Lessons Learned: DC/SLA & Careers in Federal Libraries

by Naomi House, MLIS

Reposted from 11/29/12 and 2/13/13

Lessons Learned: DC SLA & Careers in Federal Libraries event 9/27/12 by Naomi House

On September 27 Leadership Directories sponsored the Careers in Federal Libraries DC SLA event held at the National Geographic Society Library.

About the Program:

Panelists working at the Library of Congress, National Security Agency, National Intelligence University, Law Library of Congress, National Institutes of Health, and the Army Research Laboratory.

Panelists included:
– Blane Dessy, Executive Director of Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC/FedLink)
– Bianna E Ine, National Intelligence University
– Matt Braun, Law Library of Congress
– Nancy Faget, Careers in Federal Libraries
– James King, NIH Library
– Cindy Sheffield, Librarian, SigInt Technologies, LLC

The program was moderated by Marianne Giltrud, Catholic University.

I don’t attend enough events hosted by DC SLA and this event really brought that back home to me.  What an invaluable set of resources and networking opportunities so in the next year I am promising myself to attend and participate in more.  I was lucky enough to be asked to speak by DC SLA once and look forward to future opportunities.  Careers in Federal Libraries is more than just a jobs list, it is a Google Group, LinkedIn Group, FB page and more!  A must join and must follow for anyone interested in translating their skill set into a job in the federal government.

I want to share a few bulleted tips with you below.  Across the board the panel was fantastic and the only reason I am not ascribing tips to individual panelists is that I should ask them first before ‘quoting’ them.  The advice given that evening transformed some of my own career goals and got my wheels spinning 🙂

  • Librarian is just one type of federal job your MLIS/MLS skill sets make you qualified for
  • Skills not title!  Look at what you can do not what the job is called (this opens up the world of analyst positions to us)
  • Scholars programs and fellowships should be looked at too
  • Jobs families include many series (14, 10, 17, 22, 03, 00, 01…) these are the first two numbers in many series (but not all) we may be qualified for http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/gsseries.asp
  • Think beyond an MLIS/MLS about related degrees like CUA’s MSIT degree
  • Never confuse your mission with your profession! Learn more about strategic plans and how you can contribute to the mission
  • Role play interviews
  • KSAs, etc? Fill that space- use all the words- repeat yourself if you have done the same task/used the same tool at multiple jobs
  • Read fed job ads and make your language match
  • Average won’t get you anywhere- you have to be a STAR!  So develop yourself and get involved!
  • Let someone else tell you no, never tell yourself no.  Go for it!  Apply!
  • Get your start as a contractor
  • Best thing heard at an interview?  “I want my boss to be successful”
  • Be gutsy!  What have you published?  What do you do for professional development?
  • Map the job description, then apply
  • Join and be active in your associations

A side note: Blane Dessy and Nancy Faget mentioned that these days you need to be a star.  I was flattered and humbled to be mentioned and asked to speak briefly to the assembled group for my work on INALJ.  Also a shout out to Cathy Wagner at NIST who was also called up and runs a fab blog, LoveSpecialLibraries.Blogspot.com.

I learned so much and hope this brief list of tips is helpful to you in connecting you to new resources both websites and human resources as well!

(reposted from 10/8/12)

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource 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 20 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 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 now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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