February 27, 2009

I have been regulated out of business and work

I have had two careers. The first started in a library when I was in college. But like most of my peer co-workers in the university library, we went out into the world and got a "real job". For me that was in the fashion industry. As my profile states, I have worked in the fashion industry for the last 12 years in a variety of capacities. Most of it has been technical in nature such as pattern making, grading, and quality control. Some of it has been in design and retail. As the fashion industry has contracted, factories have closed and job opportunities have been minimized. Somehow, I have managed to keep a few toes in the industry the last few years. The reality is that I still had bills to pay. So I have returned to my library past. For the last 4 years I have worked part-time in a small library. This means I can easily claim the title of Fashion Designer, Pattern Maker, and Librarian.

I know it may be hard for some people to understand this diversity of backgrounds. While I have not had formal training to be a librarian, I nonetheless have the skills. And if anyone wants to drag my reputation through the gutter, I have been formally trained as a book repair conservator in the same way that many book binders and conservators have been - at the bench. In addition, I have state library certifications in various library topics and on going training each year at library conferences. Contrary to popular belief, there is no library licensing and I couldn't get one if I tried. There are Masters of Library Science degrees, but they are very expensive and available at less than 5 universities (that I am aware of). Librarians with MLS degrees typically run libraries. They deal with administrative morass - fund raising, schmoozing politicians, physical facility management, schmoozing patrons, schmoozing benefactors, etc. The real work of librarianship occurs with the library aides, clerks, and librarians who catalog, sort, shelve and assist patrons. It seems a bit overkill to have an MLS degree or "license" to tell people where the bathroom is and how late the library is open. While I am on record for stating that MLS degrees are overrated for most library workers, they do have their place for certain types of libraries.

So why this long explanation of who I am? The truth is I am being regulated out of business and out of the ability to work. Since I specialize in children's clothing, that aspect of the fashion industry is undergoing extreme upheaval because of the CPSIA. Will I be able to find future work? What businesses will be left? Do I take on the risk and liability of being an independent contractor?

The CPSIA is forcing me to return to my library roots. But the truth is that little library job is at risk too. The CPSIA threatens the children's section of our library. State and city budget cuts threaten reduction in library hours and acquisitions at a time that our library is being used more than ever. Even so, it has left me wondering what do I do next? Perhaps you can sense my internal conflict and continuing frustrations?

I have been looking at making books, coding apparel specific software, starting a publishing business, and writing all while I keep a wary eye on CPSIA developments. I have felt adrift for a while now with no place to set my anchor. And so as I explore different things, I took two steps in the book making direction. A return to a hobby or a possible self-employment opportunity? I don't know yet but it will be fun to find out. Here are two bricks to be used as weights in the book making progress (and I guess they could work as pattern weights too....). The bricks are covered in postal wrapping paper to keep them neat and tidy.


  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    I adore you Esther! Just wanted you to know that.

    oh and the first thing I thought when I saw the picture was that you were using pre-1985 books banned by the CPSC as pattern weights!

    With friendship,

  2. Hi Esther: However you make your living or whatever your chosen title you're a Peach in my (orchard) book! My world has been benefited by you and your writings.