Lacy McDonald …In Six

My interview with success story Lacy


Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Lacy: I moved to Alton, IL last November when my husband got a job in the area. I started volunteering at the Hayner Public Library District in January, and clicked with the Volunteer Coordinator right away. Soon, the library posted an opening for a Museum Display Coordinator at the Genealogy & Local History Library, which the Volunteer Coordinator recommended to me. It was a brand new job, and it was listed as part or full-time because they hadn’t yet decided what it would entail. I went in for two interviews, and though the Executive Director wasn’t necessarily looking for someone with an MLS, they decided that I was the best person for the job and made it full-time, salaried, with benefits. I started at the end of February, and just finished my first display, which is on Alton’s 1937 Centennial Celebration.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Lacy: The stacks of the main library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. They had an immense collection, and you could renew items something like 40 times. Returning everything when I graduated was actually a little sad, because I’d been hoarding some of those books for a year.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Lacy: I’m a big Harry Potter fan, and I love memoirs and funny essays. Other favorites: The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde, The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies, and anything by Barbara Kingsolver or Bill Bryson. The best book I read last year was Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Lacy: Books are free. Movies are free. I can even get things on my Kindle when I’m on vacation for free. I am a librarian and have been using libraries for over twenty years, and I still can’t get over this. It’s all free!

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Lacy: These days I mostly follow the blogs of rare book and special collections librarians, and my newest favorite is The Bibliophile’s Lair, http://commons.trincoll.edu/watkinson/. I should also give a shout out to Non Solus, http://nonsolusblog.wordpress.com/ and Echos from the Vault, http://standrewsrarebooks.wordpress.com/.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Lacy: Keep a document that has a list of all the libraries and other institutions where you might be interested in working (I was limited geographically, so this wasn’t overwhelming), and have links to the job pages of their websites. Once a week, go through them all to see if anything new has come up.

Volunteer! Especially in a library where you’d like to work. If you do a good job volunteering, you will find advocates. Also, be confident about what you can do. I don’t have a background in museum exhibitions, but I am extremely good at doing research. Before the second interview, I also came up with ideas about how I could contribute to the library, and why the job should be full-time. Apparently, my ideas were convincing.

My name is Lacy McDonald, and I grew up in Arkansas. I have a MSLIS and Graduate Certificate in Special Collections Librarianship from the University of Illinois. I also have a BA in Psychology from Carleton College (the most wonderful place on earth). I have worked in student affairs at Florida’s public honors college, advancement and alumni relations at multiple universities in Illinois, and in the interlibrary loan office during graduate school. I miss living in a college town, but the view of the Mississippi from the bluffs in Alton is worth it.