NMRT Member Spotlight: 5 Questions with Dana Skwirut

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:34 am by nmrtsecretary


Dana Skwirut

Children’s Librarian

Edison Township Public Library, Edison, NJ

A little about Dana’s job:

I am a children’s librarian in a very busy library, where I help our young patrons find information for school projects as well as their next favorite book. I plan programs for multiple branches, ranging from lapsits and preschool story times to events for elementary school students. I also visit district schools to promote various library services, most recently in the form of visiting kindergarten to talk about library cards.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

During the aforementioned kindergarten visits, I received a lot of very specific questions about the kinds of books we had at the library, and what would happen if we didn’t have a certain book, and a number of other questions in this vein that only five-year-olds tend to ask. Eventually their teacher announced, “Listen, if they don’t have it, they can get it for you.” And that’s really the core of what we do, isn’t it? If you want to learn something, I can help you find out about it. If we do not have that information onsite, I can get it for you. It is literally my job and my priority to connect you with that information. I love being able to help people follow their passions. As a bonus, since I work with children, these passions are usually topics such as Legos, princesses, trains, and the latest Diary of A Wimpy Kid book.

2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

I am really excited to do work as a member of NMRT’s Membership Promotion, Diversity, & Recruitment Committee. We are reaching out to library schools to connect  with students interested in future roles within ALA. I feel incredibly lucky to have known someone already involved in the organization, otherwise I might have never gotten involved nor ever known about NMRT fresh out of school. I think it’s important to connect new librarians to an organization that is there to help them.

3) What got you interested in libraries?

I have always been drawn to connecting people to information. In undergrad, this took the form of a major in communication with a focus on PR, but something did not feel quite right about that career path. Later I realized I wasn’t interested in connecting people with just any information, I wanted to help them find information in which they were interested. I was drawn to libraries, and public libraries specifically, because the access to information is free and open, giving everyone a chance to learn whatever they want.

4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

Being an NMRT member really opens doors for new professionals. I was clueless but interested in being involved with ALA right after graduating from library school two years ago, and being introduced to NMRT really helped clear a lot of that confusion. I love that being a member of an NMRT committee really means being part of a team. This is my second year working on a committee, and I have gained an enormous amount of valuable experience and have had opportunities to meet and work with people I otherwise never would have met.

5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Yes! Dare greatly, new librarians. I often hear things like, “I would love to do X but I am not sure about myself/I am so new/I am clueless.” Do not talk yourself out of opportunities, especially if it stems from a fear that you are too new, not ready, or not good enough. After all, how else can you learn something if you do not try at all?

We are in need of more NMRT Member of the Week nominations! Want to be our next member of the week? Know another new librarian who deserves to be in the spotlight? Fill out our nomination form here!


Midwinter Roommate Matching Service from NMRT

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:51 pm by nmrtsecretary

Looking for a roommate for the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meetings & Exhibits in Chicago? Let us help! This year the New Members Round Table is matching interested attendees with roommates for hotel accommodations.

How it works: Sign up by December 5, then the NMRT Local Information Committee will use your form submission information to find
your match. You will receive your potential roommate’s contact information by December 21. It will be your responsibility to contact your roommate match and make arrangements. The NMRT Annual Conference Local Information committee is not responsible for making your hotel reservations.

Sign up here: goo.gl/e2nHO5

Questions? Email the NMRT Local
Information Committee:


NMRT Annual Program Highlights Career Changes within the Library Profession

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:44 pm by nmrtsecretary

The New Members Roundtable (NMRT) Annual Program committee announces the first of three online programs planned for 2014-15. “The Art of Making Transitions in Your Librarian Career,” is set for Tuesday, December 2 at 12:00 pm (EST).

We invite you to join us as presenters Beth Ashmore and Jacquelyn Paulin share their personal knowledge of making successful career changes within the profession and discuss what to consider before making a move. The program will be accessible through Adobe Connect at http://ala.adobeconnect.com/r6g8798xp2u/. Please sign in early as space is limited to 100 participants.

Beth Ashmore, who began her career as an instruction librarian, is Metadata Librarian for Serials & Electronic Resources at Samford University Library in Birmingham, Alabama. She recently co-authored the book The Librarian’s Guide to Negotiation, and maintains the website The Researching Librarian.

Jacquelyn Paulin is a Reference Librarian for a contracting company in the Washington, DC metro area. Merging her background in technology, communication, and research into her library career has taken her to academic, non-profit, and government libraries.

The NMRT Annual Program committee sponsors online programs designed to support library professionals. In addition to “The Art of Making Transitions in Your Librarian Career,” the 2014-15 series will also include programs on negotiating your salary (March 3), and networking and your job hunt (June 9). For further information, contact Committee Co-Chairs Beth Canzoneri at bcanzoneri@uidaho.edu or Alyse Ergood at aergood@fau.edu .


NMRT Member Spotlight: 5 Questions with Tammy Ivins

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:53 pm by nmrtsecretary


Tammy Ivins

Rogers Library, Francis Marion University

Head of Reference

A little about Tammy’s job:

As Head of the Reference department, I coordinate a team of myself and three other reference librarians to provide reference and instruction services to our small (<4,000 students) university community. Our department members manage government documents, archives & special collections, and the library’s website, along with other responsibilities such as collection development.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

I love my job because I get to work closely with students every day. Additionally, I am also enjoying my new role as department head, in which I get facilitate the resources that my team needs to succeed and to lend my voice in the administration of the library.

2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?  

At my library we are setting up a virtual display board in the lobby.  I am excited about this because we are not only doing this on a zero budget (funding is tight everywhere), but also because the project is a great collaboration between departments. Systems donated an old computer monitor & an ancient laptop (on which we  have been able to get a light-weight slideshow software to run), Tech Services provided a spare computer desk & tablecloth, Circulation helped to set up the display area, and the Reference Department’s web presence librarian will be updating the display weekly.  This is a completely new idea at our library, and I am excited that not only was there no hesitation from anyone in the library, but in fact everyone worked together to make it a reality.

3) What got you interested in libraries?

Like many librarians, I have fond memories of spending hours at my local library as a child.

4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

How easy it is to get involved and start contributing to the profession! Volunteering with NMRT has been incredibly beneficial. I have developed my teamwork & leadership skills and have been able to network with some of the best new librarians out there.

5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Be flexible. While I know of a few librarians who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they got their MSLS, found the perfect job, and stayed there happily forever, that is the exception.  Oftentimes you don’t know what you want to specialize in, can’t find a job in that field if you do, or decide that you want a change.  If you are too rigid in your expectations of yourself and your career, you will miss out on some amazing opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

We are in need of more NMRT Member of the Week nominations! Want to be our next member of the week? Know another new librarian who deserves to be in the spotlight? Fill out our nomination form here!


Guest Post: NMRT Treasurer-Elect Easter DiGangi

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:23 pm by nmrtsecretary

Parenthood and Career Opportunities

NMRT’s Assistant Treasurer Easter DiGangi shares her experiences balancing life as a new parent with her professional duties and aspirations. Discussions on the NMRT list-serv and ALA Think Tank Facebook group show that this topic is one of interest to many new librarians, so feel free to continue the conversation on our Facebook group.

In August of this year, someone posted a question on the ALA Think Tank Facebook page about how to stay in the field after starting a family early in his/her career. He/she wasn’t sure if he/she should work part time or stay at home for a few years. The responses were amazing and marked in their sincerity. I was impressed with the open discussion on the subject- bringing an important and infrequently addressed issue to light. As a mom of a toddler, I personally have struggled with similar questions. Most recently my family relocated due to a position that my spouse obtained. I was unable to find another job before our move and thus I became an accidental stay-at-home parent for seven months while I continued my job search. Don’t get me wrong, I loved spending time with my little one but I definitely missed my job.

For me, this Facebook discussion illustrates how supportive our colleagues can be even when it comes to the intersection of our personal and professional lives. While initially we may feel alone, through networking we discover many others who have gone through the same familial struggles and have succeeded professionally. These people can share great insight that can help you navigate how to retain and grow a career in the library and information science field even when you have a young family.

Parents with young families have a lot of issues to contend with including whether to stay home for a time or to continue working (whether it be part time or full time). Some people don’t have a choice on the issue of whether to work or not depending on their personal or financial situation. The decision to work or stay at home for a time may have to do with your personality. However, new parents may be surprised by how they feel once a child arrives. Those who are totally career-minded might suddenly crave time with their new family. Others who thought they’d want to stay at home for a time might discover they truly need the grown-up time at work. Either decision is totally fine.

For me, there wasn’t a question of whether to work. The challenge was finding a position that had the right fit for me and my family given the constraints I was under. That situation certainly played into how long it took to find and accept a position. One issue I encountered was the inevitable gap on my resume due to these constraints. I discovered that a gap is not necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure to account for wide gaps in your resume within your cover letter. It is your choice whether to point out that you were being a stay-at-home parent or doing some other professional activity.

Days and hours of work may be a constraint depending on your family situation. Perhaps you can’t work evenings or weekends. Maybe you need flexible hours. In this case, taking on a volunteer or substitute position may work for you. I volunteered my time with NMRT committee work and with the local Friends of the Library while I looked for a job. Both fit my family’s schedule well. Either being a volunteer or a substitute can be invaluable because lots of places prefer to hire from within for jobs– if and when your availability changes.

A particular job which may require you to take work home can factor into whether you accept or remain in a position. For example, this situation may prompt you to keep two part time jobs instead of accepting a full time job.

You may be limited by geography in your search. This has certainly been the case with me and it is true with many families. In this situation, broaden your search to include more library types and/or position titles. If necessary, work in a related field outside the library or accept a paraprofessional position. Having some current experience is better than having no experience. In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your family.

There are many ways to stay current in the field that will accommodate any schedule regardless of your family situation. Here are some ideas:

* Keep up with professional listservs, journals, and social media.

* Get involved with one or more professional associations.

* Network online or in person.

* Take classes and/or get certified.

While librarian parents do have some challenges in retaining and growing in their careers, I think people need to know (if they don’t already) that librarian parents develop incredible skills from their personal lives that definitely benefit their professional lives. Just a few of these skills include the following: problem-solving, multi-tasking, time management, organization, communication, delegation, and negotiation. There is even a WikiHow article on “How to use your parenting skills at work”. Bottom line, being a parent doesn’t mean you can’t have a very successful career if you want it. In fact, it may help you to build great leadership skills.


NMRT Member Spotlight: 5 Questions with Sarah LeMire

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:17 pm by nmrtsecretary

LeMire Photo 10-30-2014

Sarah LeMire

J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah – Salt Lake City, Utah

Assistant Head of Research and Information Services

A little about Sarah’s job

I’m a reference and instruction librarian at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, where I serve as the librarian coordinator for the library’s Knowledge Commons.  I also teach information literacy classes for a variety of first-year experience courses and for the University’s undergraduate writing requirement course.  Lastly, I liaise with the Writing and Rhetoric Studies department and with the campus Veterans Support Center.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

I love that I never quite know how my day is going to go.  There’s always a new patron to meet, a new problem to solve, and a new question to answer.  It’s never boring!

 2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

I’ve been working on a project with some colleagues to evaluate our reference statistics and develop a more effective system for recording and reporting statistics in our library. Right now we’re writing up our research findings and getting ready to implement our new system, and it’s exciting to start to see how this long-term project is going to start to have results on our day-to-day activities.

 3) What got you interested in libraries?

Like many librarians, I was a voracious reader as a child and I spent a lot of time at my local public library.  I started working there as a teenager, and from then on I always knew that I’d find my way back to libraries – it just felt like home.

4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

I really appreciate that NMRT is a place for all types of new librarians – public, academic, school or special, young or old.

 5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

I think we’ve all probably heard this advice, and I know I didn’t heed it enough, so I’ll say it again:  pace yourself.  Don’t try to take on too much.  It’s really easy, especially as an enthusiastic new librarian, to say yes to everything.  It’s important to learn how to say no, how to prioritize your time, and how to strike a good work-life balance.

Want to be our next member of the week? Know another new librarian who deserves to be in the spotlight? Fill out our nomination form here!


Guest Post: NMRT Leadership Director Kate Kosturski

Posted in Annual, Conference, Midwinter at 5:14 pm by nmrtsecretary

Initially a Debit, but Forever a Credit

Kate Kosturski, NMRT’s Leadership Director, shares why she’s willing to spend what can seem to be a staggering amount to go to conferences and build her professional development. It turns out there are credits to be earned by attending “library summer camp”!

In September, I had the privilege of attending the Special Libraries Association, New York City chapter’s inauguaral conference, where the SLA President Elect, Jill Strand, gave the keynote.  As it seems to pass whenever you have an association president in the room, questions about dues and conference fees came up – really, just one question:  Why are they so darn high?

My friend Tracy and lamented this line of questioning over Twitter (and some drinks).   No one will argue conferences are expensive – my bundled registration for ALA Midwinter and Annual was $400, and I am not looking forward to having to find hotels in San Francisco next summer for conference that seems to be held right in the middle of Pride Week and a homestead for the current World Series champs.   I’m not looking forward to playing the “find the cheapest flights around” game for conference in Chicago during Super Bowl weekend. (Sorry Bears fans – I have to admit I am seriously praying that you don’t go to Tempe for the big game this season!)

At the same time, while these are temporary debits, and I may have to put off getting the new TV or (even worse) figure out how to juggle rent, car insurance, and food with a conference bill that can go into four figures, I have to remind myself that they are actually credits in my professional development account.   Spending a few days at McCormick Place or the Moscone Center reconnecting with my fellow librarians and learning a few new things is worth the money I may have to give up – especially as I do not work in a library (I’m what you call a “vendorbrarian”) and run the risk of falling out of touch with the peers that accompanied me on my degree and job search journeys.   Sure, I lose some vacation days and don’t get reimbursement from my job for going to conference, but what I get out of what we have started to call “librarian summer camp” outweighs those extra credit card charges.

And networking can happen in the most unlikely of places.  Last year, while en route to a party on the Las Vegas Monorail (and unfortunately starting to feel the effects of that supposed dry heat), I struck up a conversation with a fellow librarian from my home state of Connecticut – who just happened to work in Westport, the next town over from my home in Norwalk – and she mentioned that there were openings.   We exchanged cards, and while nothing did come of that posting, I would have never known about it had I decided Las Vegas was just too expensive and I was sitting Annual 2014 out.

We are getting close to Midwinter 2015, and housing for Annual 2015 will open up shortly after the New Year.   While those bills will be painful, I encourage you to look past the short term ouch and towards the long term benefits of being at conference.

See you in Chicago!


NMRT Member Spotlight: 5 Questions with Margaret Howard

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:01 pm by nmrtsecretary

mhoward pic

Margaret Howard

Chesterfield County Public Library, VA

Assistant Branch Manager

A little about Margaret’s job:

I am the head of reference for a mid-sized public library; I also manage branch programming and supervise the librarian staff members.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

Working for a busy and creative library system gives me a lot of opportunities to try new things. It’s great to be given permission on a regular basis to work on new kinds of projects and learn about emerging trends or technologies. My big project for next year is a large fundraising event we are doing with our Friends of the Library which I will be planning from start to finish. I am doing a murder-mystery theme from an idea I borrowed from the awesome Audrey Barbakoff of Kitsap Regional Library WA, and believe we are going to make a really cool event that will be beneficial to the library as well as our community. I’m excited to get started and thankful to have a system that lets me take risks and try new things, as well as allowing me the resources to succeed.

2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

In October I begin my term as Virginia Library Association’s NMRT Chair and I’m really looking forward continuing the work this team has been doing over the last few years. We are on year two of our mentoring program, which emulates the career mentoring program given by ALA NMRT and I believe it will continue to grow and improve. Our focus is connecting new librarians from across Virginia with the resources offered by VLA and getting everyone involved. In addition to our mentoring program, VLA NMRT holds regular socials around the state to give librarians the opportunity to meet people in a relaxed and fun environment. I believe creating these connections encourages new librarians to get involved in non-threatening environments, which I find to be incredibly important and helpful.

3) What got you interested in libraries?

I wanted my career to be something I believed in and could advocate for, and libraries fit this need for me. I live and breathe what I do, as a public librarian I know that I help people with real-life problems and provide solutions a lot of people won’t receive anywhere else. I’ve helped patrons who later came back and told me that what I did helped get them a job, or encouraged their child to become a reader. Helping people in real, measureable ways is so incredibly rewarding, I feel very lucky to do what I do.

4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

Well, NMRT sponsored me for ALA Emerging Leaders 2013 for which I will be forever grateful. I love that NMRT gives everyone opportunities to get involved and learn the ropes of ALA. It’s such a huge and potentially scary organization, I feel that NMRT helps create diversity by encouraging everyone to become a member and be involved. I also love the mentoring program NMRT provides, and I’m not just saying that as co-chair of the committee! I was mentored by Jennifer Baker, Director of St. Helena Library CA, from 2012-2013 through NMRT’s program and we developed a great relationship that I really benefitted from. I was applying for supervisory positions during this time and was able to talk to Jennifer about how I was feeling and get unbiased advice and support. It took a few tries but I ultimately was offered the management position I have now, I feel that my mentor/mentee relationship helped me keep my sanity during that time.

5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Figure out what you want to do and go for it with passion. My motto is “You go where your eyes go,” meaning whatever it is you are focused on, you will get there eventually, so make sure you are focused on something you actually want! No one is going to hand you your dream career, you have to carve it out yourself and look for opportunities when they come. NMRT is great for this as it gives lots of ways to get involved, meet new people, and hone your skills. Look for opportunities, apply, volunteer, and be brave with your career; you really do only live once.

Want to be our next member of the week? Know another new librarian who deserves to be in the spotlight? Fill out our nomination form here!


NMRT Member Spotlight: 3 Questions with Autumn Johnson

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:01 pm by nmrtsecretary


Autumn Johnson

Savannah State University, Savannah, GA

Information Literacy Librarian

A little about Autumn’s job:
Autumn is responsible for leading assessment initiatives of the Library instruction program through course-integrated and stand-alone information literacy sessions. She pursues outreach partnerships with campus programs and departments, and seeks opportunities to integrate library resources and instruction into academic and special programs. She also serves as the library liaison to Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Freshman Year Experience.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

I love working with incoming freshman. Many are first-generation college students so the experience is all new for them. When they first speak with us or attend one of our instruction sessions they expect to hear the same old thing but they’re always surprised to learn all the services available to them. They won’t have to figure out that first research paper or project alone. Their gratitude is overwhelming. By the time they’re juniors or seniors, you’re invested.  I will never forget when one of our graduating seniors walked out of the procession line to give me a hug and thank me for helping with her senior thesis. It’s an amazing feeling—and we’re only doing our jobs!

2) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

I love the sense of community with NMRT. I would have been completely lost at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas if it hadn’t been for the orientation session and the friendly folks that were willing to share tips and help navigate the chaos.

3) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Explore! I’ve been lucky enough to work with several academic libraries, a government archive, a special library, a health library, and even a museum. These opportunities were amazing. I learned so much about the diverse field of librarianship and what I really want from my career.  I encourage students to explore all facets of librarianship. Don’t get tunnel vision.  You never know what might be out there.  I started library school thinking I wanted to work in archival processing–working behind the scenes. Now, I’m in front of hundreds of students each week and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Inspired by Autumn’s story? Inspire someone else by nominating yourself or someone you know to be our next NMRT Member of the Week! Fill out our nomination form here!


Apply for the NMRT Shirley Olfson Memorial Award to Attend ALA

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:13 pm by nmrtsecretary

Shirley Olofson Memorial Award Application


Application deadline: December 15, 2014

The Shirley Olofson Memorial Award is presented annually in honor of Shirley Olofson, a well-respected former NMRT president, who died during her term in office. The award, which is intended to help defray costs to attend the ALA Annual Conference, will be presented in the form of a check for $1,000 during the 2015 Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA. The winner will be chosen in January before the ALA Midwinter Meeting. All applicants will be notified in March.


Applicants must be members of ALA and NMRT, participate actively in the library profession, show promise or activity in the area of professional development, have valid financial need, and have not attended more than five ALA annual conferences.


Fill out the application form at http://www.ala.org/nmrt/initiatives/applyforfunds/shirleyolofson. Include a current resume that lists educational background and degrees, library positions you’ve held, activity in ALA, NMRT, or other ALA groups, activity in other library associations, and participation in scholarly activity.

Write a short essay or paragraph that explains the reasons you are applying for this award. Address your financial need. (Specify what expenses are funded by your employer or other resources, e.g. registration, travel, lodging, and meals, etc. and what expenses you pay on your own.) Please also consider addressing NMRT President Megan Hodge’s theme, “Be Influential at All Stages of Your Career”, in your essay.

If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within two business days after submitting this application form, please send an email to Rachel Jaffe at jaffer[at]ucsc.edu.

Applicants will be notified of incomplete applications.

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