The E-Word

Today was my first real graduate school class. Yes, it was a Sunday class; since the MLIS program at San Jose State is geared toward working people, they decided to have the single actual meeting for the students on a Sunday so that we could all attend.

The topic of this class is management theory. Apparently, when you run a library, you see, there is some management involved; and when you’re doing management, it helps to know what you’re doing. The professors who are teaching this class said something along the lines of, “We understand that none of you want to go into management. But the sad truth is that you’ll all probably end up doing it at some point. So you should learn something about it.”

There was a time, believe it or not, when I actually thought that I really wanted to go into management, so I actually read a lot of books on the topic. And so a lot of what we’re going to be covering in this class, in the on-line sessions and in the textbook, is pretty familiar to me; it’s interesting stuff, though, so I’m enjoying it.

Today we mostly concentrated on ethical decision making as it relates to library management issues: how to evaluate moral problems, basically, and how to evaluate an ethical problem to find an appropriate solution. Libraries are never free of controversy, I’m learning, and in the modified world we find ourselves in today, full of paranoia and tension, it’s more important than ever to keep the basic values of the library in full view. I’m finding that there is quite a wide array of opinions on how to keep the mission of the library in focus and on making ethical decisions; and I think it’s fascinating.

The main thing that the professors tried to get across is that Ethics is important. It’s in the news right now (is an invasion of Iraq ethical? or anything that Enron did, or the current administration’s involvement with it?), and it’s on everyone’s mind. This attention to ethics kind of goes in cycles; right now, it’s the In Thing, and everyone’s trying to be ethical. Sometimes, though, “ethics” is a dirty word, implying a hardline attachment to patriarchal and outmoded ways of making decisions. Ugh. It’s the “E-Word”, volatile at times, loved at times, always essential for making proper decisions. Far too many people at too high levels of business and government believe that they’re above the need for ethics, and that’s a shame.

Meanwhile, I’m here in San Mateo County for my job. After nearly six weeks on the bench, it’s weird to be back on the road. It’s especially frustrating, given that it’s hard to schedule job interviews when you’re traveling. This hotel, at least, has free high-speed internet access, and my room has a microwave oven and refrigerator. So tomorrow after work, I’m going to swing by the grocery store I spotted on the way in to the hotel and pick up some groceries, so that I can keep up with some healthy eating; that’s hard to do when you’re on the road and eating out most of the time. There’s also a decent work out room in this hotel, so while it’s not really in a neighborhood where I would feel safe running in the morning, I can swing on the treadmill or the recumbant bicycle to get some exercise in tomorrow morning before heading to the training site. I also got to have dinner with my parents this evening after class, which was nice.

So this evening’s schedule is set for me. Study a little, read a little, work on my resume; keep your fingers crossed for me, because there’s a nice looking job at UC Davis that I’m looking at. Of course, as I’ve said before, my top priority right now is getting out of Benthic Creatures and getting off the road. A job with UC Davis would be great for me, because it’s within bicycle distance from my home.