Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

It was suggested that a man, over the age of 40, won't easily find employment in our biz of librarianship. Is this true? If it is true, what are some reasons? I just don't know.

I find this all rather disturbing, because ... well ... I'm looking for the next step in my career (i.e., looking for a professional posting) and ... hmmm ... I have a confession....

I, too, am White, 40+ ... and Male.

Hey, wouldn’t Red Green say something here like, “I’m a man … but I can change … if I have to … I guess”? [Who is Red Green? Well, someone has to tell you. Look here:]

For a while I've had the sense of something untoward in the biz, but I find myself repeatedly avoiding that ... ummm ... sense. I just don’t want to go there; it’s too nasty. Ours is so pure and noble a profession.
Perhaps, I realize that to acknowledge that funky smell is to give it form, credibility … reality. If I don’t acknowledge it … well … hopefully it will go away. I’m not so sure about that, though.

I must say that while writing this note, at this very moment, I feel the trepidation of approaching a taboo subject. I ask, “How can I, a white, 40+, male dare claim any sort of discrimination when I have all the benefits and advantages of my white, 40+, male world?” I worry that someone within the profession will recognize me and I’ll be labeled as a trouble maker, a hot potato. I worry that to speak my concerns would be to smear myself with a very peculiar, unemployable smell. I don’t know that I can ... or should.

However, upon reviewing some of my earlier posts, I recognize that I have alluded to the topic on two previous occasions. For example:

… I have been informed by insiders that I threatened the position of the head research librarian with my knowledge of current information sources, technologies and practices, and ... most unbelievably ... because I am male. My star was rising too quickly and I had come to the positive notice of the powers-that-be; 'noted in dispatches', as it were. Also, because I am male and knowledgeable, confident, well-spoken, well-dressed ... a.k.a. 'professional' ... clients assumed I was the manager.

See: Which kind of librarian are you?
See also:
Back into the Stacks)

I’m still having difficulty mentioning this topic. Believe me, I am. I don’t abide any discrimination of any sort. I will and do speak against it if and when I see it. I'm not militant, but I do attempt to live by positive example. Come on people, really: Don’t we all benefit from a diversity of influences? There are even laws about in-breeding, for gosh-darned sakes, forgive my Flanders-ism. The concept of discrimination is a complete and utter wonk to me.

I recognize the privilege of my state: White male. I recognize the benefit of my age: Experience and Professionalism. I cannot … do not … want to, or need to acknowledge that my privilege is my disadvantage.

But I don't know. I'm not sure. Could I be so naïve? Could I be so wrong? Should I say I'm sorry? Should I change? Should I have to?

No! I am a professional. I carry myself in a professional manner, one which is appropriate to my background, experience and age. I expect others in my field to act in a manner appropriate to our profession. I'm not a stiff ... and I'm not going to act like a victim. Granted, how authentic is it to act like a professional when you can't even find a position within your field of expertise?

For damn's sake....

The Job Search Continued....

During the past seven days, I've submitted ten application packages to professional librarian postings within Canada. An additional five packages will be submitted by month's end, based upon current postings. Also, I am preparing packages for international positions located in the US, UK and France. The tally of packages submitted over the past three-month period is 60-odd.

I'm keeping on top of this job search monster despite the surprises and disappointments experienced recently. Indeed, recent feedback from one interview stated ... yes, stated ... that I am not employable because I am not currently employed. Apparently, it's about "Hiring on the fly" and it's all the new HR rage. You see, a company wants what another company already has. If one is not with a company, then another company doesn't want you.

Other feedback indicated that, due to my 3-month lack of full-time employment, (yes, I maintain a PT position as a Reference Librarian), my skills are now too rusty and I require additional academic time to bring my skills up to date. I believe this plays into the "Hiring on the fly" trend in HR. (Yes, I agree that maintaining currency is vital to our work. Indeed, as a professional in my field, I actively strive to remain current within and beyond my profession. After all, this is my profession. I am a professional librarian.)

This is a frustrating experience.

What are your experiences, insights, suggestions, observations?