the honesty. And by the way, simple concepts like a boss who watches your back and knows when to get out of way are often missing in librarianship as well. Mentioning that though often gets the managers of Librarian Blogsville in a snit.
  • Dumb Little Man offers advice on “How to Stay Motivated When You Hate Your Job.” We all have our good and bad days. For some, the bad days may outnumber the good. In this economy, you may not have the luxury to just pack up and leave a job that you hate. You may have to hang in there a bit longer. So these tips should make things bearable until the moment when  you get to your release date and can leave that bad job.
  • When leaving a job, you definitely should not burn your bridges no matter how good or bad the job was. As tempted as you may be to just tell the boss to take the job and shove it, that is not a good idea. Odds are good you are going to need him or her as a reference. So leave in good terms. Lifehacker did a post on “How to Quit Your Job With Your Contacts, Credentials, and Class Intact.” Basically, you be the classy one taking the higher ground.
  • Via CNN Money, “Top 10 Myths About Job Interviews.” One common myth they discuss is that interviewer may be fully prepared. Sure, you prepared hard for an interview, but guess what, it does not mean the interviewer did the same. I can certainly attest to the fact that many interviewers simply did not do enough preparation to interview with the candidate. I have also been stuck in places interviewing where minimal preparation was made (usually part of some hiring committee where things like questions to ask a candidate are just hastily put together at the last minute). Still, if you are interviewing, it does pay to be prepared. Don’t slack off just because they do. You get to do better and shine. A hat tip to Lifehacker.
  • Something that bosses often forget is minding the little details. Things as simple as saying “thank you” often escape bosses and managers. The folks at Anecdote say that “Thanks is Good Business.” They also point out to a book, The Upside of Irrationality, that I am going to add to one of my “Books I Want to Read Lists.” And by the way, a half-assed “thanks” is not that much better either.
  • The Effing Librarian (who has sent his blog to the Great Ether in the Sky) had a post that also looks at interviewers’ lack of preparation in a more humorous way. The post is “Why Would I Hire You. . . ” Mercifully, he did archive the stuff.
  • Another thing that I have observed is bosses who get a bit hysterical (to put it mildly) if heaven forbid a worker says something that is less than flattering about their workplace. The temptation of these bosses (who often do not understand how social networking works) is to just try to clamp down access to the Internet and get all restrictive. Not the best approach. Mashable offers some tips on “HOW TO: Handle an Employee’s Controversial Online Behavior.” I am not saying your employees should have carte blanche to court controversy, but a sense of balance and perspective is in order. Besides making things too restrictive simply means your employees will seek out ways around the restrictions (say using a smartphone), and it will likely lower morale in the workplace. Related to this, also from Mashable, bosses may want to read “HOW TO: Avoid a Social Media Disaster.
  • Laura Crossett of LIS..Dom offers some notes “On Reading Cover Letters and Resumes” from the point of view of someone doing the hiring.
  • Now this is something you don’t hear about much in job seeking literature and advice, considering your future coworkers. This is another one of those signs you have to look for when you go interview someplace: the people you may end up working with. The key is to ask about the people in that workplace. So, from It’s all about the ecosystem, here are “5 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Job.” They focus on the people in the prospective workplace. I do find the questions intriguing; however, at least in librarianship, I am not sure how a candidate could get away asking some of these without some consequence. Librarianship is a small profession (or acts like one), so asking about people may seem a bit personal for some employers. However, I do find the questions to be very honest and direct. I only wish more potential employers valued honesty and directness instead of the usual dance of phony questions (like the “where will you be 5 years from now” or some “creative” hypothetical) that often encourage lying or at least circumvention. A hat tip to Lifehacker.
  • On a different direction, another simple thing to consider when  you are in the job market: local taxes (if any) and cost of living. Librarianship is a profession where you have to be very mobile to find a job. It will be to your advantage to know about cost of living before you go forth so you have an idea if a salary advertised is actually worth the move. As for taxes, something as simple as a place with no state taxes may make a difference too. I may not like Texas on a lot of days, but I do like there is no personal state income tax. Via Free Technology for Teachers, a couple of hints on “Comparing Taxes and Cost of Living.” Remember just because a job may say, for instance, $45,000 a year (and I am being generous. You should see some of the shameful salaries some libraries advertise), it does not follow you can live on that if the salary offer is in an expensive place.
  • Leadership is a word that gets bandied about quite a bit in Librarian Blogsville. The distinction is not always made between “leader” and “manager,” which is something I have considered before (here, here and here for instance. In addition, this blog has a tag on leadership and management). Over time, I have discovered that one has to tread lightly when discussing such topic. Again, this goes back to what I mentioned earlier about Librarian Blogsville denizens who happen to be managers getting in a snit because you raise a question or two. At least in one occassion, the few comments I attracted was someone trying to defend management and taking offense (because heaven forbid they have the humility to admit that the possibility of poor management is there). At any rate, the post I want to jot down now is this one from ACRLog on “Humility is a Form of Presence Too.” We could use some more humble leadership these days.
  • Escape the Ivory Tower has a piece on “Do You Need a Job or a Calling?” Yes, there is a difference, and if you are going to be happy and do well, you need to learn what that difference is and why it is significant. While the post is mostly applicable to academia (and mostly to folks in doctoral programs), I think there are some insights even us in librarianship can use as well.

 


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