Myths of the Underemployed Librarian #1 & #2: Working Part-Time “Must be Nice”

“Working Part-Time ‘Must Be Nice'” is a double-edged sword, which is why it takes spots #1 & #2 on my new series, “Myths of the Underemployed Librarian”.  We’ll see how many I can actually come up with in a timely fashion.

For some reason, when people find out you’re only part-time employed, their reaction is to go “well that must be nice” or, “that’s why you have all this time to be on FB, Blog, do Hula, Participate in APALA, and enjoy your life”.  Yes, its a lot of fun to make half the money I should and be in my mid-twenties without ever really having had a full-time job.  Most of the time, they don’t realize that I actually work 3 jobs in which commuting between the 3 of them probably ends up making up over a 40 hour work week, and none of them provide me with any types of benefits.  But then, when I tell them that I work 3 jobs and they can’t be jealous of my PT work, they go “oh, well, you don’t have any kids, so that’s why you have all the free time”.  It’s not free-time, folks.  It’s called time management and yes, not having a child ask me for something every five seconds makes writing this blog 10X easier, but I also know that once we decide to have a child I will have to let some of these things go until that child asks every 5 minutes instead of every 5 seconds.

People also don’t take into consideration the fact that searching for a full-time job takes a lot of TIME.  I subscribe to a website, indeedjobs, which compiles job listings for “Librarians” in CA for me everyday.  And I don’t look too seriously everyday because I do in fact have 3 jobs.  Those people I know, though, who aren’t as lucky, spend 6-8 hours a day looking for jobs, applying for jobs, working on their resume, etc. etc.  Being underemployed or unemployed is one of the worst paying jobs ever.  We went to library school to learn how to do research.  And we spend 8 hours a day doing research for essentially negative money.  And to just end up frustrated with life at the end of the day.  Not everyday, but many a day.

And lastly – WHY do I participate in all these things?  Why am I in APALA? Why do I write this blog?  I do these things not only to occupy my time so that I don’t sit at home and get bummed out about the Nation’s (and my) financial situation.  I do them to continue growing professionally in areas where if I had a FT job, I might not have enough time to do.  These things that I participate in provide me with a network of 1.  support and 2. possible future employers (just to name a few).  Everyone I have met through APALA and ALA have been so supportive and fantastic.  They have been role models and leaders.  And they have been encouraging.  Many of them also graduated at times of economic dispair when jobs were not plentiful.  And when I’m feeling down, they help me keep my chin up, and tell me that they know I’m going to be a great librarian, since I’m already a good one 😉

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5 thoughts on “Myths of the Underemployed Librarian #1 & #2: Working Part-Time “Must be Nice”

  1. You can also tell those naysayers that social networking is part of the job search. Having a blog and a professional presence online can help you put yourself out there and show what kind of work you are doing and can do. I also think gaining experience looking for a job is good experience for working in a library. I’m a Youth Services Librarian, but at a branch that is so small that I also get to do most stuff most of the time. That includes helping people look for a job, which is hard. The library is full most days with people job hunting, even though I work in a state where the economy is not terrible.

    Good luck!

    • Absolutely! The importance of social networking and having an online presence cannot be ignored today. Most of my committee work is done online through chat rooms and e-mails. The online community created by librarians today is a wonderful, wonderful, thing that everyone should take advantage of. And you’re right, with so many people job hunting in libraries, someone who (kind of) knows what they’re doing would be a great help. Although that reminds me of another myth I can blog about! Thanks!

      And for those of you reading these comments, just look at this conversation that has begun between two people who really don’t know each other and are connecting over professional and personal (like a love of grade school love) themes through this vast social network and blogosphere!

      • See if you can’t band up with friends who are in a similarly underemployed state. I belong to a small network of job hunters, and we look out for one another, since some of us are focusing mainly on specialized areas. Good luck!

      • oh yes. I don’t know what I would do without my small group. We share job postings – even ones we all want because our philosophy is, may the best man win. I’ve run into the experience in my graduating class where some people try to keep jobs kind of secret so that no one applies which baffles me because I feel like we all need to support each other in our situation!

  2. Pingback: Myths of the Underemployed Librarian #3: You have A job, so you don’t understand what it’s like to NOT have a job in this economy. « Lessa Librarian

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