Meet Paula Pergament, Former Nonprofit Development Professional & Current MLIS Student

by Rachael Altman, Head Editor, INALJ Illinois

Meet Paula Pergament, Former Nonprofit Development Professional, Current MLIS Student and INALJ Illinois Assistant Editor

Paula Pergament (1) Favorite Library you have been to?

The British Library in London. My family and I lived in London for a summer when I was 14. Seeing the pages of plays and books written by Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf (among many, many others) made these authors and their histories and experiences seem more human, and less like mythical figures.

Favorite book?

One Hundred Years of Solitude. The transitions are seamless, and the imagery is incredibly rich. I always feel that I have a better understanding of what love is every time I read it. It’s a great book to lose yourself in.

Favorite website/blog (it doesn’t have to be library related)?

I read Ask a Manager every day. The practical advice offered can be applied to the workplace as well as personal relationships.

Favorite thing about libraries/library technologies?

The 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York includes an exhibit featuring the personal voicemail messages people left for their loved ones, and video that news organizations captured as the day’s events unfolded. The preservation and organization of digital information and how it can be used to tell stories, share experiences, and teach history is fascinating. Digital preservation is a growing area in the field, and represents how things are changing all the time.

If you could take any of your hobbies and create a job of it or integrate it into your job, what would it be? And how?

I have designed and collected jewelry for several years. If I could, I would work in jewelry department of the Boston Museum of Fine Art, which was the first American museum to create a curatorial position devoted singularly to jewelry.

What positions have you held (both in and out of libraries)?

From 1993 through 2012, I was a fundraiser. My area of expertise included foundation and government relations, and I held director level positions at two major Chicago cultural institutions before closing out my development career. I plan to use the knowledge and experience gained in my previous to career as a foundation in my path to becoming a librarian. Both professions are about helping people, and connecting them with resources.

How did you get these jobs?

In several instances when I was fundraising, I applied for positions when they were posted. There were two times during my development career when I applied for jobs I found out about through my professional network, and I was hired for both jobs. My contacts were able to provide additional insight into the people I reported to, and this information was very helpful in the interview process.

Best piece of job hunting/career advice?rachaelaltman

Seek out and pursue those positions where your skills and experience best align with what employers are looking for. If you recognize yourself when you read over a job description, that’s a compelling reason to apply even if you are missing a desired skill. Also, networking can happen anywhere, and lead to unexpected opportunities. When I attended my first ALA conference last year, I met a lot of interesting people just standing in line to pick up registration materials, including the chief technology officer for a university library.

For 20 years, Paula Pergament worked as a professional fundraiser specializing in securing support from local and national foundations and government agencies. During her development career, Paula garnered resources for organizations such as Urban Gateways, Court Theatre, the Adler Planetarium, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra among others. Her work focused on obtaining funding for capital projects, arts education and science programs, and theatrical and musical productions. She holds a B.A. in art from Earlham College, Richmond, IN, and a M.A. in arts management and public policy from Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. Paula will embark on her studies towards her MLIS at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign this summer, and looks forward to utilizing the knowledge and experience she gained during her development career in a library setting.