MIT Libraries Host Event: Resumes & Interviews

On Wednesday March 30th, MIT Libraries held their NDSR Host Event, a Resume and  Interview Workshop. Each NDSR resident brought the description of a job for which they wanted to apply, their resume, and a cover letter. The residents paired up with an interviewer (NDSR hosts) to review their resume and cover letter to see if it addressed a job description. The interviewers posed some questions to each Resident as practice then provided some suggestions for real job searches. I enjoyed organizing the event and learned a lot from the discussions. I hope the feedback will be as helpful to you as it has been to me.

Before the interview, it is important that you do your research about the job and the institution:

  • Be prepared for questions about what interests you about the job.
  • Learn the institution’s terminology.
  • Look over the projects they are doing and think about how you could contribute to them
  • Arrive early to the interview but wait till actual interview time to approach them. This is a weird balancing act.

Here is some advice from the hosts about preparing for the interview:

  • In your interview, try to define the more technical lingo if it’s not already defined in the job description. This is a delicate balance between showing that you know the lingo and lecturing the interviewers. You want to be able to do the former, not the latter.
  • Show how your skills can transfer to the job, point out similarities between this job and your past jobs, and have different examples ready to showcase collaboration skills.
  • When they ask the question “How can you bring your knowledge into the institution?” you can wrap your answer around the institution’s future projects and/or mission.
  • When asked a question referencing the “required experience” skill set, make a case with examples that are short and to the point.

At the end of the interview, there is a question that is almost always asked: “Do you have any questions for me/us?”

  • One thing that rarely considered is that the job interview works both ways.  During a job interview you also have the opportunity to decide if you would really like the position, your co-workers, or the institution.
  • If the job description has everything but the kitchen sink in the list of duties/skills, you can ask: “This is a really wide range of skills you are looking for.  What are your priorities?”

Presentations can be a part of an interview process, since it is all about communication. Here are some tips for presentations:

  • Address the question.
  • Be aware of time.
  • While creating your presentation, ask yourself if you are addressing the topic within the time frame while saying it well.
  • Practice.

Having references is key. Before this event, I hadn’t given much thought on their importance to a job application. I assumed I would get good reviews if someone indicated that I could use them as a reference.The following feedback proves how wrong that assumption was:

  • Before you apply for a job, send your chosen references the job description and ask them if they will be a reference for a particular job before you apply.  Nothing is worse than having them ask your interviewers “So what job is this in reference to…?” or “What’s their name, again?”
  • If you will need recommendation letters, let your references know at least two weeks ahead of time—longer if possible.
  • Ask your reference if they would give you a positive reference. If they won’t, don’t use them as a reference. Imagine your interviewers getting this response: “She really gave me as a reference?”
  • In the document listing your references, write why that person is a reference for you.
  • Take into account how responsive your reference is, and whether they are likely to return emails or phone calls.
  • A very hard, but good question to ask your reference “Would you hire me again?” You may not want the answer, but it’s a less subtle indicator of what your reference will say about you!

Good luck!


CurateGear 2016 & the BitCurator User Forum

Hi everyone! A few weeks ago I traveled to Chapel Hill to attend CurateGear 2016 hosted by the University of North Carolina, School of Library Information Science and the BitCurator User Forum. This post chronicles my observations. I enjoyed having the time to listen and take in information about the projects that were being embarked on. I was excited to attend both events because I wanted to gain additional insight into the methods, projects, and tools that are being utilized and worked on. While the technical aspects were sometimes difficult to grasp, the general ideas were impactful and provided me with topics for future research.

CurateGear 2016 was a one day event packed with presentations describing ongoing projects and technology centered on digital curation methods, projects and tools.

The following presentations connected in some way to my project — using digital preservation standards and evolving practice to identify and evaluate possible options for improving preservation storage at MIT Libraries:

A few of presentations that interested me, but are not in my purview at the moment:

I decided to attend the BitCurator User Forum because I wanted to gain valuable insight into digital forensic tools and their application. The event was sponsored by the BitCurator Consortium and hosted by School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Through my experience at the forum, I have started to acquire some comprehension of the best/good practices behind digital forensics, how the BitCurator environment is used, what people are looking for in future developments of the software, and what tools are currently being developed and how they will be applied. The event enjoyed a friendly atmosphere, enthusiastic participation and passionate attendees.

During the panel, Beyond Disk Imaging, Bertram Lyon from AV Preserve introduced a great new application called Exactly.The tool securely transfers any born-digital material from a sender to a recipient over a LAN, using DropBox, or via FTP with the benefit of establishing provenance and fixity at the beginning of the acquisition process. I find it exciting because I used to work in oral history, and this tool was first designed for the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. I can see how this tool would be incredibly useful for not just oral history programs, but also for use by cultural repository institutions. Kari Smith, Digital Archivist in the Institute Archives and Special Collections at MIT Libraries, is planning on running a study on secure digital data transfer options including an experiment using the Exactly tool in the Digital Sustainability Lab.

If you would like to check out the presentation slides from both events, they are online on the BitCurator User Forum and CurateGear 2016 websites.

A Peek Into Cloud Services: NISO Webinar on Cloud and Web Services for Libraries

On Wednesday afternoon I attended a webinar hosted by NISO about Cloud and Web Services for Libraries. For all of our digital content that we intend to preserve, we need secure and compliant storage. My project for MIT Libraries involves looking into digital preservation within the context of MIT Libraries and the current state of storage in the digital collections. I will be working as part of a team to explore, evaluate and researching the various archival/preservation storage options out in the ‘verse that would work for MIT Libraries and the Digital Preservation Unit. One of the aspects I am exploring are cloud services in relation to preservation storage, and thus the reason viewing this webinar was attractive to me.


There were three panelists, which included:

  • John “JG” Chirapurath is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of ProQuest Workflow Solutions.
  • Kurt Ewoldsen is the Manager, Infrastructure and Applications Support, within the California Digital Library at the University of California.
  • Heather Lea Moulaison is an Assistant Professor at the iSchool (School of Information Science & Learning Technologies), at the University of Missouri.

Each of the panelist had a different ideas and spins on the ways clouds had been, and can be, utilized by their, or other, institutions.

John “JG” Chirapurath 

“Utilizing the Cloud to Empower Research Efforts,” was about…exactly what the title said. It was a really good presentation and introduction to cloud services through research databases. He gave me a lot of information I didn’t know about clouds. I liked that he talked about linked data and gave an example of it, (Facebook as a Social Cloud). Truthfully, I have been a bit “ehh, huh…” about linked data for a while, so it was nice to get some context.

Kurt Ewoldsen

His presentation, “Migrating CDL Infrastructure to Amazon Web Services,” was more technical and was only about the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud. His information on why cloud services should be considered was very interesting, and a good checklist for what you should look for when considering a cloud services: cost, agility, and scalability! I would have liked to have seen statistics from other vendors that Kurt and his department had considered so I could understand a little better why he choose AWS as a vendor.

Heather Lea Moulaison 

“Surveying the Horizon: Preservation and the Cloud” had more to do with preservation. She talked about the challenges and opportunities for using the various cloud services for preservation. One thing I found especially interesting was when she talked about exit strategies, the “what ifs.” Thinking about the “what ifs” give me the wiggins, but it’s necessary. She gave several questions to ask ourselves when are considering whether a cloud service is right for us: What happens if service provider become obsolete, how do you get your data back? How can you understand the service and make the best of your options? Important questions, but dude…now I’ve got the wiggins.

All in all, the presentations were informative on many fronts and I am glad I was given the opportunity to listen to the panelists. Thanks for reading!