My interview with success story, Benjamin
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Benjamin: I can’t remember which of the countless number of job posting RSS feeds I found my current job advertised on, but I do remember where I found the bulk of them. Last summer, Jazmin Idakaar posted a link on her Twitter account to a “bundle” of RSS feeds that included an extensive number of national, state, and Canadian library job postings. One of them must have had the job posting for my current position in it. I applied for my current position during the summer (late June/early July), had a phone interview a couple of days before my birthday in early August, interviewed in person a couple of weeks later, and received a formal offer right before Labor Day. (editor’s note: Jazmin’s list is also listed daily in the INALJ Daily Digest section USA/virtual)
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Benjamin: Public library-wise, my favorite library would have to be the downtown branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. I have fond memories of making trips downtown from Ohio State’s campus (even though there was a neighborhood branch closer!) just to take in the architecture and the massive selection of fiction and non-fiction available. The most memorable library I’ve probably ever visited though was the Library of Congress. I got a chance to see the room where they still keep the original physical card catalog, even though they hadn’t added to it since 1980. It’s a massively impressive collection, and a good reminder of where we’ve been and how far we’ve progressed.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Benjamin: Right now, my favorite fiction book is Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. My favorite non-fiction book is Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azzerad.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Benjamin: To paraphrase from a presentation given by R. David Lankes at the Academic Librarian’s Conference in Syracuse, NY earlier this year: “Bad libraries build collections; good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” The possibility of working with libraries to help them develop services and build communities is what made me take the plunge into library school, and it’s what motivates me each and every day at work.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Benjamin: My RSS reader follows David Lee King’s blog; Agnostic, Maybe; Designing Better Libraries; Librarian.net; Swiss Army Librarian; Tame the Web; Walking Paper; and Well Rounded Librarian. I also added Hiring Librarians to my feed while I was still in job-search mode.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Benjamin: If you get an interview, either over the phone, Skype, or in-person, and it doesn’t pan out into a job offer, keep your eye on that library’s job openings going forward. Getting an interview is a good sign that they see something they like in your resume, cover letter, applications, and/or work experience, and it’s a good indication that you’ll at least make it to another phone/Skype/in-person interview if you apply again. I had two phone interviews with the same place within a month around the time I graduated last year, and had a phone interview and in-person interview with the library I work at currently last year before I interviewed there again this year. It never hurts to be persistent and to keep polishing your resume, cover letter, and interviewing technique.
Also, I think it’s important not to take not getting offered a job interview or not progressing further during an interview process personally. The last two or three years have been an employer’s market and have also been especially bad for funding when it comes to public institutions like public libraries. We’ve been fortunate to see quite a few of the harder hit public libraries pass levies and find new funding since then, but it will take them time to get back to hiring and we may not see hiring like we’re accustomed to. What that means is that competition for jobs is going to be fiercer, and you may not get to the next step through no fault of your own; there may just be someone who simply has more experience or better fits their needs. For those just starting out in library school, finding library-related employment or a library-related internship while you’re in school will help you immensely when you enter the market.
Benjamin Nanamaker is a Librarian I at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, IL. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master of Science in Information in 2011, specializing in Library and Information Science. He has previously worked as a visiting librarian at SUNY-Oswego’s Penfield Library, as a University Library Associate at the University of Michigan’s Art, Architecture, and Engineering Library, and as a library assistant at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. In his free time, he enjoys reading comics and graphic novels, watching and listening to stand-up comedy, listening to independent/alternative music, and other matters of general geekery. He can be reached for comment (or congratulations) at firstname.lastname@example.org.