Sunday, November 21, 2010

That Time of Year

This is the time of year where I justify my existence at my job by submitting my professional portfolio. Every year I find this portfolio harder to do on an emotional level. I know I am not doing everything that is desired to get tenure so I feel somewhat inadequate when I am updating the "research agenda" prong. However, my work and service areas I think are quite satisfactory. I am running out of time, I have two years before I have to submit that last final portfolio. But here is where the emotional part comes in, I don't want to do the research agenda. I have long thought, even before I became a librarian, the tenure track resulted in a lot of crap articles written by folks for the sole purpose of putting in their portfolio, to get those "golden handcuffs." So there is a part of me that feels like a hypocrite being a part of this process. When I was applying for jobs (except for this place, where I was already working) I didn't apply to any institution that had the tenure system.

If you don't submit a portfolio, you are effectively resigning and in this economy who dares to do that without something already lined up? This job has its downsides but the benefits are excellent. I have been able to travel more these past couple of years as well as finally have some savings. That is hard to let go of, even if there is something one thinks would be more fulfilling in other ways. If I didn't submit a portfolio, I would be out of a job as of August 31st 2011, submitting my portfolio (assuming its approval) buys me another year.

But this portfolio has other benefits for me. It reminds me time is passing and if I do want to make a change in my life, I had better start making some decisions and working towards them. In some ways I have been doing that, in others not. One thing is that in this past year I have been learning more about myself as a teacher. I teach college students about the library databases at work and I am teaching Chinese immigrants English. Every time I teach it is a learning opportunity for me but the most telling thing is that even though there is always "performance anxiety" I really enjoy it.

I will continue doing my job and I will continue the research agenda I have set up for myself but it is time to stop fantasizing about the future and start doing something about it. It is time to start planning the future-switching to a teaching career, preferably in Hong Kong.


  1. That whole business about theory was one of the reasons I dropped out of the library science program a few years ago. I immediately got turned off by the hierarchy of degree librarians and what one article referred to as "mere technicians", ie. the folks who do the brunt of the work in a library from shelving to managing the info desk.

    Anyway, hang in there until you're ready to transition. And if you do get let go sooner than you hope, take it as a blessing in disguise and a push off the diving board, so to speak.

  2. Thanks Dave, I see you have a better grasp of this than some folks might. I was library staff for 22 years before I got a librarian job. I hesitated to get my degree for a very long time because of these very issues, I saw my librarian friends go through what I am going through now. Most of them didn't get tenure, they moved on to places with a different system and probably ended up happier. But they learned what they could where they were and that is what I am doing now. The difference is I probably won't continue as a librarian. But then again, I hate to close a door until I am sure I am safely in the next room.