So many awards and scholarships available! Please consider applying!
“Short on cash but want to attend this year’s ALA conference? We’ve got you covered! Apply for the NMRT Professional Development Grant award by December 13th. This is your opportunity to win $1,000 to offset the costs to attend this year’s Annual conference in Chicago, IL on June 25-30. For more information about the award and to apply, click here: http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/awards/264/apply.
You must be a current NMRT member to apply. To join, visit the ALA website and follow the “Join ALA” link.
For questions, please contact Leah Plocharczyk, Chair of the NMRT Professional Development Grant Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!”
The October discussion focused on a topic of deep importance to any librarian – how do you find where you fit in the profession? Should you be a public, academic, law, medical, or other librarian? Do you have to be a librarian or are there other places you could go? What steps should you take to figure out where you belong? This month’s discussion provided plenty of advice and stories from soon-to-be and current librarians. Plenty of good advice was shared as were struggles in the job market.
Internships and Volunteering One of the biggest obstacles to finding your fit is finding opportunities in the first place. Internships and volunteering are a great way to test out working in a particular position even if you only do it for a handful of hours a week. These types of opportunities are low risk and a great way to test the waters of a particular type of librarianship. Approach libraries that you would like to intern or volunteer for to see what is available. It is important to note that these kinds of things may or may not be advertised on the library’s website, so it is best to ask. The worst they can tell you is no and then you can move on to the next library. These are also a great way to get your proverbial “foot in the door” somewhere. These kinds of opportunities can be a pathway to getting hired at that library and, at the very least, you have networked and made professional connections with the people you worked around.
Taking the Plunge As discussed by some of the participants this month, sometimes you just have to take the plunge and give a job a try. Apply to everything you can. Perhaps you walk into a library looking for a job and get hired on the spot or you come across a job opportunity that you feel some hesitance about but you give it a try anyway. Sometimes taking these kinds of risks may land you in a position you wind up loving. You may discover a passion for something that you never knew you had.
On the flip side, you may also discover that you hate a particular job, but this is okay too! At the end of the day, the experience you got and the things you learned in the position and about yourself are what’s important. Sometimes we have to be willing to take some risks to determine what kind of librarian we should be.
Networking Another important aspect is the concept of networking. Taking on an internship or volunteering is one way of meeting other people in the field and getting involved. But there are other ways to get your name out there and meet other professionals. Sign up for your state library association and get involved in volunteering on committees or other projects they have available. You could even attend social events organized by your library association to meet other professionals who are at various stages in their careers. Talking to your college professors is another great way to network. As they handle a lot of students who have gone through their library science classes, they can be useful in helping to connect you with others that may share similar interests or struggles. They have also likely worked in the field themselves and can provide invaluable advice. Even if you haven’t been in library school for a while, reach out to a professor.
Struggles in Finding Work While the above information is good advice for finding a position, a common thread throughout this month’s discussion were the struggles in finding a job at all. One thing that cannot be ignored is that the job market is tough for librarians – even more so if you are dedicated to finding a job in a particular type of library. One particular thing that was noted was the difficulty in finding full time work. Part time jobs abound, but this means that librarians are lacking benefits and the stability that comes with full time work. Not to mention that attempting to coordinate schedules for different jobs can be exhausting and bouncing from one job to the next can cause burnout.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the lack of full time work. All we can do as librarians and library school students is keep pushing forward the best we can and hold out hope that there is light at the end of the job search tunnel. Following the above advice that was provided by many of our participants this month is one way to improve our chances at landing a library job we want and finding out fit in the profession.
The Communications Committee will be introducing an interview series this year to spotlight librarians in different fields within our profession and highlight the inspirational work they are actively doing. The Communications Committee wants to celebrate this valuable work, and we look forward to sharing potential career opportunities for upcoming graduates. If you would like to nominate a colleague or give kudos to someone who is kicking butt in the field, please feel free to send your nominations to committee chair Josh Rimmer, J . Rimmer84 @ gmail.com. The committee gladly welcomes your suggestions, and we look forward to sharing stories, perspectives, and new voices in our field!
Call for Applications: Student
Chapter of the Year Award
Presented by the New Members Round
Deadline: March 2, 2020
Has your chapter had an outstanding year? Has membership in your chapter increased? Did your chapter develop and provide opportunities for members to participate in interesting and rewarding activities? Has your chapter received any awards? Do you have outstanding officers or members who should be recognized nationally?
If you answered YES to these
Apply for the New Members Round
Table Student Chapter of the Year Award!
Purpose of the Award:
The Award is presented in recognition of a chapter’s outstanding contributions
to the American Library Association, their library school, and the profession.
All interested applicants must be accredited ALA Student Chapters.
The Student Chapter winner will
receive $1,000.00 to help defray travel expenses to ALA Annual; the winning
chapter and the runner up will each receive a certificate.
The winners and runner up will be
recognized at the NMRT Student Reception at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago,
The Alternative Voices Feature is meant to give a platform to the voices of librarians from underrepresented communities in the library field. The format of the feature is a journalistic question and answer format. It provides information that the librarian wants people to know about them, plus their thoughts on the current state of the field of librarianship. The feature will showcase one interview each quarter. This is on a volunteer basis.
Name – Mallary Rawls Contact Information – email@example.com City & State – Tallahassee, FL Position Title – English & Interdisciplinary Subject Librarian/Diversity Resident Length of time in the library field – 8 years
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell us about your position and what you do? What is your definition of diversity, or equity or inclusion?
I’m originally from Asheboro, NC, and moved to Tallahassee, FL when, I was 24 years old. I’m married to a Ph.D. candidate, and he’s the reason why I live in Tallahassee (I followed him down here). I use she/her pronouns and I’m the mother of a 3 year old and 3 (very bad) cats. I jumped around a lot after graduating high school, but really started to focus and enjoy school the spring before I moved to Tallahassee. I was enrolled in classes at Alamance Community College (ACC) and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I made lifelong friends and really became interested in American history and our government during my time at ACC. When I moved to Florida, I finished my AA at Tallahassee Community College and transferred to Florida State University (FSU), where I completed my bachelor of arts (BA) in Interdisciplinary Humanities. The summer after I graduated with my BA, I enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science program at FSU’s iSchool. I worked part-time at a health food store and was a graduate assistant in the Goldstein Library (now The Hub), which was the library in the library school. I volunteered at the Claude Pepper Library and was hired as the Archives Assistant at the Claude Pepper Library, which is part of Special Collections at FSU Libraries. I worked there for two years, finished my library degree then applied for a job at the main public library in Tallahassee. I was hired (while 6 months pregnant) as one of the Youth Services Librarians at the LeRoy Collins Main Library, and that was another wonderful experience. I learned so much about being a librarian, the public service role of librarianship, and really enjoyed my time there. I wanted to go back to school to earn a second master’s degree, but I couldn’t afford it without some assistance. When the Diversity Residency job was posted at FSU libraries, I applied and was hired as part of the first cohort, along with three other librarians. I’m currently still a resident, but I don’t introduce myself as a resident. I knew when I began my residency that I wanted the experience of being a subject librarian, and that’s what I’m getting. I’m currently the subject liaison to the African American Studies program, the English department, International Studies, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Middle Eastern Studies and Women, Gender and Sexual Studies. I co-liaison interdisciplinary programs such as Asian Studies, Latin American? /Caribbean Studies and Russian/Slavic Studies with our Modern Languages Librarian. The best thing that’s prepared me to do what I’m doing now is patience and working on my communication and listening skills. My definition of diversity is simple, acceptance. Accepting people as they are and realizing we’re all a work in progress. I don’t think this means accepting people who have hateful ideologies, but I think it means that we all need to know when it’s time to listen to others and when it’s time to talk and speak up for ourselves and others. I think there lots of interesting and vibrant conversations taking place about diversity and the commodification of diversity and I hope to keep reading, learning and growing not only as a librarian, but as a person and an active citizen.
What drew you to a career as a librarian and what is your current role?
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina (Asheboro – where the NC Zoo is located) and my mom worked at the courthouse, which is across the street from the library. I would hang out at the library after school and always found it to be a calm, comfortable and safe space. I had an up and down career as a student, but once I was able to focus, I knew I wanted to be a librarian because of the service part of being a librarian and because I loved the library as a space. My current role in librarianship is the English and Interdisciplinary Subject Librarian at Florida State University, I’m also part of the first cohort of Diversity Residents. I cover subject areas in both the humanities and social sciences.
What are some of your hobbies and are you still finding time for these activities with your busy schedule?
My current hobby is being a graduate student, again. I started a second master’s degree in American History with a concentration in the Reconstruction period, post-Civil War. It’s been difficult, but I’m happy that I’m doing it. I’ve got a wonderful major professor and, I’m learning more about the history of libraries in American society.
Is there anything more that you would like to see NMRT or ALA as a whole do as a method to ensure the promotion of diversity and alternative voices?
I would like NMRT and ALA to be a space where there’s a broader conversation about residency programs and their effectiveness. There lots of great LOC (librarians of color) who are doing this work and critically evaluating the use and value of residency programs, but to have a national organization like the ALA address that diversity residencies are not the best and only option to ensure the promotion of diversity in librarianship. Diversity residencies can be a bridge or a step in the right direction, but are rife with problems and are incredibly institution focused as opposed to individually focused. NMRT and ALA can also address the contingent labor issue that is prevalent in librarianship. Contingent labor can help a new librarian or a librarian wanting to change their career trajectory to gain relevant experience, but we want and need permanent jobs. NMRT and ALA can help librarians that currently endure contingent labor gain their agency back.
How well do you see libraries responding to the current political climate? What could they do better?
I think libraries could have a better and more cohesive response to our current political climate. American democracy and institutions are under attack, and I think libraries, especially public and academic libraries, have spent a lot of time trying to “prove our worth” when we’re part of the infrastructure that has built and maintained democracy in this country. There’s been a movement away from constantly proving our worth, but we can’t remain neutral in this political climate, we have to stand for something. We need to stand up for our communities, know our worth and not cower. In public and academic libraries, I think that means having book displays for underrepresented groups. It means holding book discussions about uncomfortable topics, and it means standing by and up for the communities that have supported and need libraries.
How do you think the field will change most dramatically in the next several years?
In academic libraries, I think Open Educational Resources (OER) have the most potential to dramatically change the field of librarianship and education in the next several years. Libraries have always been a place where we’ve supported open and free access to materials, and I’m lucky that I work with librarians who are working hard to provide information to our faculty and students about the possibilities of OER. Librarians can’t do this work on our own or for educators, but we have been advocates and will continue to do so.
What book do you find yourself pushing onto patrons the most?
Anything by Toni Morrison, she’s changed my life more than any other writer or figure. Sula is my go-to, but I constantly tell people to read her work.
In a perfect world, you started your MLIS with dreams of becoming a children’s librarian with the best storytime in town, or perhaps an academic subject librarian who publishes in the top journals. You found a steady job that checked all of your boxes, and off you went to have a great career. We aren’t living in a perfect world, however, and many of us end up changing our minds about the type of librarian we want to be. Whether it’s because the job wasn’t what we thought, our ambitions changed, or we just want to try something new, some of us decide to make the jump from public to academic, or vice versa.
When I decided to make the switch from my public librarian position into the academic librarian world, I was surprised how much push back and questioning I got. Did I think I was ready for the rigours of academic life? Did I have the skills and knowledge to be on the tenure track? Wouldn’t I miss the kids at the public library? (Spoiler: yes, I do!) The questions made me wonder why some librarians think academic and public libraries require such different knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to be successful. We all know that academic and public libraries can differ significantly in their mission, collections, and services. Should that stop us from making the jump? Now that I’ve been an academic librarian for nearly two years, I wanted to share my thoughts for those who may be considering the switch, but are worried they won’t make the cut. Since I made the switch from public to academic, that’s what I’ll be focusing on, but you can take the advice the other direction as well!
Public libraries cannot be siloed from their communities. They can’t afford to be. As a public librarian, I worked with members of our community, businesses, and the city government on everything from summer reading giveaways to having the animal shelter bring cats to an adoption party. Public librarians are great at selling the value of their library and convincing the community to work with them on a variety of projects. Academic librarians have to collaborate as well, just in different ways. I’ve reached across campus to different departments to try and pool efforts on initiatives, expand knowledge of the library’s resources, and create innovative programs to support student success. Can you convince a company to give you gift cards for door prizes? Use that ability to create a cross-campus collaboration!
Yes, these days I spend far more time in an office than on a reference desk. Patrons make appointments for consults, and I guest lecture about 10-15 times a semester. Even with the reduced facetime, the people skills I learned at the public library have been beyond helpful. Although libraries vary, at my previous job, I was on the reference desk nearly 40 hours a week. I had to be ‘on’ that entire time; helpful, cheerful, and patient. How does that help at the academic library? Do you know how many committee meetings I go to a week? Service is a major tenet of academic librarianship, and to be honest, I’m one of those who actually loves it, but chairing teams and herding cats can test even the most patient of librarians.
As a subject librarian, I am expected to be an expert in helping students locate and use business databases and other resources. If you look at job postings for subject librarians, they will usually ask for some coursework, a degree, or experience in that specific subject. If you’re a public librarian, even if you don’t have access to the ‘big’ databases or journals, you probably still have subject-specific ones that you can become familiar with. The great thing about being a public librarian is you get to help with all kinds of questions, which means you have experience helping in so many different areas. Your experience runs the gamut from helping a patron find books on business plans to helping high school students find scholarly articles for a research paper. All of these knowledge transactions add up to a rich, varied experience you can point to as examples of your flexibility and wide range of knowledge
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways in which you can translate your skills from one type of library to another. My hope is that if you do want to make a move, this list might help lessen your fears, and you can gather together all the amazing and crazy experiences you’ve had into a stellar application.
Jennifer Wilhelm (NMRT Board Member) has been a Business Librarian at Texas A&M University since 2018. She previously worked as an Adult Reference Librarian at the Bryan + College Station Public library system and continues to work collaboratively with the public library on programs and projects. Her research topics center on informal STEM in libraries and collaborating with university career centers to improve students’ job search capabilities.
Want to be a mentor? Support the future of librarianship? Of course, you do! Applications are still being taken! “Do you have over 5 years of library experience and are looking for new ways to engage with other librarians? Use your wealth of knowledge to connect new librarians to their career path by applying to be a mentor!
Membership in ALA is required, and NMRT membership is encouraged. We are looking to pair up mentees with mentors by November.
Feature is meant to give a platform to the voices of librarians from underrepresented
communities in the library field. The format of the
feature is a journalistic question and answer format. It provides information
that the librarian wants people to know about
them, plus their thoughts on the current state of the field of
Name – Amanpreet “Aman” Kaur, CFCS, MLIS Contact Information – firstname.lastname@example.org City & State – Philadelphia, PA Position Title – Community Health & Engineering Librarian Length of time in the library field – 6 years for paid work (As K-12 student, I spent a decade of my life volunteering in school and public libraries. As an undergraduate student, I held many jobs. None were in the academic library. I had no idea that I would return to libraries as an employee after graduating college.)
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where
did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate
or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell us about your position and what you do? What is your
definition of diversity, or equity or inclusion?
I was born and raised in Morris County, New Jersey to working-class immigrant parents who stressed the importance of formal education as a means to succeed in life. I am currently the most formally educated member of my immediate family. I obtained my BS in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies with a minor in Engineering Studies from Iowa State University and an MLIS from Rutgers University. Today, I utilize all of my undergraduate and graduate coursework in my work as the University of Pennsylvania’s inaugural Community Health & Engineering Librarian, in which I serve as a traditional liaison librarian for the School of Engineering and Applied Science and assist Penn’s ever-growing health sciences community on health literacy, interprofessional education, and other outreach initiatives. I am also an Associate Fellow at the Center for Public Health Initiatives, with whom I am currently rolling out Weekly Themed Wellness Walks, a university-wide initiative in which on-campus wellness walks are transformed into informal networking and learning opportunities for students, staff, and faculty.
To me, diversity is the measure of variety or assortment of demographic identifiers such as gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, status, ability, etc. Greater diversity in classrooms, workplaces, and communities leads to exposure to more perspectives, which ultimately leads to better ideas and innovations in the long run.
Before you became a librarian, what were you thinking about doing
professionally or academically?
Before I enrolled in my MLIS program, I wanted to be a Family and Consumer Sciences educator and a robotics club advisor in a public secondary school. You might think this is oddly specific, but this almost was my reality. Days before the MLIS program orientation at Rutgers, I turned down a full-time teaching job in my hometown district, so I could be a full-time MLIS student instead. While this was a risky move, it worked out for me. However, sometimes, I do wonder if what it would have been like to work in my hometown school district, which laid the foundation for my career in education.
What are some of your
hobbies and are you still finding time for these activities with your busy schedule?
During my precious spare time, I am at the gym in a group exercise
class or lifting weights. I make the effort to exercise multiple times per
week. Since I go to the gym on campus, there are students, staff, and faculty
who recognize me from the library system. I don’t mind that interacting with
them as the unofficial librarian at the gym.
What do you know now that
you wished you’d known when you were just beginning your job hunt?
I did not know how expensive it was to interview for jobs. I wish
I knew that I needed to spend my own money on travel and wait for
reimbursements, so my advice is to try to save money as much money as you can
as you begin your job search.
When you were growing up, did you
feel that the libraries accurately reflected the community you lived in?
I had started using my hometown public library system as a Pre-K student. I volunteered at the public library from 5th through 12th grades. My family couldn’t afford for me to be involved in expensive extracurricular activities like sports or band, so I found the library to be the place, where I can participate in summer reading challenges, arts & crafts activities, science experiments, and more. I served on the inaugural Teen Advisory Board, while I was in middle school, so I got the opportunity to shape the then-new Teen Room into a place I needed and wanted. While I was growing up, my hometown transitioned into an increasingly diverse community, and I believe that the library did a good job of reflecting that in its offerings of origami workshops, dance lessons, English classes, etc.
What trends are most
impacting the field right now?
Over the past few years, I have noticed that there are many more
conversations about diversity, inclusion, and equity going on at conferences
that typically attract LIS students and professionals. I hope that these
conversations are not just trendy and would like to see outcomes that increase
the diversity of the profession.
What surprises you the
most about your job/field?
I was a Community (Residential) Advisor for most of my
undergraduate years. In my current job, I am drawing from this experience far
more than I am drawing from library-related experiences.
Do you have a blog/website?
Yes, please visit tinyurl.com/amankaur for more about me. You’re
also, welcome to follow or message me on Twitter at @akaur0.
My name is Nicole LaMoreaux and I am the 2019-2020 President of the New Members Round Table. I am the Assistant Director of Research and Instructional Services at The New School in New York, NY. I am proud to announce that we have over 1,500 members representing every aspect of librarianship, from nearly every state and even some foreign countries. We are a round table for those who have been members of ALA for fewer than ten years and are looking to augment their involvement in ALA. In addition to providing you with the means to develop as a new professional through committee work, conference programs, and other year-round services, NMRT provides numerous venues for you to make connections with colleagues, learn from mentors, and even form lifelong friendships.
NMRT can help jump-start your library career like few other groups can. As my presidential theme “Building Future Leaders of Tomorrow” implies, NMRT seeks to welcome you and help you find your niche in ALA. We hope to see you online and in-person at one of our many events this year. In the meantime, should you have any questions about what we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.