Saturday, July 27, 2013

Options? Maybe?

It has been a month since my last post. This is why I could never make a career as a successful blogger. Life interrupted, including a sick baby, a new work schedule and a toddler now roaming through the house. Transitions.

Anyways, librarians! So many things to say! Today, I want to think about audits. Audits sound scary. And libraries. It's a long post. 

First and only piece of advice: if you receive an audit from the IRS, your state or your locality, if you do not have tax preparation experience, take it to your tax preparer. If your preparer is not familiar with them (for example, if you used a company that is primarily open during tax season), look for an enrolled agent in your area. Enrolled agents are authorized to represent a taxpayer at the federal level and many of them are CPAs and can do the same at the state and local levels. You could also talk to a lawyer. I know, these all sound pricey but many offer free 10-15 minute consultations and can help you figure out what it is about and what your options are. Too many audit mistakes happen when a tax payer, without tax experience, chooses to represent him or herself. 

Basically, an audit asks to analyze a key part of someone's tax return. It could be a line item return (ex, they need to examine the items you claimed as non reimbursed work expenses) or a full audit (everything in your return).
I have found that my previous life as a librarian has definitely been useful during audit times. First off, you need the ability to analyze and evaluate information. (Oooh, ACRL standards!) Librarians teach those skills in IL sessions all the time and are prepared to model what those look like in the real world. These skills are key in examining materials and determining if they answer or don't answer an auditor's questions. 

Secondly, organization. Never dump a bag of receipts in front of your auditor. Classifying and organizing the receipts help determine if the items on the receipts can be claimed and organizing them by area not only means your in-person audit session is shorter but it improves your chances of being able to substantiate your claims. 

Thirdly, synthesizing. Man, synthesizing is such a hard skill to teach in IL sessions. I remember stressing about it for weeks. But here, there's no teaching involved or fun exercises to invent for bored undergraduates. You add up all your material, review it against the audit request and see where you stand. Sometimes that means looking for more information. But if you are done, it means you create your report summarizing items for the auditor and that helps him or her review your materials for your claim. Again, less time in the auditor's office. 

And auditor's office are kind of like your doctor's office with a funny smell. 

I guess the purpose of this post and this blog, I guess, is to say that there are lives that can be lived outside of the library. Earlier this week the Annoyed Librarian posted a blog about individuals who are leaving the profession.  Many are going into web development fields, which are better paid and have higher career prospects for job security and advancements. But some are leaving because they cannot find full time work or the full time work they find requires moving and they do not have that ability. 

There were a record number of public library closures in the UK in 2012 and, at least there, they predict more.Because of American austerity policies, many libraries make do with furloughing staff and less hours. Many, however, are expected to face closures; from someone I know in Sacramento, there are possibilities of at least two branches being closed.

Academic libraries, of course, face their own battles.  I remember faculty meetings where faculty members say "But why do we need a library anymore? Everything's on the internet." Ummm, no. But as database costs rise, libraries must find ways to prove relevance and make ends meet. Staff are cut, resources are cut and libraries become little more than internet cafes. In 2009, a roundt able at ACRL recommended hiring PhDs in certain fields and teaching them librarian skills on the job. (After all, there are a surplus of PhD candidates out there and PhDs add to a library's resume. Administrators can tout it to donors and parents) 

MLIS candidates are facing a changing field (and yet ALA still insists there are many jobs out there. Check out the Occupational Outlook). Those that have an MLIS must find a library or library relevant job if they hope to land a full time one; for those librarians who lost their jobs, they must fnid work within a year or somehow remain involved in the library. The longer away, the more likely it is they will not be rehired (WaPo says this is true in all fields right now) (And it's Ezra Klein so it's pretty good, not the usual WaPo crap) 

So my argument is that librarian skills do translate into other fields. The AL wrote:
The thing is, most librarians aren’t web developers, so a strict comparison isn’t necessarily relevant. A lot of them are reference librarians, for example. From what I can tell, there are lots of other fields that hire people as essentially reference librarians, but they don’t necessarily pay them more than libraries do."
I was a reference and instruction librarian. Because of geographical constraints, I had to find a job in my city. And I couldn't, not within a year. So now I must find work in other fields and argue that my librarian skills don't mean that I'm good at shelving books. They allow me to understand information, locate it efficiently and bring evaluated information to bear on arguments.
There are lives outside of the library. Yes, for those of us who burn for the library, there is a lot more work to be done to find the work satisfying. But as library jobs become more and more scarce, and the job pool continues to grow, many of us must begin to look elsewhere. Either that or create a whole new library system. Need an accountant for that? Call me.