Taking the Road Less Traveled

by Karly Szczepkowski

Taking the Road Less Traveled

karlys2I was always drawn to the non-traditional aspects of our profession. For me, it was never about working in a building with the letter L on it or in a position with L in the job title. No, for me, it was about using those L skills: researching, analyzing, organizing information, answering questions – that’s what I wanted to do. What mattered most to me was using the skills I learned in the LIS program.

But searching for a non-traditional position can be more challenging than searching for a traditional one. A traditional search is straight-forward: you go to a job board and type in librarian. Or you go to the website of a library and view the postings or you belong to a library listserv or professional association that has postings for open librarian positions. It’s very comforting knowing you can apply to almost any position titled librarian.

Non-traditional positions aren’t always as obvious. Sometimes they are. Sometimes the posting is by a corporation that knows it needs a librarian to work in its corporate library, so it uses all the right L words in its jobs description, including the most important, “MLIS required.” Other times a company may say it needs a Knowledge Manager to work in its Resource Center, MLIS required. So although there is no L in the job title or department name, the MLIS required is a good tip off. Or you may see a posting with MLIS preferred, which is another good tip off, but be forewarned: the employer is willing to consider those without an MLIS, so you may be competing against a larger talent pool.

Then there are employers that don’t even know they need someone with an MLIS, but the job description clearly lists everything we do. These ads usually just say, “bachelor’s degree required.” Should you apply for those positions? Of course. If you’re interested and you have the skills and experience, than yes, apply.

As to where to search for non-traditional jobs, that could be a book all to itself. It’s like telling someone which resources to use for a term paper. Would you ever use just one database when writing a paper? No, because as librarians we know there is no one resource that has everything we need. The same is true for job searching.

However, there are some resources that are a better fit for your search, such as library listserv’s, journals and professional associations (I recommend SLA). If you’re interested in a specific company or non-profit, check its website and look for openings.  And of course, there’s I Need A Library Job, which includes both traditional and non-traditional postings.

Since I work in a non-traditional position, I thought I’d share with you how I found work in future blog posts. Good luck to you, wherever your MLIS may take you!

Karly Szczepkowski is a Research Analyst for the Division of Development and Alumni Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.

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 20.5 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.