Staying Relevant Outside the Profession

by Emily Guier, Head Editor, INALJ Wyoming

Staying Relevant Outside the Profession

emilyguierI graduated from my library program in 2011 and have yet to be employed as a professional librarian. I worked as a legal assistant while getting my degree and then moved to a job in student affairs shortly after receiving my MLIS. I have been able to apply my library skills in each of these jobs, and particularly feel that my time in student affairs will be beneficial to my future career in libraries.

That being said, I am currently a stay-at-home mom to a busy toddler with another baby on the way this summer and no immediate plans to re-enter the workforce. My five-year plan might include some job hunting, and I definitely see myself working as a librarian ten years down the road. I may not be specifically using my training, but I see a future for myself in the field that I know I need to nurture in these years when I am not working. Staying employable seems as if it could be a full-time job in itself. With all of this on my mind, I have been spending some time thinking about ways to stay relevant.

What I am doing:

–Volunteering with INALJ. I’ll be able to list this experience on my resume and show that although I’m not working, I still have some of that mindset. INALJ is allowing me to stay current with technology and dabble in some informal writing. There are also opportunities to network with the various other professionals involved with the website.

–Connecting with local library folks. I’ve met some librarians through my library-sponsored book club. I’m willing to count this as networking. I’ve also met the public library director for the county and have a lead on some further opportunities to get involved locally.

What I Need to be doing:

–Attending conferences. Since I’m not employed with a library, I’m not exactly up to date with the most current library practices. I haven’t done much research on what kinds of conferences are available, but I think starting with something smaller and more approachable rather than an annual ALA conference would be more my speed at this point.

–Continuing education/professional development. As a member of my state library association, I receive regular emails about professional development opportunities, many of which are free webinars. This would be a really easy step to take and I’m amazed at the variety of topics that are available without having to pay a dime.

–Get involved with my local library association. I’m a member of the Wyoming Library Association, but I am not making the most of my membership. I’d like to look into committees or even volunteering at the annual conference. The same holds true for my ALA membership. I need to look into opportunities to get involved that would help me to stay abreast of what’s going on in the field without requiring too much time.

–Volunteer with the public library system. There are many opportunities to get involved with my local library system: subbing when shifts need to be covered, joining the Library Foundation Board, helping with book sales, etc. My impression is that if I have an idea of what I want to do as a volunteer locally, the library system would be willing to accommodate my time and talents.

–Be more active on social media. I have access to librarian groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, but currently I’m terrible about utilizing these tools. Social media seems like it would be an easy way to network, but it does require some time and attention.

I’d love to hear from others out there who are in a similar situation–librarians without being librarians. Do you have any other tips for staying involved and keeping resumes current even when one isn’t working in the field?

  3 comments for “Staying Relevant Outside the Profession

  1. Gretchen
    March 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I too graduated in May 2011 with my MSLIS degree and have yet to find full-time employment as a Librarian or other information professional. I have the same full-time job I had while attending Library School. However, it is in corporate America and including commute time tend to be 11 to 11 1/2 hour days. Needless to say, I’m exhausted by the time I get home. I do belong to a few professional librarian groups and go to meetings sparodically. I’ve taken one online course to keep me in the loop and should begin a volunteer position in April. I do hope I will be able to find a full-time librarian position at some point this year – 2014.

  2. Danielle Deaver
    February 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I was so glad to see this article. I am in a similar position – I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids, the youngest of whom is a toddler. I graduated with my MLIS 11 months ago, and I have been struggling with ways to build my resume while I stay home with my children. I am hoping to re-enter the workforce soon (before leaving my job to stay home with my children, I was a journalist for 10 years) and I have been researching some job-hunting strategies. I have been volunteering in my local library for the past three years, and that has not only helped me acquire some new skills, it has also helped me figure out a direction for my future career. I also volunteer for my state library association as often as I can (not often so far, but I’m trying to carve out more time for it!) and with the IPL2. The INALJ site has been a wonderful place to do research, and to find articles like this that make me realize I’m not alone in my situation! Thanks for that, and for your wonderful ideas – I’m going to try them!

  3. Elizabeth
    February 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    You seem to be doing all of the right things–yet I still worry for you. I think that not being in a paid position and then hoping to re-enter the workforce in 10 years when everything has changed (like it has in the last 10 years) would be incredibly difficult. If you really want to be able to be employable down the road, I’d suggest trying to find some sort of paid employment-even if just a few hours a week. ANYTHING! Just something to bring home a check and show that you remember what it’s like to have to answer to customers, deal with difficult bosses or people, etc. on the job. It doesn’t have to be library-related. You are doing great on that front!

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