Sunday, April 10, 2011

Continued employment FTW

I feel like every time I post it's to apologise for not posting! I had some good news a couple of weeks ago - my contract has been renewed! And not for a few months, for a whole year! This happened before the decision on EU funding has even come through, so yay. My boss also said some nice things about me, although, bizarrely, at the same time she appears to think there is NO method or logic to how I do my job!

As they (don't) say, along with good news comes great responsibility... I had to write up a plan describing where I saw my job going over the next year, which was a bit stressful. It's quite good in a way, because I was encouraged to say what I didn't want to do (IT, anyone?) as well as where my interests lie and my ideas for the future. My main point was that I thought we should work on gaining exposure in the English-speaking world. This was enthusiastically received, which is good, and there is even talk of me maybe getting to travel to present our work to interested parties! Sweet! This bit wasn't even my idea, I was pretty much just thinking like emailing people or something...

Anyway, this is a long-term plan - our new site won't be ready to launch until September at the earliest (which seems far away, but you have to bear in mind that we all take 3 weeks off in August - sooo looking forward to this!) - and I don't want to be talking with anyone until the new site is in place. Partly because it's kind of dumb to present something that's just about to change in quite fundamental ways, and partly because there are all sorts of translation gremlins hidden deep within the code of the site where I can't winkle them out, and I don't want people to think I'm illiterate! This week we are having a team meeting to discuss starting to plan for this, which will probably be in parallel with trying to "sell" services in France as well.

Naturally, I like to stress about things, so I'm already starting to stress a bit about things like "what if I have to sell? I can't sell" and about how I can't really envision Professor B from University X being the least bit interested in meeting with a low-level librarian from provincial France. So I'll just try to channel what my Mum is going to email me shortly and say that "I'm so talented" and "I can do anything".

Not to get even MORE boring librarian, but I have to try to find some more open archives we can incorporate into our site as well. Which is hard and very, very boring. An open archive is basically a digital library that "exposes" its metadata so that another library can "harvest" the information - i.e. if we harvest stuff from the Library of Congress, then you can find that information by searching on our site. But it's just super hard 1) to locate open archives with a significant amount of records in our subject area 2) to ensure that the data is structured in such a way that you can harvest only the records related to that subject and not, for example, all the PhD theses on any subject (this is not a given by the way) and 3) to actually figure out how to get into the backend of the archive to carry out the harvest. I swear we had like one class on open archives at university and it was NOT practical and it did NOT explain how difficult this stuff is. And did I mention it's really boring? Think of this paragraph as a small taste of the boredom.

So anyway, I feel really pressured to find some good stuff because of course France being uber-centralised France, they have these amazing national open research archives and there really seems to be a big nationwide push towards open-access research. And so my boss thinks that everywhere in the world must be the same and I'm just the world's lamest librarian because I can't find the good stuff. And then I start panicking that I *am* the world's lamest librarian and there's probably really really obvious depots that I'm missing. I don't think so, but the librarian trap is that if you don't know you're missing something, well, you don't know you're missing it... PS in case any actual librarians read this - tips very welcome.

Anyway, so to get off the topic of stress, let's go back to the beginning and say yay. I don't have to find another job, I don't have to leave Tours, I don't have to figure out how on earth to transport all the furniture I've acquired this year AND it's been really sunny and wonderful this week. And I have booked a 2 week holiday in the Ukraine for summer, which I am uber-excited about! So there is a lot to be happy about!


  1. Congrats, that's huge!! :)

  2. I read your paragraph on open archives and I lost the will to live. Needless to say this is my last post! Cue bugles and dawn parades.

  3. To really set your library career going I would suggest a book burning. Judicious selection of books most likely to offend fundamentalists of any ilk are recommended.

  4. Thanks! Ksam - I saw on your blog that congratulations are in order for you too!

    Sorry about losing the will to live, cheer yourself up by reflecting that this isn't YOUR job!

    Unfortunately, yes we have no books in our library so all I can burn is bytes. And our work Macs are too pretty to burn.

  5. 1) I can teach you some stuff about selling. It's easy.
    2) My word verification for this comment is 'spermi'. Sweet.

  6. 2 weeks in the Ukraine = uber excitement. What next year, 2 weeks in the gulag archipelago?
    Still whatever turns you on!


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