by Sara Dixon, Head Editor, INALJ Kansas
Job Search Taking Longer than Expected?
Volunteer To Gain Experience!
When I got done with library school almost 2 years ago, I wanted a library job, but I put off really focusing on the job search. I had a job throughout school that would continue to support me financially. I was applying for jobs and checking INALJ daily digest regularly, but I was not overly concerned. Things at my current job were going well. However, as I saw my graduation date looming further into the past, my concern began growing that if I could not find a library job soon, I would quickly fall behind all the librarians gaining experience on a daily basis and newly graduated librarians. So I decided to offer my services as a volunteer to my local library.
This was one of the best things I could have done.
It has since reinforced the whole reason I went to library school in the first place: I love helping people! It also reinvigorated my job search. I know where I should be.
Due to my day job, there was only limited time I could give to the library. Luckily, they were planning evening basic technology classes that would fit in with my current schedule. It was a three part series: one class on using a Mouse; one class on basic Internet; and one class on basic email. As someone who spends a majority of almost everyday on a computer, I was afraid I would have little patience teaching patrons how to do such simple skills, like use a mouse. I was actually a little surprised there were people out there who still didn’t know how to use a mouse. But, I will tell you, the mousing class in particular has been the most rewarding. Mousing is so basic, but it’s an important foundational skill that one must master in order to use most library computers. Many students just missed the digital explosion and are now struggling to catch up.
During one recent class, I assisted a stroke victim. She was newly left handed and had limited dexterity in her one good hand, which made gripping and positioning a mouse fairly difficult. We tried a couple different settings and when she was finally able to point and click correctly, we were both so excited. Each student in these classes is so grateful for our assistance, that I could be exhausted after a long day, but I always leave these classes feeling the greatest exhilaration.
Soon after I started teaching and assisting with these classes, the librarian over the classes agreed to let me assist her during one of her evening shifts. In between providing computer guest passes and helping with printer problems, she lets me assist with any number of projects she’s working on. We are working on a literacy event, a new series of classes, readers advisories, and anything else that comes up. It’s work that I truly enjoy and I am so grateful for the opportunity.
As an added bonus, volunteer work always looks good on a resume! So if you are still looking for a library job, just thinking about library work, or looking for a way to gain some experience, I would encourage you to volunteer with a library in your area. Even if the tasks are not your preference, try it out. It may be surprisingly rewarding, and it may lead to those tasks you really want to work on. If public library work is not really for you, there are volunteer opportunities in other library organizations. And hey, maybe all that volunteer work will turn into a job!