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

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