Careers in Federal Libraries

By Sarah Smith

On Friday, June 25, 2010, the American Library Association kicked off the "Careers in Federal Libraries" preconference event in the Library of Congress. The event opened with a welcoming speech by Helen Sherman of the Defense Technical Information Center. Afterwards, there was a panel featuring federal librarians of all types who spoke about their careers and gave advice on the application process for jobs with the Federal Government. The panelists included Nancy A. Clark, Director of the Library Network Office at the Department of Veterans Affairs; Kathel Dunn of the National Library of Medicine; Steven Kerchoff, an International Resource Officer with the State Department; David Mao, the Deputy Law Librarian of Congress; Beth Maser of Library Associates Companies; Tiffany Smith of the State Department; and Lynn Stewart of the National Archives and Records Administration.

After the panel of librarians spoke, the floor was opened up for a "speed sharing" event where various presentations were made on topics of interest. Angelique Simmons discussed her involvement in Army Europe as well as how she managed to stay involved with the American Library Association while abroad in Hohenfels, Germany. Michelle Chronister and Allison Snell spoke about the Presidential Management Fellowship, a program which allows those selected to start a two year fellowship that puts them on the "fast track" to a management position with the Federal Government. Michelle Chronister was a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. General Services Administration and Allison Snell is a Presidential Management Fellow with the Department of Homeland Security. Jamie Renton gave a presentation on using Elluminate, a web conference tool that allows users to stream video over the internet for on-campus events. Sarah Smith gave a presentation about how students can bring their own "Careers in Federal Libraries Event" to campus. Eugenia Beh, Erica Stiner, Rich Louis, and Joyce Lee discussed the "Careers in Federal Libraries Google Group." Katie McKenzie discussed how students could take advantage of internship opportunities at The Washington Center. Louise Guennther talked about her time as a Fulbright Scholar and how that helped her get a job at the National Archives and Records Administration. The Fulbright Scholar Program allows faculty to go abroad to study, teach, or conduct research in a foreign country. Sarah Scruggs gave a presentation on "Librarianship in a Non-Traditional Setting," advising librarians to emphasize their transferable skills when looking for jobs outside of the traditional library.

After the panel presentations, attendees were given the opportunity to have lunch and network with the panelists and each other. "Careers in Federal Libraries" gave attendees information pertinent to students and new librarians alike and offered them the opportunity to interact with federal librarians. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and I highly recommend that students and new librarians attend the next "Careers in Federal Libraries" event.