An elective that allows graduate students to work remotely for an information organization with a global reach was just the ticket for student Gloria Jertberg, who sees more job opportunities opening up for remote workers.
“As a person who values working independently and traveling, I wanted to take every opportunity offered that would help me strengthen my virtual work experience,” she said. That included taking our school’s LIBR 298 Virtually Abroad course. First offered in spring 2013 and taught by Dr. Paul Christensen, the course connects Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students to organizations with an international mission.
Jertberg took the course in fall 2013, and early on, she and Christensen discussed via Skype some project ideas. He mentioned Riecken Community Libraries, a Princeton, New Jersey-based nonprofit that has founded more than 60 libraries in Honduras and Guatemala. These libraries needed help with social media. “That immediately interested me,” Jertberg said, “because I am currently the social media manager for my public library's Facebook page and felt that my experience would be helpful.”
Jertberg worked with Bill Cartwright, the CEO of Riecken Community Libraries, both via Skype and in person when Cartwright visited Las Vegas. For her course project, Jertberg developed strategy guides in both English and Spanish, using Google Translate, for the libraries’ use of social media on Facebook, Twitter and Global Giving.
MLIS students considering taking the Virtually Abroad course must be able to work independently, Jertberg stressed. “You create your own schedule based on your project. … You must be highly organized and able to make decisions on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done in order to complete your project on time.”
Jertberg, who earned a bachelor’s in English literature from the University of California at Berkeley, began the MLIS program in spring 2013 and completed her degree in May 2014. She works full time as a children's library assistant at the Spring Valley Library, part of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District in Las Vegas, Nevada. Besides managing the library’s Facebook page, her responsibilities also include planning and hosting programs, creating displays, and making community outreach visits.
A 2013 Spectrum Scholar, Jertberg followed the MLIS program’s Leadership and Management Career Pathway to support her career goals. She hopes to soon move into a children’s librarian position, then become a department head and eventually branch manager.
“Two instructors really stood out during my academic career because their passion and enthusiasm for their work was electric: Melba Tomeo, who taught LIBR 268 History of Youth Literature, and Dr. Michelle Simmons, who taught LIBR 254 Information Literacy. They appeared to be available 24/7 and completely approachable for help.”
“Take every opportunity to do more both academically and professionally. Take on more projects, get involved with committees, reach out to your colleagues and ask if they need help -- just do more. Then you will stand out more from other candidates as you move along your career path. Consider getting a mentor who can help keep you focused and offer you a sounding board for new ideas and projects. Get out of your comfort zone. For all working professionals, I would suggest the book Linchpin by Seth Godin, which offers advice on how to make yourself indispensable.”
“Organization and time management are crucial skills for me as a former graduate student and as an information professional. Create systems that work for you. Create a calendar system, a file system, a digital file system, and a schedule. Once all the systems are streamlined and in place, work them. Do not steer off your path. The less organized you are, the worse it will become as you get buried under more work. Create a system from the start and stick with it.”
“I have been to two professional conferences: my state library conference, the 2012 Nevada Library Association conference; and the 2014 Public Library Association conference. I enjoyed both conferences for different reasons. I enjoyed going to the NLA conference because the focus was on libraries within my current home state, and I had colleagues who were presenting at the conference, so it meant a lot to me that I was able to be there to support them. The 2014 PLA conference was great, but definitely a larger conference, which made it difficult to attend all the programs that I wanted to attend. I was pleased at the variety and the focus on public libraries because out of all of the types of libraries where I have worked, I find that public librarianship will be my focus.”