The Library Job Search: A Trip Upstream

by Sara Dixon, Head Editor, INALJ Kansas

The Library Job Search: A Trip Upstream

sarad kayakingRecently I went kayaking on the Wakulla River in north Florida.  The day was beautiful, and I was so optimistic.  As I started paddling upstream, as the tide was going out and making it rather difficult, I was struck by just how analogous the job search was to this kayaking trip.  Bear with me, folks.  I know it might sound cheesy.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve seen my share of rejection.  It is hard to remain optimistic in the midst of rejection.  It’s like paddling upstream as the tide is going out.  The trip upstream seems to be rather long for those of us trying to break into the library field.  I keep hearing stories of our colleagues working for 1 to 2 years or more before getting a job.  That’s a lot of rejection to face.

But as with kayaking, the trip does not have to be all difficulty.  When kayaking on the spring-fed Wakulla River, I have inaljbiopicoften seen manatees swimming beside and under my boat.  The river has beautiful, majestic trees that line each bank, with Spanish moss dripping down.  I see abundant wild birds, turtles, and even alligators (which are not scary until they start moving under the water).  In the job search, it can be difficult to see the magical moments if you just concentrate on paddling upstream against the current and neglect to witness the beauty of what’s going on.

Ok, I know you are thinking, “But, Sara, what magical moments are there in the job search?”  Ok, so maybe magical is a little too far of a stretch.  But there are good things about the stressful job search.  Each interaction, whether an application submission, a follow-up, a phone call, or an interview: they are all learning experiences. They become opportunities to reflect on where we have been in our lives and where we hope to go.  I have also begun networking as a part of my job search.  Networking with my fellow head editors in the INALJ group and other librarians in the field has been hugely rewarding.  It’s a great group of people that I may not have met otherwise.  So I will keep paddling, because eventually, inevitably I will get to turn around and drift downstream.  And I will find magical moments in that too.

Good luck out there!

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.