12 May, 2008

Dinner and a few drinks with SALIN

I’m settling into the SA library scene. I say that, but I may be exaggerating a little all I have really done is to attend my first SALIN get together. A nice enough get together with a nice group of librarians. I did find out that one of the people there is going to be a speaker at the ALIA conference in September (and I even remembered her abstract) However someone did let slip that she hadn’t finished the paper (which is due soon). As you can imagine I was subtle in my approach to her on the subject, um OK perhaps I wasn’t but I had fun casually mentioning I was a member of the committee and I was waiting for her paper.

I also got the chance to talk to a couple of people who hadn’t employed me. I did get some congratulations on the job I now have, included in the conversation was an opinion that I was better suited for a management role. I took this as a dreadful insult at first, then I remembered the person saying this was herself a manager and as such she probably meant the word manager in its non-insulting way (I know it is an archaic use of the term).

I also got the chance to put forward my hypothesis that the resume/interview system in Australian government is broken. And no, this wasn’t a dig at people not employing me. In fact the point I made was that I do well in interview situations, but that doesn’t prove I will be better at the job than someone who gets so nervous in an interview that they loose the ability to speak. Sure, I might be the better person to be your front of house or the do the introductions for speakers at your big library event, but does it make me the best cataloguer.

It was interesting that a couple of people agreed that there was some problem in this area but felt that in the Adelaide library world this was lessened somewhat by the library world being a bit incestuous. Therefore (unless you are me, the new boy in town) people know your reputation and know a bit about what you can do and how well you can do it. I like this idea, but it does fly in the face of the playbook which tells us we are only allowed to judge people based on what they tell us in the interview. That is to say, if in an interview for a cataloguing roll and I forget to mention I can use Libraries Australia then officially no one should be taking into account that they know I can.

There was also a spinoff conversation in which a coupe of stories were recounted of people who had been given glowing references by their employers because it is an easier way to get rid of someone than to go through the process to fire someone. What does that mean for the interview process? I have no idea, other than the fact that it is more evidence that the system is flawed.

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