How to get library experience volunteering from your home

by Duda Trickovic, Head Editor, Prince Edward Island

How to get library experience volunteering from your home

inaljFinding that first job in a library can be challenging. I just wanted to mention some of the less conventional ways for getting some a relevant experience.

Thanks to the widespread use of technology, there are ways to get some library experience without leaving your home. You just need a computer with the internet access and a web browser.

One example is volunteering for I NEED A LIBRARY JOB web site as a head editor or an assistant. If you are looking for a job, you spend a lot of time searching for a job anyway. While doing that you can easily add relevant job posting to the web site. Advantage of remote volunteering is that your location is irrelevant, you can do your job regardless of where you live. You can look for opportunities like this in any state/province in North America, or even wider.

On technical terms, software used for web editing is web based. In case of I Need a Library Job web site we use a Word Press. Practical side of web based software is that you can use any computer that is available to you. Your own, or a public computer.

Working as an editor of web page gives you opportunity to practice/learn web editing software as well. Knowing how to maintain and update a web page is one of the regular requirements in many job postings.

Another example is a VIRTUAL REFERENCE. Almost every college and university offers some kind of a virtual reference service. Core hours of the virtual reference service are covered by employees, but hours in the evening/weekend are covered in most cases by volunteers. As a volunteer you are required to cover about 2-3 hours a week. Again, you don’t even have to live in the city/state where university/college is located. If you live in a different time zone, that can even be advantage for you because of the time difference.

As a volunteer for Virtual Reference, you will get a virtual training. Virtual reference is a real time chat with the library users. Apart from chatting, you also have ability to push web pages to library users, and to share your computer screen. Most frequent responses are canned, so you don’t have to type much. There is also a some kind of a back chat software which allows you to communicate with the other people on the same shift. Having a back chat helps you if you have a questions from patrons you can’t find answers for your self.

Nice thing about the virtual reference, you are alone at your home, but you have a support of your colleagues.

I hope this will inspire you to think of other creative ways you can get your library experience.

editor note: email ineedalibraryjob @ gmail dot com for info on volunteering at INALJ (I Need a Library Job)


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, 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. 


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