One thing this blog has made me aware of is all the different ways that state library associations help out job hunters. You know how it’s super tough to get that very first library job? And how sometimes new professionals feel a little hung out to dry once they’ve graduated? Well, this week’s post is about a Maryland resource which helps address that problem, and provides a lot of great support for developing a library career. This week we’re featuring MLA Deal!
What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!
DEAL (Development of Emerging and Aspiring Librarians) is an interest group of the Maryland Library Association (MLA) dedicated to providing new professionals and library students with resources to create the library career they want.
When was it started? Why was it started?
MLA has had a student interest group for some time now, but around Spring of 2011 Mark de Jong, our Chair, started talking seriously about revamping it. Through his direction and the vision and efforts of our team, we’ve relaunched the group, expanded its audience, and reignited interest in MLA! Our main goal was to help those new to librarianship (early-career librarians, students, and library techs) navigate the waters of employment, providing opportunities to network and explore the profession and giving them tools to get the jobs they wanted.
Who runs it?
Mark de Jong, an active member of MLA, is our Chair. But in reality we have a much more decentralized approach. There’s a somewhat large group of us (around 12), but we’ve each got dedicated roles. I’m the social media manager, so I oversee our Twitter & LinkedIn accounts, as well as some of the blog.
Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?
I’m hesitant to call myself a career expert, but being in school and concerned about finding a job that used my degree has provided plenty of motivation for me to research different career options! The thing about the DEAL leadership team that I love so much is that we represent such different paths for information professionals. For instance, Lindsay Sarin (our mentorship expert and conference liaison) is a coordinator for University of Maryland’s MLS program, so her job is to help library school students think strategically about their time in school and how it relates to their career goals. Katy Berube, who contributes to our blog, is an academic librarian with an immense wealth of HR knowledge that we’re lucky to draw from. We’ve all got different strengths and areas of expertise, and together it helps to enrich the kind of career development programming that DEAL offers.
Who is your target audience?
While our aim is to help library school students and new-to-the-field professionals, we also reach out to those who are more established in their careers for advice and mentorship opportunities.
What’s the best way to use your site? Should users consult it daily? Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?
Everyone should use all of our web presences daily- just kidding! We actually have a multi-platform approach for our group with the intention that people could participate as much or as little as they wanted. Our blog is our main programming focus, featuring bi-monthly career development posts by the aforementioned Katy. These posts are designed to be followed almost as steps for building networks, finding relevant job postings, writing resumes, cover letters, etc. We also post news related items and job/internship/volunteer opportunities on the blog. Our LinkedIn group builds on Katy’s programming, serving as a space for people to connect and share how they’ve worked through her blog challenges. The group is also a place for general networking and discussion. Lastly, our Twitter is meant to be an everyday news item source. I do some relevant job/internship/volunteer opportunity posts, but also share general career advice, publicize good professional resources (like Hiring Librarians!) and interesting tidbits from Libraryland.
Does your site provide:
√ Job Listings √ Answers to reader questions
√ Articles/literature √ Links
√ Coaching √ The opportunity for interaction
√ Cover Letters √ Resumes
√ Interviewing √ Networking
Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats?
Do you charge for anything on your site?
Nope! Access to all of our resources are free. We do encourage people to join MLA, however. We’ve been able to secure a lot of funding through our scholarship program, which allows current MLA members to contribute the cost of a year-long student membership to MLA. We’ve received a ton of support on this initiative, including a rather generous donation from an HR and organizational development consulting company (thanks Singer Group!). As a group, we’re extremely proud to be able to offer this to our members.
Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?
We’re still relatively new, and we just reached how to write resumes in our programming, so we haven’t had the chance to start making career connections. We have, however, been successful in finding students mentors, internships, field study sites, and even freelance work!
Anything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?
My personal piece of advice for job hunting isn’t necessarily unique, but has always proven wise in my experiences- be open, be professional, and be social! The last one can be hard for librarians, but every interesting work-related opportunity I’ve gotten has been a result of meeting people and staying in contact. You might meet someone in a hiring position for your dream organization, but at that moment they don’t have an open position perfect for you. Staying in contact and making a consistently good impression does wonders, though, and they’ll remember you when something comes up. Oh, also join your state library association! They’re an easy way to involved and you’ll definitely meet people who can connect you to job opportunities. If you’re a MD resident, contact us for details on how to get a free MLA membership!