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Naomi House’s interview with success story Mauro.
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Mauro: I found my current job on the BCCLS (Bergen County Cooperative Library System) want-ads webpage. Since I grew up in Bergen County and was familiar with the “Buckles” system, this was one of my favorite sites to obsessively check (every hour) when searching for jobs. Of course the best way to get all the top postings in one swoop, including those from the BCCLS, is through the INALJ webpage.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Mauro: Am I allowed two? My first would have to be the Cheng Library at William Paterson University. By no means is this library a remarkable example of architecture or the home of a prized special collection, but I spent so much time there as an undergrad, graduate student, adjunct professor and through the TAH grant programs, I consider it to be the home base of my academic/professional life. Plus, they have a really good set of people working there. My second favorite library is the Diocesan Library in Molfetta, Italy, which is located in the town where my parents were born. I was literally only in this library for 10 minutes during a museum tour, yet I was captivated by the shelves of old books, the painted ceiling and the possibility that many of the ancient volumes hadn’t been opened in centuries.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Mauro: Like most librarians I know, I would have to say this question is impossible to answer. I have a preference for non-fiction. Lots of stuff on the origin of man, natural history, comparative history…. I’m currently reading DNA USA by Bryan Sykes, so I guess it’s my favorite right now… While still in library school I decided to take a course on Young Adult Fiction, just to familiarize myself with a genre I knew nothing about. I now realize that there is a lot more to YA besides Harry Potter. I was really impressed by authors like Libba Bray, James Dashner, John Corey Whaley… Have I successfully dodged this question yet? ;-)
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Mauro: My favorite thing about libraries is that they continue to be places of quality learning in a current world filled with micro-blogging, sound bites and quick movie clips. One of the most tired questions I hear is: “With the internet, why do we need libraries?” My response is often, “because of the internet, we need librarians more than ever!” Someone needs to help the average researcher weed through bad information, propaganda, advertising pitches, hack journalism, and all the other wacky stuff found online. And let’s not forget all of the paid databases that most patrons and students know nothing about. My wish is to become a full-time reference librarian and prove on a daily basis that Google and Wikipedia do not have the best answers to every question.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Mauro: This is almost as tough as the “favorite book” question… I tend to follow blogs and websites that give me detailed info about baseball, birding, travel, local history and other things that probably wouldn’t interest every library student. However, I’m also a fan of genealogy, which is very beneficial when working the Reference Desk. Some of my favorite sites are the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, the Genealogue, and the Gente di Mare Italian Genealogy site. The problem with blogs is that many bloggers have dropped out of the game in favor of Facebook pages, which inevitably fall into disuse.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Mauro: I think the days of the quiet, bookish librarian with hair up in a bun are long over, and thankfully so. The modern librarian needs to be almost combative with their information-finding skills in order to prove to taxpayers that they are worth the expense. Otherwise, the ongoing budget cuts and closing of libraries will continue. I believe that many hiring libraries are starting to subscribe to this ideal, which means if you’re searching for a job its best to build up that resume with lots of Real skills. The competition amongst new graduates is fierce and there are a lot of young qualified people looking for work. The job candidates with the ability to create websites, use and teach others about mobile devices, write press releases, navigate social media, plan and promote activities, know about the latest technical trends and be able to obtain grant funding will get the jobs. (Since graduating, I’ve been on six interviews and the abovementioned skills were the ones most frequently asked about) Also, get your foot in the door by working for little pay or even volunteering. Or else, you will fall into that cycle where no one will hire you because you have no experience, but you can’t get experience if no one hires you….
Mauro Magarelli is currently a Saturday Reference Librarian at the Louis Bay 2nd Library in Hawthorne, NJ, where he is also fills in on the circulation desk. In May, 2012, he received a Master’s in Library Science from Rutgers University. He holds a MA in History from William Paterson University, where he also worked as an adjunct from 2005 to 2010. Prior to jumping into the library world, Mauro worked as a project coordinator for 3 separate TAH (Teaching American History Grant) that specialized in helping History teachers with historical content and teaching strategies.