With Eyes Wide Open: seeing your learning and experience in a new light

by Amanda Viana, Head Editor, INALJ Massachusetts

With Eyes Wide Open: seeing your learning and experience in a new light

amanda11As an undergraduate English major I had a professor who was memorable mainly for her absurdly specific essay guidelines: ‘five sentences per paragraph, three paragraphs per page, go over and I won’t read it’.  But I remember that professor for giving me one other gift—the ability to see beyond the expectations of my major and apply my skills to the wider world. One day in class she (very unusually) went off-syllabus. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it was that we English majors had the world by the tail. As English majors we weren’t just lovers of great literature—we had the ability to analyze texts of all kinds, we had mastery of language; we could succeed in the worlds of law, government, journalism and far beyond. I had decided to become a librarian early on in life, so I didn’t share the worries of many of my fellow students about what the future held, but it was the first time I remember feeling as though my undergraduate career was more than just a stepping stone. It was the first time I thought about applying my skills to careers outside my comfort zone.

Post-MLIS, INALJ has provided another one of those moments for me. Each day I pour through dozens of job postings and each day I come to a broader understanding of what it is to be a librarian and an information professional. As an Information Services Librarian at a public library, I don’t have to stretch very far to apply my knowledge and skills to my job. But my volunteer work at INALJ has shown me how far and wide an MLS/MLIS can take you. Job seekers don’t need to be reminded of how tough the market is, particularly for libraries and other non-profits. It’s discouraging to train for library work and not be able to find a position. But if I can offer one piece of advice it is this: know that your knowledge and skills can shine in a broad range of positions. Open yourself up to the idea of exceling in a non-library setting. Take a look at those jobs that might not appeal at first glance, consider how your qualifications would fit, imagine the possibilities.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, 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.