Wednesday 31 December 2014

2014: the Year of Making Life Difficult for Myself.

For me, 2014 has been a challenging year - no doubt about it. It's been a year of taking risks, pushing boundaries, and taking myself far beyond my comfort zone, both personally and professionally. It's been a year of achievements, but also about discovering limitations, and coming to terms with them. They've been valuable learning experiences, if frustrating and discouraging, but I have no regrets.

And so, next year, things are going to be a bit different. It's going to be a year of refocusing on my personal strengths. Return to my comfort zone, and concentrate on being awesome at the things that I am experienced and passionate about.

So, here's a list of my personal goals, as one does on New Year's Eve:

1. Reconnect with the literary world. Don't just read books - share my experiences with other readers, attend literary festivals, get back in touch with those who I've lost contact with in the past couple of years.

2. Reconnect with the library and information industry. Put aside some time every week to read blogs and articles and reflect on what the real issues of the moment are.

3. Write. Write, write, write. Stop thinking and planning, and just write. Especially performance material. I only wrote one thing this year, and it was awesome. Next year, I will write a whole new show (which I have already started planning). There, I said it. Now you have to hold me to it.

4. Perform more. Whether it's karaoke, or finding an open mic night, get back out there.

5. Dance more. I've got YouTube and floor space at home, so use it. Go to exchanges and workshops and keep learning.

6. Travel more. Because I can. Because I should. Because the whole world is out there.

7. Make real plans for the future. Yes, serendipity is all well and good, and it's given me some wonderful opportunities to experience new things, but now it's time to get back down to earth.

8. Be kind to myself. I am often my own worst critic, but rarely my best advocate. I need to be both.

2015 will be the Year of Being Awesome.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Slight Return

So, last week saw me making a brief return to Melbourne - a total of four days, which was originally three, but my return flight was cancelled!

Being back in my home turf was strange - like sleepwalking through a dream. It was all very familiar, but never felt real. I did a lot of the random things that I missed when I was away, like seeing films at the Nova and the Kino, or eating a souvlaki from Jimmy Grant's, or drinking from the tap, or just wandering through the leafy suburbs and taking in the fresh air. And it was cold - gloriously so! I've always been a cold weather person, which is partially why I wanted to go to Hanoi, being one of the least tropical of development work destinations (my other preferred choices being Ulaanbatar or Kathmandu). I look forward to the winter here.

It was also a brief return to libraryland, and I presented at the ALIA National Conference, looking at the various adventures that one could have with a librarianship qualification, including moving interstate, travelling overseas, and exploring related fields. Being at the conference was a bit of a blast from the past - the who's who of my professional past were there, and there was a bit of an ongoing game of "Where are they now?" It's also interesting chatting to other professionals who are at a similar stage in their profession, and I often wonder where I might be now if certain deciding factors along my career had been different. It's certainly a diverse field, and five years now I could be working anywhere, be it a research library, NGO, arts festival or with Indigenous communities.

But almost as quickly as I arrived, I was gone. This moment has already become a fleeting (albeit expensive) memory in my career, and I don't have plans to return until I've finished my assignment here. Upon my return to work yesterday, I was struck by how difficult I found getting back into the mindset of working here. It was like my trip to Melbourne had hit a reset button in my brain, and now I needed to go through the whole cultural adjustment process again.

It wasn't the best of days, but I know they'll get better again.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Post Scriptum

It's the first day of the month, which means that new assignments are now posted for international development roles - some of which are suited to professionals in library and information management. For your convenience, I have listed them below (link to full details in the position title):

Librarian Management Trainer - 6 months
Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan Negeri 3 Kendari (SMKN 3 Kendari) / State Vocational High School 3 Kendari
Kendari, Indonesia (Remote location - Sulawesi)

The Librarian Management Trainer will work within SMKN 3 Kendari to create an international standard Electronic Library System (ELS) and build staff capacity in library and electronic management. 

Essential Qualifications / Experience:

  • Tertiary qualifications in Librarianship, Information and Media Management or a related field 
  • Two years of experience as a librarian

Knowledge Management Officer - 12 months
Ministry of Industry (MoI) - Micro-Enterprise Development Program (MEDP UN)
Kathmandu, Nepal

The Knowledge Management Officer will work within the Ministry of Industry (MoI) on the Micro-Enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation (MEDPA) Program, providing technical support and building staff capacity to improve, manage and promote the Micro-Enterprise Knowledge Management Centre. 

Essential Qualifications / Experience:

  • Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, Business Information Systems, Information Management, Library and Information Science or a relevant field
  • Two years of experience developing or implementing knowledge management systems including analysing information needs and implementing strategies, policies and processes
  • Experience in promoting knowledge sharing practices within an organisation

Early Childhood Development Adviser - 18 months
Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP)
Port Moresby, PNG

The Early Childhood Development Advisor will work within Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP) to build staff capacity to utilise and monitor Early Childhood Education (ECE) practices, as well as strengthen program management. 

Essential Qualifications / Experience:

  • Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Care and Education, Education, Library Studies or a realted discipline 
  • Three years of expereince in an education setting, particularly early childhood

All assignments are fully-funded through the Australian Government, including flights, preparation, visas, accommodation, insurance, and a generous living allowance. Plus a unique experience that will certainly put your career into perspective.

So, what are you waiting for?

Monday 30 June 2014

Librarian no more?

So, it's the final day of BlogJune, and it seems like a fitting time for me to announce a change in my career. Four weeks from today, I will be departing overseas, and embarking on a new role, working with a human rights NGO for eighteen months. It's a very exciting opportunity, one that's well-suited to my skills and knowledge, which requires my qualification, and one that I wouldn't have been successful in attaining, were I without my current range of experience.

However, it's not a librarian role, nor are there any libraries involved. My position title will be "Organisational Development Advisor" - which could be used to describe pretty much anybody who works in international development. It could best be described as a knowledge management and communications consultant position, based on the job description, but until I'm actually performing the role, it's hard to say, really.

So, whilst I am thrilled to accept this amazing opportunity, there is a part of me that feels that this might be the end of my career of "being a librarian" (as opposed to "doing things that librarians do"). My work here will certainly open doors in terms of getting experience with NGOs and working in International Development, but if my experience of the library industry is anything to go by, it will be difficult to get a look-in for a librarian position, after eighteen months of not-being-a-librarian.

And that's okay. Because it's about what I'm doing with my time. I know myself well enough to know that I'm happiest when I'm engaged in special projects, and performing roles that have a start and a finish. I love that sense of accomplishment. Having been a librarian has afforded me with the skills to do some really interesting work, and now with this next chapter in my life, who knows where it will lead me.

But for now, that's me,signing off - no longer bibliotheque bound!

Sunday 29 June 2014

Librarianship as a means or an end?

Well, this is my second-last BlogJune post for the month, so if you'll indulge me, I'm going to revert to one more exercise in navel-gazing.

Why did we become librarians? Did we see it as a means, or as an end? Allow me to elaborate:

Librarianship as an end.

As a child, we're always faced with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And throughout our lives, we're confronted with this status anxiety of who we are, and how we fit into the society in which we live. I managed to avoid this question for a number of years by being an Arts student, and studying various humanities for their own sake - which, whilst being very noble and academic, and provided me with a strong knowledge of the world's cultural diversity, paired with strong critical thinking skills, did not afford me with any improved social standing. I found myself, in my early 20s, still faced with that question, "What do I want to be." I eventually made a list, and librarianship was in my top three choice professions, along with Teaching and Arts Administration. Yes, I was clearly destined for a career in one of the world's most undervalued professions, whatever my choice was.

Furthermore, whilst I pursued my graduate studies in information management, I found myself working in libraries, and it was at this point that I started to notice the status that having a librarianship qualification afforded - obviously, because they were the ones with all the authority.

And that's what's at the heart of the question, "What do you want to be?" It's about having a field in which you are an authority. Being a professional.

Which is why, when we see organisations making librarians redundant, or we see librarian roles replaced by generalist non-librarianship-qualified positions, or librarian roles are bogged down by menial duties that pretty much anybody could do, then this feels like an attack on our status as librarians. It takes away our ability to exist as a professional in our field. At this point, you start to hear librarians grumbling sentences starting with, "I didn't get a Masters in Information Science just so that..."

And even within the industry, there is such a focus on what kind of librarian you are - whether it's a school, public, TAFE, university, law, parliamentary, court, medical, or special librarian - and one's social standing within the industry is, to an extent, prescribed by the kind of librarian you are. There is certainly a pecking order, even if nobody wants to admit it!

Librarianship as a means.

Some might say that, instead of asking "What do you want to be when you grow up?", we should be asking, "What do you want to do?" Make a list, and then find you a job that allows you to do those things.

It might be something like:
- I want to assist academics with their research
- I want to fill a room with books that I think people will like, and then I get to share those books with those people.
- I want to help parents teach their pre-school children how to read.
- I want to help the disadvantaged and underprivileged people in the community have access to information and knowledge.
- I want to facilitate interesting public discussions on topics of literature, culture or social issues.
- I want to support professionals in a field that I find meaningful by being an information broker that serves their needs.
- I want to teach students the skills that they need in order to succeed with their academic pursuits.
- I want to develop innovative communication systems for the collection, curation and dissemination of knowledge.
- I want to review books and then ask other people what they thought of them.

And so on. Whenever I hear sentences starting with, "I didn't become a librarian just so that..." I wonder, "Well, what are you doing here, then? Why aren't you doing the things that you became a librarian for?"

So often, as New Graduates, we have it in our head that we need to get any librarian job - just to get the experience of being a librarian - when maybe what we need to be doing is focusing on getting a job where we get to do the things that we want to do with our lives. And maybe that means volunteering at a primary school library, rather than going for that entry level assistant law courts library job.

Librarianship as an end... to a means!

I remember when I was back at first year of uni, and there was this comedian who told a joke along the lines of, "Hey guys, welcome to university. Here's some advice that will save you three years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars. Find the thing you want to do most in your life... and just go and do it!" It's a philosophy that seems to have worked for some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs.

However, for the rest of us, we need a Bachelor degree and, let's be honest, probably a Masters degree or two, in order for certain doors to open. A qualification in librarianship does open these doors - and is generally a requirement for most job applications to avoid being thrown straight onto the slush pile.

But the thing is that it opens other doors as well. It gives you that status to be a professional, but what you choose to do with it is up to you. So, when you're looking at applying for that next librarian position, ask the question, "What would I be doing in this role? Is that why I became a librarian?"

And if not, then which job is?

Saturday 28 June 2014

Are print books holding libraries back?

So, here's a modest proposal: what if we just took all the print books out of the library?

Consider the following:

Space. Shelves of books take up a lot of floor space, especially if you hold a big collection. Space that could be used for furniture, or technology, or collaborative work spaces.

Labour. Print books are extremely labour-intensive. Every book that comes into the library is catalogued, stamped, labelled, and covered. Even if we calculated that at 5 mintes of labour for each book processed, multiply that by tens of thousands, and it's a huge labour expense.

Then consider the amount of labour involved in moving books around. 2-3 staff for an hour unpacking the interbranch transfers before opening the library, one and a half hours of shelving for a dozen staff every day. Circulation desk duties of issuing and returning books. Then for every book that a borrower claims to have returned but isn't on the shelf, there's an exhaustive process of talking with the borrower, checking the shelves, and making all the othet branches check their shelves, and then the follow-up if the book never resurfaces. 

Also, take into account collection maintenance. When books deteriorate, then they are either repaired, which may require any number of procedures, depending on the damage, or they are removed from the collection, involving deletion from the catalogue and physically recycled either through preparation for a book sale, or moved to a recycling centre.

Speaking of deletions, did you know that for every book that is put on a library shelf, a book needs to be removed from the collection (more or less)? Libraries buy a lot of books, and so they need to decide which books need to go. Many of these are made up of irrepairable books, but reports are also generated to identify books that aren't circulating. And then, yep, we need to go out and find themall and   remove them from the shelf.

Then there are other time-draining but necessary jobs like shelf-reading - where we literally spend hours every month reading the spine labels on the shelf to make sure that the books are in order.

Expense. Books are expensive. Libraries spend hundreds of thousands a year on books. Most of them won't be on the shelf in five years' time, having either fallen apart, been stolen / never returned, or removed because nobody read it.

Environmental sustainability. What does it say about our corporate social responsibility when we still insist on using so much freaking paper?!

Unpleasantness. There will be no more library fines, and no unpleasant conversations with the pub,ic about overdue, damaged or missing books.

Innovation. If all staff at the library spend the majority of their time processing or moving print books, then this comes at the cost of innovation. We have the technology to make much of our book collection accessible through digital means, and if staff weren't spending all of their time with print formats, then they could spend so much more time interacting with the community, and helping them connect with information through a more efficient and accessible means.

Community. Often it seems that the main reason we deal in so much print is because it's what the community demands. But the reality is that shifting to more digital collections means that we can reach so many more people in the community, and actively encourage them to embrace the benefits of new technology as an exercise in lifelong learning.

Don't get me wrong - I love print books. However, the current model of libraries are still ridiculously skewed to the management of print books that it is to the detriment of progressive services. People talk of the advent of the internet and ebooks as the death of the library, but maybe it's the best thing that could happen for them.

Friday 27 June 2014

Are librarians burning out or fading away?

So, this article has been doing the rounds lately, offering advice to librarians on how to avoid burning out. It suggests such pearls of wisdom as:

- Reduce your commitments to a manageable level
- Allow for some "me time" every day
- Have some "non-library social time" at least once or twice a month
- Remember to breathe
- Don't be afraid to say "no".

Whilst these are all excellent pieces of advice in themselves, these are all basic survival skills that we've learnt by the time we've become adults. I find this article at worst patronising, and at best quite ridiculous.

To a non-librarian reading the article, they must be wondering what it is about librarianship that is stressing their professionals to the point of "burning out". I mean it's not like they're performing life-threatening surgery, or preparing massive amounts of paperwork for parliamentary or court proceedings, or teaching overcrowded classrooms full of 15 year olds who don't want to be there.

I learnt a long time ago never to suggest to a non-librarian that I was stressed out by work. They tend to laugh.

Furthermore, this article reinforces an unfortunate stereotype of librarians - as overzealous, highly-strung workaholics who are stressed out by something as seemingly banal as working a library (I mean, gosh, all those books!), who don't have time to take a moment to themselves, but at the same time find it difficult to socialise outside the bubble of the library industry - even once or twice a month!

[edit: somebody's pointed out to me that most people don't actually think librarians are workaholics. Which indicates to me that it's possibly more a perception that I've noticed from within the industry that librarians are often obsessed with their work and libraries, to the detriment to their mental wellbeing and social life. My point is that it's an idea perpetuated by the original article that I don't necessarily agree with!]

Really, who are these people?

That said, I certainly think that there are plenty of people who are drawn to this profession, because they're intelligent and creative, and want a job that works to their strengths without necessarily having to do a lot of "hard work". I'll totally admit that I was one of them.

However, wherever you go, work is work. The work doesn't care if you've got a masters degree, and that you're overqualified to do X & Y when you'd rather be doing Z. The work needs to be done, and it's not about you. This can be a shock to some people, especially when they've done the hard yards at university to become a professional in their field.

One thing is true - librarians do burn out. There are plenty of bitter and burnt librarians out there, I don't believe it has anything to being too busy and overcommitted; it's something else. Librarians are wannabe change agents. They see the new ways that the world is changing, the innovations in technology, and the paradigm shifts in how people use information, and they want to be immersed in that world. Their library could be an embodiment of that information utopia.

But it isn't. There's an information glass ceiling in libraries. We see the future, but we can't grasp it, whether it's due to a shortage of funding and resources, or stagnant prevailing attitudes, or simply the lack of skills to effect sustainable change

And so, being a librarian becomes a sisyphean task that if, left unchecked, can burn us all out.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Librarianship as community capacity building.

It's been just over a year since I returned from my first foray into International Development, training library staff at a vocational school for nurses in regional Papua New Guinea. I then went on to complete another assignment in PNG, and one in Vietnam. At the heart of International Development work is the principle of capacity building, and it's a concept that's definitely influenced my attitude towards my work as a librarian since returning.

Traditionally, international development has been fraught with attitudes that could be described as somewhat colonialist in nature. Western countries initially went into developed countries, build roads and facilities, and say, "There you go! Now you can succeed, like us!" When that obviously failed, the model developed into one of "Let us show you how to build infrastructure, and then you can succeed, like us!". Of course, this never really took into account non-western knowledge systems and modes of decision-making in the future. 

Furthermore, there would sometimes be unintended consequences - e.g. building a road from a coastal village to the city would impact drastically on the local economy, and not necessarily in a good way. If people can sell produce for more money down this new road, then they're gping to sell it down there. Oh wait, who's going to find skills, resouces and knowhow to rebuild this road when it gets washed away in the next monsoon season?

The principle of capacity building, on the other hand, centres on guiding and empowering people to develop their understanding and skills within the context of their own culture, and allow them to take ownership. In my projects, I would consult with my counterparts on what they wanted to achieve, and then I would work alongside them in developing processes that were sustainable in the long term. Ideally, they would be able to take ownership of the work and develop it further independently, rather than perpetuate a dependent relationship between developing countries and their wealthy neighbours.

Of course, I have over-simplified the concept for the benefit of the uninitiated. However, as a librarian, this is also how I start to feel about my library's users and its community. Instead of simply doing, I'm spending more time guiding and showing. Instead of giving them the answers, I'm giving them the tools to find the answers themselves. Instead of telling them what they think they want to know, I'm helping them find the real questions that they need to ask. Furthermore, it's another way of breaking down the power-relationship between the librarian and the user. I'm not here to be a gate-keeper that you need to justify your existence to, nor am I somebody to serve your every whim. I'm here to help.
We're not about establishing a system that becomes a secret code for the well-educated and privileged. We need to find ways to communicate with our users on their terms, and train them to be informed and skilled with information, in ways that are relevant to their lives, and helps the community grow through inclusive and altruistic attitudes.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

C is for...

Yep, this post has been brought to you by the letter "C".

I've been thinking a bit more about the ways that libraries connect with the community, and the language that we use to describe the relationship that librarians have with those who walk through the library doors.

C is for... customer. This term implies a retail-like relationship, where our product is information - be it in the form of books, magazines, music, news, or online access. We provide this product to the customer who pay for it with their taxes. If they're not happy with the product, they're sometimes quick to remind us that they've paid for it up front with their rates.

C is for... client. This term implies a service-like relationship, where we work to find information for them. They've come to us with a job to do, and we'll be judged according to the quality and timeliness of our service.

The problem with seeing library users as customers or clients is that it implies a one-way relationship. They come to us, and we give them what they want. However, developing this kind of dependent relationship is counterproductive - especially in a digital age where people are equipped with the means to succeed in locating and accessing information. And one of the central principles to libraries is that of life-long learning - NOT life-long getting-somebody-else-to-do-it-for-me!

C is for... counterpart. This term implies a collaborative-like relationship, where we work alongside others in order to achieve a common goal, which is an information-literate society with the skills to access and critically assess information, and share it with the wider community. We are not the gatekeepers, nor are we the indentured servants. We are the teachers who introduce and guide others through the world of information, so that they have the confidence to navigate it independently.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Five years from now...

First, to get you in the mood for this topic, a blast from the past...

Personally, I regularly have mixed feelings when it comes to the future of the library. I've been working in libraries for 15 years now, and whilst the nature of our services have changed, there doesn't seem to have been a huge shift in the way that people see and use libraries. They're still seen by the public primarily as a source of materials for loan - be they print or, more recently, digital.

So, I was thinking, where will libraries be five years from now? Or, more importantly, where will people be, five years from now? Here are a few thoughts...

1. With mobile technology becoming faster and cheaper, there will be less of a need to visit the physical library to access collections. Especially when there's a scarcity in print materials, but an abundance of digital material at your fingertips.

2. With a substantial number of people in the community who are non-native English speakers, there is a need, not only for collections in LOTE and English learning, but also for multi-lingual access points for them to locate these resources.

3. With the changes in technology, there will be a growing demand in supporting the lifelong learning needs of those who need guidance in using new technology, and developing information literacy skills for the digital age.

4. Whilst people may be less reliant on access to print literature, they still value the opportunities to connect with literary culture in society, and engage in discussion with authors and commentators.

5. Regardless of trends in technology, there are still many people in the community who cannot afford to, or do not wish to, engage in new technology, and still connect most comfortably with print information.

This is of course, hardly a comprehensive cross-section of the information needs of people in the future. However, there is some apprehension in the industry whereby, as people become more connected and more time-poor, they will cease to use the library, since borrowing books take unnecessary time and effort.

However, the reality is that, in five - even ten - years from now, there will be plenty of people who will rely on libraries to maintain their connection with information and the community. The thing is that the majority of work performed by library staff involves the selection, cataloguing, processing and circulation of print material. In my experience, this has not changed in the past ten years. If there is a decreased demand on print materials, then this can only be a good thing, as it creates more scope to make meaningful connections with people in the communities, not primarily a source of collections, but first and foremost a provider of guidance in connecting information with people who need it, so that they can have the skills to help themselves in the future.

Monday 23 June 2014

The Last Five Years

So, a couple of other #blogjune participants have been reflecting on where they were, five years ago, so I thought I would to.

Almost exactly five years ago, in June, I took my first solo overseas trip, and visited fellow librarian Romany in Vanuatu. She spent most of the year working as an international development volunteer at a school library. Whilst it was inspiring to see and visit people working in these projects, I never really thought I'd end up doing it myself.

Whilst I was in Port Vila, I visited a number of libraries. Because that's what you do when you're a librarian. I was definitely struck by the clear need for professional development in this field, but also encouraged by the positive role that libraries were playing in the community, promoting reading and healthy lifestyles, and that they were well-used by students.

The reference section - where they discourage smoking, but not Bob Marley.

I also visited the National Library, and found some interesting books

It was very much time of change for me. Several months earlier, I made the decision to move back to Melbourne after living in Darwin for two and a half years. I was fortunate enough to find some project-based work at the State Library of Victoria, and it was during this time that I spent in Reader Development and the Centre for Youth Literature that I decided that I wanted to specialise in youth literature programs.

It was my experience at SLV that gave me the attitude and the confidence to work as a school library manager soon afterwards, developing reader-centered programs and creating a space that welcomed students and encouraged them to share and enjoy their experiences of reading. It also promoted to teachers the idea that libraries didn't just have to be a place for silent study.

And so, after five years of working in youth and education programs, I find myself moving again - this time to international development and human rights awareness. And I can't help but think that if it weren't for inspiring people like Romany, five years ago, I might never have stepped on that plane and explored the world outside Australia.

Sunday 22 June 2014

New directions.

So, I'm three weeks into #blogjune, and I'm starting to feel the pressure. The problem with exploring the "issues" in the industry, is it often comes down to looking at the challenges that we face. And I've definitely felt that my writing has lately been fuelled by negativity and frustration, rather than positivity and inspiration.

Looking back at my initial post, I can see that this is something that I had hoped wouldn't happen. It's one of the reasons I stopped blogging about the industry. Using such an outlet for these frustrations, they can ended up dwelling in one's mind, and slowly consume all of one's positive energy and inspired enthusiasm.

So, it's time for a change of pace. I'm staging a blog intervention, and setting a few new rules for myself for my final week.

1. No complaining without suggesting a workable solution.

2. Approach the issues from an optimistic viewpoint.

3. Don't bemoan pitfalls without also acknowledging wins.

4. Don't blog about what librarians and libraries are; blog about what they do.

5. Don't blog about the profession; blog about the communities they serve.

Feel free to suggest any others!

Saturday 21 June 2014

Taking myself too seriously.

There are times when librarians are guilty of taking themselves too seriously and, like most professions, get fired up about the importance of what they do, how they're not given the professional recognition they deserve, and how some in the field are letting the profession down by propagating negative stereotypes.

I'll be the first to admit that I do it from time to time. The library and information profession is what I've devoted my life to, and I work hard at it, so of course it's important to me. It's frustrating when I see barriers in the industry that impede progress and innovation. It makes me angry when I see professionals losing their jobs or having their roles downgraded because of a perceived redundancy of their skill set.

But really, if these are the things that make me angry, then maybe I need to check my privilege. If the worst thing that happens in my life is that I'm under-appreciated for my skills and knowledge, then perhaps I don't really have anything complain about.

Because I have job security.

Because I have a strong support network.

Because I'm independent and don't have children to feed, or a mortgage to pay.

Because I have locks on the door, food in the cupboard and a bed to sleep in.

Because I don't have a disability or a terminal illness.

Because I can walk down the street at night, without worrying about the threat of sexual assault.

Because I'm not from a persecuted minority, where I could be attacked, tortured or killed, purely based on the colour of my skin, or the family that I came from.

And what right do I have to complain about libraries being closed, when the alternative might be education programs or health services that are cut?

There are times when I have so much doubt about any real importance or meaning in what I do.

Am I really helping the community, or am I just reinforcing antiquated values and knowledge systems that mostly just serve to keep me in a job, and provide free reading material to educated people who can afford to buy them anyway?

I mean, I've spent the past three weeks moaning about the trials of career progression in the information profession, when the reality is that it's all just one big first world problem. Perhaps I'm just perpetuating the stereotype of the redundant clueless librarian who is too buried in information to understand anything of the real world of today.

I suspect this is what happens when you set out to blog every day about libraries for a month. You lose perspective.