Maria M. Bonet …In Six

My interview with INALJ success story Maria

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Maria: While I had been looking through the LAC Group’s job adverts for a while, I actually saw the job I was hired for–a contract with the Library of Congress as a Library Assistant or Library Materials Handler–in the INALJ Daily Digest. Applied on Monday, heard back from LAC on Tuesday. Phone interview Wednesday. Walk-through at the Library of Congress on Friday morning… and by Friday afternoon, I’d been hired. The process was thrilling, shocking, and vaguely like a sledgehammer all at once.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Maria: The NYPL’s Jefferson Market Library, which resembles a Medieval fortress or monastery. I have an abiding memory of walking in there on Halloween 2001, dressed in a full Medieval costume. A very atmospheric place.

Naomi: Favorite book?

Maria: This answer changes often, but, at the moment, it is David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas.’ I am also still very fond of Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman,’ and recently discovered another excellent fellow working in the medium of graphic novels, Gipi. He drew and wrote ‘Garage Band’ and‘Notes on a War Story,’ both of which are fantastic.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries?

Maria: I loved, love, and will always love how, no matter what topic you have in mind, you can walk into a library–any library–and find at least one book or article on the subject, free of charge, freely available. And–best of all–you can browse for hours and read an entire book without anyone coming up to say, “I’m sorry, but this is not a library.” Yes, yes it is, and I can read to my heart’s content! One of the first things I always do when I move to a new town is find the library and get my borrower’s card. I may not even have my own apartment yet… but I’ve got my library card.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Maria: I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask about this at the moment. I’ve been in Job Search Mode, Comprehensive Setting for months now. So any websites, feeds or blogs I’ve been reading have been either job related or already well-known to all INALJ regulars. Sincere apologies.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Maria: Edit your resume. Edit your cover letter. Then edit them again and again and again and every single time you apply. Not only will you become more savvy at describing who you are and what you do, but it forces you to stay focused on what employers are actually asking for in their ads. I must’ve heard this piece of advice hundreds of times–but it’s the one that got me to finally shake the, “I’ll just spam everyone with the same resume/cover letter” rut.

Above all, though, be gentle with yourself. We’re living tough times, and things will be hard and dispiriting. I’m not going to lie about that. It’s ugly out there. So you need to take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and admit that there will be times when you will want to dig a hole and never re-emerge. It’s normal. But don’t give up on yourself, ever.

Maria Bonet has been a librarian practically her entire life. As a wee kid, she played at being a librarian. At elementary school, she’d shelf-read and block and re-shelve without even knowing that’s what she was doing [she just knew the call numbers were not in strict alpha-numeric order]. In high school, she volunteered her lunch hours toward stamping borrower cards [back in the days of card catalogs]. An MLS was not so much a given as possibly the biggest, “Um, yes, and the Pope is Catholic” piece of news she’s ever given her family.

MLS in hand, Maria has worked as a public librarian, an academic librarian, an art librarian, and as a cataloger. She recently completed an MA in Cultural Material Conservation from The University
of Melbourne [which took her to not-so-sunny Melbourne, Australia], which has allowed her to merge librarianship with her other abiding loves: history and art and what physically happens to art as it officially becomes history.

When not thrilling to the words “collection development,” Maria enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, drawing graphic novels, writing, watching movies categorized as “old” and/or “classic,” dancing like a goof, karaoke, and lots and lots of singing in the shower.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource INALJ.com (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.com. INALJ has had over 20 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 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 now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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