Volunteering in Local Government

by Rebecca Vogler, Head Editor, INALJ Nevada

Volunteering in Local Government

rebeccavoglerIn the summer of 2010, as I was getting close to finishing my undergraduate program and begin my exciting journey into the world of library science that following January, I was given a bit of advice that I believe has helped me tremendously ever since

“Get involved in local politics.”

Now, I’m not saying everyone should drop what they’re doing and run for mayor!  Who wants to run for public office?  However, there’s a lot more to serving your local community than being elected as a councilman, alderman, or mayor.

Most towns, cities, and counties (or parishes if you are in Louisiana) have appointed boards and commissions that help the local elected council make decisions in a wide variety of areas.  Police boards, school boards, library boards, planning and zoning commissions, parks and recreation commissions, housing authority boards, public transit advisory boards, and visitors’ bureaus are some examples.  As a lover of the arts, I found my niche in the local Commission on Cultural Affairs.  Their once-a-month meetings on Monday evenings worked perfectly with my schedule, and they needed a non-artistic lay-person in my ward to fill an empty slot.  After I applied, the commission selected my application and sent it to the City Council to be approved.

My time on the commission taught me all about parliamentary procedure, teamwork, how to evaluate plaque rebecca voglerfunding and grant applications, and much more.  Including that volunteer experience on my resume and sometimes on my cover letter tells my potential employers that I have a willingness to serve on library committees, my effort to be a leader in my community, and my ability to work as part of a team.  Getting appointed is as easy as visiting your local city or county website and finding their link to Boards and Commissions, filling out an application, and submitting it.

Appointments are usually for three years with a possibility to be re-appointed for another three year term.  I could not finish my three years because I graduated and got a job out of state soon after.  Nevertheless, the other commissioners gave me a nice plaque as a going-away gift when I resigned, something I cherish and keep on my office desk.


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 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.