Mary McGregor …In Six

My interview with success story, Mary

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Mary: Authentic networking: I joined the New York City School Library Association during my last semester of library school. I went to the meetings and I participated. I spoke with school librarians and administrators. When someone from the Library Services team asked me to send her a resume in case something came up in spite of the ongoing New York City hiring freeze, I followed up within a couple of days. That resume made it into the hands of a school looking for a full-time media specialist for the first time, and I was interviewed before the position was ever posted. They went through a tedious process and interviewed a lot of people because of hiring restrictions, so I think that demonstrating a real interest in NYC school libraries beforehand certainly helped me.

I say “authentic networking” because I became a part of a professional network that I really wanted to learn from and to which I hoped to contribute. That makes a better impression on people than reaching out to them with the strongest motive being that you want to make sure they know you’re available if they could recommend you for a position.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Mary: Aesthetically, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building (aka the main building of the New York Public Library) really can’t be beat, and the Reading Room got me through a lot of paper-writing in grad school. However, the softest spot in my heart is for the unremarkable-looking Greenpoint branch of Brooklyn Public Library. It was my neighborhood branch for five years, and I became a volunteer and Friends member there. Those librarians work their tails off and do a lot for a very special and unique neighborhood. It was there that I met the librarians that inspired me to leave my marketing job and go to library school!

Naomi: Favorite book?
Mary: It’s tough to pick one. I can always re-read The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery and feel moved. However, I also think everyone should read What is the What by Dave Eggers.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Mary: The best thing about libraries and technology is the power to connect people. Becoming a life-long learner depends on your own curiosity being fostered and satisfied, and libraries and digital technology make that easier than ever. I hold library cards to all three systems in New York City, and I love that they all have free, amazing resources available to me 24/7 online. They helped me study for my certification exams, create pathfinders, do research on my own family history, and plan the fifth-grade lesson on website evaluation that helped me land my job.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Mary: Any school librarians or aspiring school librarians should check out The Unquiet Librarian, written by Buffy Hamilton (http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/).

Social librarians in NYC should check out The Desk Set (http://thedeskset.org/).

All NYC librarians and library-lovers should check out Urban Librarians Unite (http://urbanlibrariansunite.org/).

For a regular dose of Dead Poets Society-style inspiration, I turn to one of my professors from Syracuse University, Dave Lankes’ “Virtual Dave… Real Blog” (http://quartz.syr.edu/blog/). If you get a chance to see him speak, do it. He will get you amped up to go out there and change the world starting in your own library.

Here is my own ever-growing Twitter List of librarians I follow and learn from:
https://twitter.com/bkbiblio

I also have a blog that I am trying to dust off and get going again (http://bkbiblio.wordpress.com).

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Mary: Be yourself and actively participate in a network that will mean something to you not only during, but also well after your job search. Make real connections that make a difference for others as well as for you and that will support you as a professional.

I am originally from a tiny little hamlet in Central (upstate) New York and got a Communications and Marketing degree from Syracuse University. I have bounced around New York City over the past decade, but it was in Brooklyn that I volunteered at a local public library. Within a few months, I realized that librarians are the greatest and I wanted to do that, too. After nine years in ad agencies and marketing departments, I returned to Syracuse University for my MLIS and School Media Certification. I am on the cusp of beginning my very first position as a Library Media Specialist in a public elementary school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.