This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions
My interview with success story Alexandra
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Alexandra: I never would have expected this, but I actually found out about the job via a posting on Monster.com, which isn’t generally the greatest source for library jobs. I did see the same posting later on a library-related listserv, but by that point I had sent in my application and scheduled an interview. I think for this one, speed was very important. I sent in my resume, interviewed, and was hired all in just over a week. Although my search was usually more focused on job sites geared towards LIS jobs, I’m glad I took some time to check general sites too!
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Alexandra: There are three answers for this one. My favorite library that I’ve visited for research purposes is the Library of Congress. I’ve done research in both the Main Reading Room–which is gorgeous, and if it doesn’t make you feel studious, I don’t know what will–and the Rare Books Room, both in the Jefferson Building, a.k.a. the old one with the green dome on top. My favorite library that I’ve visited as a tourist is the British Library. They have some great exhibits all around, but for whatever reason what sticks out for me is listening to “ Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations while reading the autograph score. And finally, my favorite library to hang out in around home is the Cleveland Park branch of the District of Columbia Public Library. One of my friends is the Children’s Librarian there, and I visit about once a week to raid her graphic novels and YA books.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Alexandra: You know this a nearly impossible question, right? There are so many books I love… so in order not to give you a long list, I’m going to go with the book on my shelf that is falling apart the most. The Sky is Falling by Kit Pearson is the first in a trilogy of books about two children, Norah and Gavin, who are evacuated from England to Canada during World War II. (Librarian bonus: Norah spends a lot of time at the public library!) The book was a gift from my Oma, which makes it extra special, and has been read so many times that it split into two halves and had to be taped back together. (Don’t worry, on a trip to Ottawa I picked up a new copy!) I once wrote to Kit Pearson, and she sent me back a handwritten postcard!
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/library technology?
Alexandra: For me, libraries are a place where I’ve always felt comfortable and a place where I could always count on finding new and interesting stories and ideas. You’ll notice I said “place” twice, and that’s because the idea of library as place is one that’s very important to me. I want my library to be a destination for students who need a comfortable place to study, to read, to explore, or just to relax.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Alexandra: I recommend the ProfHacker blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education. As the blog’s subtitle says, it provides “Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity.” Although the focus is on higher ed, I think think many of the ideas shared on the blog can be relevant to librarians of all stripes. For fiction reviews, I really enjoy The Book Smugglers. The two bloggers focus on YA and speculative fiction, and I’ve been introduced to numerous good books via their blog. Finally, for something fun (not that librarianship isn’t!) I enjoy The Mary Sue which unlike many other geek-culture blogs, is written by women for a female audience.
Naomi: Best job hunting advice?
Alexandra: The unfortunate reality right now is that even a highly qualified candidate can have a difficult time finding a library job, and being rejected from job after job is extremely demoralizing. My advice is not to let negativity take over. Once you find an interesting job posting, it’s all too easy to talk yourself out of even sending in an application because you think that there’s somebody better out there and nobody wants to hire you anyway. This is a great way to avoid further rejection, but it’s also a guarantee that you won’t get that job! I know from experience that it’s hard to stay positive when you’ve been job hunting for a long time, but making sure to incorporate fun things–like going to dinner with friends or taking time out for your favorite TV show–amid all the job applications can help brighten your day.
I got my first library job at the local public library right after I turned 16, but it took a few more years before I figured out that I wanted to make a career out of it. Since then I’ve worked in various libraries and earned my MLS. For the past two years, I held a string of temporary librarian positions, which means I was permanently on the job market that whole time. Last month, all my hard work paid off and I was hired as a full-time librarian at a private high school in Alexandria, VA.
When I’m not librarianing, I’m most likely reading something, checking out what’s new on Netflix, or consuming large amounts of sugar. Lately, I’m very into Downton Abbey and Marvel comics–and no, you didn’t ask, but my favorite superhero is Ms. Marvel. I have a blog, May Subdivide Geographically, and tweet at @alexscat.
Previously entitled Alexandra Carter …In Six and published on 5/18/12.