Keep your head up

by Nena Schvaneveldt, Head Editor, INALJ Utah

Keep your head up

Nena picEasier said than done, right? This job market is terrible. I know I went to library school at a time when a local library was holding open recruitment for librarians and you needed only three-quarters of your Master’s done to apply. Now those postings are rare and competition is steep. It’s so easy to despair.
When I graduated from library school in 2011, I’d already been seriously applying for jobs for a year or so. I was working full-time outside the field. I was beginning to see that my initial answer to “How many people with library science degrees can there be here?” was “more than you think.”

Six months or so later, I found a job on INALJ and applied. It was a shot in the dark, but I got it. I was working in a library, but I still wasn’t a librarian. It was hard to explain to my soon-to-be former coworkers, but I was used to that.

So how do I cope?

  1. Hobbies. I took up running consistently after school was over. It gives me an outlet to feel accomplished that is separate from my job. This keeps me from focusing my identity solely on my job title.
  2. Developing skills. On the other hand, focusing all my energy on things outside of work doesn’t develop my skills. I sought out projects, looked for classes, and took on volunteering opportunities that help me be a better librarian.
  3. Reflecting on what I actually want to do. While my future is still wide open, I have a good chance to reflect and find things that I am good at, things I can improve, and things I like. This has helped me better define jobs that are a good fit for my skills and interests, instead of applying for any job that may use my degree.
  4. Taking the bad with the good. I understand that I am partly where I am because of decisions I’m making about where I want to work and what kind of library service I want to provide. This means that sometimes, there are really not many jobs out there. I won’t get every job I apply for, and that’s okay! I’ve noticed my optimism comes and goes, but I try to stay positive most of the time. That said, it’s okay to feel sad sometimes. What you do about it is important! It’s okay to need to recharge and think about something else for a while, but also take time to take care of yourself and be the best future librarian you can be.

Good luck!


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (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 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.