Stephen X. Flynn of Open Cover Letters

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

My interview with Stephen X. Flynn, founder of  I was fortunate to be able to meet and chat with him at ALA 2013

sxflynnNaomi: What made you start your blog?
Stephen: While applying for jobs, I thought “wouldn’t it be great if there was a website with real cover letters”? After accepting my current job and being out of market, I solicited cover letters first from friends and colleagues, then from the wider librarian community. I built the website with the hope that it would help many librarians looking for jobs, especially people graduating from their LIS program and applying for their first professional position.

Naomi: Are there other blogs or resources you can recommend?
Stephen: INALJ of course 🙂 I also like If you create an account you can create email job alerts for a specific zip code. Search for Title: librarian to ensure that the word “Librarian” is in the job title, or company:library to ensure that the organization has the word “library” in it. In fact, supports nested boolean logic, so go nuts.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Stephen: Bibliotecha Alexandria (The New Library of Alexandria). What a cool place! Too bad I was only there for an hour. I also love the New York Public Library, where I sat in the reading room and sketched out my job presentation on a blank piece of paper and pencil.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Stephen: That’s a tough one, but I really loved reading Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Stephen: Librarians are so important to organizations and communities because we think about and work on problems that most people wouldn’t consider. In academia, that might be open access and preserving digital scholarship. In communities, making sure everyone has equal access to information and resources.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Stephen: Writing great cover letters and tailoring your resumes to each job is a lot of hard work. Focus your limited energy only on the jobs that you are confident are a strong fit.

When you phone interview, do not use a cell phone, only a landline. If you Skype interview, make sure you wear headphones, have proper lighting and elevate your webcam to eye level. Skype a friend or family member 30 minutes before your interview to test it out. If you have a recent Mac laptop, luckily your built in mic will filter out fan noise. If your laptop doesn’t filter fan noise, invest in a Logitech USB mic Your interviewers will (silently) thank you.

When you interview in person, research as much as you can about their library and ask great questions. If you mention details about their library that other candidates neglect, it may put you over the edge.

Search committees are just as worried about impressing you as you are about impressing them. Relax.

If you are repaying federal student loans, research Income Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness ASAP.

Editors note:  we here at INALJ LOVE Open Cover Letters.  Come read all of our articles mentioning it!

opencoverlettersStephen X. Flynn is the founder of and Emerging Technologies Librarian at the College of Wooster Libraries where he leads the college’s digital scholarship efforts. He recently earned his MSI from the University of Michigan.

Reposted from 11/11/11 & 6/6/12  & 3/29/13 & 7/8/13- re-titled from Stephen X. Flynn …In Six  and Stephen X. Flynn of Open Cover Letters …In Six

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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