On Thinking Outside the Box

by Fallon Bleich, Head Editor, INALJ Oklahoma

On Thinking Outside the Box

fallonbNow, obviously, as librarians, we all love books and libraries, but many of us also get very specific with our career paths. I can’t tell you how many fellow MLIS students start their intro posts in each class with “I’m getting this degree to be an academic librarian” or “I’m currently trying to become a children’s librarian”. Nobody ever says “I want to do taxonomy for Sears”, but so many of us love cataloging, right? My point is that at INALJ, we work hard to give you a wide variety of job types out there; I know I personally try to grab anything that sounds like an MLIS candidate could do it. We librarians may have the stereotype of cardigans, glasses, and shushing, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t rock at so many different jobs.

Most of us don’t just decide to get an MLIS because we’re bored. Personally, I started my MLIS with the intention to go into museum or archival work. However, after wandering down my career path so far, I’ve learned that gaining a MLIS degree means so much more than I thought.

How did I come to this decision?

Basically, I threw myself into anything that came my way that I was remotely interested in.

By doing that, I’ve discovered a love of art, a love of helping people—very important for librarians!—and a great love of public libraries. Volunteer gigs, committees, and job experience have all contributed to me leaping outside of my “career box” and finding that I may not be crystal clear on where I want to head with this degree. Don’t get me wrong, if I got offered the perfect archival job tomorrow, I wouldn’t turn it down, but now I also wouldn’t turn down a YA librarian gig or a research librarian gig or heck, even a non-library gig, such as a social media consultant or taxonomist. My box is now no longer a box, and instead, I have a list of things that I know that I love and am wonderful at, and that makes my job search so much less stressful.  So, don’t be afraid to apply to a job that isn’t on your chosen path. You may just find that you love it.


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 19.5 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.