Rachael Altman …Success Story

Naomi House’s interview with success story Rachael.

rachaelaNaomi: How did you find your current job?
Rachael: I currently work at Rockford University as the Reference & Instructional Librarian. I originally found position posted on ALA JobList, and it was also posted on INALJ Illinois. I was hesitant to apply because it asked for 3-5 years of library experience, but I figured my combined experiences made me a qualified candidate. I applied for the job in mid-June, and then Kelly James, the Library Director, contacted me to schedule an informal meeting at the ALA Annual in Chicago in July. While this was not an official interview, it was a great opportunity to connect with Kelly and make a good first impression. I was contacted for a phone interview a few weeks later, then I was contacted for a campus visit/in-person interview, and later offered the position. Once the process began, it all happened very fast. I was living in Montgomery, AL at the time so there was a lot of moving and shaking leading up to my start date in September.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Rachael: The Harold Washington Library in Chicago. My parents used to take me there when I was a kid, and it’s wonderful to see how the library has grown over the years. In 1987, Mayor Harold Washington ordered a design competition for a new central library in the South Loop. SEBUS Group won the competition and now we have the beautiful ten-floor building located off of Michigan Avenue. The physical appearance of the library leaves me in awe. More importantly, the library has awesome collections, such as the Digital Collections and Archives of Chicago History, and programs, such as Zumba, author talks (I saw Chuck Palahniuk there a few years ago), film screenings, knitting, jewelry making, and 3D printing. There’s something for everyone at the Harold Washington Library and it provides access to resources and technologies that people may not have access to otherwise.

Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Rachael: Poetry – The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright
Novel – Home to Harlem by Claude McKay
Short stories – The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret
Essay – Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Rachael: I love the evolution of libraries, especially the concept of moving away from the brick and mortar building and really becoming part of the community. Connecting and collaborating with the community is essential to the evolution of libraries. I believe that librarians have the power to change lives. Libraries and librarians have a positive impact on daily life by connecting people with knowledge, information, and resources.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Rachael: Some of my favorite library and non-library websites include, Sarah Houghton’s Librarian in Black, Dave Lankes’ Virtual Dave, David Shumaker’s The Embedded Librarian, PC Sweeney, Kenneth Crews and Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Office, ACRL Boing Boing, The Oatmeal, and The Sartorialist.

Naomi: Best piece of job-hunting advice?
Rachael: In order to be successful on the job hunt, and truly successful in anything you do, you must know your strengths and weaknesses, passions, what you want, and why you’re doing what you do. If you are driven by passion, you will be successful because you’ll be happy with the outcome. Figure out what you love to do and find someone to pay you to do it. It sounds cliché, but you must know yourself. Keep an open mind. Be flexible, yet strong.

Rachael was born and raised in Chicago and Homewood, IL. She graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies with an MLIS and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Cultural Heritage Preservation and attended Bradley University in Peoria, IL, where she earned a BA in English and Creative Writing and an MA in English with a focus on Writing Theory and African American Literature. Rachael enjoys reading and writing poetry, especially Langston Hughes, James Wright, Stephen Dunn, and Nikki Giovanni. She is a huge Prince fan, a lover of funk and soul music, gluten-free and vegan foods, elephants and frogs, and all things purple, and she does not like snow, cats, or Jane Austen novels. Rachael is the Reference & Instructional Librarian at Rockford University in Rockford, IL.

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