Shaula Stephenson …In Six

My interview with success story Shaula


Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Shaula: I found my current job, appropriately enough, on the INALJ.com daily digest. I remember vividly sitting on my couch on a Saturday morning reading the job description and thinking, “this includes pieces of almost every job I’ve ever had. I guess I should apply.”

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Shaula: The Library of Congress, no question. It has the double appeal of being a beautiful building and holding enormous amounts of information. Also, they have a copy of a Gutenberg Bible.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Shaula: It depends on my mood. If I am feeling optimistic, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; if I am feeling pessimistic, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood or Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Shaula: I go back and forth between the amazing collaborative nature of the profession and the fact that our profession has the opportunity to impact the world in unexpectedly positive ways.

I love that I can call colleagues and ask questions about the work they are doing and expect generosity with time and knowledge. I did that yesterday; I called a colleague whom I had never met to ask her questions. She had no idea who I was until I introduced myself, but she still spent 15 minutes on the telephone with me talking about her project in order to help me move forward with mine. Similarly, I found my classmates/colleagues an invaluable source of support and information while I was completing the culminating project for my MLIS. It’s hard to find that spirit of collaboration in many other fields.

We, as a profession, make information findable and keep it extant for as long as possible. In my mind that gives us great power: we have the skill and opportunity to ensure that the public record is as complete and unbiased as possible, which will hopefully help prevent the repeat of terrible injustices. For example, I have joined a group of archivists who are working to establish a U.S. chapter of Archives Without Borders, which would apply the skills of archivists to saving endangered archives and including underrepresented communities in the public record in the United States. I admire efforts like The Guatemala Documentation Project and hope that our profession continues to use our skills for such laudable causes.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Shaula: I am a big fan of Rebecca Goldman’s Derangement and Description, which discusses facets of the profession very funny ways, and Kate Theimer’s ArchivesNext for more serious discussions.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Shaula: Talk to people in person, if you can manage it. Like many in this profession I am an introvert, but I have learned to store up my energy and then spend it talking to other librarians and archivists. Every opportunity that has come my way has been a direct result of meeting people in person. It may seem odd to emphasize in person, but with an online program it is an important distinction.

Be flexible about job titles. Look at the job descriptions instead of the titles to see if your skills are applicable. Just because your business card (if you get one) doesn’t say “librarian” doesn’t mean you aren’t one.

Diversify. Though I found my current job on INALJ I also see a lot of promising listings on aggregate sites like SimplyHired.com and Indeed.com. Don’t feel like you can only search in industry-specific listings because you might be missing something very special.

I am the digital project archivist at the Hammer Museum and a recent graduate of the San José State University School of Library and Information Science with a specialization in Archival Studies. My work history has been diverse: immediately after receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and European Studies at Pitzer College I promptly began working in a museum, where I remained for six years. Then I spent seven years as a patent secretary in a law firm before embarking on my career as an archivist. This is the first career path I have chosen consciously. I live in Los Angeles with my wonderful husband. In my free time I devour historical romance novels, bake, and watch terrible movies.

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. 

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