Professional Advancement for Shallow Pockets

by Rebecca Crago, former Head Editor, INALJ Virginia

Professional Advancement for Shallow Pockets

rebeccacragocroppedIn the LIS field there is a huge emphasis on professional advancement, but the cost of doing so can be a barrier for many of us. Workshops and conferences are not cheap; they often require travel, registration and supplies costs. In many cases these are out-of-pocket expenses and require taking time off from work, which many of us can’t afford. Luckily, there are many free ways for us with low budgets and limited time to advance ourselves in the profession and to set ourselves apart from the competition when searching for new jobs. The following suggestions are supplemental to the free continuing education options outlined in Yandee Vazquez’s article posted March 13, 2013.

Social Media
We all know what networking can do for our careers, but consider how following an organization of interest via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. can provide us with resources useful for professional development. Need an idea for fundraising? Look to see how others are reaching out to the public through social media. You may even find a job announcement that piques your interest.

You can also find out what’s going on at those seemingly impervious conferences by following Twitter feeds live. Take SLA, par exemple.

Discussion Boards
You don’t have to be a paying member to join a number of society listservs. Choose from a wide variety of ALA divisional mailing lists here and see this link for how to subscribe. You can also join any of SAA’s roundtable discussion lists without being a member. Check out Connecting to Collections Online Community, a joint partnership of IMLS, Heritage Preservation and AASLH, which hosts a group forum for participants to ask questions and receive feedback about collections care and management. There are a number of extremely knowledgeable professionals who volunteer their expertise in online discussions, so don’t take these resources for granted!

There are a variety of institutions out there that offer free webinars specific to a project or topic within LIS. Writing a grant for a preservation project? NEH hosts a webinar and offers advice on how to successfully apply for their Preservation Assistance Grant, available each year.

Connecting to Collections also hosts a number of free webinars, and recently began Caring for Yesterday’s Treasures–Today, a series of webinars each month that make up an online course. Participants who successfully complete the course and homework receive a certificate that is recognized as continuing education by professional societies, such as the Academy of Certified Archivists.

Local Programs
Your local organizations may be putting on free programs to your benefit right under your nose. I’ll use where I work as an example. The historical society offers a free lecture or workshop-style presentation once a month, usually on a topic related to preservation or research. Some commonly rotated topics are how to identify historic photographs, genealogy research (for those of us in special collections), and general care of collections (paper and 3-D). See what programs your local repositories may offer!

I would say “enough said,” but I want to emphasize telecommuting. See Duda Trickovic’s wonderful blog posted February 28, 2013: How to get library experience volunteering from your home.

Lastly, while attending a conference may not seem a viable option, remember there are scholarships out there to help offset (and in some cases entirely pay) the cost of participation. These are just a few tips for continuing to educate yourself, but there are so many other avenues out there to explore on your own!


previously published 3/28/13

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its 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. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians 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 one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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