Amy and Sally are great people. I first met Amy back when I visited the State Library of Queensland in 2015 and I have been connected to Sally online for quite a few years now. Both of them show a great passion for what libraries do right now and what they can do in the future. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they are the kind of talented and creative people I think I want in my life. We chatted about everything that seems to be on my mind these days: creativity, gardens, work, family, positivity, working in a small town library, and a lot more. I hope you enjoy the podcast.
I’ll also put in a nice plug for their Facebook group THE FISH POND. It’s a great place to chat with other librarians and share ideas. I usually get really overwhelmed by library Facebook groups. They’re either way too big or they get super gossipy and dramatic. This one doesn’t do any of those things and it just feels right. The energy is there.
For the first time in a few months I can say that I currently have ZERO resumes submitted to libraries for possible new jobs. Right now, I’m going to close the curtain on this part of my journey. Let’s get more into the reasons why.
My big goal this time around, one that I knew was going to be a long shot, was to attempt to secure a job in New Zealand. I tried for quite a few. Sometimes I heard nothing back from the library, other times I got the cookie cutter rejection letter, and twice I got personal messages that more or less summed up what I was thinking would happen with this search: you’re a great candidate, but our HR/organization just can’t hire internationally right now. A big part of me gets it…it is tough to immigrate a whole family to another county and also the financial and paperwork side of it is probably a huge task as well. So for now, I am setting the NZ dream aside. I have learned something in this process…..that things take patience and sometimes a bit of luck. I have to keep my heart and head open for a possibility and then leap on it. We’ll get where we need to go.
When I was looking for jobs in New Zealand, I couldn’t help but take a peek at what else was out there in the USA. I saw some good jobs scattered throughout the country. Our idea as a family was that if we were going to relocate in the USA we wanted to be in a place where we really wanted to live. For us, that meant looking at the middle of the country (Colorado, Utah) as well as New England and maybe who knows just maybe if it was the ideal job, California. Salary was also very important to us, as after almost 3 years of having a job that paid a lot lower than other roles in the state and having to rely on food stamps to make ends meet we wanted to get to a level where we were not struggling anymore. Being poor is difficult and a major stress on an individual and a family. It feels a lot like having an extended illness…you keep trying to get better, but no matter what the illness continues to eat away at you because the root issue isn’t being fixed. (FYI: I make $35,000/year as a Library Director, and the average in Pennsylvania for a library with a similar service population is around $42,000/year. I’ll get to that more a bit later).
There was one job that I applied to where I made it through two interviews. After the first interview I felt a little better about the job, but there was something off in my heart. The second interview went really well, but that lingering feeling was still there. It took me a day of serious thought to realize that, yup this path was not for me. I messaged the board, thanked them for the interviews and conversation, and moved on to the next step in my life.
To the jobs that I applied for who kept me updated at every step of their path: THANK YOU. As I said in an earlier post, good communication is key on both sides of the story. That communication minimizes the stress and anxiety on the job seeker, which allows them to give the employer a better interview and idea of the kind of person that they are.
To myself: STAY POSITIVE, CONTINUE TO BUILD AND UPDATE YOUR RESUME, AND DON’T GET TOO UPSET. Humans beings can’t help but feel down or a little angry when things don’t work out. Haley tells me and our sons this all the time: it is OK to feel your feelings and in this case she is once again right. Overall, I feel pretty good where I am at despite this job hunt not ending up with the Hoenke family living and wandering around New Zealand.
So what is happening right now? Here are a few projects and ideas that are very exciting to me.
It is time to remedy the low salaries at my library. As I said above, being poor is difficult and a major stress on an individual and a family. My situation is where I did not think I would be at age 37 as a library director and a husband and father: educated, employed, qualified, and in the prime adult stage of my life but having to rely on food stamps and paycheck to paycheck to stay alive. I’ve dove into the PA State Library data from 2016 to look at salaries and see where we are when measured against others of similar sizes. I’ve already met once with some members of our finance committee to discuss this and once budget season comes up we can discuss this in more detail.
It is spring and pretty soon summer will be here. These months bring birds chirping in the air, vegetables and plants growing, bees in the borage, and so much other natural joy to the world. At the Benson Memorial Library, we are also planning a pollinator garden on the side of the library. It is going to be BEAUTIFUL.
As tough as it has been to restore and build Fidelia Hall, we will continue to make progress on all of our projects. Much like the garden project I mentioned above, I can see that our family future this summer being one where we work on and enjoy the gardens of Fidelia Hall as much as possible. We remain committed to transforming our land into a place that produces beautiful vegetables and flowers. We welcome bees, butterflies, birds, and all sorts of nature into our living space. This will be our 4th summer in our home and each year has brought many beautiful surprises as we’ve let it grow all around us. Eventually, we’ll get the money we need to finish up things in the hall. Right now, we need to get the funds to put in water lines and finish wiring the space for electricity. Good things come to those who wait.
Thank you to everyone who read this series. For now, this is the last piece in the A New Career In A New Town series, but if I ever look for another job in the future I’ll be sure to continue this series.
(***): Yeah, I know my words were harsh and if you read them you probably thought “why in the hell would I hire this guy?”. That’s OK. I’ve made my peace with the fact that anything that anyone says, especially on the internet, can and will be used against a person at some time in the future. All that I can say is that my words/thoughts/actions are always coming from an honest and pure place. I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I’m just trying to ruffle up some action in order to promote change. In 99% of every situation that has ever existed on Earth, this kind of behavior is looked down upon because human beings crave order and want to keep things the same. I think we have a lot to fix and in order to do so have to ruffle up some action. I’m just doing my little part in an area that I think could use some change. Thank you.
Take a moment and look up wherever you may be on this Earth.
The trees all around us in Titusville, PA these days are budding, ready to sprout new leaves that will provide us some protection from the sun in the upcoming summer months. A familiar sound reemerges in those trees. The songs and chirps of birds have returned after a few months absence. We are happy to have all of this back after the winter.
A few days ago we sat in our treehouse and heard a very loud sound coming from the trees above. Finn remarked that it must be a hawk because of how loud it was and his idea of what a hawk would sound like. I agreed with him. It sounded like the bird that opened The Colbert Report. We continued to monitor the treetops, looking for our elusive hawk. We only saw the turkey vultures that usually circle the area above our home. It wasn’t them making this sound…it had to be something else, something hidden.
Out of the corner of our eyes we spied two blue jays doing a little song and dance for each other. We were amazed that that sound could come from a blue jay. We enjoyed the dance they did for each other, weaving from branch to branch with ease and grace. Finn, Aero, and I learned something new together. I was reminded how amazing the world can be if we just take a moment to look up. Never stop looking up. You will learn something new when you look up at the world in a different way. I am 37.5 years old and I never knew what a blue jay sounded like until I looked up. Finn and Aero reminded me to do that. I’m now passing that along to you. Have a nice day.