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Oh. Hi. You still there?

Posted by lynn on Jun 25, 2008 in News

Wow. It’s been nearly a year since I last posted. Sorry about that.

So, um, what’s new with you?

Admittedly, part of my reluctance in posting has come from the little career dilemma I’m going through. Namely, I am not doing the job that I thought I would be doing, and I’m not exactly working as a librarian or information professional right now. I think I’d be ok with that had I not shelled out $35,000 for graduate school (or rather, taken out loans).

Now my degree isn’t for a total loss. I am probably the only project manager on the team who gets databases at all and understands what the heck the databases administrators are talking about. I’m also the only one who gets the concept of “metadata.” Yet I find the work I’m doing not to be nearly as involved with metadata, documentation, organization as I thought – or as Ticketmaster thought either.

On the plus side, I make good money – nearly 30% more than I would make as an entry-level librarian in L.A. I can afford my loan payment. I can afford my car payment. I live somewhat comfortably. I get treated fairly well – much better than the University ever treated me – and as you can imagine, working for Ticketmaster comes with its share of perks.

On the downside, there’s a lot of knowledge that I accrued with the intention of using that I’m not using. I’ve also managed to do yet again what I’ve done in my last few jobs – do a good job at something no one else was good at and/or wanted to do. Thus, I keep getting more of that crap work – because I’m so good at it. This usually results not only in job boredom and frustration, but it has stalled any chances of promotion in past jobs. After all, if they move me into a new role, who can they find to be successful in the old one?

Then there’s another thing: a few months back, I went to an alumni dinner here in Los Angeles. I was the only alum in the room who wasn’t a librarian. Let’s just say that the reaction I got was chilly. I was hassled about working for Ticketmaster and I was sneered at for not staying within the profession. The only folks that were genuinely supportive of me were the librarians who worked at the University I formerly worked for. The experience was saddening – especially as I was hit up for money as I walked out the door by one school official who didn’t even bother to talk to me the entire meal. The fact that these people – my fellow alumni – could be so judgmental was so disappointing.

So here I am. I love information science and would like to do more work in that arena. I still plan on going to ALA – if only to pretend to be a librarian and soak up some information goodness. Yet I’m still not convinced that being a librarian is the right move for me.

What to do…what to do….

 
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Progress report

Posted by lynn on Jul 20, 2007 in News

Greetings from post-graduate life. So I thought I’d have all this copious spare time to just hang out, read and blog after I graduated, but no. There has been a lot of running about – weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, errands, etc – and not a lot of sitting.

I have started reading for fun again though. I’ve started on Andrew Eames’ The 8:55 to Baghdad, and it’s truly excellent so far. I’ve never been much of a travel book reader, but Eames masterfully intertwines his own trip via train and bus to Baghdad just before the US invasion with Agatha Christie’s post-divorce/midlife crisis trip 70 years earlier. After this book, it’s on to Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation, which I’ve been wanting to read for years, but haven’t had the time. I’ve also got a Henry Rollins book and a history of witchcraft in Louis XIV’s court in the stack too.

So, on to the point of this blog – how am I putting my degree to use now that I have it? Well, up until this week, I would have dishearteningly told you, "I’m not." I’ve been give a lot of projects – including one big one involving corporate audits – and most of them are interesting, but don’t really put my degree to use. Don’t get me wrong; I still like my new job. The environment, for one thing, is way, way healthier and positive than where I was. The work is varied and interesting, and I’m learning a lot. I still love LIS though and really wanted to use that stuff in my daily work.

This week, I finally got to kick off my documentation project and now I feel a little bit better. The project entails documenting how we deploy, maintain and fix our products and other internal systems. Sounds dry, but I’m a geek and I think it’s interesting. Anyway, this project involves identifying formats for documentation that everyone can read in a mixed-platform environment and yet can be viable years out, determining where and how to store the docs, how to make them searchable, etc. If you went to library school, your library Spidey senses would be tingling right now. Anyway, it’s cool to work on this and have one of the directors say, “Lynn, I think we all know you’ve got the real knowledge in this area.” Yay.

Since this is a project that doesn’t have customers or clients or products relying on it, I imagine it will drag out for a while. Management will always say, "I want it done as soon as possible," but the projects that have money riding on them will always take precedence over this one. That’s ok though; I’ll enjoy taking my time.

 
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I’m done.

Posted by lynn on May 14, 2007 in Favorite Links

I graduated yesterday. I’m officially done, folks. Can you believe it? I can’t. It really hasn’t sunk in yet.

I did suffer a small snafoo though; permit me please to whine about it just a bit. Perhaps bitching about it here will let me get over it for good.

They didn’t call my name during the ceremony.

I had about 20 people crammed into my living room, watching the ceremony. As we got closer and closer to the J’s as the graduates were being called, the cheers would get louder and louder. And then they didn’t call my name. The room went silent. Needless to say, that was a bit embarrassing, and the mood of the party changed a bit.

I did get an apology from the school. They mistakenly put me down as attending the ceremony in person, and when no one picked up my name card…well, no name was called. An apology is all I can ask for, so I guess I’m satisfied on that front. I’m still a bit peeved though. I feel a little robbed.

Other than that, as I said, it hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m done. I can say that this blog is not done. I intend to keep it going as long as I can to document my life as an “information professional”/project manager-type person.

 
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School…new job…stuff….

Posted by lynn on Mar 28, 2007 in Favorite Links

Hi everyone. I’m in the last throws of completing yet another assignment, but I figured I’d give everyone an update. Without incriminating myself too much prior to graduation, shall we say that one class I’m taking is pretty good and I’m learning a lot and the other is a huge disappointment? Let’s, shall we?

Good class is, well, good. Not my favorite class, but not my least. Disappointment class probably beats the other not-so-awesome class taught by the Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed cat lady for Lynn’s Least Favorite Class. The instructor is extremely disorganized and that means everything is like shooting at a moving target. Assignments change, get renamed, disappear – all at the last minute and with little notice. All very frustrating – especially more so when I’ve already got a major case of senioritis. Cat Lady was just a visiting instructor. Sadly, this dude is tenured faculty. Oh well – I guess 2 lackluster classes out of 11 ain’t so bad.

On the job front, I’m starting to settle in. It’s a little overwhelming. I have a commute now. I have a Blackberry (which appears to be only good for shopping lists and looking up directions while you’re in the car). I have to walk down the Sunset Strip to get to work. It’s all a little surreal, but I like it. So far the people and projects are cool. Here’s hoping it stays that way after the honeymoon is over.

As a final note, I placed my ballot for the ALA Elections today. It was a slow time at work (you have a lot of those when you’re new), and so I read each and every one of those bios and placed my votes. First of all, I’d like to say – write something unique, folks. I swear, almost every candidate statement contained at least one of the following five statements:

• librarians need better pay
• we need to protect intellectual freedom (and all things I consider related – ie., copyright, PATRIOT act stuff)
• we need to recruit, mentor and help find jobs for new librarians
• we need greater diversity within the profession
• we need more visibility for the profession and the ALA

Those are all nice things, but it’s hard to select 33 people out of 80 some-odd candidates all saying the same thing. A few did stand out though. Most notably there were two candidates who made it quite clear that they were conservatives (one stressed “Christian conservative) who felt that the ALA was too left-leaning. I didn’t vote for either of them, although part of me applauded the fact that they admitted their political leanings considering that their views probably won’t strike much of a chord with ALA members. One of them stated (this is my attempt at paraphrasing, mind you) that he felt that intellectual freedom was all well and good, but “pornography” wasn’t needed in libraries. That statement made me recoil a little since that statement goes right to the heart of the idea of intellectual freedom in the first place. I have suspicion that some of what this man calls “pornography,” I, an arguably educated, practical person, would call “art,” or at worst, “erotica.” I would also guess that even the stuff I would call “pornography,” may have some real, intrinsic value beyond it’s obvious sexual one to someone as well. As such, I don’t think it’s a librarian’s place to say “That stuff is porno; I’m not having it here.” It’s one thing to say, “I don’t think my user community would want or need something like this,” but not “I don’t think they should see it.” You know – the whole “selection vs. censorship” argument. It’s a fine line that sometimes gets inadvertently crossed (humans are humans and are prone to error), but I think this dude doesn’t get it. That’s my $0.02 for what it counts.

If you’re interested, I leaned towards voting for people who wanted to make ALA more efficient and accessible to its general membership as well as represent those five ideals above. It took me about an hour.

 
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The last trip here…

Posted by lynn on Mar 2, 2007 in News

Greetings from Urbana, Illinois, y’all.

I’m sitting here, in the really fabulous lobby of the Historic Lincoln Hotel, enjoying the fire in the fireplace, the big desk with Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man on it, and the free wireless. What I’m not enjoying is working on assignments for two classes, but that’s the way it goes, I suppose.

I have to say that this semester has been harder than I had thought it would be. First of all, there are the extenuating circumstances that are making life a little difficult. My knee is still healing, but Blue Cross is really complicating things. True to health insurance practices, they approved all the costs of my surgery initially, but now that the bills have started coming in, they have to contest and review every…single…one. Seriously. Every day I get a new statement telling me that they’re reviewing this or that, and a few days later I get a call or letter from one of the medical providers, complaining that Blue Cross hasn’t paid them. I haven’t been able to go to physical therapy for three weeks because Blue Cross has my prescription for PT under “medical review.” I can’t go down stairs, but I supposedly don’t really need PT? This has become incredibly draining and demoralizing. I’m not trying to whine here though. I’m very grateful that Phil and Sarah have been trying to cheer me up and keep me going, and Phil, God bless him, has been chasing after Blue Cross for me.

“Senioritis” has also started to hurt me a bit. I’m tired. This is semester number six and I’m starting to run out of steam. It’s hard for me to focus on my schoolwork – especially the readings. Of course, I’m not helped by the fact that one of my classes isn’t very enjoyable and, in my humble opinion, isn’t run very well.

Anyway, I was supposed to spend the last week and a half enjoying time away from work and doing homework, but instead I ended up dealing with major car issues and other stupid, niggly stuff that ate up my time. So here I sit, working on a paper that I had planned to have done by Tuesday and it’s now Friday. I have another assignment due Thursday and I haven’t even started on it. Gah. Normally I’m much better than this. Stupid me.

I’m thankful for the trip here though. It’s nice to see my LEEP pals – or some of them anyway – and do some commiserating. I don’t feel quite as alone or like I’m totally slacking. I also like being away from the Blue Crosses and car and other crap at home. I can just focus on schoolwork for a few days. I could do without the ice (seriously – does no one shovel their sidewalks here?), but it’s a nice change. I’ll miss coming out here every few months. I’m sad to know that this is the last time.

So last week, I spoke to a librarian at USC who asked me what advice I would give to someone preparing to enter library school. Granted, my advice was probably colored by the fact that I had just had a miserable week and I was totally exhausted when I was speaking to him, but here’s what I said:

  1. Get a Tivo or just accept the fact that you’ll have to catch up with your favorite shows when seasons come out on DVD. Or just give up TV entirely. You will not be able to keep up with Lost or Gray’s Anatomy.
  2. Make sure you have a support system in place. You are going to have moments where you’re overwhelmed, tired, confused, or just plain stressed, and you’ll need some shoulders to cry on and tell you everything is going to be okay.
  3. Everything really will be okay (it will, right?).
  4. You don’t have to read every single thing that the instructor assigns in great detail, but it really does pay to at least do a healthy skimming. You will want to know this stuff.
  5. Making smart ass remarks in class doesn’t earn you participation points, so please be quiet if you have nothing to add or ask.
  6. Fill out the instructor evaluations at the end of each semester and do so honestly and completely. Trust me, they do get read and taken reasonably seriously.
  7. Go ahead and subscribe to library mailing lists, but don’t attach too much value to what you read there. Some of the posters are very unhappy in their jobs or disillusioned and their posts reflect that. Just because they’re unhappy doesn’t mean you will be.
  8. You don’t have to end up working in a library in order to take advantage of what you learned in library school.
  9. Be committed. Trust me, you have no idea what you’re really in for. You can tell yourself, “This is going to be a lot of work or take a lot of time,” but you don’t really understand how much so until you begin. KNOW that you want this degree and you’ll find navigating the choppy waters you encounter a little bit easier.

I think that’s it. I’m sure I’ll think of more tips when I actually graduate. For now I’m living tip numbers 2, 3 and 9.

I just have to make it through to May…

 
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On the new job

Posted by lynn on Feb 1, 2007 in News

I’m going to be a project manager for Ticketmaster starting in March. I’m really excited about this for several reasons:

  • I won’t be managing people anymore.
  • I’ll be managing projects, which I’ve always loved doing. I get a big kick when we all pull it off in the end.
  • I’ll have the opportunity to really build those technical skills I’ve been worrying about.
  • They’re excited about me and my pending LIS degree.
  • I will get to use my pending LIS degree.
  • It isn’t where I work now.

I posted on my other blog about how things at my current workplace have been going. It’s a rather whiny post, so I’m not going to link to it, but really the gist was that I’m tired of managing people. More importantly, I’m tired of managing people new to the workplace. Most of the folks I manage are fresh out of college – some are still finishing college – and this is their first “real” job. Thus, some of them have a lot to learn about professionalism.

Now, a school pal just posted on his blog some interesting comments about professionalism (and he always posts great stuff, btw), and I have to say that I agree with him. The concept/dogma of professionalism can be used to choke people’s ability to communicate and grow. How often have you or someone you know been written off with a “Oh, that’s just not professional,” when really, it was just what they didn’t want to hear or they just want you to comply obediently?

I guess the professionalism I’m thinking of is really just maturity, as applied to the work place. The ability to choose your battles. The ability to communicate a complaint or a critique without coming off as a total asshole. The ability to accept change. All of these things are hard to do – and I don’t think anyone completely masters all these skills – but the idea is to try. I guess I got tired of working with people who don’t even try and can’t understand why they should. Not to say that everyone I worked with is like this. It just that I’ve been in my current spot for 7 years and after a while, you get tired to teaching a few people every few months that they can’t, say, call someone a lazy bastard in an email that’s sent to the entire division and not expect to get their hand slapped for it.

I’m sure Ticketmaster has a handful of people who struggle with professionalism (at least my “lite” concept of it) too, but at least it won’t be my job to teach it to them.

 
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On ALA Midwinter

Posted by lynn on Feb 1, 2007 in News

I have to admit: half the reason I went was because it was in Seattle, and I love Seattle. I also have a friend there who has been expecting me to visit for some time now. That being said, even if you are one of those “Oh, the ALA doesn’t mean or do much anymore” type folks, Midwinter was worth the trip.

Now, Midwinter is mostly committee and roundtable meetings. I didn’t attend any of those because a) I’m not a member of any special committee and I’m not looking to be a member until I graduate and have time, and b) I really only had one full day to dedicate to the conference. I went really to just get the feel for what the ALA was really all about and maybe do some job scouting. So I went to the exhibits and to the President’s Program. I also visited the Seattle Public Library which is beyond words. It’s. Just. Awesome. Definitely worth the visit, folks. Not only is it visually stunning, but it’s so beautifully organized and geared towards a diverse, urban public. It’s everything I would imagine a modern, public library to be.

First of all, Midwinter is HUGE! 12,000 librarians and paraprofessionals descended on Seattle for this thing, and this is the “smaller” of the two annual conferences. It’s just sorta inspiring to walk into the massive Washington Convention Center and see librarians everywhere. Heck, they were all over Seattle too. Even the fish-throwing-dudes at the Public Market were like, “Sssssh…librarians are everywhere this week.”

The exhibits were pretty cool. Sure there was swag to be had – we shipped home two boxes of free books – but more than anything, it was great to see the new products that were coming out and hear what librarians were saying about them. It gave me some additional perspective on what it’s like to be a librarian outside of graduate school. The exhibits and demos also bolstered my confidence a bit. I forced Sarah (who came along for the ride) to sit through a metadata lecture at the Library of Congress booth, only to find that I already knew everything that the lecturer was talking about. I had similar experiences at other booths and demos.

The President’s Program was on the FISH philosophy on working. I had heard about this at other conferences I’ve been too, so I decided to sit in. The basic idea is to have fun while working and to provide excellent service to your customers. Not really new ideas, but they were presented in an entertaining way. Didn’t change my life though.

The other positive thing that happened was that I got my job offer while I was at the conference. Now, as I’ve previously blogged, it’s not a traditional library-type job, so I was rather worried about taking it. However I ran into a librarian that used to work at USC, and she encouraged me to go for it. Her perspective was that having corporate experience would be a benefit on my resume, not a detraction. So I decided to take the job – but I’ll post on that later.

All in all, for me Midwinter was almost like a booster shot. I do know what’s going on. Librarianship is a powerful, active and important profession. We do have some clout. It’s okay that I won’t be working in a library post-graduation.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go to Annual in DC this year, but I know this won’t be my last ALA conference.

 
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HOLY CRAP!

Posted by lynn on Jan 25, 2007 in News

I did it. I just accepted a verbal job offer for that project management positon. I’m excited yet totally scared. I’ve worked at USC for 10 frickn’ years – not counting my four years of school. I just got my 10 year anniversary letter (and lovely commemorative desk clock). Anyway, I will post more details about the job and the ALA Midwinter Conference I attended shortly. I’m going to go freak out a little more.

 
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And we come now to the last semester….

Posted by lynn on Jan 16, 2007 in News

So I’m still going through the whole interview stuff; I had a second interview and now it’s just the wait-n’-see. I guess I’ll find out if they like me. The pros: professional yet casual workplace, top of the line company and product, healthy salary and the chance to use my LIS knowledge in a “non-traditional” environment. Cons: not exactly a library, not every project may be LIS-related….But hey, none of this counts if I don’t get offered the job, right?

On another note, both syllabi for the Spring are up. I think it’s a combination of burn-out and experience, but my reaction was along the lines of “Oh crap, another rough semester. Oh well. I’ll deal.” I whined momentarily to both Sarah and Phil, but that was partly to warn them that I’d yet again be dealing with a crapload of schoolwork and that they would, of course, get to proofread most of it. I do have to say that the content for the classes looks interesting.

One class – Design of Digitally Mediated Information Systems – looks really promising. It’s going to be covering a lot of the stuff I love: users and the way they use information, wikis and blogs, organization. Of course, this is the class with the most daunting syllabus, but isn’t that always the way?

The other is Metadata. This class is going to be taught by a prof I’ve had twice before – once for Organization of Information and then again last semester for Digital Libraries – and I’ve sorta grown to love him. His syllabus doesn’t look like a party either, but at least I know how he works.

Anyway, it looks like late February until early April will blow big paper chunks, followed by a crappy late April/early May. At least it’s the last semester…..

 
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Mini update

Posted by lynn on Jan 5, 2007 in News

I think the interview yesterday went fairly well. The position definitely falls under the “non-traditional” category, so I got a lot of “Why Library Science? What do you learn as part of that program” questions. I’m happy to say that when I explained how broad the LIS field was and what sorts of courses I’ve taken, I was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm. One interviewer even thought aloud how they could put my LIS skills to work on a project they’ve been wanting to do.

That being said, I interviewed with this place a year ago and obviously, that didn’t work out. We’ll see what happens and I’m continuing to look forward to ALA. I’m still a little proud of myself that I spread good LIS PR at any rate.

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