Profit of Doooooom?

The New York Times recommends digital archiving as a career path

I got linked to this a couple of ways, and mayhaps it is old news by now, but I am still interested in it. There’s a lot of cool stuff in here to unpack: the role of librarians; the need for archiving (or do we need to archive?! Discuss); the way library staff tend to fall into jobs (like me! I catalog!); why we are preserving things; the panic about physical vs. digital (I extrapolated this one).

But I wanted this in paper!

I asked for paper, not plastic.

For me, though, this brings up a bigger question I have been asking myself: for-profit versus “non-profit,” the definition of which I am expanding to include academic and public libraries. (That wasn’t a question!) There is a marked difference in salary between the two: $70,000-100,000 in the commercial world versus “do[ing] well to make $70,000” at a public facility (per the article). I am aiming for the higher salary.

I don’t know why other people go into the information management field. I took my first library job because I liked libraries, that was where my friends were working on campus, and I had wanted to be a librarian or a teacher of some kind. I stayed at an academic library, because that was where I found a job, I was loyal, and I wanted to support the students at a women’s college. I’ve recently been looking at public libraries, as a place to be of service to a greater community.

But. I have been thinking a lot lately about whether I need my job/career to fulfill my need to be of service to the world. Could my career be my career? Could it be a means to an end?

I think part of my confusion/problem here is that I have been harboring the belief that making a profit, providing a service at cost, or even just earning a lot of money, personally, is somehow the exact opposite of providing a service. It is like, taking away services! Depriving children of the opportunity to read! Grabbing money from the hands of the elderly! Another crazy statement! Is it possible that profit-making could be neutral or even “good”?

Am I taking this babys candy?

Am I taking this baby's candy?

I guess the question here is my motivation. And of course I have many motivations, in my career life: making money; serving people (not specifying here what population I want to serve); using my talents to their best purpose; working in a way that brings me joy; following my interests and passions; being engaged with life on life’s terms. I think I keep getting stuck on the serving people part, and I don’t know what the resolution will be, there, but I think I need to grapple with this a bit.

A few thoughts:
– This resistance to earning is rooted, for me, in my socialization: the alleged glamor of poverty; poor modeling by parents; being socialized “female.”
– I want to check out corporate archiving operations and see what they are doing there
– I’d like to focus on skill sets rather than outcomes; what would I be bringing to a job, regardless of where I worked? What would I like to bring?
– Any job I take is not the end of the line; obviously I am going to continue to grow and my career will take the shape that it will. I like the point about “falling into” a career path.
– Also, I’d really like to take the opportunity to be “self-centered” about my career. It is all well and good to think of others, but my primary responsibility is to myself. (see: Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist site)


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