Mid-year musings, at 40,000 ft.

Serious, unexpected illness called me back to Brisbane over June/July to nurse, to keep house, and to care for my daughter’s 2 babies.  There was seldom an opportunity to stop and think.  (Whoever scoffs at homemakers should try it and see how long they last!)

Allow me to share this pic…



life is so hard







…and this one… 😉



artist in the making







Four weeks later, while boarding the plane in Brisbane to return home, I had no inkling of the drama that would shortly play itself out, merely because I chose to drink the awful coffee served on the domestic flight to Melbourne (specially requested because it was cold on board; sending it back would’ve seemed ungrateful, or so I thought).  The rushed transfer to international departures consisted of an ungainly jog, long queues & just-in-time arrival at the gate.  Four hours later, at 40,000 feet, all I wanted was to lie down and die. Sick as a dog.

When you’re stuck on a plane for 10 hours, so sick that even a movie holds zero appeal and sleep escapes you, you think.  A lot.  Reevaluate. Take stock.  It’s amazing how priorities have a way of changing rapidly, as you face up to truths that you usually prefer to evade… like aging.  As an expat.  Like having the feeling of not belonging, to any country really.  Like contemplating the importance of family relationships and friends, and work-life balance.  Of realising that you were deluded in thinking that the immigration visa would take 18 months to 2 years, and hearing that it may take 3 years, or longer.

Facing up to truths…like not having a job. Of knowing you can’t afford to embrace the big R…Retirement. Of calling yourself a librarian and knowing it isn’t true in the world’s eyes, at least until that title appears on your name badge, officially.  Of knowing those chances are slimmer with each passing month which encroaches on 60 years of your walk upon terra firma.

Yet…there must be a way. To realise a dream.  To earn a living. To earn the title.  To exercise a passion. To make a difference. To do more than just survive!

Is it in trying to beat the 20-somethings, fresh out of uni, with a hit resume? No, especially not as a foreigner. (An ‘aging’ foreigner at that.)  Is it in the mastering of one particular area of librarianship?  I think not. Librarianship, in the true sense of today’s meaning, requires multi-disciplinary, tech-agile, super humans. (To stakeholders, preferably younger ones.)

Is it in volunteering for 5 years henceforth, with the hope of getting a toe in the door?  Nope! Firstly, volunteering won’t put bread on the table, nor pay the rent. Secondly, the age clock ticks on relentlessly…tick-tock, tick-tock!

Entrepreneurship? Now there’s a thought! Ah, but… this is not an area for just anyone to venture into is it?  And yet, for years now, the thought has held appeal. Could I pull it off? Mmmm… Yes!

Earning a living online is not easy. Earning a living online with information as a commodity is absolutely not easy! After all, libraries are there, for free!  I can only imagine that it would take dedicated input, continual marketing, versatility, innovative thinking and absolute integrity.  Knowledge of your subject. Knowledge of your environment and business competition. A good business acumen. A bulldog-like tenacity.

And experience!, I hear the sceptics shout.

On a side note: we all know that to provide value, (not only as a commercial resource), information needs to be organised, locatable, retrievable; utilisable; applicable to today’s dilemmas or needs; preferably connected and searchable in today’s user language.  Therefore, the drive to modernise knowledge organisation systems to those that encourage open access, shareable metadata, linked data, is vitally important.  To this end also revolutionary cataloguing, and catalogers like Alissa,  who question existing, often archaic, rules that no longer make sense.

On IFLA’s website I found the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) 2016 .  Note no’s 10 & 11:

10. Interoperability. All efforts should be made to ensure the sharing and reuse of bibliographic and authority data within and outside the library community. For the exchange of data and discovery tools, the use of vocabularies facilitating automatic translation and disambiguation is highly recommended.

11. Openness. Restrictions on data should be minimal in order to foster transparency and conform to Open Access principles, as declared also in the IFLA Statement on Open Access.5  Any restriction on data access should be fully stated.

These combine to make one hopeful of even more ease in future data availability, access and retrieval, of global connectedness.  Okay, sorry, I’m rambling.

Returning to my musings at 40,000 feet…my thoughts went to freelancing. Could I pull it off? A domain where many have met their match.  Yet, no one knows where that might lead until one actually tries? Minute by minute, I felt my anticipation and resolve growing. By the time the plane had landed, my mind was made up. Without much to lose, but a lot to gain, I’d make it happen or die trying!  Libsandy. Infopreneur.

Two weeks later, having shaken off food poisoning, jet lag and the effect of a fall from standing (I’d fainted on board that damn plane), I have these in front of me…

… and exploring for more on the web, like Metadata for information Retrieval and Management, by David Haynes.  The knock to my head might’ve resulted in fuzziness for a while, but my resolve is unchanged…to offer a personalised info service! Librarian for hire.  Vitalis informatio facile.

Oh the dreams…of being on the move, a different schedule each day; meeting clients’, discovering needs; untethered to a desk, working with info across all formats; exploring across different sectors; perhaps cataloging, or indexing; possibly training; or interviewing folk, documenting stories, creating knowledge. So many possibilities.

It’s time! Rise up. Refresh. Review. Prepare. Equip. Move forward.

After a few years, when we arrive (God willing) upon the shores of our new country, I shall throw all I have into an infopreneurship venture. Until then, I’ll use whatever means I can to plan and to equip myself, not only for survival, but for successful survival!

My librorum journey is far from over. I am determined!


Gif: https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker

Images: public domain (woman in office and featured image) taken from unsplash.com