Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Jarrett: I have worked for Baltimore County Public Library since I was 17. I started as a circulation assistant at the branch closest to my high school, and stayed there until I graduated college, working my way up through the circulation department to the tech services department in the administrative offices. When I moved back home, with my BA in hand, I got a job as a part-time professional assistant (basically a librarian sans-MLS). Now, I’m graduating in May with my MLIS. When I saw an entry level librarian position advertised through our HR department, I applied. The first opening (back in November) I was interviewed for but did not get. The second opening, which I was also recently interviewed for, I did get. I will be starting as a Librarian II at one of the system’s busier, larger branches beginning in May, and I’m super excited.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Jarrett: Although I work in a public library, I really love academic libraries for their access to all sorts of information and scholarly databases. The McKeldin Library at University of Maryland College Park is stellar and has a hefty budget, and their resources are formidable. However, I will always have a special place in my heart for the Esther Raushenbush Library at my undergrad alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Jarrett: It’s impossible for me to pick just one. In fiction, my favorite four are Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. For nonfiction, I really dig the collected essays of Gore Vidal. Tennessee Williams is my favorite playwright. My favorite poet is Arthur Rimbaud. My favorite graphic novels are Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Chronicles and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. Jane Harrison’s Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion inspired me to get a post-bac in archaeology and the classical languages.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Jarrett: Super-powerful catalogs that allow the librarian & user to do sophisticated, targeted subject searches, and that allow the librarians to gather and analyze data about their collection. I also really love introducing intermediate library users to advanced catalog features and teaching users of all ages information literacy skills.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Jarrett: I am pretty optimistic about the future and love to read blogs about emerging technologies and contemplate their impact on public libraries. TED talks are pretty awesome. I also follow Sun Foundation, Infoneer Pulse, A Smarter Planet, Singularitarian, and Emergent Futures.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Jarrett: Read the books How to be Useful by Megan Hustad and How to Find Work in the 21st Century by Ron McGowan, and take their lessons to heart. When looking for employment, spend an hour every morning looking through every source of job ads available to you, there’s tons online. INALJ aggregates a lot of them, but there’s also LibGigs, ALA Joblist, Chronicle of Higher Ed, and more. Bookmark all of them and check them regularly for new postings. Make it your goal to send out 5-10 resumes per day, have a form ready but adapt it to each new posting. Make sure you send in cover letters with each application showing that you’ve done your research on that particular workplace.
And don’t be afraid to take a job that isn’t your ideal. It is my firm belief that “do what you love” is terrible advice in this economy. Find something you’re good at, that you don’t hate, that pays the bills, and consider sticking with it for years. If you’re not a total slacker, you’ll likely be promoted. And if not, well at least you can apply for better jobs once you have some experience under your belt. It might be a good idea to print out a few job descriptions from your dream jobs, and make sure that you are doing things in your current job that will qualify you for that particular position 3-5 years down the road. Always think ahead.
N.B. If you’re working for a public library, or any public service position, and you have student loans, please read this, this, and this. There are several federal assistance programs available to you that, when combined, will significantly reduce the financial burden of your loans. Also call your legislators and ask them to support HR 4170 The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. More info on that here.
Jarrett Farmer will be graduating in May 2012 with an MLIS from the iSchool at the University of Maryland College Park. Before deciding to pursue library science, Jarrett studied anthropology and history at Sarah Lawrence College and archaeology and the Classical languages at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. In January 2012, Jarrett presented his post-baccalaureate thesis at the Archaeological Institute of America’s annual meeting in Philadelphia. Outside of his studies of the ancient world, Jarrett is broadly interested in the function of public libraries in a democratic society.
Reposted from 4/16/12 and formerly titled Jarrett Farmer …In Six