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Friday, September 12, 2008

My New Job Description: More Digital & More Deaf Friendly

In the beginning of August, I was unexpectedly transferred from my library's Information Organization Department aka Cataloging to the Library Technology & Digital Resources Department. This was a lateral transfer so no additional salary was involved (drat!) but my family friendly work hours would remain the same (hooray!).

More Digital
My new responsibilities involve metadata cataloging for digital and electronic library resources. While I was looking on the web to learn more about metadata, I came across this short video I want to share with you. It does a great job of explaining the challenges of organizing information in the digital environment. I like that the film uses a familiar library setting in the beginning to explain basic assumptions about information, then moves to the web to show how these assumptions play out online. This video was directed by Michael Wensch and has no subtitles. For my deaf readers be assured that all the essential information is portrayed visually. The audio contains only background music. Something else I liked!

So now my job no longer involves dealing with books on carts. I definitely don't miss dealing with the dusty books and government pamphlets that needed to be withdrawn from the collection and discarded. However, it's quite a transition from completing a task when all the materials on a cart have been processed to having ongoing projects that are mainly web-based. People from other departments in the library wonder just what I'm working on!

As fate would have it, this week I went to a training session on "Technical Services Workflow" with several others from the library. The two speakers at the workshop emphasized the importance of downplaying a library's work on their print collection and instead moving staff and workflow towards having electronic resources be the priority of the library's collection. I felt so good when I heard that. I'd say my library director must have known what she was doing when she transferred me! Secretly, I was also glad that my colleagues heard this information too.

More Deaf Friendly
Part of the transfer process involved rewriting my job description to reflect my new responsibilities. I took advantage of this opportunity to make my job description more deaf friendly. What do I mean? Take a look at the wording of my previous job's physical characteristics requirements: I was shocked by the "hear a normal speaking voice". When I started working at the library I was unaware of or not yet experiencing my hearing loss so I paid no attention to that part. Of course, now it's a different story and I didn't want that part included in my new job description. I checked my new coworker's job description and hers didn't say it so I was pretty sure that mine didn't need to.

Since my library director is aware of my hearing loss, I talked it over with her and said that I wanted my new job description written so that I would be able to perform it for many years to come. I explained that if my hearing loss worsened and I became unable to work at the reference desk, I would be willing to offer virtual reference service through instant messaging and email. At first she misunderstood and thought that I was trying to get out of working the reference desk now. I said no, that wasn't what I meant. I want to continue in person and telephone reference service as long as I am able. Nevertheless, it was important to me to write my job description in an enabling manner and that meant leaving off the part about "hear a normal speaking voice". We reached agreement on this point. If I become completely deaf, I can still perform my job as written. That's progress.


mishkazena said...

Yes, that is progress. I'm glad to see that your boss is understanding.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Mishkazena,
Yes, she's understanding, but the impetus was on me to speak up for the change I needed made.

Valerie said...

I had the same problem with my job description. I was to be able to hear and see color. I had it corrected before I signed it. So many of the people did not read the description and now feel uncomfortable with it. Good job catching it.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thanks, Val!