Heather Firchow …Success Story

This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions

My interview with success story Heather Firchow

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Heather: I saw the listing for my Altadena job on the local library consortium’s (SCLC) jobs list. I use several resources, like the CALIX listserve, the SCLC job listings and the INALJ daily email. I cannot truthfully say, for the Senior Librarian position, which resource I saw it first. I was also told about the position by a colleague. Besides subscribing to various jobs resource lists and websites, I cannot emphasize networking enough!

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Heather: There are quite a few incredible libraries in California and in my role at MCLS, I was lucky to visit quite a few. LAPL Central Library is stunningly grand and the Mission Viejo Library is a beautiful library in the American Craftsman style of architecture.

My favorite library is the Pasadena Central Library, as it was where my love affair with libraries began.

Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Heather: Bluest Eye by Morrison, the Mortal Instruments Series by Clare, Losing my Religion by Lobdell, Color Purple by Walker, The Stand by King, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much is True by Lamb. This is just a sampling of a vast list of favorites….

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Heather: I love how libraries continue to evolve and meet new challenges. Librarians and library staff are fearless, tackling new services or technologies and finding ways to incorporate them in their service offerings. I love how we can influence and improve the quality of our user’s life either by helping them complete a DIY project on their house, finding the right resource for a school project, the perfect recipe for a special dinner or helping them fill out the EDD application online when they have never used a computer. When you think about it, we are pretty impressive for a bunch of people who supposedly get to “sit around all day and read books!”

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Heather: Will Manley, YALSA, Michael Stephens, David Lee King, The YA YA YAs, Eli Neiburger and something shamefully hilarious and sometimes very very wrong; The Oatmeal. Once again only a partial list…

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Heather: I am going to talk more about getting the job once you hunted it down…Prepare, Practice and Personality!
Prepare. Make sure you prepare yourself for the interview. Know the job description, know the library (check out the website, the city, even do a little secret shopping), research typical interview questions for that job classification and prepare talking points. Make sure that you can give examples different library related scenarios and how you tackled/resolved various issues/challenges, etc. I have a friend (recently retired) who interviewed Children’s Librarians for a 30-branch system and she told me that many times Librarians would come in for interviews and couldn’t name one children’s book, not even Harry Potter! Seriously people?
Practice. Apply, apply, apply and go on interviews. Keep your skills up. Even if you are happy with your job, it is good to know what people are looking for, hear the questions that interviewers are asking and to get out their so you can possibly impress someone even if you don’t get the job. Typically in California most libraries have an outside panel that does the initial interview. Perhaps you will impress someone on that outside panel.
Personality. Make sure you are genuine. If you change yourself by behaving in a manner that you think will impress an interviewer and don’t give a true representation of who you are and who you will be when they hire you, you are just asking for trouble. Most people can smell a fake, and if they don’t know that you are faking they will at least know that something is off(unless you are an Oscar worthy actor). Do yourself a favor just do you, in the most informed, prepared, and confident way that you can.

Although my love of libraries began when I was a child, my library career began at 16 at the Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena CA where I was hired as a page. I applied because my older sister had worked at the library when she was in high school and said it was a great place to work and that they paid well. In my library tenure I have worked as a page, clerk, customer service assistant (I,II,III), library technician (at PPL), executive assistant to a Library Director (Riverside Public Library), a YA/Adult Services Librarian, a school media specialist (Ribet Academy) and YA/Children’s Services Librarian(Altadena Library District). I also worked at a library consortium (MCLS nka SCLC) as a library assistant/consultant. My seven years at the library consortium was invaluable as I visited almost every library from Orange County to Ventura County, CA; met almost every library director and came into contact, through committee work and workshops, hundreds of librarians and library support staff. I recently accepted a position as a Senior Librarian, Youth Services at the Torrance Public Library.


Previously published on 1/26/12 and 8/31/12 as  Heather Firchow …In Six

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.