i dream of being possible

Grim, bitter, or jaded?

After my post on how to fix the the profession @adr remarked that I appeared rather grim, which I can see why he may have made that assessment. I also had Dorothea remark that maybe my cover letter shouldn’t mention my ‘passion’ for the work I do, since my twitter feed somewhat contradicted that.

I take both of their points quite well. Even as the assessment surprised me, somewhat. From my perspective, that I’m sincerely engaged in the profession (generally) and my work (specifically) is a sign of my optimism and, yes, passion for what I/we do.

As much as various aspects of the library as institution and librarian as profession can frustrate me, I also recognize that a goodly portion of the frustrating things are not actually inherent in the work or field. Rather, they are often problems that go beyond our institutions and professional lives. Even better, they are problems that I truly believe we can change.

Take the education/profession post. I’ve somewhat changed my mind on the professional association/accredation process as a viable vehicle for change, after @grumpylibrarian pointed out that this holds true for the UK and they definitely do not get paid more or are better recognized as professionals there. So time to think of something new (although, for the accessbility related reasons I still very much think that the MLIS should be the BLIS). In any case, the point is… is that I actually think that our current situation can change.

And not in that terribad business sense of us doing a better job at managing our brand. No. Just no. Or getting better ‘marketing’.

I look around at my colleagues right now and I see a great bunch of fairly engaged, interested, if slightly jaded, people who are enthusiastic about what we do. I see people caring and it inspires me. Especially since I can see that there are enthusiastic and engaged people at various stages of their careers.

What I also see, and this has been true since library school, is that there is also a strange sense of defeatism or low morale. A sense that is more marked than when I was doing Asian philosophy and was outright told that I only had about a 5% chance of getting a job. And this was before the economic downturn.

So, when I entered library school I was super enthusiastic because I was actually doing a degree that’d get me a job. And it did, so no complaints, really. As much as the overall uselessness of 98% of my classes annoyed me, by that point I was practiced enough in school that the degree as a whole didn’t really take that much time or effort.

The hardest thing to deal with was the overall air of low morale and pessimism. I’m reasonably certain that if you asked my classmates they should probably be able to tell you that I was generally enthusiastic and optimistic (er… I hope, I know I at least felt this way). Given how… um, forgettable my library school experience was, I’m not actually that bitter about it. Especially since I snagged a scholarship that covered all of my tuition. My MLIS degree has done what I wanted it to, ie, get me a library job. Even better: it got me a job that I love, but didn’t even know existed before I started.

A thing to remember: since I am Asian, one of the ways that we (in my family at least) show caring and affection is via criticism. I only criticize the things I like, enjoy, and love. Things that don’t interest me are usually met with silence and apathy (or extreme irreverance).

And I really do think that the engaged, critical discussions I’ve seen/participated in are part of the solution for curing what ails us.