The Division of Government Information is delighted to be posting on the Future Ready 365 blog this week. DGI is a diverse community of knowledgeable information professionals who share an interest in government information and government librarianship. Our posts this week come from librarians in a variety of government library environments including federal, military, and academic. These DGI blog contributors share their insights on navigating the complicated landscape that today’s information professional must travel — from getting that library job to staying on top in a rapidly changing field once you’re there. Maybe you’d like to join us on the journey! Come check out the Division of Government Information at: http://govinfo.sla.org/.
By Naomi House, Reference Librarian, Census Library (Washington, DC Chapter, Competitive Intelligence and Government Information Divisions)
Finding my job as a government contractor was pure kismet. I had belonged to several library listservs where jobs were posted and one day saw a job for a reference librarian position at the Census Bureau that I had not seen posted anywhere else. Jennifer Norman Turley, the Census Reference and Marketing Librarian, had posted the position on the DC/SLA listserv and because of her posting I applied for the job and eventually was hired. I was incredibly grateful for this lucky happenstance and it made me want to share these job postings with a wider audience. After all, I still received job ads through several listservs and knew many of my fellow library school friends might be interested in them as well.
My first thought was how to distribute these job opportunities? I sent out an e-mail and posted on Facebook to my fellow Rutgers MLIS classmates in October 2010 to see what they thought. Would they like me to set up a forwarding option in my email or would they prefer a blog? Would they like a Facebook page to visit or prefer me to post on my own wall? In the end one Rutgers friend and alum, Elizabeth Leonard, Online Campus Library Director at Berkeley College, offered to help and I dubbed the project “I Need a Library Job.”
Easy as 1-2-3
On October 16, 2010, Elizabeth created a Facebook page and I crafted the first daily digest e-mail and signed up 17 of our friends and classmates to receive it. Elizabeth soon added a Twitter account called “Need a Library Job” which would feed into Facebook and have our Facebook posts feed into Twitter. We never dreamed that in less than six months our little hobby would grow in popularity so fast. The main motivation was to share jobs we all found on listservs, from e-mails and on Web sites with any interested librarians. Early on, I created a policy which stated that only Elizabeth and I would post jobs to Facebook in part because we didn‘t want this to become a dumping ground for jobs, disorganized and with many repeated job postings. We wanted to be a service. So with our three outputs (e-mail list, Facebook, Twitter) we figured we could cover the many ways librarians like to receive information and since Facebook and Twitter would feed from each other that it would be a manageable amount of work.
Finding and filling a need on the fly
Social media has changed how we connect with information. Even though jobs are posted all over the internet and on listservs any librarian or library staff member job hunting would have to visit numerous Web sites and sign up for numerous listservs on the off chance that at least one service would provide a unique opportunity. The time wasted and frustration that builds up for job hunters, including information professionals and librarians, I thought was avoidable. We aimed to make the Facebook page a steady stream of numerous jobs on a daily basis and I aimed to make the daily e-mail as comprehensive a list as I could. If we could get our page out to more librarians we figured the likelihood of any one person finding a job would increase. I had been lucky to find my job so my goal was to help at least one other person find their job and to do this by building a safe, positive presence on the web for job hunting librarians and library staff. To get the word out Elizabeth and I joined tons of library association pages on Facebook and posted about our free service. Many people joined because of our postings but I would be remiss if I did not also mention the numerous faculty, students, librarians and others who, once they stumbled on our e-mail or online pages, shared them with all of their friends. As of mid-April 2011, our six month anniversary, we had over 1,800 Facebook fans, over 500 Twitter followers and over 850 subscribers to my daily ―I Need a Library Job,renamed INALJ, e-mail list. We added seventeen Social Media Volunteer Contributors who send us all the jobs they receive and have helped flesh out and add value to our service.
The INALJ (pronounced Eye-Na L – J) daily e-mail list is my baby. From the beginning I aimed to make it a comprehensive list of all our Facebook and Twitter postings plus many more jobs. They say location is everything so I organized the listings by state. Through trial and error (Google docs, pasting within the e-mail, etc.) I came up with a Word document format that I attach to the email that allows for hotlinks directly to each state, Canada and other International jobs. I have a separate mailing for Mac users which helps them better view the document but my end goal would be to use a product (I am looking at Mail Chimp) to send the e-mail to everyone. With a circulation of over 850, Gmail is not the best tool to use, as it allows you to mass mail only 500 people. So, as a work around, I am sending from my personal e-mail as well so no one misses out. INALJ runs anywhere from 50 to 100 pages a day in a ten-point font and is chock-full of jobs from all over the US, Canada and around the globe. I keep jobs on the list all week, then delete any postings that do not have “apply by” dates at the end of each week. My ultimate goal is for INALJ to be useful as a one-stop-shop for all library job hunters or at the very least to be a useful daily tool in their hunt.
While we are very proud of what we have created, it is also clear to us that there are still many holes in our coverage. Whenever we find niche library jobs blogs, such as Meredith Lowe‘s Archives Gig page, we like to share them with our readers because we realize many of our readers would benefit from niche postings, like archivists, and because our scope is much broader. There is simply no aspect of library work that we are unwilling to cover. My own goal for INALJ—to to create a one-stop shop and comprehensive jobs resource for librarians the world over hunting for jobs—is still a dream, but one I work hard at every day. We may create a blog, we may continue just as we are, but one thing is for certain—there is an even greater need today to share these kinds of opportunities with each other. Since we started in October of 2010 over twenty-five of our fans have found jobs either through our postings or on their own. Our original goal has been realized and this has only fueled our passion to continue to find and fill this need.
Reach us at:
Naomi House is a reference librarian at the Census Bureau Library for CSTI. She founded INALJ (I Need a Library Job) in October of 2010 and has since branched out into a daily email digest, Facebook page, twitter feed, LinkedIn Group called INALJ and now http://inalj.com, a webzine. She lives near Washington, DC in Hyattsville, MD and enjoys cooking Pakistani food and traveling.