What to Do, What to Do: Finding the Library That Fits You

by Aimee Graham, Head Editor, INALJ New York State

What to Do, What to Do: Finding the Library That Fits You

aimeegWhen you peruse the job vacancies posted on INALJ (or any job board), you can clearly see that the title of “librarian” can be found in a variety of entities: public, academic, corporate, legal…the possibilities of where librarians and information specialists can go are endless. So how do you know which library is the right one for you?

When I entered the University at Albany to begin my MSIS, I had a vague idea of what I wanted, flipping between academic, government, or law libraries, but I still had no clear understanding of the differences between them. Fortunately, during a summer session course, I traveled to different local libraries including public, medical, academic, etc., and I really had my eyes and ears open. The workloads and responsibilities were different. The techniques and policies were different. It seemed that only the basic duties (cataloging, shelving, circulation) were the same at each location. That course helped me narrow down what I wanted and focus on the libraries I applied to for internships, and then when it was time for the job hunt to begin, I focused on those particular types of libraries.

With today’s budget cuts, set-backs, and long hiring processes, it is understandable that you may not get into the particular type of library you like and will settle for whatever comes your way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and some experience having the title of “librarian” is better than none at all. That being said, here are my recommendations to to help you get into the library of your choice is:

  • Research the institution and job requires for that particular institution. If you find a different position, remember people get promoted and sometimes leave, so the possibility that job may open again is a possibility. While waiting, practice the skills required, find a way to utilize them in your current position.
  • Publish something relevant. Particularly for academics, professional publications are a big hit on a resume. If you’re interested in music librarianship at a major academic institution, talk about the evolution of sound recordings and cataloging methods. Find something of interest to you and your dream position.
  • Attend seminars/Webinars/informal meetings. One of the main things you will learn networking is vital, and being such a small field, chances are you are going to meet someone who knows someone at the institution you want to work for. Be polite, be professional, and learn something.
  • Volunteer. It may not be as easy to actually get a volunteer position, in addition to already working, family, etc., but outreaching to volunteer for the type of library you want while waiting to secure a paid position shows your initiative, drive, and interest in that particular type of library.
  • If you are not as fortunate enough to have been exposed to different libraries, request a visit with some in your area. Inform them you are a MLS student or in the field, and many would be willing to open the door for you. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst they can say is no.
  • Finally, make sure to keep checking INALJ for helpful tips and exposure to the different types of librarianship.