Sarah McNeil …In Six

Interview with success story Sarah!

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Sarah: INALJ! (Thanks, Naomi– I’ll be donating from my first paycheck!) My job hunting strategy was to monitor the websites of the library systems in my area, since their postings often did not appear elsewhere, and then scan INALJ daily. My husband and I had been talking about maybe moving somewhere new, when this position-Early Literacy Outreach Librarian with the Denver Public Library-popped up, and I thought, “Why not… I’ll never get it anyway.” And that, I suppose, is precisely why “never say never” is such a popular adage.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Sarah: Hmmm… that’s a toughie! I’m loving the Children’s Library here at the Denver Public Library’s Central Branch, but was also really impressed with Howard County’s Central Branch. The Takoma Park branch of the DC Public Library feels like what a library should be– lots of hard wood, some cozy chairs and then all the latest and greatest content!

Naomi: Favorite book?
Sarah: All time- Pride and Prejudice. Current- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Sarah: Librarians! My colleagues and peers continue to impress me with their dedication to and innovations in serving customers, often with dwindling or outdated resources.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Sarah: We talked about The Birthday Party Pledge at a staff meeting to talk about introducing more diverse literature into storytimes and to parents and caregivers. The Birthday Party Pledge is a really great project aimed at getting multicultural books into the hands of the children in your life; at the same time, it helps send a message to publishers that the demand for these books exists and hopefully helps motivate them to increase the diversity in children’s literature.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Sarah: I had a former coworker tell me that “the best defense is a multi-option offense,” and that’s how I approached this job hunt. I applied for anything that sounded engaging. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position, but it doesn’t hurt to cast a wide net. I would also say that a thank you email never hurts. I completely whiffed an interview question (they asked for a recently published children’s book appropriate for a preschool storytime; I panicked and gave them the very appropriate but ancient Trucks by Donald Crews, published in the ‘70s) and used my thank you note to put a very brief plug in for a different, more recent, choice.

I just started as the Early Literacy Outreach Librarian with the Denver Public Library, which I applied for from my home in Washington, DC; the western migration has been a big change! I got my
MLS from the University of Maryland in 2011 and had been thinking records management was my home, but fell in love with public library services, particularly for young adults and children. Outside of the library, I love hiking with my family (which includes our dog, Midnight, who we prefer to call Mad-Eye Middles), finding new restaurants, exploring Denver, cooking, and playing on my fiddle (New Years Resolution: learn to play the fiddle… my neighbors really like me).

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.com has had over 17 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. 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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