My interview with success story (and former classmate), Lydia
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Lydia: I actually first saw the posting for my job on INALJ, which I check religiously. I typically start with the INALJ daily email from the day before to check the newest postings. Then I visit the Pennsylvania section of LISjobs.com and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Special Library Association (http://sla-phl.org/jobs/) because my main goal is to find a library position in the Philadelphia area.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Lydia: Honestly, I really love the public library where I am currently employed, the Media Upper-Providence Free Library (http://mediauplibrary.org/) in Media, Pennsylvania. MUPL is a tiny, quaint, small-town library, which has been located at its present site since 1954. The library staff and local community agree there is a special charm to the design of the MUPL library building, its vintage interior design, and incredibly cozy ambience. Besides appearance, my favorite feature of MUPL is the visible level of familiarity and rapport between staff and patrons thanks to the library’s intimate atmosphere.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Lydia: Without a doubt my childhood favorites were Matilda by Roald Dahl and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. As an only child I really connected with those stories, I was able to use my love of books to escape into adventurous fantasy worlds. As an adult, I steered toward classics and have to say my favorites are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. However, in my work as a professional librarian I have noticed I am more interested in non-fiction books, particularly those that read like fiction. Recently, I loved The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Obviously this can be such a hard question for librarians :)
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/library technology?
Lydia: My favorite thing about libraries is how they are a fantastic cultural hub for their local communities and within academic institutions. Traditionally, libraries have been viewed as buildings which simply store books. Many people today insist libraries, especially public libraries, will cease to exist due to advanced technologies. While the existence of our profession is currently being questioned, I feel we are at a very crucial moment in history where the library profession is compelled to display our importance. We need to revitalize our libraries uniting the physical space, technology, library services, and materials for a new generation of patrons. Technology can only aid the library profession in its transformation from a collection space to a collaborative space, while simultaneously preserving its existence as the cultural hub of communities.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Lydia: The American Library Association(http://www.ala.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Lydia: As a part of the younger generation of library professionals I must admit finding a library job proved to be very challenging. It took me at least seven months after graduation and a handful of interviews to find a position within the library field. Going straight from my four year degree straight into graduate school, I completed my library degree with limited experience in the professional world. This was a huge nuisance during my interviews because employers were meeting with people who- if lacking any library experience, at least had some type of previous professional work. This may seem nerve-racking for any current library students in comparable situations. However, I must mention many of my younger friends, from a variety of fields, are having similar setbacks after graduating from college. You must come to grips with the fact that you may not be offered the perfect position, full-time hours, or a high salary; but in these times you have to take what you can get in order to gain experience and work your way up in the library field.
Ultimately, I suppose for my situation it was the simple idea of not giving up. Many times I felt frustrated, I wanted to quit, and just start looking for jobs outside of the library field. I sent my resume out as much as I possibly could, every single day. In terms of interviews it has been said countless times but it is imperative to always be as prepared as possible. Research the institution you are interviewing with, write notes so you can review them before you go in. Do not hesitate to bring copies of your resume, professional references, a list of possible questions for your interviewer, and even written samples of your work if they are interested in taking a copy. Also, dress for the occasion, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. For certain postings which I really connected with and felt I matched the requirements, I would mail hard copies of my cover letter and resume to the employer. After an interview I would always send a follow-up email the next morning and place a follow-up phone call a week later. Not only with my interviewers, but if there was a certain secretary or assistant who I genuinely interacted with during the process, I would send them a follow-up email or even a mailed ‘thank you’ card as well. It seems ironic how doing something traditional like mailing out hard copies of your resume or sending a ‘thank you’ card in today’s world is considered unique. Whatever you can think of to make you stand out, no matter how simple, could give you that edge with potential employers. So get creative!
Lydia attended Temple University in Philadelphia for 3 years before completing her BA in English at Rowan University in Southern New Jersey. Graduating with an English degree right when the job market was going under, Lydia found herself in the midst of a very scary reality.
She always had an interest in furthering her education and was often encouraged by professors to consider graduate school. Although working in the restaurant business throughout college proved to be lucrative, she decided to take her professors’ advice and make her personal ambition of attending graduate school a reality. She applied to library school at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and finished her graduate degree in 3 (incredibly busy) semesters. In her final semester of graduate school she worked closely with Dr. Dan O’Connor, a distinguished professor in the Rutgers Library and Information Science program, to research and write a lengthy independent study. Her study examined a cooperative library venture between Rutgers University (Camden) allowing a public library from the Camden County Library System to be built within the bottom floor of their academic library building.
During the same semester she completed an internship with the Camden County Library System which resulted in an on-call position as a Circulation Clerk after graduation. In June 2012 she began her current position as a Library Assistant at the Media Upper-Providence Free Library in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Lydia genuinely enjoys her job where outside of her daily tasks she assists with the library’s monthly book club and provides weekly computer tutoring lessons. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all the city of Philadelphia has to offer, traveling as much as financially possible, and writing for enjoyment. Lydia cannot wait to see where her library degree will take her in the future but loves what the profession has offered her so far.