My interview with INALJ success story, Jennifer
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Jennifer: Multiple sources, including INALJ, Craigslist, and state library jobline postings. INALJ actually helped me out twice! A year ago, I had made the leap from working overseas to moving back to the U.S. and to a brand-new state — with no job — and was on the search for anything in my field in this region. I secured a part-time librarian position, and was still on the lookout for full-time work (and checking INALJ’s emails daily!). Then a full-time faculty librarian position opened up at my place of work, which meant an entirely fresh interview process — and you know how long academic librarian searches can take — but it all worked out in the end! I’m so happy to be able to contribute, and commit, full-time in a job and community that I love.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Jennifer: Hard question, as my husband and I are travelers, and we make it a point to visit a library in every new region or country we visit. The first one that comes to mind is the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Public Library), the most innovative, welcoming, and well-organized public library I have ever had the privilege to personally visit thus far. They take the term “public” very seriously. For example, there’s a piano for public use in the lobby, and there’s a public radio station on an upper level (with the music collection, naturally). Just amazing!
Naomi: Favorite book?
Jennifer: Another hard question! Especially for a librarian. I guess “favorite” for me translates to books, or rather authors, that I keep going back to, which would include Jane Austen, Robin McKinley, J. K. Rowling (just finished rereading the Harry Potter series!), Agatha Christie, and Chris Van Allsburg.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Jennifer: Spending this past year in a part-time position, I kept thinking about what “being a librarian” really meant to me. What connects all of us who work in libraries and keeps us going? And what I kept coming back to, time and again, was how librarians and library staff are always seeking to improve. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our services, to expand our personal and technical knowledge, to look at what’s coming next, to help the next user/student/patron better the next time we get a similar question. There is something within each of us that drives us forward, and therefore drives our profession and our services forward. That is a wonderful quality to share, and one that is vital, I believe, in providing a social service like libraries.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Jennifer: I like sites and blogs that highlight the diversity of our field. I’ve got a blog about librarians and films called Reel Librarians (http://reel-librarians.com), which hopefully is a fun way to look at librarians through a pop culture lens. After this shameless plug (!), I would also recommend Librarian Wardrobe (http://librarianwardrobe.com) that celebrates all different kinds of librarians and libraries and our diverse sense of style, as well as Open Cover Letters (http://opencoverletters.com) for practical, and inspirational, examples of successful cover letters.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Jennifer: Be prepared! Luckily, that’s one area in which we librarians excel. One thing that’s sometimes overlooked is researching the mission/values/goals of the library or institution that you’re applying for. These kinds of statements or plans should be readily available on a library’s or college’s web site. And think about how your own personal outlook fits into this mission (or does it? If not, then you probably shouldn’t be applying for that job). Demonstrating that you’ve thought about how you personally can add to and support the overall mission of a library or institution will often set you apart from other candidates or finalists.
I am a Faculty Librarian at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, Oregon, and I live in nearby Portland. I have been fortunate enough to participate in librarianship across the globe and the United States, having also lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Wisconsin, and Texas. I am a proud second-generation librarian — my mom is a semi-retired school librarian — so I practically grew up in libraries, which is a wonderful way to spend one’s childhood. I earned my master’s degree in library science from the University of North Texas and a bachelor’s in English from West Texas A&M University. My professional interests include information literacy, intellectual freedom, user experience, and international relations. My personal interests include traveling, watching movies, reading good books, drinking good coffee, blogging, and hiking through Oregon’s gorgeous natural scenery.