A month after graduating from SLIS in May 2011, alum Christy Nini accepted a job as Administrative Librarian for Visible Music College in Memphis, TN. Previously a Library Assistant at an academic library in Southern California, her first job as a solo academic librarian is providing her with experience in a variety of leadership roles, including marketing, budgeting, and institutional effectiveness, as well as oversight of reference, cataloging, access services, and information literacy programs.
“The college had moved into a new building a few weeks before I arrived, so my first week on the job consisted of developing a floor plan for its temporary space,” Nini said. “I contributed to transforming an empty room into a usable library space.”
During her first year at the library, Nini re-evaluated the quality of the library’s collection and did major weeding. She re-cataloged the entire book collection, launched access to the college’s first Online Public Access Catalog, and developed policies and procedures for the library's first lending system.
With an undergraduate degree in Music History, Nini approached her SLIS coursework in hopes of working in a music library, but remained open to other library settings. “I did my own networking and quickly got involved in the Music Library Association (MLA) to determine what specific credentials I would need to work in a music library,” Nini said. “I stayed open to what I could do and took advantage of internships.” While at SLIS, Nini focused on music collections during her internships at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum, and Cal State Dominguez Hills Department of Archives and Special Collections.
During her job search, Nini applied to professional level openings across the country and found her current position listed on the MLA Listserv. “I had the qualifications, so I put in my application,” Nini recalled. “Two months later they requested a Skype interview and then invited me to visit the campus over a weekend. There, I interviewed with the administration face-to-face and met various staff members. I was offered the job the following Monday.”
Nini attributes her flexibility for location as being critical to landing a position so soon after graduation. “I took advantage of my circumstances, but having drive and self-motivation was also critical,” she said. “As a solo librarian, you need to be self-motivated and capable of taking on leadership responsibilities.”
LIBR 204 Information Organizations and Management: “As a solo librarian, this prepared me for the budgeting aspect of my job – how to integrate my library budget with the larger institutional budget, how to have conversations and negotiate, and best practices.”
LIBR 285 Research Methods: “As part of my work, I also serve as the Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, evaluating compliance standards and assessment strategies for our school’s accreditation process. My coursework in Research Methods with Dr. Geoffrey Liu proved invaluable in understanding information gathering and reporting methods, and the class gave me a basic understanding of the terminology in our accreditation manual.”
LIBR 257 Records Management: “The application of my coursework in Records Management led me to develop conversation with our college president about possibly implementing best archival practices for the College’s digital files. Right now it’s an idea on hold, but I’ve been developing an architecture and policy for management of these data files.”
“I am currently a national member of the Music Library Association and the American Library Association. Previously, I was an active student member of the Music Library Association-Southern California Chapter and the Special Libraries Association-Southern California Chapter. I was also a former board member with the SLIS student group LISSTEN (Library Information Science Students to Encourage Networking). With LISSTEN, I co-chaired an interview workshop where information professionals volunteered to conduct mock interview sessions with library students and provide customized resume and interview feedback for each student.” (Note: LISSTTEN was recently combined with our School’s alumni group, and is now known as SLISConnect.)
“Be an effective communicator, have a solid skill set, be friendly, and keep networking. Meet people and find out what they do. Let them know what you do, and then maintain those relationships.”