Return to the Blogs

Before I begin, I want to declare that I’ve cross-posted this to both my personal and professional blogs. I’ve been neglecting both for some time now, and I figure the explanation as to why is the same for both sites. So if you check out this site and then notice that it’s the same post as the other site, then it’s not deja vu, it’s simply copy and paste.

Most of my readers know that I’m a librarian by profession, occupation, and passion. I’ve quite literally worked in libraries half my life and, as is the nature of math, will continue to work in libraries for half my life as the years roll on. Most of that time has been spent in library circulation, where I started out at the age of 18. From my first job as a page, putting away things that people checked out, I quickly learned that the library is really the place for me. Hindsight being what it is, I should’ve figured this out before that time since I’ve long had a love for reading and books and because my dad worked in library facilities.

Some people say they grew up with a library. I damn near grew up in one. I’d occasionally accompany my dad to his job on the weekends, when the library was shut, and basically be on hand to call for help if he fell off a ladder or electrocuted himself. So while he did his job, I’d read or browse the shelves.

Anyway, I started out as a page, became a part-time library assistant, then a full-time library assistant, then did technology instruction for the staff and public, then went back into Circulation as an Assistant Circulation Manager, then moved to Arizona to become the Circulation Manager of a large library in a large county system doing a large volume of circulation. It. Was. Awesome!

Then, maybe three months ago, I was standing in a different branch. I’d since left the big branch for a smaller, more intimate branch in a lovely community that I liked so well that I wound up moving into it. I was pulling the request list for the morning and looking at the pages of titles in my hand. There was a request for a DVD called Rock ‘n’ Learn Human Body. I looked up from the list and said, probably out loud, “Science section, Life Science subsection, right hand case, second shelf down, approximately the middle of the shelf.”

That was the right answer. I knew exactly where it was. With an almost stunned sensation, I looked at the list and realized that I knew where everything was. Then it quickly dawned on me that I knew far too much about everything related to my job. I understood the ILS from policy to technology and how it tied to the catalogue. I understood how to fix almost any computer in the branch, so long as the fix didn’t require a system level access. I could fix almost any problem with the $350,000 self-check-in and sorting machine. I could fix a lot of problems with the self-check-out machines.

I could do almost anything, and it occurred to me that while I wasn’t burned out, I was starting to get a little too comfortable and, perhaps, maybe even a little bored. It was time, I figured, to look for something new to do in the library world. Something that I could do without starting my life over again, but something that was different from what I’d been doing for the past 17 – 18 years. A position had recently appeared in the HR emails and I seriously considered it for five minutes before I finally decided to apply for it.

Maybe I could be a Web Content Manager. I dig the web, and I understand a lot about it, but I’ve never been a professional web anything. I’d made sites, created blogs, used a lot of web apps and set them up, but I’d never been a professional library web manager. While I knew a little bit about the back-end, website workings and tie-ins for the library’s ILS, I certainly didn’t know everything about it. I’d be in a totally new realm, working at Admin and not with the public. For the first time in 17 – 18 years, I wouldn’t have a public service job. It was a Monty Python career change because it was something completely different.

Well, why not? I loved what I did, and if i didn’t get the job, I could continue doing something I loved. So I applied, interviewed, and threw together an online portfolio to show that I did know something about online frameworks and that I spoke HTML with a little JavaScript and some CSS to boot.

They hired me. Frankly, I was shocked. I figured there had to be someone better than me in the running. Either way, they hired me and I stopped being a supervisor and became a manager, a Web Content Manager.

Now then, any major job shift is going to make you a busy little bee. I was expecting that, for the first few weeks, I’d be trained on the workings of the web-side of the ILS, how it worked within its PAC, and how you put content on the site. All of that was certainly true.

I was also hired about 30 days before a major ILS update and one of my big tests would be resetting the front page and OPAC to our customized set-up along with testing and implementing new features available in the upgrade.

So not only was I tossed into the deep end of the pool, at least they gave me some weights to hold on to that would steady my descent into the abyss!

With some great training, I was able to get my feet underneath me pretty quickly. The ILS really doesn’t offer a proper CMS so, if you want to add something or update anything, you write code. That’s not a problem really, and you get a great idea of how things work in a short amount of time when you have to hand code everything. We have a training server that we use for testing stuff to make sure it doesn’t blow up the production PAC and I customized it to fit how we would look at launch after the upgrade.

And then the vendor fixed something on the training PAC and blew away everything.

So I put it back.

And then the vendor fixed another thing on the training PAC and blew it away a second time.

So I put it back, again.

On the bright side, I got so much practice returning our training server to a “normal” state, when the time came to do it for real it only took me four hours to reset everything, test linkage, make sure nothing was broken, and then double check all of it.

Meanwhile, I was so busy trying to learn everything I could in a short amount of time that my blogs and my Cyberpunk Librarian show went really dark for a couple of months. After all, when you spend the day beating on a website to make it work, coming home and fiddling with another website just doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. However, now the upgrade is over, nothing major went sideways, and I’m finally settling into the idea of  ”now I don’t have to worry about the upgrade and I can just, you know, do my job.”

I’m happy as hell in my new role with the library, especially since big things are coming with our PAC and our overall website. Now, since all I have to do is my job, I can come home and look at the web again and have fun with it, rather than spend time wondering how they got something to work and if I could do something similar on the library site. As such, I want to get back into my blogs again, writing about whatever interests me on my personal blog and about library stuff on my library blog.

I also want to get my show fired back up again, but that might have to wait until after the holidays. If it makes my viewers and readers feel any better, I’ve got a helluva fun idea for the next show, so I hope that will make things worth the wait. You’ll see more of me here and there as I find new and exciting things to write about and really, about the only thing that will change is my focus on my library blog, where I quite often used to write about library circulation.

After all, I’ve got a different job now. Thanks for sticking with me.

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