Jeremy Withnell …Success Story

Naomi House’s interview with success story Jeremy.

jeremyw.Naomi:  How did you find your current job?
Jeremy:  My current job that I just started (Library technician with the rare books and manuscripts section of the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine) is in the same institution as my previous position.  It was posted through usajobs.gov, but was only open to current National Library of Medicine employees.  I’d have to say that what really helped me to land the position was to be open and enthusiastic in expressing my love of history and desire to work in special collections one day.  While still working in the Technical Services division, I was assigned to work as part of a TSD/HMD partnership in which I would do some book processing work for HMD.  By already being “the person on the spot” as it were, I was well positioned to be the best qualified candidate when a full time position came available.

Naomi:  Favorite library you have been to?
Jeremy:  Just came back from my honeymoon to Ireland where I got to visit the Long Room of the Old Library of Trinity College, Dublin.  It was jaw-droppingly beautiful and held some fantastic displays of rare books and artifacts.

Naomi:  Favorite book?
Jeremy:  The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, but I should probably give a shout out to the lesser known Albion’s Dream, by Roger Norman.

Naomi:  Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Jeremy:  About libraries in general: spending hours in the stacks browsing in my favorite sections, history and British literature.  About library technology: That it is getting easier and easier to discover more materials on subjects one is interested in.  I love the way library catalogs, online shops, and social media are intersecting to provide individuals with many options for getting their hands on the resources they desire.

Naomi:  Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Jeremy:  Because I’m a sucker for all things old, I tend to like rare book blogs.  A particularly good one is “Echoes from the Vault”  http://standrewsrarebooks.wordpress.com/

Naomi:  Best piece of job hunting advice?
Jeremy:  Persistence.  I have gone the federal employment route to further my career as a library technician as I work towards my MLS, but it took quite a lot of constantly checking usajobs.gov, updating my resume, applying to lots of positions, tweaking keywords, and patience to get where I am today.  There is often a lot of behind the scenes red-tape and bureaucracy that makes it difficult both for job applicants and for the librarians that want to do the hiring.  Keep at your job search even if it takes a year or more and multiple interviews that go nowhere.  Eventually your hard work will pay off.

I am currently a graduate student pursuing my MLS at Catholic University, and have been working in libraries, first at the University of Maryland, and now at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, for about 8 years.  I started as a page/assistant during undergrad at UMCP and have progressed to being a Library Technician with the Rare Books and Manuscripts section of the History of Medicine division at NLM.  I just got married this past June, and my wife and I enjoy reading, travelling (both locally and internationally), and generally enjoying all that Washington D.C. has to offer. 

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