Here is another post for you new and soon-to-be new grads. Kathel Dunn was gracious enough to speak with me about the Associate Fellowship program at the National Library of Medicine. If you’re interested in being a health sciences librarian, please pay close attention!
Can you give us a brief introduction to the NLM Associate Fellowship Program?
Sure! The Associate Fellowship Program is a one-year residency program at the National Library of Medicine on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The fellowship offers recent library science graduates the opportunity to learn about NLM’s products, services, and databases; its research and development areas; and its outreach to the public, particularly underserved populations; and to health professionals.
Why does the NLM continue to fund this program? What makes it important to your organization?
NLM continues to fund the program – it’s over 40 years old – because of a strong commitment to training health sciences librarians. It’s part of our Long Range Plan.
What are the main job duties of the Associate Fellows – do they differ from those of “regular” librarians?
The Associate Fellows’ main “job” is to learn. So their responsibilities are first to participate in a curriculum, taught by staff, which covers all of the work that NLM does. It’s extensive – lasting approximately 5 months. At the end of that time, the Associate Fellows then move into the project phase of the year where they work on projects proposed by staff. In addition, they go to conferences, visit other health sciences libraries, and present on their project to all NLM staff at the end of the year.
Are Associate Fellows paid? Do they get any other special benefits?
Yes, Associate Fellows are paid $51,630 for the year. In addition, they receive:
- An additional amount provided to assist in paying for health insurance
- Up to $1,500 to aid with moving expenses
- Full funding to attend local and national conferences
What would you tell a potential applicants in order to convince them to apply for the program?
I usually don’t try to convince someone to apply. If someone has to be convinced, it’s probably not a good match. What I want to convey, though, is how exciting it is to be at the National Library of Medicine, where many of the products and services used not just by health sciences libraries and libraries but by researchers and the public across the United States and the world are created, maintained and reinvented. For a librarian in any stage of his or her career, NLM is an amazing place to be.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Applicants must have graduated from an ALA-accredited program within the past two years. That’s the basic eligibility requirement. What we also like to see is an interest in health sciences librarianship and in leadership.
What does the selection process entail? How does it differ from the regular job application process?
We ask for a structured resume**, three written references, transcripts, and responses to two questions: What do you hope to gain by participating in the NLM Associate Fellowship Program and If selected, what will you bring to the NLM Associate Fellowship Program?
The regular job application process for NLM is through the USAJobs web site and does not usually require responses to narrative statements.
**Emily’s note: The structured resume in this context is a resume which is formatted and contains information as specified on page 6 of the current application.
Any tips for students? Is there anything they could do to improve their chances of winning a spot in your program?
The biggest tip is to pay attention to the application instructions. We ask for a complete job history on their resume, to include library and non-library jobs. We respect the work and skills someone may have learned from another industry, including customer service, management, project planning, or marketing, as examples.
We also look for signs of leadership or interest in leadership in the resume, reference letters, or responses to the questions.
When will the next Associate Fellows be picked?
The next Associate Fellows’ application deadline will be in early February 2014. We then review applications and in late March ask between 10 and 12 applicants to visit us for an interview in mid to late April. We make our decision on who we’ve selected by late April or early May.
Anything else you want to tell us about the program, or about job hunting in general?
Yes. I’m happy to take calls or emails from students interested in the program or anyone who would like to work at NLM. Really. It’s my job and it’s a pleasure to hear from someone who’d like to know more about the National Library of Medicine.
Photos of NLM Fellows and Kathel Dunn by Troy Pfister, National Library of Medicine.
Thank you to Ms. Dunn for taking the time to answer my questions!
If you run a LIS residency program and you’d like to discuss it here, please contact me. I’d love to talk to you.