Day 12 Blog June – Ennui

I have wanted to write this post or a variation of it for the last 2 years but it isn’t easy to write. Even now it will probably take me a few days before this is published. To get it right. To put it in such a way that blame isn’t laid on anyone. Because that isn’t why I am writing this. Other people that have been involved in this situation may have different views and opinions. These are my own.

I work for a government department. I used to work in a library. Changes in government resulted in changes in our library. The physical part was taken away in 2012/13. A library taking up roughly a third of a floor in our building with 6.5 FTE’s reduced over a relatively short period of time down to 3.5 FTE’s, a cubicle of 4 desks in an open plan office but thankfully still a successful electronic library to build, manage and support along with a few other core library services.

Late 2013/early 2014 saw even more changes, when it was decided to go out to tender for the content, hosting, support and management of our electronic library (under the banner of contestability). Eventually 3.5 FTE’s became 2 (and then 1 for a period of time, more on this later), and now back to 2.

So what do you do when the electronic library you used to manage, the website you redeveloped and used to maintain, the clients you used to support and the systems you use to troubleshoot are all given to someone else to manage? You look around for another job.

I was lucky enough to get an 11 month temporary contract at a university doing similar things to what I did before with our electronic library but only with different systems. This was a great opportunity to work in an academic library as I had only ever worked in special libraries. I learnt so much about the workings of an academic library and I loved it. But it came to an end. The domino effect of a maternity leave replacement secondment falling back into place.

So I returned to mpow. I had taken leave without pay for the contract as it was only temporary. During my time away no one had replaced me. There was no need. What work would they have done? My desk had been given to somebody else. And before my return it was suggested I take some leave so that they could move that person to a new desk and decide what work I would do on my return. This idea irritated me at first but the leave was a welcome break as I had very little time off during the previous 18 months.

Since my return I have done bits and pieces here and there to help the unit we are a part of and the wider branch, (mail outs, collating of procedures) but certainly no fulfilling library work in any great quantity. I have also been doing some web publishing for the branch which I have enjoyed. This has included some clean-up work in response to a wider intranet project by the government department’s web publishing unit and also suggested changes made by me in order to have something to do. But I am not rushed off my feet, the days tend to drag and you know you have hit a low point when you go to the toilet just for something to do.

So I wait for a suitable library job to come along in a limited SE Qld market (moving interstate with my family is not a possibility). Sometimes it doesn’t help that I have stayed in the same library field (specials) and specialty (library systems and electronic resources) for over 10 years?

Over the past few months several thoughts have invaded my head:
Am I done with libraries? Is it time to get a job outside of the industry?
Do I progress a career in the web usability field with the degree in information architecture I obtained to complement my work in the library technology space?
How do I achieve this? I am not very good at self-promotion?
How do I obtain the other coding I skills I am sure I need?
What other learning/ professional development should I do?
Do I really have any skills and knowledge to be able to do anything anymore?
Boredom, stagnation and delusionment definitely lead to self-doubt.

I want to end by saying I have no ill will towards anyone as a result of this situation. The vendor who took over the management of the electronic library is doing a great job. They have been able to make more progress on things like training and marketing than our small team was able to do because of their organisation wide resources.
The library and now the remaining 2 staff are a part of a bigger unit within a branch that has different priorities and focuses than that of a library. It is not to say that we are totally forgotten but on a day to day basis there are usually different priorities that require attention. So things may have turned out different if we were located within a different branch. Or they may not have. If this was private industry I am sure they would have though.

15 thoughts on “Day 12 Blog June – Ennui

  1. Vernia Bullivant

    Oh – how frustrating for you Rachel .. I can relate a little bit to your dilemma. When I returned from America in 1970, newly separated and with a 9 month old baby, .. I left a “high flying” job as a Personnel Officer with the World Bank in Washington DC. I got a job as secretary to the Manager of the Surfers Paradise Hotel. I was bored shitless. I counted each days’ takings, and banked it, I helped the girl in Liquor control type up her grog order forms (to keep myself a bit busy), and then I got my brother to ship down huge cartons of his bulk vitamins, and containers, and I would sit at my desk and pack vitamins for my brother’s shop, and watch TV (my office was in one of the hotel guest rooms) for the rest of the day. Then suddenly Eddie Kornhauser bought the hotel and was going to develop it into the $150 million Paradise Centre project and I was Secretary/Admin. Assistant to the Project Manager. What a change … I worked massive hours (my boss dictated masses and masses of shorthand and also used the dictaphone when driving too and from his home in Beenleigh, and every night I would sit at home typing on my own typewriter – until midnight most nights, getting all the work done ready for the next day’s onslaught. But I loved it. I was Queen Bee for the Project Manager and a team of about 50 consultants (architects, engineers etc etc etc). On top of that my boss was the Gold Coast Liaison Officer for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 1982 so we did an awful lot of fund-raising and raising awareness in the years leading up to that. I enjoyed that too – organising all those functions was my social life in those days.
    I guess what I’m saying is to keep positive, keep your eyes open, but I’m sure something more stimulating will land in your lap real soon. I sure hope so … I can understand how frustrated you must be, not being able to utilise all your skills.

  2. Fiona Doyle

    Beautifully written, Rach. I know it has been a challenging environment to work in over the past 6 or 7 years. You’ve done an amazing job. As your friend I have seen the way you’ve weathered the winds of change in your position. As your colleague I have witnessed first-hand your professionalism and dedication to your job. Despite the changes you’ve faced you’ve always been right on top of everything. When others might have dropped their bundle, you didn’t.

    Whatever the future holds for you I know that you have the strength and tenacity to cope with whatever may come your way. You are an asset to any organisation…in any capacity you choose! And you are a wonderful person.

  3. Kate

    Thanks for sharing about this Rach. I think it’s highly likely that you are not alone in this situation and I think your sharing about it will help other people.

    If you ever want to brainstorm options or bounce ideas around with someone, please let me know.


    1. Rachel Post author

      Thanks Kate. I may take you up on your offer to brainstorm with. Let me know when you are not so busy. I don’t want to be a burden when you have a heavy workload.

      1. Kate

        It wouldn’t be a burden, but a pleasure! We’re just finishing up the semester so give me a shout in a couple of weeks and we can chat!

    1. Rachel Post author

      Thanks. I have really enjoyed #blogjune this year, more so than in the past. It has given me a buzz that I have been lacking of late.

  4. Tania

    Sorry to hear about all this Rach. You’ve written well and without acrimony and that’s highly commendable. Stay positive xx

    1. Rachel Post author

      Thanks Tania. It was good to get it out. More cathartic than I thought it would be.

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