Tag Archives: working


Out to Lunch by J. Seward Johnson

Out to Lunch by J. Seward Johnson

The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

First thing you should know about me: I have my dream job. Yesterday was my one year anniversary as the manager of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- South Side.  I often walk into work and think, “Wow, I get to work here.” I’m surprised I have any sort of career, let alone one that brings me so much personal and professional satisfaction. (See next paragraph.)

Second thing you should know about me: I hate school. I hated grade school, middle school and high school. I hated college so much that it took me eight years to graduate. When I was done it felt like I had completed a prison sentence. I vowed I would never go back. I wouldn’t even go to Oakland.

In 2004 I was hired as a library clerk at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- East Liberty. I loved it. Wait a second! I get to talk to people all day about books and I don’t have to work in a cubicle? Sign me up! I had to grit my teeth, suck it up and go back to school. Gross. But it was worth it. I am doing what I was meant to do.

(Every advisor I ever had dropped the ball on this one, including the jerk who suggested secretarial school.)

Find your perfect career at the library!

There are so many job and career resources at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. One of my personal favorites is a database called Career Cruising. I love the Assessment Tools. Take the Matchmaker test and discover what you should be doing! My first recommended job was cement mason. Roofer and chimney sweep also made the list. I think because I said I like working with my hands and being outside? Or because I love swearing? (I really do.)



There are a lot of other neat tools at Career Cruising, including financial aid and employment searching, resume building and school comparison profiles. And don’t forget, you can always, always, always ask a librarian for help!

I’m not really a Who Moved My Cheese?/7 Habits of Highly Effective People/How to Win Friends and Influence People kind of reader. I’m less Oprah, more this. However, there are a few books that I have found worthwhile, especially when talking about having a calling in life.


The Butterfly Hunter, Chris Ballard

Stories of people who found their callings way, way, way off the beaten path. Learn how glass eyes are made, learn the history of window-washing and meet a dude named Spiderman Mulholland.

Getting Unstuck, Timothy Butler

Feeling stuck in a rut, personally or professionally? Find yourself thinking that there definitely should be more of…whatever? Business psychologist Timothy Butler will help you recognize your rut and unstick yourself from your paralysis.

A Life at Work, Thomas Moore

A little touchy-feely, but if you are like me and define yourself by your job then you’ll enjoy this book.

Do you have a dream job? Or a very, very worst job?



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Bringing Your Child to Work Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, Thursday April 22nd, is the date for the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.  According to the sponsoring foundation’s website,  this event has been going on for over 16 years.  My son informed me that this year, since he is now 10 years old, he would like to accompany me to my place of employment for the day.  He asked in the nicest way possible, even inquiring if the library would allow him to come.
The short answer is yes and now we are both looking forward to spending the day together.  He told me on Monday morning that he can’t wait to come to work with me this week and see what I do.  He then promptly asked me, “Mummy, what DO you do all day?”  I gave him the short answer I think any librarian would give.  I sit at the reference desk and answer people’s questions, I shelve books, I work on statistics and reports, I plan programs, and I attend meetings.  He should get to see me do all of these things tomorrow, as well as help with some of them.
I feel that ultimately, not only will this experience expose him to job possibilities and options for his future, but it will also give him a greater understanding of what actually happens when Mummy says she has to go to work.

Websites offering ideas for planning this day and activities for children you may be bringing to work:
About.com: Working Moms 
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation Activity Page

Book suggestions for those looking to balance their family and work lives:
Flex TimeFlex Time: A Working Mother’s Guide to Balancing Career and Family
by Jacqueline Foley



Ask the ChildrenAsk the Children: What America’s Children Really Think about Working Parents by Ellen Galinsky



The ComebackThe Comeback: Seven Stories of Women Who Went from Career to Family and Back Again by Emma Gilbey Keller



Life MattersLife Matters: Creating a Dynamic Balance of Work, Family, Time, and Money by A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill



Stop Living Your JobStop Living Your Job, Start Living Your Life: 85 Simple Strategies to Achieve Work/Life Balance by Andrea Molloy



The Daddy ShiftThe Daddy Shift: How Stay-At-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family by Jeremy Adam Smith


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Labor Day reading, watching, and listening

Labor Day is coming up on Monday, and it’s hard to not love a holiday that’s devoted to the appreciation of workers (that’s us!).  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, we’ve been celebrating workers on the first Monday of September since 1882, and the day has been recognized by Congress as a federal holiday since 1894.  That’s over a hundred years of celebrations for us working stiffs!  You might already be familiar with the books Working and Nickel and Dimed (both excellent books), but there are also lots of other books, DVDs, and CDs in the library’s collection that capture the spirit of the holiday.  Below are a few of my picks.

  • Harlan County U.S.A.: This documentary about a Kentucky coal miners’ strike in the 1970’s is tremendously moving, and after seeing it for the first time it quickly became one of my favorite films.  The film shows the hostile conditions that the workers are dealing with, and the strikers and their families face threats, bullying, and even murder, often while simultaneously battling poverty and black lung.  As if the story itself weren’t gripping enough, the soundtrack features lots of classic bluegrass and labor songs. 
  • Without a Net: the Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, edited by Michelle Tea: This collection of essays is about the working poor, from the point of view of women with a working class background, rather than journalists writing about a phenomenon. The essays cover a range of topics, from making ends meet to the affect poverty has on women and girls.  Tea has also written about her own experiences on the subject in her memoirs Chelsea Whistle and the graphic novel Rent Girl
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip– Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, by The Waiter (Steve Dublanica): Written by the author of the blog Waiter Rant, this book will strike a chord with anyone who has ever waited tables and will prove enlightening to those who haven’t.  Some of the strangest experiences of my life took place during my own stint in the restaurant industry (some too outlandish to recount here!), and this book certainly relates some similar stories.  You’ll enjoy this book whether you’ve worked in restaurants or just eaten in them. 
  • Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line, by Ben Hamper: The author worked as a riveter for General Motors in Flint, Michigan, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and here relates his experiences on the job. He doesn’t pull any punches in his descriptions of blue collar life on the assembly line, and if you’re a fan of Michael Moore’s Roger and Me, you’ll also find this to be an interesting read.   
  • Classic Labor Songs from Smithsonian Folkways: Music has been used to inspire workers, praise unions, and protest poor conditions throughout the history.  In this collection you’ll hear many well-known labor songs from greats like Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens, and Woody Guthrie, as well as several lesser-known songs. 

I could keep going, but the list above should keep you busy over the long weekend.  If you’re interested in more books, films, or music on the subject, try looking up the terms “labor unions” or “working class– United States” in our online catalog.  Or check out the American Folklife Center’s web site to find even more books and music.


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