Friday, August 31, 2007

Things Change: Inside and Outside

I went on holidays on the week of August 13. I spent a week in Montreal, where I met with family and friends. I had a good time and soaked in a much-needed quiet break from the noisy hustle of Washington, DC. I also visited friends in Ottawa. It was during my trip to Ottawa that the seed for this blog post took root.
On the Greyhound bus from Montreal to Ottawa, I could not help but notice the numerous construction projects taking place around me. Quebec is well-known for its endless road work; but this, what I witnessed from the window of the speeding bus, was somehow different, more energetic. Not only were provincial work crews busy digging, drilling, hammering, and paving road ways, there were large housing and commercial developments taking place along Highway 40, a part of the TransCanada Highway.

For those familiar with the highway and surrounding neighborhoods, this part of the Montreal Island is known as the West Island. Neighborhoods such as Kirkland, Beaconsfield, St-Lazare, Hudson, Dorion-Rigaud all seem to be undergoing prolific transformations.

Large construction machines move across the flattened land, puffing clouds of dust from their heavily burdened tires and treads. The land, bulldozed flat, sprout the wood and steel frames of future homes and commercial centers. Local traffic flood streets. This scene was repeated over and over, town after town. Even in 'quiet' Ottawa, where I ventured west of the downtown core to the suburbs of Canada's capital, there were housing and commercial developments unseen before in my travels.

I began thinking, pulling concepts and images together attempting to reason why there was so much activity. This time around, however, I could not come up with any kind of philosophical reason or statistical set of numbers explaining why this was happening. All I could think of was: "Things are changing."

My time away from Montreal allowed me to see things in a different light, I suppose. "Things are changing. New construction almost everywhere. People moving about." It also got me thinking that when things begin to change there is often opportunity not far behind.

And lately, whenever I think about opportunity, I often think about job opportunities. It is no secret that the Montreal Library and Information Studies (LIS) market is rather weak, with few openings in an already small marketplace. I know several McGill Graduate School and Library and Information Studies' classmates and alumni (including me) who have reluctantly moved elsewhere to find work. Some, however, those fortunate few, remain but feel limited in their current job. While others have taken a more radical approach and have parted ways with their traditional librarian/archivist training and have pursued other fields, such as IT/Systems and Support, Music, Translation, etc while still bringing to the table some themes and skills learned in library school.

I really like the last group--those who have reinvented themselves after library school--because they are thinking outside the box. Like the new construction, they are building something new on uncharted land, land mostly unexplored by past library school graduates, changing direction, accepting risks, and inviting opportunity.

In the past six months, basically since I relocated to Washington, DC to work on a 12-month contract here, there has been changes in my thinking and perception. Nothing deep enough to write about here, at least not yet. But something subtle. I would like say that I am settling in and feeling right at home here. But as Ed aptly put it in a blog post, on most days, following a day's work, I break even. A tie game. Not sure of the next day's game plan. If there are more developments in this area, I'll keep my legion of readers posted.

Just remember one thing: "Things are changing."

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.