MLIS Endings, MLIS Beginnings – A Socially Distanced Transition

This article marks the end of my MLIS program, and it will be the final article that I will write for Hack Library School as an MLIS candidate. If you had told beginning MLIS me that I would start a library job the same week I graduated while concurrently working on an application for more sustainable library work, I would tell that that was the entire point of my frantically scrambling around for two years. If you had told that same self of mine that I would achieve this while spending the last quarter of it socially isolated and in fear for my life whenever I went outside or a stranger arrived at my door, would I have had the peace of mind to be impressed with myself while knowing that a veritable plague would swamp most of 2020?

Three of the titles of the sixteen, soon to come to a complete total of seventeen, articles I composed for Hack Library School directly reference Coronavirus, and it remains to be seen how many more articles will be written on the topic after I have finished my stint as a writer for this blog. It is a time of great uncertainty for all on this earth and an unexpected amount of certainty for myself, the latter resulting from accomplishments that, objectively speaking, cannot be characterized as anything that I did not win without a great deal of hard work. And yet, it is difficult to feel any significant amount of pride in that. In fact, it is almost impossible to do so on my own.

In a sense, one could boil down the last two years of my life to the act of amassing evidence: evidence of competencies, evidence of work histories, evidence of a major chunk of all of that wrapped up in the certifications that various job applications will ask for before completing the hiring process. I remember that such things exist as a tickle in the back of my mind while skimming alerts in the form of emails, RSS feeds, and tweets, but it is only in looking up the pieces themselves on my desktop and online that I start to believe in them. A time when I planned, developed, and completed a library project, with meditations on conceptualized structures, foreseen contingencies, and the final results. A time when I represented I worked as library staff with diverse community groups and organizations, discussing what part I played, what contributions I made, and how it worked to benefit the whole. Times when I taught, led, became professionally involved in conflict resolution, recognized dangerous elements in a workplace environment, improved the performance of one aspect of a job or another, created, celebrated, mitigated, and promoted. Evidence of some of these can be found via a quick googling of the right key terms, while the rest require that I spin a neat little elevator pitch that is accompanied by the appropriate professional reference. It seems like a lot, but what will prove to be the hook to continued advancement and what will reveal itself as a stumbling block: those are what really matter.

For all that, I still do not truly believe that all that evidence I have at my disposal is enough. The publicly available spreadsheet of libraries that have fired, furloughed, or are opening back up in unsafe conditions in the time of the coronavirus is still expanding, and at least one of those libraries has recently put forth an especially appealing job offer. I know for the fact that at my place of work, the higher ups, despite my library director’s counseling, are pushing for as soon a physical campus reopening as possible. I live in the state with the most COVID-19 cases compared to all the others in the country that has the most COVID-19 cases worldwide, and almost every piece of news I see is pinning its hopes on a mythical upset set for November. Remember, remember, the fifth of November, although here in the United States it is supposedly the third we will be remembering, and even that is up to debate. As I set out from both this writing position and my status as a MLIS candidate, all I can say to you all is, do what you can, save records of what you can, and think about how information has shaped the current state of the world and what needs to be done as a result. In short, librarian: inform thyself.

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