Volunteering is good karma: the many successes of INALJ volunteers

 by Rachael Altman, Head Editor for INALJ Illinois, and Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteering is good karma: the many successes of INALJ volunteers

rachaelaLet’s face the facts: finding a job is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and grit to land a job. Sifting through hundreds of job postings. Sending dozens of resumes and cover letters. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for something to bite. It’s essential to submit flawless, typo-free applications, follow-up with hiring managers, and have an arsenal of knowledge of the company and position.

Rather than waiting for luck to runs its course, it’s best to take a proactive approach by volunteering and getting involved with professional organizations and potential employers. It’s a great idea to get your foot in the door because volunteer gig could turn into a full-time job. There are real benefits to getting involved with your professional community and how it can help your job search. After all, volunteer work is a great opportunity to grow your professional network.

In the Forbes article, “Be A Leader in Your Industry: Help Others,” John Hall states, by simply sharing your knowledge and resources, you stand to gain three benefits: create advocates and build community, develop meaningful relationships, and encourage others to help out.

INALJ is the work of over 180 volunteers. It started as a daily email and has grown into State and Province job pages managed by volunteer Head Editors and Assistant Editors who add hundreds and hundreds of job everyday. Over 1,200 fans have found jobs through INALJ. Additionally, many of our volunteers have found jobs since taking a volunteer gig with INALJ. Helping others brings about good karma and all job hunters could use a little good karma. 2013 was a great year for INALJ and many library and information professionals. It’s time to celebrate our success and look forward to a great new year.

Meet some of our volunteers are learn about their job-hunting success stories.

Claire Schmieder – Head Editor INALJ New Jersey

I found my job as Program Associate with the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel, NJ while searching for new positions to post on the INALJ NJ page. I posted it to the page and applied for it immediately afterward. I also reached out to a mentor, Howard Gillette, who was one of my professors while I was a grad student at Rutgers University – Camden. He called API’s Executive Director on my behalf and urged her to give me a phone interview. She did, and it led to an in-person interview. I received the job offer about 10 days later.

I am responsible for assisting the Program Director with API heritage and leadership programs planning and implementation, coordinating and leading activities of Girls Advisory Council, coordinating social media, assisting in maintaining the API website, assisting with grant research, writing and reporting, supporting fundraising events and campaigns, supporting the Executive Board’s Programming and Marketing Committees, and representing API programs to local and regional collaborators and stakeholders. I know that I will learn much from the smart, talented, and enthusiastic folks there. Hooray for new opportunities!

Rebekah Kati – Head Editor INALJ North Carolina

I am a Digital Publishing Technologist at Duke University Press and I got my job in August after being a head editor for about eight months.  Essentially, I help prepare journals for publication and look for ways to enhance Duke Press’ online journals platform.  I got the job the old-fashioned way – the job came up on a job alert and I applied.  I almost didn’t go for it, since I thought the technical aspects of the job would be way above my skill set, but it all worked out.

Elinor Crosby – Head Editor INALJ Nova Scotia

I got a full-time permanent library job about 6 months after I became a Head Editor for INALJ. How’d I manage that? Determination and luck! Volunteering for INALJ.com kept me on top of all my local job postings, the monthly blogging kept me writing and researching, and it inspired me to keep working on my resume. All the articles on interviews, what to wear, and more really helped, too.

I’m a Librarian 1 in the Adult Services Department at Halifax Public Libraries. I’d been working as the Sunday Supervisor at another branch in the system for seven months when this job opened. It was only seven scheduled hours per week, but I was able to pick up a lot of shifts and get a lot of training and experience. I worked really hard, I volunteered for committees and the union local executive, and generally just pitched in wherever I could and found opportunities to contribute. I was up against some stiff internal competition for the position, so I was ecstatic when I got the call with the job offer.

Now I get to do a great variety of things in my new position, such as program planning, information desk/supervision, teach (and develop!) IT classes, a bit of collection development, and I get to use my various networks to bring interesting programs to my library.

Scottie Kapel – Former Head Editor INALJ Oregon

While volunteering as Head Editor for INALJ OR, I got a job as Assistant Media Specialist at Episcopal School of Jacksonville, which is a college prep middle school and high school.

Amanda Chudnow – Former Assistant Editor INALJ Pennsylvania

I was an Assistant Editor for INALJ Pennsylvania and I got a new job, but it is outside of the library world. I am Associate Director of Annual Giving – Parent and Leadership Giving at Bryn Mawr College.

Brad McNally – Head Editor INALJ Ohio

I finished my MLS in May 2012 while a Youth Services Assistant and had been keeping an eye out for jobs when I started following INALJ. In early July, I applied for a position at a local university branch of a larger university. They offered the job to another person, but her job was posted a week later. She was a librarian for a for-profit college.

I applied for it and did research to know as much about the school as possible so I contacted the person who had just left. During the interview, I made it clear that working with unique student/patron populations was something I enjoyed—I taught high school drop outs in a non-profit and worked with mostly the teen demographic in the public library. I also started using a full portfolio at each interview, bringing statistics that backed up claims of my abilities. I didn’t always use all the information, but I always took it with me. The first interview went great, and I was asked to do two more. In late August, I was contacted by a campus director and offered the position. I started in September and have been working with the college ever since. I now manage the four campus libraries of Daymar College in Ohio.

Ruth Lincoln – Head Editor INALJ DC

I got a new job this year while volunteering with INALJ. I was employed as a Contractor at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD and I got a new job as an Information Architect at MathWorks in Natick, MA (outside Boston).

Amanda Yetter – Former Head Editor INALJ Maryland

I got three Library jobs this year (2013)! First as an Interim Library Media Specialist in North Carolina, then as a Library Page with Wake County Libraries West Regional Branch, and then finally as a Library Assistant at Wake County Libraries Holly Springs Community Library Location.

Sarah Roark – Head Editor INALJ Arizona

I got a job as an Aircraft Records Analyst with Erickson Air-Crane in McMinnville, OR. I applied for the job on a whim, got a call for an interview a couple of days later, and was offered the job in the interview. I guess it was all luck!

Rebecca Crago – Former Head Editor INALJ Virginia

While I no longer can actively volunteer for INALJ, I did volunteer as Head Editor for 7 months this year (2013). I recently accepted the position of Systems Administrator and Teaching Librarian at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA.

Sara Dixon – Head Editor INALJ Kansas

I got my current job while job-hunting for INALJ! I started managing the Kansas page back in February because that was the central focus of my job search. If I’m already looking, why not post the jobs so other people can benefit too! I wasn’t having too much luck, and I felt that a lot of that had to do with living in Florida. So I took a leap of faith and moved back to my home state to resume my job search. I honestly almost didn’t apply for this job because it was a Director position, but I’m so glad that I did! I’m now the Library Director of the Wellington Public Library! I love it! We have made a few small changes in the few months I’ve been here, and there has been a huge response. Everyone has been so welcoming! And we have more new services coming up in the next year! It’s all very exciting!

Rachael Altman – Head Editor INALJ Illinois

I originally started volunteering Head Editor of INALJ Alabama in January 2013. I was employed as the Collection Development Librarian at Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. I decided I wanted to pursue a new opportunity so I started searching for jobs—mostly in the Chicago area so I could live closer to my family. I discovered my current job as Reference & Instructional Librarian at Rockford University on both ALA JobList and INALJ Illinois. I applied for the job mid-June, and then I had an “informal” meeting with Kelly James, the Library Director, at ALA Annual in Chicago. I was contact for a phone interview a few weeks later, then I was contacted for a campus interview later in the day (same day as the phone interview), and then I was offered the position a few days later. It was a whirlwind adventure between juggling the interviews and then moving from Montgomery to Rockford, but it all worked out and I have been employed at Rockford University since September 2013.

Mary Purdey – Former Assistant Editor, INALJ Vermont

I found this job through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners website. I work at Wheelock College, and my job title is Public Services Assistant (PSA). I work with curriculum materials collections and educational technologies in the Earl Center Learning and Innovation, which is part of the Wheelock College Library.  I provide customer service to the students, faculty members, and staff who come into the Earl Center, such as checking materials out to them, and providing directions to other parts of campus. I also do shelf reading and keep the collection organized and neat during any down time that I might have during my shift.

Heather Gayton – Assistant Editor, INALJ Alaska

I knew I wanted to work at Newburgh Free Library since I went into library school. My husband worked there growing up and fondly recalled how much he liked working there. I knew I had to apply when I saw the posting for Librarian I. I was very happy when they offered me the position as Acquisition and Branch Librarian. As my title suggests I am split between the main library and it’s town branch location. Since Newburgh Free Library is the central reference library in Ramapo Catskill Library System, we share the responsibility along with three other libraries for Acquisitions. The Newburgh Town Branch is two years old, and set in the local mall- mixing small town library and a retail setting.


And finally, how INALJ started, with our founder finding her job

Naomi House – Founder, Publisher and Editor of INALJ.com

I found my previous job on the DC SLA listserv and that was the catalyst for INALJ.  I realized that my friends and I were all hunting multiple sites with much overlap so I wanted a way to share jobs with other.  I am so grateful for all the assistance of the volunteers.  Our only goal is connecting job hunters with opportunities and if I had not found that job none of this would have happened.


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.