Yeah I know I haven’t blogged here in ages. I’ve been bringing a new library into the world! I’ve mentioned quite a bit around the traps how much work has been going into a couple of big projects we’re doing, well, I think I need to share the fruits of our labour.
Kenmore library has been in the planning for a long, long time. It’s been burbling about for I don’t know how long, and finally this year really and truly happened. We opened the doors to the public on Tuesday (14/12/10) and it was wonderful to finally show our new baby off. It was also wonderful to see the lovely members of the public come in and just be delighted with their new library. It made all the hard work and lack of sleep of the past weeks worth it.
Without any further ado, I’ve got some photos to share with you all:
As you can see the old stereotypes of libraries were blown out of the water with this beautiful new library. Lots of people worked so hard to bring this lovely, vibrant library to life and I’m so proud to have been one of them!
I love my job. I really do. Sometimes little things drive me up the wall, but I wouldn’t be a human being if that didn’t happen. But at the crux of it all, I love my job and am passionate about what I do.
I am an IT librarian. When I tell people I’m an IT librarian, they instantly assume I work in a library, but I actually work in an office. I do get to visit libraries though. I work in a support team for 32 libraries (soon to be 33), one mobile library, one city archive and of course our own office. Many people assume that librarian is a very generalised role, but not in many cases. While most of us are good Jack/Jill-of-all-trades types, we often have very definite areas of specialisation that we are passionate about. It never ceases to amaze me when I realise that someone is surprised that I or my librarian colleagues are very knowledgeable about things that are way outside of the librarian stereotype.
Initially I wanted to work in libraries because of my passion for reading and books. But over the years, while those passions have never left me, my passion for libraries is about so much more. Reading, particularly recreational reading, is still at the core of why my job is important to me, but that core has expanded to include literacy, critical thinking, access to information, education (especially life-long learning), community, social inclusion and equity. Add that to a healthy passion for my home city, and I’m in a career I always feel like I can really get my teeth into and be challenged by.
When I first started in the job I am in now, 9 years ago, I mostly catalogued photographs of Brisbane all day. I did have some support role in IT, but predominantly I spent my time working on digitising and cataloguing the photographic collection. Over time my role has evolved (and I’ve been promoted within the same position) to a much more varied scope. Nowdays my areas of specialty are library IT asset procurement and management, AV in libraries, social media in libraries and special equipment in libraries. So from sourcing and purchasing computers, printers, projectors, LCD/Plasma screens, audio equipment, AV system management equipment, cameras, iPads, eBook readers, game consoles, DVD players, television/Pay-TV resources, and any other doohicky or gadget that crops up as relevant/useful/required by libraries, to managing the installation of all of that, staff training for it all, and then asset management so that we know where all of that equipment is at any given time, what it’s worth, whether or not it’s working, if it needs repairs, when it’s time to replace it and what to do with it when it needs disposing of through to training staff in how to deliver all of that stuff to our customers, I’m kept pretty damn busy and challenged all of my working life.
At the moment we’re at the pointy end of building one new library (due to open in December) and relocating one rather large library to a temporary location (for 18 months or so) so that a fancy pants new version can be built for them to go to in the long term. We don’t do projects this big very often, but when we do… boy, do they take over your life. And now more than ever, are we, the librarians, being called on to do so much of the planning, research, project management, implementations, installations, trouble-shooting, crisis averting, shiny-making, and overall nitty-grittying of these big projects. It’s AWESOME that we’re so much part of the creation of our own libraries, but it’s damn hard work and you have to learn so much, and think on your feet all the time.
ALL the time. Two nights ago I woke at 3am shouting the name of the relocating library into the darkness. That’s how much it takes over your life.
But I love it. It means a lot to me. It’s far more than a job. It’s a vocation, a calling. It matters. And my contribution makes a difference.
Ok so do I talk about my first EVER job, or do I talk about the first job I had when I left school?
Let’s talk about both!
When I was 12, I got a sneaky job as a “tea and tidy” at a local hair salon. Sneaky because even back then, employers weren’t supposed to hire anyone under 13. But I was super keen and they liked me, plus I looked older than 12, so they let me start work a few months before my birthday. This is me when I was just past my 12th birthday:
Where did those long legs go? How did I get so brown? My mother did Hobbytex (you can see a bit on a picture to the right of my head) And look at that old television. Oh God, VINYL! And not ironic hipster retro vinyl.
A “tea and tidy” basically does that – makes tea and tidies up. I also learnt how to mix hair colour and perming solution, and wash people’s hair. They used to give me all the old ladies to practice hair washing on. I quite enjoyed it and loved the bit of pocket money it gave me. I used to spend it on records (yes, vinyl, shut up) and music magazines. Countdown magazine was my favourite. Shut up, I’m old ok??
I worked through most of my teens in part time jobs. Babysitting, at a florist running deliveries all over town and doing prep work (why did I lose the skill of tying amazing ribbon formations?), doing typing for people, cleaning, selling Avon, in a cafe, even as a telex operator in a factory office. SHUT UP, I SAID I WAS OLD OKAY??!!
Once I left school I got a temporary role in a book bindery. Mostly making tags, tickets and notepad kind of things for the local meat works, who were the biggest customers. Then I went on to work in a surplus store, in the army disposal section. I loved army disposal, I hated that fucking job. I worked for this awful, awful woman who hated me and made me clean the whole massive store, including everyone else’s departments, while she and the other two women watched me over coffee. I would have to run down from the back of the store whenever someone came into my section and serve them, and then run back to wherever I was cleaning.
I told her where to shove that job eventually (and she asked me if I’d recommend a younger friend who would work really hard – like hell!) and ended up as a live-in nanny for friends of mine. Whenever they were at work/uni I cared for the two boys and was with them for quite a while.
I did some youth work for a bit, mostly with homeless kids. It burned me out pretty quick, so I worked behind bars for a bit. Pouring beers and mixing drinks was very relaxing after social services. Sometimes I waited tables but I hated that.
I then went on to work for a radio station, in the advertising department, both selling advertising and writing and recording it. It was a country music station during the peak of Billy Ray Cyrus “Achy Breaky Heart”. Needless to say my office was the only room in the building that had the ceiling speakers disconnected.
I had a music store for a few years. Loved being in that environment, HATED not having a life. Small business ownership sucks.
Then back to a myriad of things from child care to working in a book store, in another music store, a bit more bar work, a bit more youth work, and then I was unemployed for a couple of years while dealing with a rather massive depressive episode.
Then one day I got work experience in a library through a compulsory Centrelink programme. They loved me so much, they kept me for a second week. Then the head librarian faxed head office my CV every Friday for 8 months until they finally gave me an interview for their casual pool. I got the job, worked for 3 weeks casual, got a temporary role, then another, then another, then an early incarnation of my current role (9 years ago)… and have never looked back!
Well, so much about being about my first job… this post is about almost all of them!
What was your first job?
I had a moment today. I was pouring over some architectural plans for the new library we are building, trying to get information for one of my vendors, when I realised I was really enjoying reading them. They’re so full of information, and especially now that I’ve been out to the site and got the building in my head spatially, I can really visualise what things are going to look like when they are completed.
If you had told me two years ago that I would not only be able to read architectural plans, but also would enjoy doing so, I probably would have laughed you out of the room.
In fact, I know one of my previous bosses was always frustrated that I wouldn’t try to learn new things, I was always totally sure I would fail. He would try and try and try to get me to take on new projects and I would fight change like a lioness, because I was terrified that I’d screw it up.
But a few years ago, something changed. I remember when it was. It was just after I came back from the US, in January ’08. While in the US I had fully discovered Mythbusters thanks to a good week of being sick with a terrible flu, and my friend Missy had insisted I head back to her place in Illinois and she’d taken me in, propped me up in the recliner in the living room, surrounded me with her dogs and handed me the remote to the telly while she almost waited on me hand and foot for a couple of really bad days.
When I came home, I scrounged up all of the Mythbusters DVD’s I could find, I was hooked. We had them in the collection at work, but I also started buying them too. One evening I was watching an episode, I remember it was the myth about firing bullets into water, and a lightbulb went on in my head. I understood the maths and physics they were talking about. I had always really struggled with maths, I do have visual problems with numbers, but my absolute fascination with the myth they were working on had me taking my time and focusing on what they were explaining, and I suddenly realised that I could really understand maths, for the first time in my life. I was 35!!
From that moment, Mythbusters went from just a great show with explosions, silly inventions and breaking stuff (and a bloke I fancied – Jamie) to something that I was learning vast amounts of things from. It was inspiring me to go and read more, find things online and indulge my natural curiosity.
I’ve always loved to research, but I had always thought that was very much limited to history, that it was the only thing I could really learn about. Boy, how wrong was I there?
In the almost 3 years since that lightbulb moment, I’ve learnt a bajillion new things, and a lot of them have really challenged me. I have gone from a librarian who was all about cataloguing and database work, to a librarian who now has her expertise in AV (audio visual) technology, social media, ergonomics, and IT asset management and procurement, with additional knowledge in furniture and joinery, architectural drawings, electrical,/data/AV cabling, building construction, project management, and dozens of other things I’ve had to dabble with as my job has evolved, now that I’m confident enough to have a go.
Where once I would have freaked out at the idea of learning something new for my job, now I am constantly looking for something else to get my teeth into that interests me, and my fear of failure is all but gone. I have a healthy nervousness about getting things wrong, but no longer a crippling fear. Change doesn’t daunt me, it energises me. It gives me a challenge.
There is nothing I cannot learn if I want to learn. I may never be great at it, I may never change the field, but I can learn about anything, understand it and apply it.
Do you know what? There’s nothing YOU cannot learn if you want to learn about it. It’s not always easy, sometimes it’s a big ole strain, but if I can do it, you can.
What is something you want to learn about/to do? What’s holding you back?
I’ve got a story to tell you.
Just a little blog today, a little something for those of you who read, and to keep current.
Why is it infinitely more exhausting to teach someone your job than to just do it yourself?
At the moment, ‘Berto is on two week’s leave. We have the lovely Luke in to help out, and instead of totally freaking him out with ‘Berto’s job, we’ve kind of mashed his job and mine together, I’ll do all the complex bits that take a long time to kind of get into, and Luke is doing the bits I can just show him how to do and let him run with it.
He’s great, picking things up at lightning speed, using lots of common sense and is really keen to have a go.
But I’m worn down to a nub! It’s exhausting me to explain what I do and step out how I do it. Mostly because I’m not used to actually thinking about it, I just get in there and chug along and do what needs to be done.
It’s good though, because it highlights just how complex the work that we do is. Plus I love the opportunity to “convert” people into understanding why we harp on about the things we harp on about. When seen from our perspective, it’s understood that we’re not being pedantic, or making procedures and policies just for something to do. When you’re the one who has to correct hundreds of records in a database every week, you start to get a bit narky about people not entering them correctly in the first place. When you have to track down millions of dollars worth of assets, following procedural steps to receipt new stock and dispose old stock is of vital importance.
I booked some leave for March today. Three whole weeks off work, which the boss has approved. I don’t plan to do a real lot, spend some time with my Grandparents but the rest shall be swanning about doing all the things I seem to never have enough time to do. Lots of reading, some socialising, some relaxing, some movies… just generally recharging the batteries.
Bring on March I say!
I’m back at work today and have still got the grumps. But at least I am out of the 33+ degree heat.
Why have I got the grumps? Cos I’m feeling ripped off again. It’s a whole bunch of things but my work situation pisses me off and I’m just about at the end of my tether. I need a holiday. I plan to take one in March when it is a little cooler and I can enjoy it more. I’d like to go visit my Grandma for her birthday, she will be 80 in March. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like to, mostly because the rest of my family sucks. Well, a big proportion of them do.
But let’s talk about something that isn’t grumpy.
I got a calendar for Christmas that is one of those “New Word a Day” things. You know, where you get a cool word and it’s meaning on each page for each day. I think I should set myself a challenge to blog every day, and use that word of the day in the blog! Do you reckon I can do it? I reckon I can have a really good go at it!
Soon I won’t have to update two blogs, I will be able to just use this one. Our training programme finishes tomorrow evening and I won’t have to do a constant blog for work colleagues to maintain. I think I will bring some of the posts over here cos I really like them. Or I’ll just archive it until we need to use it again. If you haven’t already looked at the other blog, you’ll find it at http://kathx23.blogspot.com
New Years Eve tomorrow night. I’m going to a party at my friend and colleague Robert’s house. Will be fun. I have a new outfit to wear. It’s all black – I don’t normally wear all black, I love colour but this outfit was so pretty I had to have it. I also have a bottle of strawberry champagne to crack at midnight. Yummy!