INALJ turns 7! What it is and what it isn’t

by Naomi House, MLIS

INALJ turns 7! What it is and what it isn’t

Job hunting sucks. Not a little bit, but a lot.

It can be stressful at best, soul crushing at worst. You can ask yourself and others WHY aren’t you being hired, and honestly the way hiring is done there could be a million different and unrelated reasons why and many of them have to do with the hiring committee and not the candidate. LIS (library and information science) hiring processes can be minefields at best, racist, classist, sexist and ableist at worst. For a peek at some of the huge issues in the field see the now closed Hiring Librarians blog and read what hiring managers in libraries actually write, much of it is wrong-headed and scary, though there are some shining lights as well.

In the seven years since I started INALJ on October 16, 2010, I haven’t been a regular job hunter though I’ve applied for several jobs. I have also helped co-found another organization. I tried taking on hundreds of volunteers. I tried running it with only a handful of volunteers. I know people I met seven years ago through INALJ who still have not found jobs. I know thousands who found their jobs on this site and other sites. In running a FREE to the user (not me – this costs $ to host and maintain) site for library jobs this past seven years I have seen and experienced so much depression around the lack of jobs and how LIS hires.

I insist on very clear boundaries for my own mental and physical health and that is something I wish I had done from the beginning. In starting INALJ I had no idea just how many people would reach out to me with their own personal struggles. Users don’t see these interactions. They don’t see the fan mail or hate mail (I’ve had one or two pieces) or the passive aggressive emails, but they all happen. I don’t call out the private emails by name and don’t even quote them extensively because sometimes you can guess who people are by turns-of-phrase. Many of INALJ’s past editors have received similar emails. Someday I may share them. I was unprepared for how much emotional labor would be involved in this work.

WHAT IT IS

  • INALJ is a library and information professional jobs site founded by me October 16, 2010 as a “jobs resource of all the library and information professional jobs we could find and distributing them to as many people as possible.
  • It is more than just Library jobs. On every single page of INALJ is a sidebar item called “Keywords for Job Searching” which lists MANY job titles LIS pros can use for job searching sites like Indeed and LinkUp.
  • It started as a pdf emailed to what grew to a list of thousands of LIS pros. From February 2013 until January 2016 I had volunteers for each state in the US, and every province of Canada adding jobs to individual pages. There was too much turnover and time being put into managing/maintaining enough volunteers so in January 2016 I went back to the pdf. I also reduced the volunteer roster by not filling those who left.
  • The very first email was sent October 18, 2010 to 6 people (mostly Rutgers classmates) and you can see those jobs here!
  • I believe STRONGLY in linking to where I found a job which is why I have positive relationships with other Library jobs sites. If they shared it first I want them to get the link hit. I don’t create a new posting each time for a job just to drive up stats, I’d rather they got the hits. They did the labor, they should get the hits. Another advantage to linking out is connecting other LIS job hunters with sites they can add to their lists for job hunting and go to directly.
  • It is funded by donations and Sponsored job postings.
  • Anyone can have a job added for Free or pay to have a Sponsored listing.
  • It is a site that has shared jobs non-stop whether I am on vacation or in the hospital. Through health scares, 5 miscarriages, the birth (5 weeks early) of my baby, and lots of travel INALJ jobs have been there for job hunters with no long breaks for all seven years.
  • It is whatever format works for me that allows me to share all jobs sent to me, and a few more I find on my own, while saving me time. Right now that is a daily jobs pdf.
  • INALJ.com is a site with over 15 million views in six years (I didn’t have the site the first year, just the email list.)
  • INALJ is the acronym for I need a library job.
  • INALJ.com is my site. I even have my mission statement and scope published to the site so you can know what it is I will be including on the site. This includes details about my life, my health issues, my other work including T160k and renovating houses and social justice issues. INALJ is mine and I will discuss a range of issues beyond LIS and jobs.

WHAT IT ISN’T

  • It isn’t user driven – the perfect site would have tags (like the AMAZING and free Archive’s Gig,) or be a database (like the very helpful and funded ALA JobLIST,) but that takes time and/or money, so I do not seek user feedback.
  • It isn’t and never was volunteer driven – it was and still is volunteer supported. Some of you have jobs you found on INALJ today because of the labor of hundreds of INALJ volunteers, myself included. Volunteers did/do an AMAZING amount of labor for free for the site so that job hunters can spend less time job searching. They blogged, which is labor too, for free, though all blog postings are owned/copyright/or free use, whatever the author decides.  INALJ owns none of their blogs. They, very simply put, helped people get jobs. Here are 527 names of current and former volunteers and I think I am still missing a few! The few who remain still do help connect people with jobs. But they did not create the system, workflows or any of the site protocols.
  • It isn’t a site that takes any of your data. Unlike Facebook and other sites INALJ just puts out info. It doesn’t take. Use it. Don’t use it. But the relationship is very different than on other sites that get something from users. We don’t. I don’t. No cookies. So that means I set different relationship expectations – in this case, since I am doing the vast majority of the labor for free and not interested in spending more time or money on developing it or making changes, I insist on not being contacted with site suggestions. I am clear about this and consider ignoring my request/boundaries to be harassing behavior because my boundaries are being ignored.
  • It never has claimed to be ALL library / lisjobs – that would be amazing. Hey, maybe contact your associations with budgets and see if they can create that database? I’d LOVE it too and link to it!
  • It is not a library. It is a jobs board/website. In running it I am a jobs board/website manager, not librarian. This has been a strange phenomena within INALJ, the presumption that I am acting as a librarian here at INALJ and somehow owe LIS standards to this page. Your jobs are funded, this is not. A jobs board is not a library. I don’t even know why I have to say this but I do. Many critiques of the site cite the fact that I do not behave within LIS professional guidelines/standards, or something and that I am not open to suggestions and that being not open is a problem. It is not a problem, it is a choice that needs to be respected within my private spaces like email. It does not have to be agreed with but it will be what I chose it to be. I deleted the Facebook group as it was a negative space. That isn’t a free speech issue. This page and it’s existence aren’t a series of fundamental rights that LIS professionals can assume to have- it is My jobs site.
  • It hosts and updates all of Rachel Singer Gordon’s former LISjobs links, but vastly expanded them as well. So it isn’t just her links, but links added by myself and hundreds of volunteers. I do cite her at the bottom of all State Jobs pages.
  • It isn’t affiliated with any LIS program or Library Association.  It also is not funded by any of them either.

I host all jobs publicly on this website so no-one no matter what is blocked from seeing them and so that it is up to each job hunter to chose whether they use our site or not. Social justice is important to me. Food is important to me. Duplicate job listings are not a priority. They happen. Perfection (however anyone defines it) is not my goal- better to have too many jobs, too far outside our scope than too few.

I want to Thank so many people for all they have done for the site
and me over these past few years and regret any I leave out.

  • I’ve had over 500 volunteers (most named here) work on this site anywhere from one time to many years. Additionally many MANY LIS folk have forwarded me jobs to add to the site. You’ve ALL made a difference and helped job hunters find work. I thank you!
  • Really, over 500 of YOU took time and effort and care to work on this project. Each of you should be named and thanked. So VERY thanked!  I am listing early folks below but ALL of you are the best!
  • Elizabeth Leonard, my classmate at Rutgers, was the first and only person to help launch INALJ. She founded the Twitter account and Facebook page and was the only person when I first asked for help with the idea to respond. She is a true INALJ founder!
  • Karly Szczepkowski is my longest term volunteer – she has been sending jobs to INALJ to add since February 2011 and still sends jobs every week if not daily!  And Sarah Eiseman has been sending jobs since January of 2012 and still does!
  • Marybeth Quaadgras was the first person to send INALJ jobs to add.  Francesca Bruno and Valerie Tagoe, are early volunteers, and friends.
  • The AMAZING former INALJ Leadership Team of Rachael Altman, Jen Devine, Stephanie Sendaula, Kate Kosturski, Claire Schmieder, and Ashley Mancil.
  • Lauren Bourdages and Leigh Milligan who ran #inaljchat and now founded #LISprochat. Lauren also was critical in making the INALJ Ontario page a success!
  • The current roster of INALJ Volunteers includes James Adams, Chloe McLaren, Aisha Conner-Gaten, Rebekah Kati, Chris Wilkes, Tracy Wasserman, Yandee Vazquez, Tim Tweed, Rose Feuer, Iris Jahng, Tom Dailey, and Leila Lucas.
  • Sana Khan, my husband, who has been a volunteer too in many ways.

I love this photo taken two days ago.

It is me, my husband and my screaming baby (he is OK now, just needed to be bounced). There is a hair stuck to the middle of my forehead I could not get to move for photos and a lovely stranger offered to take this shot, and called my baby ‘pumpkin.’ I love my life. I love this site as is and hope that it will grow better with time and effort. What it will be will be what I put into it. It is mine. I am proud of these seven years. LIS job hunting is better for having INALJ as a resource and lives have been helped. INALJ is successful because so many find/found it useful, and it all started as a little list for my Rutgers MLIS friends. That rocks!

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job).

Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 18 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month.

Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.

 

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  2 comments for “INALJ turns 7! What it is and what it isn’t

  1. Monique Liston
    October 17, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for all you do. You are an inspiration to me and I have only ever appreciated your work on this page. Through your listings (though I am currently employed) I have applied for an been offered three separate jobs (Stanford, USC (twice) )but the salary was not in my best interest so I ended up turning them down. That was own deal, but were it not for your efforts I n ever would have had the opportunity to apply in the first place!

    I too suffered multiple miscarriages (5 in fact) with one late term still birth. Like you, I persevered and have a healthy 8 year boy that means the absolute world to my husband and I. I have thought about you and your family nearly daily (and not only because I read your job listings like an obsession ;)) as your struggle sounded all too familiar.

    Thank you again and I am saddened that anyone would even suggest anything negative about what you do here or expect that you should follow rules or individual guidelines – such silliness indeed. ARGH!

    • October 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you so much!!! :) I really appreciate hearing your story – and I am so happy for you having your now 8 year old!

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