On Volunteering

First I just want to say a HUGE thanks to my volunteers both past and present! It is amazing what a little bit of coordination and a whole lot of volunteers can do. INALJ, the daily jobs digest, is much more robust than even a few short months ago due in no small part to the efforts of over sixty volunteers and myself.

I have found my volunteers in several ways:

  • from cattle calls on FB
  • to emailing those who accidentally posted jobs on my wall
  • to contacting people who were very active on listservs.
  • I have a range of positions from Assistant Editors who cover the major jobs websites three times a week, to Senior Volunteers who cover and format 3-5 days a week, to regular Volunteers who send forwards from listservs and format jobs twice a week, to the fabulous De-duplicators. The time commitment varies so that a wide range of volunteers can participate. I have been woefully un-timely about getting back to potential volunteers but hope this habit of mine turns around soon when my Associate Editor, Intern starts next week :)

    One thing I have noticed is that I rarely get people asking how they can help, rather I tend to get people saying “this is what I am good at” or “look what I did/can do for you.” Which to me is a fascinating phenomena since the emphasis is not on asking but telling. What is fascinating is that when seeking out a volunteer gig the expectation is the opposite of what we do when we apply for jobs where we are expected to tell and show versus ask. In this respect volunteering is very different from applying for a job.

    What I am hoping to get across to potential volunteers for any organization is one thing: ask what you can do for the organization first. Start with, “I would love to volunteer and I am curious if you have any special needs or requirements” versus “I would love to be your new webmaster.” Part of the reason is that, in my case, I am learning to be my own webmaster, do my own coding, learning about email hosting options, build my own database- basically INALJ is allowing me to learn new skills. What I need help with is finding jobs from new sources and formatting the jobs so I give all new volunteers several choices. We already cover many listservs and websites so we try and avoid duplication of work when possible. So at any one time what I need might be different.

    Once again a huge thanks to all my volunteers and I hope this brief article helps in a small way when you apply for a volunteer gig!

    Join our LinkedIn discussion on this topic here: LinkedIn INALJ

    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 18.5 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.