Ellen Mehling …In Six

This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions

Reposted from 3/1/12

My interview with the multi-talented Ellen, of L.I.U.’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science and METRO

Naomi: If you could take any of your hobbies and create a job out of them or integrate it into your job what would it be? And how?
Ellen: I love silent movies, especially comedies, and I like the idea of introducing them to people who are not familiar with them. Fortunately movies like “The Artist” and “Hugo” are getting some people more interested in silent films. I’ve been able to use some clips from silent films in presentations I’ve given in the past (on American Sign Language and communicating without sound, among other topics) and I have always wanted to do more of that or things like that.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Ellen: Can I pick two? Every time I visit or even just walk past the New York Public Library’s Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, it makes me smile. I love the lions and the white marble; it’s just gorgeous. NYU’s Bobst Library, where one of my offices is, is another beauty – it has an atrium and from any floor you can see all the other floors: students, bookshelves, tables and desks and computers. And right outside is Washington Square Park! What more could you want?

Naomi: Favorite book?
Ellen: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Ellen: The abundance: of books, information, journals, databases, music, films… and being able to find and share information so quickly, to serve your patrons, wherever they or you may be.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Ellen: Serve your network. It’s classic advice because it really does work better than anything else. Building a robust, ever-growing network of people who know you and your work and abilities and character and who would welcome the chance to help you in any way they can, is the best way to get a job and have a thriving career. I’ve been laid off twice in my career; I know from my own experiences and I’ve seen with many others, how a healthy network gives a job hunter a much better chance of success.

Also, know that having the ALA-accredited MLS means that you meet one of the minimum requirements for most librarian positions. It takes much more than just having the degree to get hired. You must have experience and skills specific to the job, verbal and written communication skills, interviewing skills, flexibility, interpersonal skills, reliability, an online presence that is professional and focused, and strong references, among other things.

Naomi: Anything people should avoid doing when job hunting?
Ellen: Any kind of negativity when around other information professionals can really hurt your reputation and your chances of getting a job, for a long time. Finding a job is tough enough these days without getting in your own way! Occasional venting can be helpful, but it is best done privately with friends and family and not in any kind of professional venue, face-to-face or online.

Ellen Mehling received her MSLIS from Long Island University and works as a librarian, instructor and writer in and around NYC. Her professional experience includes work in special, public, and academic libraries as well as archives. She is Director of the Westchester Graduate Library School Program and Director of Internships for L.I.U.’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science and since 2009 has been Job Bank Manager / Career Development Consultant at the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) . She teaches classes and workshops on job hunting, information literacy, researching, and other subjects at METRO’s Training Center and other venues within and outside NYC.