Saturday, August 27, 2016

Why doesn't Library Journal pay for its book reviews?

Library Journal
Library Journal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was unemployed for 6 months, I had the (entirely predictable) idea of perhaps writing book reviews until I could land my next library gig. It was disheartening to read the first bit of LJ's guidelines:

Library Journal Book Review is a selection tool used in both public and academic libraries. Each year it offers signed professional reviews of approximately 7,000 current titles in a wide range of disciplines. Our service is thus an important one for libraries and their users.
Reviewing for LJ is a demanding and time-consuming activity, but one that can yield a good deal of professional satisfaction. We do not accept unsolicited reviews. We do try to honor our regular reviewers’ requests for specific books or subjects to review (though not, of course, books written by friends, relatives, or associates). We ask our contributors to agree not to review for other publications the same books they review for LJ, and not to send copies of their reviews to publishers or authors.
There is no payment for reviews. When possible, the reviewer receives a finished copy of the book. Our service to the library audience would not be possible without the generosity of over 1,500 contributors. The quality of Library Journal Book Review ultimately depends on their expertise, intellectual integrity, and professional commitment.

What the crap is this classist shit? No payment for reviews? History is written by the winners. So too are its book reviews, apparently. Unemployed between jobs? (Under-)Employed full time but weak executive functioning due to neurological difference? Who cares what you think, apparently. Nope, reviews are for closers, er, I mean Type A librarians who work AND have time to write thoughtful reviews completely gratis, from their sense of professional commitment.

I know this is LJ we're talking about, but damn yo.  This is some first order noblesse oblige bullshit here.  Pay for your damn reviews, LJ.  You're extracting valuable intellectual labor and not paying for it.  Yes, I know it "pays off" for already-successful librarians in other ways, another feather in their cap, etc.  But if you actually paid for your reviews, it might motivate those of us who are struggling to write for you.  Otherwise why should I bother?  If my time and effort aren't valuable to you, why should I write for you and not myself?  Only the already successful can really afford to write for you.  It's classist as all getout. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

MG reconsidered

So after talking over the MG thing in a non-judgmental, neutral way with a colleague, acting just genuinely curious about it, it seems that maybe there's an in-house rationale for the way we're doing things after all...if only because of distortions owing to our curious local practices.  Because whereas in most libraries YA would now come to represent the edgier, high end "older teen" material in a standard collection, that stuff in OUR collection has already been pushed over into the Adult Materials section, such that existing YA in our system would be regarded as MG in any other library, so we might as well change the classification to the prevailing descriptive norm, which effectively phases out YA from current local usage because again all the stuff that would be YA in more standardized libraries are already sharing shelf and classification space with the rest of Adult Materials.  I still think it's weird...and believe me, it is...but bowing to local conditions being what they are, there is a certain kind of logic to it, however senseless it might seem at first blush.  At first blush it seems merely cosmetic and an empty gesture...and while on some level that's true, it's also an updated and more accurate description of the books in our collection that would other have remained in YA going forward if the MG category did not yet exist in the first place.

It's a little tough to wrap your head around, but it does make a certain kind of sense that I see more clearly today than in my original post.

It's hard to admit being wrong, but in this case, I guess I was in my original posting on this topic.

Cool but ironic signage (GML)

Snapped a picture of this cool signage we have advertising our manga collection:
Neat, huh?  The character in the image is named Natsu Dragneel and his is a major character in the Fairy Tail manga & anime.  The irony?  We don't actually own any volumes of the Fairy Tail manga itself.  I put in a "Suggest A Title" request, advising we collect at least the first 15 volumes or so, but it remains to be seen if those purchases will be made or not.  I personally am a huge fan of the Fairy Tail franchise, and its anime adaptation is one of my favorite Anime shows of all time.  Are you FIRED UP to discover more manga?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Currently reading (brief impression of) Listen, Liberal [by Thomas Frank]

I'm currently reading [read: listening to the audiobook] of Listen, Liberal by journalist Thomas Frank, of What's the Matter with Kansas fame.  It is basically a critique of the Democratic Party since the late 1960s; specifically a critique of its policy shifts away from the New Deal coalition of FDR and towards courting the young emerging professional class and outright disdain and contempt for traditional working class voters.

It's a very good and eye-opening book but also incredibly depressing.

It makes a good companion piece to Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy (2013), though Hayes' own programming shifts since 2013, and really since leaving UP with Chris Hayes on Saturday mornings, with its long-format, deep policy dives and landing the more prestigious but greatly abbreviated 7pm slot just before Rachel Maddow, and his coverage of the Bernie Sanders campaign, Hayes himself seems to have sold out and fallen in line with the Meritocratic consensus he once so eloquently deplored in the pages of his 2013 book.  It saddens me.

With the victory of Hillary Clinton over Sanders, the Meritocracy seems as firmly in charge of the Democratic Party's destiny right now as it ever has been.  That saddens me, as a "Bernie Bitter Ender", though I will probably reluctantly pull the lever for HRC come November because Trump must be stopped no matter what.  It just saddens me that "permanent disillusionment" seems to be the fate I must resign myself to in this country for someone with my particular set of political ideals that HRC pays lip service to at best.  I hope I'm wrong and that HRC pleasantly surprises me; but after the disappointments of the first Clinton presidency and the mediocre gains of Obama's two terms, I'm not holding my breath.  I feel like Bernie Sanders was our last best hope.  My tepid support for HRC is born out of an exhausted fatalism and looking back at the 1990s through rose colored glasses.

The new Thomas Frank book also reminds me of my ultimate failure to join the Professional Class as a working librarian.  I'm shut out, largely owing to my inability to navigate the intricacies of office politics owing to my at the time undiagnosed Asperger's.  If I had made it, I might have had to more deeply examine myself as potentially part of the problem...or I'd be more oblivious to that fact, shielded from critical self examination by my larger paycheck.

I belong to what my friend PK describes as "The Intellectual Proletariat", e.g. highly educated but under-employed, well-read liberal artsy types lacking high tech STEM skills but otherwise skilled at critical thinking, writing, etc. but objecting to The Washington Consensus on moral grounds.

I'm only a few chapters in so far, but Thomas Frank makes it clear that things went awry by deliberate design as far back as 1972, so basically for as long as I've been alive (born in February 1971).  The Great Society was undermined fatally by the Vietnam War and the social split caused by that war, with union hardhats beating hippies with a sense of patriotic zeal, and the over-correction in reaction to that, the undue obsession with the then Youth Culture, as the "new" base of the Democratic Party, and the inculcated disdain for working stiffs and probably returning veterans not lucky enough to get a college deferment from the war, or lacking the economic means to flee to Canada for the war's duration.

As the old saying has it, "The Personal is the Political";  I'm reminded that Librarianship has become so professionalized that the MLS is today a defacto MBA for Libraryland and if you're not in some kind of managerial role, you're deemed unworthy to call yourself a Library professional or Librarian period if you're "merely" a solo practitioner providing core library services to the public directly.  That role is considered unworthy of "professional" level salary compensation, etc.  That's what merely college educated "paras" are for, no MLS required.  Librarians manage Paras & Clerks first, and provide core library services only as an afterthought, or in more of a consulting capacity at most.  It wasn't always this way, and the change isn't necessarily for the better, and definitely hurts ASD people from becoming successful Librarians due to the emphasis on the managerial role, which we often SUCK at.  If you have an MLS but are mainly interested in providing core library services directly to the public, well, you're an underachiever by definition and sucks to be you, pal.

I deplore this state of affairs, but also feel I'm just a lone voice, crying in the wilderness.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Half-assed Public Outreach (HPL @ Anime Matsuri X)

     I really enjoyed this year's Anime Matsuri X (tenth) convention at the end of February 2016 down at the George R. Brown Convention center.  I got to meet voice actor Vic Mignogna and get his autograph on a few of my prized DVD/Blu-Ray combo packs.  It was my friend Sarah's first Anime Matsuri, so I devoted my efforts to ensuring she had an enjoyable convention and thus spent a lot more time with her exploring the dealer's room and a lot less time attending panels than I had originally planned for.  I'm just about out of shelf space for anime figurines, so I didn't make any purchases of that nature this time around.  Probably the first anime convention I've been to where I didn't walk away with at least one purchased figurine.  I did pick up a few rare/out-of-print DVDs for myself but otherwise I was good and restrained myself.

Anyway, while wandering the dealer's room, I noticed that Houston Public Library had purchased and set up a booth at the convention, presumably to do library outreach.  That was definitely a cool idea, I thought.  However, having attended both Friday and Saturday (the busiest days), I kept walking by the HPL table and there was NEVER any person manning the booth, at all, all day.  Just a table laid out with general information about the library and its services and collections, to pick up at your leisure.  But no actual library personnel on site to ask questions, sign up people for library cards, etc.

I thought to myself WOW, this is really half-assed library outreach.  Did they just not want to PAY anyone to be there on library time?  And even if they had been willing to pay at least one library worker or librarian to sit/stand behind the booth's table, their set-up was really really generic and not at all eye-catching.  I was thinking to myself the whole time Guys! You're at an ANIME convention for heaven's sake!  Don't you think you ought to be playing up the parts of your collection that would interest this captive audience??

If I had been in charge, I would have had 1 circulation person on hand ready to sign people up and issue library cards to all Texas residents interested; maybe even with a credit card square on a tablet in case any out-of-state people wanted to pay to get a card for a year (or pay off fines).  More importantly I would've had demonstrations of Hoopla! and all the manga that can be found on ComicsPlus (Library edition) and Hoopla! respectively.  I would've been showing off all the cool old school anime that Hoopla! currently showcases.  THAT would be knowing your audience and catering to their interests.  If they liked what they saw but didn't have a library card, you could sign them up on the spot, show them how to download the Hoopla app, and how to sign in with their new library credentials.  Then they could go on their merry way, watching anime on their phone, showing it to their friends, who might also want to sign up, etc.

I mean, I'm glad HPL was there at all, which was more than we did, but damn did they go about it really half-assed.  They could've gotten so much more out of their library outreach effort if they'd tried just a little bit harder and invested fractionally a bit more $$ beyond what they already sunk getting a dealer's room table in the first place, probably the biggest single ticket expense item in their effort that weekend.

Watching Folly from the Sidelines.

     There used to be (and may still be) a column in the monthly professional military periodical Proceedings by the Naval Institute Press that had the title of "Nobody asked me, but..." which were guest articles by active duty, reserve, and retired Navy & Marine personnel who would weigh in with their personal opinion about current Navy or Marine Corps practices.
     I remember reading these columns with interest with every new issue of Proceedings that would appear on the periodical shelf in the NJROTC room of my High School.  When I think back on it, I wonder how many of the contributors to this column were undiagnosed Aspies in uniform in the late 1980s.  People who march to the beat of a different drummer, or had a different, or outsider's perspective on things that could point the way to a new and better way of handling things. 
     It's been I can't remember how long since I last looked at an issue of Proceedings, of course, and I've long since distanced myself personally from any involvement in military affairs apart from a lingering layman's interest from time to time.  But it's funny the things you remember from a few years spent in High School NJROTC and a few semesters of college level NROTC.
     All of this is a long-winded way of writing a blog post that is basically the Libraryland equivalent of "Nobody asked me, but..."
     Word was passed down that from henceforth we would be re-labeling all of our YA books as MG books, which stands for "Middle Grades"; this was to be implemented system-wide.  I thought it was a curiously labor-intensive long term project for such a seemingly cosmetic and superficial change.  I'm not a Youth Services librarian, would not want to be one either (unless my outsized interest in manga and anime could be of use in such a context someday).  Nor am I actively involved in Cataloging work either.  I think RDA is madness and a step backwards or at least weirdly sideways from AACR2.  But I've made peace with that philosophical objection and backed away from the active discussions of cataloging professionals.  But I was curious about the rationale behind the change, and did some very cursory Googling to find out about why this change from YA to MG suddenly came about.  Was it merely fickle fashion or was there a solid reason for it?  I consulted YALSA and read a few professional articles to gain a deeper understanding of the debate.
     And the debate, as I understand it now from that cursory review of the literature, is that some libraries are agitating for a more fine grained distinction between Young Adult (YA) literature aimed at more mature late teens (16 and up) and Juvenile (read: children's) literature.  Literature in the more broad sense of "reading material" (Lektüre in German), beyond the narrow sense of Literary fiction (Literatur, in German).  I know most professionals know that already, but it took a number of years for that distinction to become clear to ME, I'm embarrassed to admit.  Middle Grades (MG) fiction, as I now understand it, has been proposed by YALSA members to fill the perceived gap, aimed at Tween and Young Teen readers who are beyond Juvenile reading material but for whom some of the material currently found in YA is a bit more mature, serious, emotionally challenging, etc, than this subset of young people.  Delineated in this fashion, it makes perfect sense.  You would have J, MG, & YA literature in your collective Youth Services collections, ideally speaking, and these readers would eventually age out and begin checking out the majority of their reading materials from the Adult Services main collection.  One of the "shell-games" we play locally to head off censorship challenges before they occur is to selectively classify certain controversial topics as the next level of age classification than is standard practice in other, less conservative communities.  We place in YA certain materials that other libraries would place in J, and place in the Adult Collection certain very mature YA works (usually those dealing with sexuality and social issues) that might otherwise be challenged by overly nosy & conservative parents.  I think it's unfortunate we have to play this game with our public patrons, but I concede it's better than fending off constant challenges and raising public ire against the library, since we exist thanks to the local taxes paid by the general public, and if it maintains goodwill, the game is worth continuing,  however much it may offend my inner sense of professionalism and cherished ideals about library ethics in the abstract.  The net effect is fewer challenges, we still collect and retain the material, and those that truly need it can still obtain it without shame or judgement, and that is what we call a WIN at the end of the day.
    But the fact that we play this delicate, quasi shell-game of classification as a normal part of doing business where we operate fills me with a sense of dread at our ham-fisted implementation of the Middle Grades (MG) classification schema as a complete replacement for YA.  I'm beating my head against my desk in frustration at just how stupid our local decision is versus YALSA's original intent with creating MG in the first place.  It completely misses the point of what YALSA was advocating; instead of a more fine-grained classification schema, our local decision essentially *collapses* the distinction between MG and YA.  The net effect may well be that a lot more material in the upper end of YA maturity levels will get shunted over to compete for shelf space in the Adult Collection.  YA will cease to be a meaningful designation in our system, and that's really unfortunate, since it's a perfectly good schema and I personally like a lot of the popular fiction that's written at this level of reader, and the spinoff media that comes from it (think Harry Potter or Percy Jackson).

To reiterate, I'm not a cataloger, I'm not a Youth Services librarian.  It's none of my business and nobody asked me.  I'm an obscure Interlibrary loan clerk and just content to keep doing my job.  But as someone who once upon a time actually held a professional position as a librarian with an actual ALA-accredited MLS, this boneheaded local decision makes me want to scream on the inside.  I don't raise a stink locally because it wouldn't do any good and would be plain disadvantageous for my long term career prospects.  But I did feel the need to get this off my chest, since just yelling into my pillow at night wasn't quite enough.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Quick review of Hoopla!

So basically this is the "poor man's version" of Netflix for library card holders.  It's actually pretty cool, though.

I had a fun evening last night playing around with Hoopla! online; I created a separate account for myself via my HPL Link Card, and created an account for my mom for her FBCL card. Then I poked around and marked a lot of "favorites" for myself. Unsurprisingly, HPL's holdings in Hoopla! are slightly more robust than those of FBCL, including several more Anime titles. Most are, equally unsurprising, sub-only films, but a few are English dubs, like Ghost in the Shell 2.0. Macross Plus was described as being in English, with some of the ADR cast listed, but when I actually checked it out and started watching, it was all in Japanese. I started Ghost in the Shell 2.0 but didn't quite finish. I'll pick it up where I left off tomorrow. Maybe Macross Plus, too.

I also explored the Hoopla! music catalogs of both collections as well as the audiobook catalogs of both, too.  I bookmarked several audiobook "favorites" for possible future check-outs.

I noticed there's a lot of "cover bands" in the music section, doing renditions of more famous songs "in the style of...X" rather than the original artist. Also, there are a lot of tricky children's animated movies that seem awful close to more famous original properties from Disney, Pixar and the like...with parallel, slightly deceptive titles and artwork.  This is a little shady, but I understand why they do it.

I like the fact that, like Netflix, Hoopla! remembers where you stopped and allows you to play back from that point instead of the beginning of the video.  It would be much more frustrating if they didn't do that.  Reportedly audiobooks do the same, even across multiple check-outs on the same card.

Users are limited to a set number of check outs per 30-day period, there is no benefit for returning an item early, the embargo is still enforced to the end of the period.  For a smaller system like FBCL, our checkout limit is 5 items.  For a slightly larger system like HPL, their limit is 7.

I like that there are even a few Spanish audiobooks available.  I checked out and started listening to a Spanish translation of Sun Tsu's The Art of War ("El Arte de la Guerra").  I wish this service had existed when I was learning Spanish in the late 1990s.  Side note, Houston Atheists now have a Spanish-language meetup for Freethinkers whose primary language is Spanish...I wish *this* group had been around in the late 1990s, too...I longed to discuss philosophical concepts with someone of a more rational, non-religious mindset back then, en español.

I watched the trailer (these are demos that one may check out that don't count against one's check out limit) for a movie about The Red Baron, von Richthofen, that looked pretty good...probably better than that James Franco movie "Flyboys", about the American volunteers for the French Air Force before formal U.S. entry into WW1, that I did manage to see in theaters.  It is in English, but with German actors and their noticeable German accents.

I like that the library is extending a service like this to the less fortunate library card users among us who can't afford a monthly Netflix subscription or an iTunes account.  It is possible to access Hoopla! over the web and also on the main mobile devices like iPhone/iPad and Android and also the Kindle Fire app for Hoopla!  It's fun to explore this digital content and is much, much simpler to use than Overdrive.  It should help discourage online content piracy and encourage users to access legal, legitimate content paid for by their local library system.

One fault I find with both Overdrive and Hoopla! is that in the audiobook content, right-wing views predominate in certain select categories like economics, history, and general nonfiction.  Next is mainstream centrist views and bringing up the rear far behind are left-wing critiques of mainstream economics, politics, history, etc.  These views are either few and far between or just non-existent, especially in newer digital media.  Such views do catch up eventually over time, like in Overdrive, but in Hoopla! the right-wing view dominates to a disturbing degree.  The Conservative and Reactionary movements seem far more media and tech savvy than the Lib/Left opposition, sad to say.
They are much quicker on the draw to get their views presented and available to the eyes and ears of library users, and this is an issue of concern.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Why ILL should be headed by a Librarian

The public library workplace is all too often a minefield of office politics.  So much depends on one’s professional rank insofar as who gets listened to and whom can be safely ignored or snubbed.
Any department or unit that is NOT headed by a librarian is at a distinct disadvantage vis a vis other departments and units which are.

In a large system, cooperation between the branches is key, especially for system-wide functions like Interlibrary loan.

Our main library building is undergoing extensive renovations and as such had to make the painful decision to close our doors to the public.  We only have a skeleton crew of the circulation staff on site besides Support Services, which in our organizational structure includes ILL.  The OPAC had to be adjusted to disallow holds to be routed to our main branch, but this impacted ILL as well, as I was no longer able to place holds myself.  We engineered a low-tech work around, wherein I would simply email my ILL Liaisons at each branch with my daily pull requests from their stacks and they would route the items to me via the interoffice mail system (which is still operational) instead of through the traditional circulation system.

This worked well at first, but there has been a regression to the mean insofar as, once again, some branches are more responsive and reliable than others.  Also, apparently, my email sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, is easy to ignore, etc.  I’ve also been scolded for improper use of the “Mark as urgent” function in email.  Evidently because of my Asperger’s, I’m just not competent or to be trusted with this function.  ;-)  Just because I subjectively think something is urgent is not sufficient cause for me to mark it as such.  I’ve tried to argue my case but been shouted down one too many times, even by one of my local advocates.  It’s just a fight not worth having.  You’ve got to pick your battles and found this ground to be untenable.

Many of my ILL Branch liaisons are actual librarians, and in the smaller branches, the actual branch manager.  They easily outrank me, a mere Clerk.  All of my efforts to get them to respond to my ILL requests have to be done by begging, obsequious pleading, etc.  It’s not as if I can throw my weight around or apply the pressure of collegiality, as an equal.  I feel as though ILL as a whole unit gets less respect because the highest ranking person in our unit is a Paraprofessional.  I feel like if we had an actual librarian in charge, our requests might be attended to more promptly by all branches.  If we were headed by a librarian, we would be better positioned to complain directly to the administration about recalcitrant branches who were lax in their responsiveness to ILL requests, which reflects negatively on the system as a whole.  As it stands, we just have to keep our heads down and fill our existing requests to the best of our ability during this time of utter dependency on the branches.  Alas, the stacks in the main building are temporarily closed and thus I’m not able to pull books held in my own building until we-reopen at the end of the month.

Although I think things will improve once our stacks revert from closed to open and we resume full circulation operations, I still think the lack of a librarian in charge of ILL has an impact on the effectiveness of ILL as a whole within the system.  Because we’re not headed up by a peer of equal standing, we can be snubbed and ignored more easily by those units which are so headed.  It’s not as if this is mean-spirited or deliberate.  It’s just benign neglect and inattention, mostly, though in the end our ability to be a full ILL partner with other libraries still suffers regardless.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pleasant surprise(s)

One lemon-to-lemonade moment I've experienced lately;  It turns out my ILL liaisons at the various branches are quite a bit more responsive and efficient than regular circulation staff.

I've had to fall back to relying on them, actually, because my main building is currently closed to the public and we have only a skeleton crew on staff in circulation.  Hold requests have been completely shut off for the main building in the catalog, which disrupted my daily operations immediately.  Evidently this hadn't been taken into account despite my having raised the issue in a staff meeting and being reassured that it would all be taken care of.  I was pretty enraged about this for the better part of a day but bit my tongue and maintained a cool, factual facade to my supervisor on what I needed and why the current arrangement needed a work-around.  I'm grateful to the Assistant Director of the system for intervening directly and directing me to rely instead on old-fashioned email directly to the ILL liaisons still staffing the various branches in the system.

Turns out these folks are more on-the-ball than their regular circulation counterparts when it comes to responding to my requests via email instead of via the internal hold mechanism of the OPAC.  Some branches are more reliable than others, some circ staff more dependable than others.  It's just the reality out there.  But my ILL Liaisons are amazing.  NOT ONE request has arrived too late at the main building to fill an existing ILL request since we had to jury-rig the current set-up in lieu of using the OPAC's internal hold system.  So proud of my Liaisons out there!  The main building stacks are also currently closed, which is frustrating since it means I can't just go upstairs and grab something off the shelves to fill a request.  I'm 100% relying on my pull requests via email now.  The current adult collection is now a work-zone, with the book shelves covered by protective tarp while the ceiling is being completely replaced, the wiring redone, etc.  We basically have to steer clear of the rest of the building outside of the basement for the next couple of months.

I'm also grateful for the books I'm sometimes able to add in the catalog--donations of duplicates already cataloged and in-system that need additional copies at other branch libraries.  They're not put out on the shelf every day, but I'm grateful every time new books of this type appear for me to work on.  It's not actual cataloging, but it's often close enough to keep me happy.  I'm certainly more efficient at it than our other clerks without professional experience as a working librarian.

Grateful for Navigator, because WorldShare S*CKS

I'm personally grateful the State of Texas is having all of us Public Libraries currently on OCLC First Search transition to the Navigator system for ILL.  Near as I can tell, Navigator will actually supersede OCLC WorldShare, which is scheduled to roll-out and replace OCLC First Search by December 31st of 2013.  I have tried to use OCLC WorldShare but OMG, I hate this interface so much.  It's SO DAMN SLOW and sluggish.  It takes forever to load in between actions.  I hate not being able to mass-printout new requests without having to go through them individually one at a time.  In so many ways WorldShare is a step BACKWARDS in terms of staff functionality.  I'm sure it does some important new & good things as well, but as an experienced First Search user, what stands out to me are what WorldShare handles more poorly than First Search.  I just can't get past these things, and not for lack of trying either.

We've not had a chance to beta-test a live version of Navigator, but from the simulations we've done in training, the interface seems much more user friendly and logical than WorldShare at least.  So day to day I've given up trying to use/learn WorldShare, since Navigator seems to make WorldShare moot after its own implementation by the State of Texas.  I feel sorry for non-Texas libraries who will be under WorldShare's yoke after 31 December of 2013, though.

For now, OCLC First Search still works swimmingly well so that's what I'm sticking with for daily ILL requests until Navigator comes online officially.  WorldShare to me is mainly a waste of time---far, far less efficient than First Search.  I can't begin to explain WHY that's the case, only that as a practical matter in day to day operations, it IS emphatically the case.  It's not merely a case of my being familiar with First Search and less familiar with WorldShare.  I've genuinely tried to make WorldShare work for me, on several occasions, as has my co-worker.  We're both equally frustrated by its sluggishness and clunkyness.  Perhaps another case of the computer scientists designing library software without querying actual library staff before developing it?  So it would seem, at any rate.

Personal loss of passion.

In Library School I was actively involved in the Progressive Librarians Guild.  Back in 2003, I was vehemently against the Iraq War and involved online with fellow SLIS students who opposed the war.  I was even against the original invasion of Afghanistan, which was a very unpopular, minority view in those days.

My anti-War stance and friendships with fellow anti-War SLIS grad students is what naturally lead me to PLG.  As I became more active in the online discussion in those days, I was invited to join the Progressive Librarians Guild Coordinating Committee.  I did join, and served for a number of  years, mostly chiming in on votes put before the CC to say yea or nay to a proposed resolution or public statement.  I cared very much in those early years.

My anti-War activism also drew me to the woman (an UNT undergrad) whom I would eventually marry.  We were both anti-War and sought comfort in each other.  The problem was that we both opposed the War and President Bush for vastly, vastly different reasons.  Over time we learned the painful truth that we were more united by what we opposed than anything positive we could both affirm.  When she returned to the intense religiosity of her childhood, it more or less spelled the end of our relationship.  She was also verbally abusive and I was conflict averse and also an undiagnosed person on the autism spectrum.  My undiagnosed ASD definitely played a role in the disintegration of my marriage.  We were both stumbling around in the dark.

I can see now that my undiagnosed ASD had led to some social faux pas online with the PLG group.  I even got "flamed" once or twice for honest remarks I made that were not well received.  I was pretty naive about the ins and outs of Leftist politics in those days.  Probably still am.

Two failed attempts at being a professional Librarian later, and after finally landing a job at a local public library system as a mere clerk (and grateful even for that!), I found myself increasingly estranged from PLG and its work.  I still morally support them from afar, but I just find it increasingly hard to care as much about a profession that in the main does not seem to care about me.  I feel excluded from librarianship and thus alienated from it.  I missed some key votes on PLG-CC because I just couldn't stay motivated to stay on top of things.  I had more immediate concerns, like my horrific, bullying boss at the time.  I'm still grateful to have weathered that long and difficult storm.  I am pleased to be sailing on open, peaceful seas with a gentle breeze at my back again.

I made everything easy on everyone and just up and resigned my PLG-CC post without a fight.  My heart simply wasn't in it anymore.  At most I sometimes keep up with some of the members via Facebook, sometimes contribute to the Facebook page.  I'm subscribed to the general PLG list, but don't pay it much mind anymore either.

Upon coming to terms with my ASD diagnosis, I realized that one of my Library school friends & anti-War compatriots, Nancy, was also probably an ASD person as well, I realized from hindsight.  I tried to seek Nancy out, only to be told by a mutual friend that Nancy had subsequently passed away from an illness...far far too young.  The mutual friend was at least able to confirm for me that Nancy indeed was on the autism spectrum.  But I was heartbroken at not being able to commiserate with her after my own diagnosis.  I can remember Nancy being very socially awkward, even more so than me, and feeling kind of sorry for her and even trying to encourage her to speak more or re-assure her that what she had to say was important.  I miss Nancy so much sometimes.  Our mutual friend assures me that Nancy was much loved by her patrons, and that is a small comfort.  I'm glad she was able to find some success as a librarian before being forced to exit this life far too soon.

I stay in touch with a library colleague who is still in North Texas and whom I'm convinced is a fellow Aspie.  He resisted even my DX at first but over time he's come to at least allow that it's possible we're both on the autism spectrum and that is why we "get" each other more readily than other people do.  He's going through a rough patch now but to his credit he's a survivor and I have confidence in him.  After all, he still has the same job, while I had to leave North Texas in disgrace.  He made that small college town we both shared even more fun than it otherwise would've been for me.

I have an ASD colleague that I work with now, but he is a part-time staffer and does not have even a BA, much less an MLS.  He's far less intellectual or introspective than me.  He's progressed to being at least friendly now, but really, we have nothing in common.  I'm polite, but I really haven't much interest in forming an actual friendship with this co-worker.  I have a couple of Neurotypical co-workers that I actually do like to hang out with...they're comic book & sci-fi nerds, so at least we have some things tangentially in common.
We used to play a tabletop RPG together but that is now on hiatus.  I know in the beginning my ASD caused me to make some social missteps that now limit my participation in their social circles.  It's just how it is.  Some of the friends of friends are cool with me, others not (though they pretend otherwise to be polite).

Ironically, I did work up enough passion to even write about all this in this blogpost.  As you can see, there's not much that moves or motivates me within Librarianship anymore.  I just can't muster much enthusiasm for the profession that mostly let me down and failed me.  It's just a job now, nothing more.  Don't get me wrong, I still like my job, I could be vastly worse, but I don't feel forcefully passionate about it the way I did when I was an actual working librarian being paid a real and respectable salary.  I live at home with my parents because on my salary now I'd be *desperately* poor after making the sky-high apartment rents in this area every month.  I do pay my parents a modest rent every month, but beyond that this arrangement, though mildly annoying at times, does give me enough disposable income to have a fairly good life.  It's not at all uncommon for Aspie men my age to live with their parents, which helps take away some of the sting of the situation and removes for me some of the social stigma--or at least my worry about the social stigma of living at home with my folks. I even maintained an emotionally intimate relationship with a girlfriend while living at home and working for AIG in between library jobs...I'd spend weekends with her...Friday and Saturday nights through Sunday AM, then weekdays at home.  It was a very agreeable arrangement.  Lisa was such a lovely partner whom I cared for deeply.  If I had known of my ASD diagnosis then, had understood just how good a fit my AIG job was with my A.S., and appreciated more just how good a fit Lisa was with ME, it's entirely conceivable that I would've turned down the next university librarian gig down and just stayed on with Lisa and with AIG forever; It's not unreasonable to think I might've even had a kid or two with Lisa under slightly different hypothetical circumstances.  I would've made my own heart more emotionally available to Lisa if I hadn't been so focused on professional ambitions within Librarianship in those years.

I loved my job with AIG.  It was an excellent fit for me as an Aspie.  I only ever tried my hand at Librarianship because my AIG job *wasn't* good enough for my mother, who nagged me constantly about it being beneath me and not good for someone so smart as me.  Since she was a librarian, I figured becoming one myself would finally shut her the hell up and stop her constant disapproval and nagging over my career path and just leave me in peace.  It's all tragic and stupid in hindsight.  It can't be fixed, I'm unable to return to AIG thanks to a permanent hiring freeze on account of the big gov't bailout.  There was an opportunity to relocate to their Wisconsin office, but we could not come to terms on salary or relo costs, and not having ANY family or friends in that state, I just felt too uneasy about a move so big and leaving me so entirely alone.  I just felt too vulnerable and unable to seize on the opportunity--owning again in part to my recent ASD diagnosis.

These are regrets I'll carry with me as long as I live, the long shadow of regret of decisions made out of ignorance of my ASD condition.  An earlier diagnosis in my life might have made all the difference.