About that job description

Dear Internet,
Tuesday was the first day in 76 days I missed a day writing. Wednesday too. And you know what? I’m okay with that. But today’s entry will explain some of what has been going on.
My job posted yesterday.1
I am not reapplying for the position.
While I love working with students and seeing everything click when they get it, my passion remains and has always been in technology. With the college’s direction for the position, and the rewording of the position itself, it would be in my best interest to find a position that would better align with my career goals.
Some of you may not know my circumstances, so I’ll catch you all up.
I was hired as an adjunct in 2011. That fall, after two separate interviews, I was hired in as the systems librarian. The position was open for an academic year before I was hired. During this time, the faculty union, which librarians are a member of, were in negotiations with the college for their contract. All of us that were hired in the 2011-12 academic year were hired in as contingency employees. Our contracts were renewed on a year to year basis as contracts continued to be in negotiation.
In the 2012-13 academic year, the union and college came to an agreement with contract negotiations. Contingency faculty such as myself were not included as part of the agreement. We were told that all 40 positions would be reopened to a nation wide search. We could elect to apply for the position if we’d like, but please note that any time we worked prior to the now tenure track position would not be included when we apply.
My original position, while similar in wording to the current position, was sold to me as being 75% Systems / 25% everything else. The college’s push for student success has changed significantly in the last three years — every part of our core job services has been significantly amped towards student success and instruction. Out of my 35 scheduled hour week, I spend 10 hours on reference, 10-15 hours prepping/teaching/wrap up for info lit classes, 5-10 hours a week during liaison work, whatever time is left over doing systems. This also does not include my involvement time spent on meetings for internal department groups and college wide meetings. Or lunch.
When the job posting went live yesterday, those who knew me started emailing and tweeting asking what was the deal. Many asked if they had missed something on my blog? I made it a point to not publicly discuss my work here but to point people to my writing over at my professional blog, of course I did not discuss the terms of my employment because I had no idea what was going to happen to me.
Despite repeated assurances I would be notified when the job posted, I was not told. I found out the job was being posted several hours before it went live by finding a copy of the posting on our internal network of job positions.
As I read through the document, the last line under Minimum Qualifications set off all kinds of bells:

Ability to demonstrate the mental health necessary to safely engage in the librarian discipline as determined by professional standards of practice.

I called HR immediately.
I had a meeting with HR about this line and stated it was not only illegal but inflammatory and discriminatory. I was informed it was a directive from the director of accessibility to add that line to the 19-20 job postings that were going out. I was then asked by HR to provide language from ADA  about the discrimination and illegality of the content, but HR did agree the language did not sound correct.
This morning I emailed HR several direct sources of ADA information from the government. I did not hear back.
Completely independent of my actions, various people picked up on the mental health line in the job description as it was being distributed via national job hiring networks. I was tipped off by various people the extent of the uproar over Twitter and over at Tumblr. Lots of people took the college to task for its faux pas. Near end of business day, the college responded:
Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.55.39 PM

Now, before the Internet got wind of everything, I DID post my job was available on Twitter and that while I was not reapplying, I would sincerely answer any questions had about the position.
And while I will not comment publicly on the events other than what I’ve laid here, I have responded to people’s comments about “the past employee in that position” and I repeated my offer from earlier in the day that if anyone had questions about the position, I would be more than happy to discuss it with them privately.
It should also be remarked on that now several people of note from the college are now following me on Twitter.
My goal is to leave the position with my dignity intact. I have a lot of projects to wrap up before my contract ends on June 30 and I would like to have the opportunity to complete out those jobs. I’ve been assured while Michigan is an at-will state, the college has to have document course of action of any misdeeds done on my part, which has never happened. I’ve never even gotten a bad review.
But I am kind of excited about the unknown future. I’ll be revamping my professional site within the next few weeks and applying for positions.
And again,  I want to make clear that I am writing this up to present facts as they happened and to let people know who were bombarding me with tweets, emails, texts today that I’m okay. I’ll be getting back to some of you in the next few days but I really do appreciate all of the support you’ve given me.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2009

1. Copies have been posted all over various job search engines but I snagged a local copy.


I iz a level 2 professional librarian, for realz

The last couple of weeks have not been that great: Mumsy was hospitalized with congestive heart failure, I did not make the cut as an Emerging Leader, I neared the 100 job application mark with nary a job in sight. While I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, awesome friends near and wide and that Justin has a great job and is an AWESOME husband to boot, I really shant complain when I know there are others out there who are far worse off than I. But! As I often tell Justin, no matter how many awesome (mainly non-paying) projects I do, I still do not feel like I’m being a productive member of society or that the profession really wants me. I do not feel like I’m contributing somehow and that is the part that hurts the most. Forget the snide commentary about my student loans and obsession with Fluevogs1, let me make a contribution at least to our household GDP!
GAH. Did not want this to go into a rant or a pity party. ANYWAY, found out recently that for several public library positions I applied for in the state of Michigan require librarian certification. As my SLIS school never mentioned this was something we actually needed to HAVE to work at a PL in MI, I did some research and found out that the application process was actually pretty simple. As a recent MLIS grad, I qualify for a level 2 qualification, which meant all I had to do was have my transcripts posted to the Library of Michigan and viola! Certificate in hand. A level 1, top certification, would be my graduate degree and work experience of four years or more. Despite nearly two years working in an academic library, I still needed additional hours to make level 1.
This certificate also qualifies me to serve as director to libraries serving less than 26,000 persons. Which there are quite a lot of those in the state of MI.
It’s not much and it really doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, but on days when it feels like this profession doesn’t want me, I at last have this. Right? Right.
1. I bought a pair of super on-clearance Fluevogs for my wedding shoes, fell in love and now I want more. Which I can’t get until I have a job. Shoe lust is a terrible thing.

To: Enlighten – Allergies are not for the win edition

Recently it’s been discovered I have what is politely termed as “adult onset allergies,”1 which decided today to go into full force, which means any work I planned on doing today has gotten pushed aside in the “itcy/watery eyes, headachey feeling shoot me WHINE” makes it difficult to concentrate for tasks for too long. HOWEVER! I wanted to get get some updates about posts-in-drafts that were to have been published about some upcoming projects I’m working on.
In no particular order:

  • Alice and I have decided to learn a new (dead) language, specifically Anglo-Saxon (Olde English) 2. Details forthcoming (post is currently in draft status), but we’ll be updating Dead Language Society and I’ll be x-posting my entries here.
  • Kristin and I have a poster accepted to Michigan Library Association annual conference, taking place in November 2010. Our poster presentation is, Critical Error: The need for Michigan libraries to represent themselves online and it’s the beginnings of a (predicted to be) long-term research project. We’re pretty excited about this and will be posting a lot of our stuff (findings, research interests, etc) over at our joint blog, Librarianation. I will more than likely be x-posting library stuff between the two blogs.
  • The next installment of So, You Want to be a Librarian/Archivist? is also in draft status, with the subject matter of being proactive within the field of librarianship/archives. I’ve gotten prods from various people around the internets that I need to keep this series going.

Other updates:
Job hunt: Still unemployed and still interviewing but nothing concrete as of yet. To keep ourselves sane, we house hunt via Zillow in areas that I’m interviewing in as well as areas we’re interested in moving to. I’ve been collecting the links of the homes in these areas we’re interested in on my Delicious feed.
Walk, Don’t Run: Justin and I have been power walking nearly every day our neighborhood for the last two weeks, with the idea that next week we’ll start a “couch to 5k” like program next week. I’m not keen on this idea for numerous reasons, mainly that running feels more invasive to my arthritis than walking. I’m told this is bullarky, but I can only report what my bones feel. Our diet is going more or less okay, but we’re always looking to improve it. And last, but not least, Wednesday the Pug has had her bi-weekly bath. That is ALWAYS important to include.

1. Not sure what I’m allergic TO yet, but it was pointed out to me all of my health issues seemingly came into being after recently getting married.
2. Yes, Olde English is purposely misspelled. 


Beer flight at Bastone, Royal Oak.

I’m currently ensconced in the wilds of Illinois, where Wednesday I’ll be heading off to my second interview with a local library system. I’m alternating between being nervous and depressed about this interview, not because I don’t want the job – I do, but rather because job hunting is exhausting and at times, incredibly depressing. But I think the depression is not so much about the looking for the job but rather how much my life will change once said job is obtained. It is not so much about what I’ll be doing as it will be where I’ll be doing it and how much coin will be slipped across my hand for my performance. Justin and I ran the figures on what I needed to stay solvent, independently, to fend off the U.S. student loan sharks1 and save a buck or two for retirement. 2 And then there is the probability if we want to have kids, buy a second home, or even a new car. It feels like everything I want takes money and I will never catch up.3
And if I’m not stressing about money, I stress a lot about time. I never seem to have it and when I do, I never seem to manage it properly. Which is odd since I managed it quite well juggling everything I did while in school. All the silly projects I had set up for the summer, I have not even touched. It feels when I have two seconds to myself, I’m prepping/heading off to go somewhere else or do something else. I always wonder how people can accomplish so much when they have the exact amount of time that I do. Time is not flexible
This is the first summer since I was a bonafied kid that I’ve had “off” – no work or school to contend with. But my time has been packed and while I can easily account for it all – job applications, job interviews, volunteer work, trips to professional conferences and such, it still doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything this summer. Well, I haven’t accomplished I had set out to do: learning new programming languages, research projects, writing projects, knitting projects. Job applications are a two day process and when I have an interview or two a week lined up, even by phone, those interviews require prep work, which means more time set aside when I could have it allotted for something else. I’m not resentful I have to do these things, I’m more resentful that I’ve let so much spare time slip through my fingers.
This will also be the first fall in nearly a decade in which I will not be heading off to some institution of higher learning. Books will not be bought, notebooks will not be scribbled in and notes will not be taken. I will not be graded on my achievements, not in the usual way of a letter grade, but there is something sad about not having grades made instantly available at the end of the term. Now all is the piling of rejection notices and “We’ve not quite made a decision yet” emails. Summer, when I was a kid and had no real responsibilities to contend with, meant cookouts, overnight pajama parties with friends, long bike rides to hidden areas where I would pack a lunch and read for the day. Trips to the exotic lands of Canada or to a cabin up in the Thumb area4 with family. There were many, many days of going to the beach and getting brown like a raisin.
The seasons always have a certain smell to them, each one is completely distinctive from the others. Summer always smelled of fresh cut grass, meat roasting on the grill, and the smell of coconut from the tanning lotions. My skin and hair always smelled of the lake we lived by, and while I did not go swimming every day during the summer, I did so enough that the smell lingered for weeks. I always felt that my best moments, my adventures and my memories, are all romanticized from those days. Even in the summers when I was working or in class, there was still a sense of excitment about them even if they were not close duplicates to my childhood. Then it was more about the sense of getting time off to do some of these things, the freedom and de-stressing form work/school whereas this summer, it’s about the additional stress and in some cases, the derailing of freedom. We’ve made many plans this summer, only to have them curtailed by sudden changes in my schedule, whether that meant I was leaving for job interviews or by Justin’s schedule, with him being on call or there was a strike or two happening within his company.
We’ve tightened our belts, financially, since I have no income coming in. We’re not struggling, no, we’re fine but mini-breaks, cabin overnights or day long picnics all must be accounted for somehow. We’ve been trying to set something up before I get whisked away by a library system and I’m working fulltime, but until the strikes end, when we can call our time our own again, those plans will not be happening. Last summer we planned on driving up around the eastern coast of Michigan, going up as far north as Mackinac before heading diagonally home on I-75. We wanted to sleep in cabins, splash around in the beach, and go walking in the woods. Hunt through sleepy little towns, lounge about in hammocks, reading all day and eat fruit so fresh, our faces are bathed in their juices. We never went because we could never sort out my work/school schedule for the summer and then fall came, and everything went to hell.
In the wilds of Illinois, I would give anything right now for that weekend to happen. Just one more last summer hurrah before adulthood, and reality, sets in.

1. My car will finally be paid off soon, so student loan debt will be all that I have. Before you get all jealous, that debt is nearly $100K.
2. Solvent in that I should be supporting myself, in case Justin leaves me for an (even) older woman or young hussy, or dies by Pug strangulation or something. Since I’m seven years older than him, I should have money in the bank for retirement and since I do not, I have to be aggressive with the savings.
3.. You know, The Jones
4. Michigan is shaped like a mitten, so the “Thumb” is the thumb shaped area that is directly north of Detroit.

The consequences of world domination.

Last week, to put it succinctly, was the week from hell.
I left for St. Louis to present at a conference on Wednesday, came home mid-afternoon Friday only to immediately head to the Fox Theatre with Justin to see Bob Dylan play Friday night. Saturday morning, after dropping Wednesday off at the dog boarders, we drove to Kalamazoo to see our friends Lauren and Eric get married. Sunday, after a pit stop at IKEA, we headed home where I was able to finally couch for the first time, it seemed, in weeks.
I only checked email twice on Monday. Twice! Clearly, I was tired and overworked.
Justin and I have been having a lot of conversations on what’s going to happen with me when on-campus classes are done for me in May (I’ll still be doing a few online classes for the summer session): I’ll be out of a job (the graduate program kicks students off of student assistantships after 36 credit hours and I hit 42 or 44 May 2010), Justin and I are getting married (to get health benefits – srsly), we’re moving somewhere but we’re not sure where. And then there is the honeymoon to contend with (UK? Italy? For how long?). In a short amount of time, a lot of stuff is going to be happening and I can’t plan for it because it is all dependent on whether or not I get a job offer and if so, where I’m going. And on top of that, if I don’t get a job offer, where do we move to? Justin has the luxury of telecommuting, and I know that if I can’t find a job in X time, he will support me, but I don’t want to have to do that.
It’s called having to pay $900/month in student loans, muthafucker. (“Down with your bourgeois education,” Justin says.) So then it goes back to, “What do you want to do! What do you want to do with your life!” and of course, “world domination” doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.
In all seriousness though, I stacked my interests and my work experience in the last two years to make myself as marketable as possible. I’ll have 18 months of academic librarianship under my belt, along with having presented at a conference, certification in archival work coupled with practicum experience, digital librarianship, special projects I’ve worked on with professors plus my own incredibly varied background.
I’m awesome and I know that.
One thing I keep musing on is just how far and to what extent I want to make librarianship and archival work my life — because I know me well enough to know that I will rabble rouse and want to change the world (I’ve already started that on campus here with the creation of a new student group that I did with three other students this summer), and while there are many incredibly awesome librarians and archivists out there who do similar rabble rousing things, the profession as a whole can be and is to some extent, incredibly backward and staid. As a student, looking at the work being done typically sums up one thing — that everything has to be committed to death and with that comes the death of innovation and moving forward. But as par usual, I’m digressing. As it stands, in addition to my course work and 20 hours of ref desk pimpin’, I currently am doing the following:

  • President, ASIS&T,Wayne State student chapter.
  • Vice President and co-founder, Progressive Librarians’ Guild, Wayne State student chapter.
  • Communications chair, Graduate Employees’ Organizing Committee, Wayne State.
  • Member, virtual reference committee for new technologies, Wayne State Library system.
  • Digital technologies librarian liaison, various roles/responsibilities 1.

I can see my life going in a variety of directions, and I know that I’m flexible enough with my skillset that if I don’t like how one way goes, I can totally switch it to another. The problem, however, is that I’m not quite sure if I want to be a rabble rouser anymore — my own work and interests seem to get pushed to the side because when I take on something, I like to think I give it 110% of my focus – and I know it is because of this that makes me so good at what I do.
Writing, for example, has gone to the way side. Not just missing a few days or a few weeks but it’s been since MAY since I’ve posted anything to this or my LiveJournal account, which I even barely check anymore. My other domain, biblyotheke.net is to represent my “professional portfolio” and that’s not even been tweaked with since I installed Indexhibit on it a few weeks ago.
The quandary I’m having is not only how I want to live my life, but how to live my life and make it meaningful. How do I balance a husband, a future family, a career and personal interests while giving myself Lisa-time? What type of jobs should I start looking for? Should I sell out? Consult? Write the “Great American Novel”? Do I want to work 60hrs a week and push family and personal life aside (like my mom)? And if my school involvement right now is any indicator, it can end up like that.
Because I find it incredibly difficult to say “No.”
1. I have not discussed with my freelance employers what I can and cannot post about my work for them, so for now, they remain anonymous.

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