Unread books

I need to be reading more. I still have Conducting the Reference Interview (2nd ed.) by Catherine Ross, Kirsti Nilsen, and Marie Radford; and Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook (3rd ed.) by Robert Bacal, to look at. I’m thinking that my unconscious prioritization of this may be stopping me from reading other things.

This book of Bacal’s, in particular, can be a bit triggering for me — I may have mentioned it someplace or another, online. As regards discouragements, the first book I mentioned has recently come out with a 3rd edition. Which…I just ordered. I hate that I just ordered it, but it happened, and now I have to live with it.

The 2nd ed. was published in 2009, and it is tech-intensive enough so that it makes sense to upgrade to the new one. I don’t want to have to deal with repeated material or outdated material.

I may have an upcoming job interview; also possibly a placement test, if I’m selected. I’m still waiting on those calls. If either of those two things happens…I’ll want to know some of the information in Conducting the Reference Interview. I took the latter to work recently (the 2nd ed.) but didn’t want to take a break out of my time focusing on library work, in order to focus more on librarianship.

Recently, I finally got the book, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers. I loved his Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, some years ago; it was likely the first book I checked out from a public library that I read all the way through after I got my BA. It’s certainly the one which stood out most, to me.

The main difference between the two books is that the latter is condensed, while the former is full-length. The full-length one is the one I bought…and it’s extremely thick. I mean, extremely, close to 1.5″ if you look online. I haven’t gotten to break into it, yet, and really, it’s a little intimidating (although the length may be a bonus if one is really interested in the material).

The major drawback that I can see is the fact that all the specialized terms are translated into English, which …may be understandable, given that we’re talking about Tibetan Buddhism, and written English transliteration of Tibetan is notoriously difficult to understand (or pronounce) without prior knowledge of the language. There is a glossary in the back of the book, but it still would have been nice to not have to translate everything out of standard English and into a transliteration of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit (with which I’m more familiar…but I’ve been studying this stuff for about 15 years, and this is an “introduction” to the systems).

Speaking of Buddhism…I want and/or need to read up on Robert Spence Hardy, to see what to watch out for in English-language interpretations of “Buddhism”. Hardy is unreliable and only a partial source, but at the same time highly influential, being one of the first people to relate Buddhism as a system to English-speaking audiences. Hardy himself was a Methodist missionary, so there is an obvious conflict of interest in his representing Buddhism to English-speaking people. His works can be found online. I’m interested in reading him so I can then recognize people parroting him in multiple different English-language renditions of Buddhism.

I wouldn’t have known anything about him at all without reading the first essay (by Judith Snodgrass) in TransBuddhism: Transmission, Translation, and Transformation, edited by Nalini Bhushan, Jay Garfield, and Abraham Zablocki. (See JSTOR.) I should really read more of the essays in that book, though I lost interest back when I stopped having faith in the system, and as a consequence, started to believe studying it was a waste of time.

I am at the point of realizing now, though, that I can have interest in Buddhist ideas and not necessarily have to, “believe in,” anything anyone associated with the religion says (even though we do have a culture which emphasizes, “faith,” as a good thing, in the United States). One of my coworkers advised me that it would be OK to seek out a Buddhist priest to talk about my misgivings with the religion (or rather, the English-language presentation of the religion).

Beyond that, I do still have those two books on creativity and mental illness, that I’m in the middle of: Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, by Kay Redfield Jamison; and The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain, by Alice Flaherty.

I stopped reading those two largely because I realized that it might be better for me to exercise my creativity at that moment, than to read about creativity. The latter seems to be a convenient distraction. I know I can read these books when I really am not feeling creative. While it is possible to believe I can’t make anything and then self-fulfill that, I know that taking it one step at a time does get things done. There are still times that it’s easier to space out or otherwise be relatively passive, though (although I tend to consistently challenge what I’m reading, as I’m reading it — so reading, for me, isn’t really wholly passive).

Beyond that, I also recently picked up the 5th edition of Learning PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript by Robin Nixon, 2018, O’Reilly Media. This book is also super-thick (about 1.5″), on par with my CSS text for my Web Design class, CSS: The Missing Manual, 4th ed., by David McFarland, 2015, O’Reilly Media. That book was extremely useful at the time, however.

It is important for me to learn this stuff, though I haven’t been back to my JavaScript course for several weeks. At the rate things are going…well, actually, maybe I will have time to deal with it coming up, because everything I had to deal with as regards graduation (which was a lot), is over.

Anyhow, I got the above book in print rather than electronic format because, not having seen it, I was concerned that the electronic version may have been inferior. This was an especial concern where the book uses at least four different typefaces to mean different things in context. As my eReader can change its own fonts…I was concerned enough to order the paper version. As it turns out, the print is pretty straightforward, and looks fairly similar to my electronic sample.

The biggest difference between print and electronic seems to be the sheer weight of the thing (the print version is 3 lbs.), plus the lack of clickable hotlinks and electronic searchability. However…I also don’t have so much faith that my eReader will continue to work more than a few years into the future. When it fails, I’ll need the paper backups (or to buy a new eReader to access my library, which I’m not entirely confident will be a good option).

Right now I’m just working on filling skill gaps (I have two more courses to go before I’ll be done with my Cataloging series), applying for jobs, learning to drive, and keeping up with work. And, right; trying to find the time to read, and work on the creative stuff (which is still important, especially if I’m going to work in a Public Library setting). I’m finding myself becoming surprisingly unused to reading paper books, though.

Back to business.

Right now, I’m at the beginning of a course which repeats material I was first exposed to in Library School. I’m thinking that this must be difficult for students who haven’t yet had a primer. Not to mention that the course readings are using terms like, “entity,” “relationship,” and, “attribute,” without first defining them. Outside of working with relational databases, I would not know what those terms meant (I still need to periodically review, now).

Today just seemed like a good opportunity to complete the second set of readings and quizzes. I do have a bunch of optional readings I can go through, one of which I completed earlier…it’s just weird to see myself consistently as one of the first people to talk, and one of the first people to show up in meetings. Am I also one of the first people to look at the long optional readings, a week after they were assigned? I don’t know.

What is relatively clear is that I’m used to online learning (which, I don’t know, should be obvious to me). That fact, though, is a relatively good thing, because it means that I can learn at a distance; and when that’s possible, there are places across the country and world that I could have access to (granted, of course, that my language and cultural skills are up to par).

The last time I was in at work, I did some research on jobs…Because I haven’t worked in an Academic Library, and because I have nine years of experience in a Public Library, this basically predisposes me to Adult Services in a Public Library setting. There are several gaps in my knowledge, at this point; mostly where it comes to dealing with behavioral infractions, reference interviews, and cataloging. Of course, I’m dealing with the latter now; and have books on the former two, which I’m in the process of reading.

It’s just…I don’t know, “interesting?” that I would be best qualified to serve in a position as a Public Librarian. I realized — very late in the game, essentially after I graduated — that the skill set I had been aiming for (HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, Drupal, Python or Ruby, etc.) was, essentially, that of a Web Developer. At this point, however, I wonder if I want to be a Web Developer because I’m related to techies and want to be like them, or if it’s because I actually enjoy (or think I would enjoy) the work.

I’m pretty sure the main reason I was oriented in this direction is the fact that as a young adult, I found a lot of community online that was difficult to find offline. However…as a person solidly moving into their “adult” years…I’m finding that “online” community as I knew it was relatively…naive. I still have a hard time reading even some of the ALA’s email lists. I also find that people IRL who are into what I used to be into, online, are not necessarily people I would choose to spend time with. Not to mention the fact that social media can go terribly wrong — sometimes by design.

Of course, with the whole STEM and Maker Space thing, there is probably a lot of demand for people who are versed in tech, within Public Libraries. Even more so if they understand and enjoy working with kids…which isn’t really my specialty.

However…if I’m aiming for Public Services or Digital Services, I have a pretty good background to draw from. I’m not highly socially oriented, but I’ve been improving in my skills; also, in the library field, I’m not alone in not being an extrovert by nature. That whole thing about community-building online is also made a whole lot more real with in-person community!

The difference between being a Public Librarian and being a Web Developer is a huge one. The things I would need to know would be wildly different. The work environment is wildly different. When I think of being a Web Developer, I think of spending large amounts of time in front of a computer screen; a Public Librarian would be interfacing with people for much of the time.

Not only that, but I can teach people crafts as a Public Librarian, and get paid for it. That isn’t quite the case with Web Development.

Perhaps most pointedly…I had considered becoming a Librarian while I built my tech skill set. That’s still possible, but I need to fill the role of a Librarian first, in this scenario. Among other things, that means that I can prioritize reading, customer-service skills, Cataloging knowledge and practice, and second-language-learning over computer programming. At least so, for the short-term.

…I think I can get back to studying, now.

What is worth my time?

This question has been on my mind for the past semester.

Granted, I did pass my final semester, and hence will be graduating — at least, unless something comes up. Without the pressure of grades, I have had the time to actually consider what I want to be and will be doing; right now, it’s my choice.

Can you believe that? I actually have a choice over how I’ll spend my time.

The biggest thing that has come up is the economic question of opportunity cost, or what one gives up to do one thing instead of another. I’ve been particularly thinking about it while watching people talk about books and video games at work. I used to like video games; then I realized they didn’t make my life any better after I had completed them.

In the time they have spent playing, I’ve been sacrificing that play to work on my Master’s. Now I have economic mobility…and although they make more money than I do now, I at least have the potential for an upgraded life.

I’ve also been thinking about this as regards arts and crafts (particularly, knitting and crochet). I like working with color, and I like working with beads, but I know I won’t make any appreciable income off of doing that. If I did it, I would do it for the enjoyment of doing it.

Last night I put together a kit, so that I can work on micro-macrame in my spare time. I mean, I can’t cut everything non-profitable out of my life just out of monetary concerns, or whether I’ll see a fiscal return on applying myself…

I do have a number of goals/things to do, lined up for the next six months. The major issue I’m having at this moment is not knowing where I’m going to be living, next. That, in turn, affects which language would be best to learn.

Those who have been following me from my other blog know that it is a life goal of mine to learn Japanese, although — given my current location — Spanish might be a better choice of a second language. I also took Spanish for six years in Middle and High School, so relearning it would be review.

The thing is, I don’t have nearly as much reason, culturally speaking, to learn Spanish, as I’m a member of Japanese diaspora. As I was growing up, I was curious about a lot of what went into making me the person I was: things that I didn’t know and that no one told me (or possibly, could tell me, as I’m yonsei, or fourth-generation: my oldest living local relative in my life [on my Japanese-American side] was nisei, or already two generations away from Japan).

Learning Japanese language is a potential opening door into the language of my heritage, whereas learning Spanish language is basically an economic or pragmatic move. It seems like it would be relatively easy (compared to Japanese) and also fulfill a requirement that I be able to read, “at least one Western European language,” as a certain job post asked of me.

The thing is, I’m not into Western Europe. In addition, with the way international relations are being trashed right now, I can’t say I would look forward to visiting any Spanish-speaking countries in the near future (I hear it was bad enough, before). There are also some reservations I have over both 1) being obviously of African descent in a postcolonial setting, and 2) being gender-nonbinary in a setting where everything is gendered.

Of course, being of African descent in Japan might not be so great, either; although I would expect a bit more leeway where it came to existing with my gender identity there.

However, becoming a Metadata Librarian might require that I read some, “Western European language,” depending on where I work. Or, that could be an outlier related to the particular biases of the University I was perusing. Postcolonialism and everything.

I find that, at this point, French might actually work better, for me (I can actually imagine going to Quebec or Tahiti or the Caribbean [or the French Quarter]; I have been exposed to Gender Studies in French; and I know the French were better at race relations); I just have no experience in it.

French language might also help counter the tendency I’ve gotten from Japanese in which I tend to read things in terms of discrete syllables. Hence, I read, “inorite?” as, “ee no ree tay,” not, “I know, right?” Still. I mean, I still look at it and I know what it’s supposed to say, but it doesn’t work out that way in my mind.

There is also the art tangent. I keep wanting to do it, and I keep feeling like it’s a waste of time. But I suppose it’s really rather like playing an instrument: you can’t expect to stop doing it for a couple of years and then re-enter and immediately regain all your skills.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do, on that front, though I’m thinking that the first step into re-entry is the hardest. Because of my MLIS program, I haven’t had the time (or energy) to keep up a study of art. What I have had time to do, and have been forced to do, is read. I’ve been doing a lot of reading. And I’m not certain whether I’ll ever get back to being a writer.

Well, I mean, a professional writer, although, “amateur,” probably best described me when I graduated with my BA in Creative Writing. I have found, however, that a lot of people move on from their undergraduate degrees, in their later life. Particularly, if their undergraduate degree is in something that isn’t profitable. Like…Creative Writing.

Someone wrote a book called, “Pivot,” which I just recalled. Actually, there are two books called, “Pivot,” which I just discovered…and I can get both of them through the library. Hmm.

I still want to get back to my study of Japanese language, though (which will be of use in Hawaii if I ever have to move there). And I still want to work with beads and cords. I also still want to get back to reading.

I don’t know about the art — which I can say because this is not my art blog!