Saturday, November 14, 2009

Starting work

Eventually I will get into the nitty gritty of cataloging, but if the reader will bear with me, more on my personal background:

I applied for the cataloging position a few years before I was hired,with no clear idea what I would be doing if hired. I figured it would be a boring, data-entry job, which would nevertheless serve to supplement the meager income from my part-time work at the Indochina Archive.

The interview went well. At one point the supervisor asked how I get along with others at work, and my answer seemed to satisfy her. She then handed me some kind of flyer which seemed to have been written by the university library human relations office, about how people should get along with each other. I said it looked very interesting asked her if I could keep it. But the question that stood out was in regard to the previous person who had been cataloging books from Vietnam, a Vietnamese refugee, who reached a point where she told her supervisor that she could no longer continue in that work because the communist propaganda was too depressing. Asked for my reaction, I said that while I could sympathize with her feelings, it was very unprofessional, it is not for us to judge which books should be in the library. Besides that, from my own experience, if one wants to understand conditions in a society, even a very closed one, it is necessary to rely on a variety of sources, including that of the ruling party and government.

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