Sonya Durney …In Six

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Sonya: When I graduated from library school I moved to Portland, ME. A friend from school had worked as a substitute at the Portland Public Library and spoke very highly of the library. Prior to hearing that, I had not been aware that it was possible to substitute at a library. So…I began subbing.

My first day, I learned that the Business/Government Librarian was retiring. Honestly, I almost fainted. I have a bachelors degree in political science and wanted to be a gov docs librarian but figured those jobs were few and far between.

So for the next few months, until the position was officially posted, I did my best job substituting. I spent most of my free time studying and taking advantage of professional development opportunities through SLA, ALA and Simmons College. Even though I was also working full time at a restaurant in the evenings, every time the PPL asked me to work, I gladly said yes!

I can not say enough positive things about substituting at a library. It really gives you a chance to get a feel for a potential work environment. In my case, it really made me want to be part of the library and all of the exciting things that are happening here.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Sonya: Before library school, I spent a few summers crewing on sailboats; this was before ubiquitous internet access. Upon arriving in port, one of the first things we would do when ashore was rush to the local library to check/send emails. My favorite library I visited in this time is the Nantucket Antheneum. Walking into the building you almost feel like you are stepping back in time and can imagine the harbor as an old fishing village, yet you are surrounded by the latest technology. I spent many wonderful afternoons there.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Sonya: Right now I am re-reading one of my favorite books: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I love Hunter S. Thompson! Granted he is often whacked out and crazed but he also had a gift for describing people and made many poignant observations. This book is as timely today as when it was written in the 70’s. In library school, I used this book as the basis for my publishing class and had to “re-write” it for the current day. We can only imagine how Hunter’s rant on today’s politics would read.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Sonya: This is going to sound cliche, but my favorite part of working in a library is helping people. Seeing a patron leave the library walking like they have a weight lifted off their shoulders makes all of the frustrating moments navigating e-readers or explaining for the ten millionth time where the bathroom is worth it.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Sonya: I have just discovered Pinterest and I am suffering a serious pinning addiction!

Chad Boeninger, of Ohio University Library, has an awesome Business Blog with lots of helpful screencasts. I have learned a great deal following him at Lately, I have also been enjoying the Huff Post Good News, we all need some good new, right? And of course there are all those fun politics blogs….

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Sonya: Have a good attitude! From time to time a job search can bring you down but unfortunately that’s life. Know that you are doing your best with your job search, cover all your bases and then get outside and have some fun!

Sonya currently holds the position of Business and Government, Team Leader at the Portland Public Library. She graduated from Simmons College with an MLS in 2010. When not at the library she can be found either walking the beach or hitting the slopes at Sunday River.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website,, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.