Category Archives: Work/Life
What happens when life influences art?
So, I have a developing obsession with comfortable yet professional items of clothing. This leads to Laurel, a long-admired design from the always-wonderful Colette Patterns. Semi-fitting, all-season, easily modified, it would be quick to sew and a great canvas for experimenting with style and pattern.
I’m also currently in a mood for bright colors and borders prints. Imagine my delight when I found this print on sale at Hancock Fabrics. Despite a snobbery against anything synthetic, I couldn’t resist.
I could immediately see my dream dress, even if it is a little summery for September. But, this is The South, and it’s not like I’d be wearing white shoes after Labor Day. While a version of the pattern included an interlining (backing for lace, for instance), I wanted a true lining. Thankfully, the softer lining happened to be on the clearance table and marked down to $.88/yard. Hard to pass that up!
There were some slight alterations to assembly to accommodate the lining. For instance, I only lined the bodice, not the sleeves. Rather than add more bulk with a French seam or bias binding, I opted to sew a reinforced seam and finish with pinking shears.
On the positive side, the lining allowed me to cleanly finish the neckline instead of messing with facings. After sewing the neck with the lining and shell right sides together, I pressed and topstitched it to lay flat.
A zipper is always a great opportunity for accent! A shock of pink, perhaps? But no, this lace-edged design perfectly coordinated with the scrollwork of the print. Of course, it means modifying the pattern to accommodate a top-stitched zipper. In order to keep continuity of the large print, I sewed the zipper in place from the right side of the fabric, then cut and folded back the fabric underneath. Wash-away basting tape made this a breeze.
After securing the cut away fabric with another pass along the zipper teeth, I hand stitched the lining in place.
All that was left was the hem! Both the print and lining were a slippery polyester, but I decided to give the narrow hem foot a try, rather than press up anything bulkier. To my relief, it performed beautifully.
And that’s it! The pattern, true to Colette standards, was super straightforward with excellent directions. If that weren’t enough, Sarai Mitnick has created entire booklets for download on ways to modify Laurel. I’m looking forward to many more of these comfortable yet appropriate dresses joining the closet. Perhaps with a touch of smocking or an inverted box pleat at the center back?
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be on a panel at my graduate school alumni day, talking about working in a nontraditional librarian job. Now, anyone who compared the average job description of an Ex Libris Solutions Architect to that of your average public references librarian wouldn’t expect to see much in common.
However, Dr. Allen Benson from the Naval War College asked an intriguing question: if creating an elective to prepare students for these nontraditional jobs, what skills would be included, what skills are different from a “traditional” librarian? And that made me think.
Because communication, researching documentation, understanding library workflows, curiosity, marketing, building relationships… Well, they were all crucial to my being a successful librarian. And they are the pillars of my work as a Solutions Architect. My patron group has simply changed, as well as the technical level of the questions being asked. I don’t get to see them in classes or work on specific assignments, but the same issues of “system literacy” and search logic apply. I feel they same level of accomplishment on seeing that light of inspiration in a librarian’s eyes when she sees the connections from PO line to metadata editor or explaining how fulfillment and physical processing can be seamlessly informed of each other.
Later in the day, Dr. Benson gave a wonderful talk and emphasized that competency in a skill is useless if it isn’t utilized properly and that, with a little flexibility of mind and workflow, you can figure out a way to acquire or outsource anything that isn’t your strength, if it creates a better project outcome. To paraphrase Dr. Benson, You should know why do you your job before you can determine what your job functions should be. I left public relations for librarianship because I liked helping people find the answers they needed. I liked understanding where the information came from and how it was accessed. By that definition, my job mission, if you will, hasn’t changed since my tenure-track position at an ARL.
So, we joke about “going to The Dark Side” when working for a vendor, and opinions differ on whether or not one could ever transition back to a traditional library role.
But here’s my truth: My ALA badge may say exhibitor, but I’m a librarian – every day, in the grocery store, talking with friends, and especially at work.
As the Samford alma mater rang through the Pete Hanna Center, I knew the graduates weren’t the only ones preparing to leave campus. I had just accepted a new job offer, far different than the academic librarianship I have known these past years, and announced it to my coworkers.
One month later, I’m in the last days of work in Samford University’s Davis Library. There are still reports to be written and lots of office cleaning. This, in the midst of orientation sessions and the library’s own genealogy institute — a major undertaking.
As much as people may repeat it, Samford really is a community. I was welcomed with friendly and supportive arms by faculty, staff, and students. Well, the students took a little breaking of the ice. And I’ll miss them. I’ll miss the gorgeous campus and fountains on sunny days, the spontaneous deep discussions about Dr. Who, Star Trek, and other miscellanea.
I’ll miss Paul in the Food Court, always asking if I’m going to be on tv again and how proud he was of me. The students with their honesty as only online posts can provide – congratulating and consoling each other, supporting causes they believe in, sharing cute animal pictures, and facing “The Struggle”.
But if I leave with sadness, I go forward with excitement. My new position with Ex Libris Group will bring untold opportunities for travel, working with librarians, and challenging myself. Honestly, I’m not sure yet myself what to expect.