Mandy Babirad …Success Story

All Jobs for INALJ can be found here: Updated daily
Naomi House’s interview with success story Mandy.

Naomi:  How did you find your current job?
Mandy:  I moved to New York City a couple of months ago shortly after I graduated with my MSIS. I didn’t have a job lined up, I had no contacts and I was leaving behind a job that I loved, so in that sense I was taking a huge risk. I spent about a month and a half scouring the INALJ Digest, which I felt was my only friend at that time, applying to any and every job I was even remotely qualified for. New York City is an exciting place to be a librarian, so there were a lot of opportunities. Just as I was running out of steam, I got several interviews within days of each other, which was a huge relief to me.  I ended up accepting two job offers. I was extremely lucky, because my timing was right. My dream is to work in academic libraries, and they do a lot of their hiring right before new semesters start.

Naomi:  Favorite library you have been to?
Mandy:  The Kinderhook Memorial Library in upstate New York, hands down. It’s tiny, but has so much soul, and it’s cozy. It’s got a fireplace! I grew up going to that library and got my first library job there while I was in graduate school. I’m impressed by larger libraries, and libraries with more expansive collections, but this library is one that I keep going back to.

Naomi:  Favorite book?
Mandy:  This is an impossible question. I read books all over the board because I think it’s important to stay current in a variety of genres. The one book I remember having a profound impact on me as a kid is probably “The BFG by Roald Dahl because its weird and gross and fantastical.  I also read books for adults! My favorites are probably On Beauty by Zadie Smith, because I get obsessed with most character-driven forms of entertainment, and Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier, which I plowed through while I was on vacation with my best friend in England. Don’t read this book while you’re on vacation or you will make whoever you are with wait on you while you finish the last few chapters. It’s THAT suspenseful.

Naomi:  Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Mandy:  A career in libraries came accidentally to me, but I think that’s how I know it was meant to be. I could never force myself into a field I didn’t come to organically. I think what I love most about libraries and library technology is that it makes the world more manageable, and who doesn’t love that idea?  I especially love academic librarianship because of how empowering it can be for a student. When I was an undergrad, I almost never went to the library except to take a nap during my break between classes. Had I known how much easier a librarian could have made my life, I would have been there every day. I don’t think I actually knew how to use a library until I was in graduate school, and my wish is that no other college student has that experience.

Naomi:  Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
I follow and read a lot of obvious blogs that I think most people in the field keep abreast of. I especially like “A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette”, as it is both informative and hilarious. For stress relief (because yeah, being a librarian can be extremely stressful), I recommend They’ve done studies saying that the viewing of cute animal pictures at work boosts productivity…

Naomi:  Best piece of job hunting advice?
Mandy:   I’ve taken away three important points from my job hunting experience:

If you want to see results, you have to sow a lot of seeds. I sent out over 50 applications, and most of the time didn’t hear back at all. If you are going into the world of academia, their hiring process tends to take a lot longer, so you have to be patient. And once you do get interviews, don’t obsess over what you are going to say. I didn’t get asked any of the questions most people, myself included, assume they will be asked, and it helped me a lot. My responses were more organic, more thoughtful, more ME. You want the person hiring you to know what they are getting (YOU), and not who you think they want to hire. Being human is not a bad thing.

The things that stuck out on my resumes to places I got interviews wasn’t actually my library experience, but my tutoring experience. If you are on the hunt for a library job but don’t have a whole lot of library experience, put emphasis on other jobs that you’ve done because those experiences might just be what your future employer is looking for. If you were a substitute teacher, or a tutor, or a camp counselor, those things matter…A LOT! I think any job in which you conveyed information effectively to other people can be used to your advantage on your resume when searching for library jobs.

A lot of people I knew in graduate school got so discouraged so quickly when searching for jobs. Don’t give up! In order to survive during your job hunt, you have to learn to be a good unemployed person, which is a lot harder than it sounds. It can be easy to get used to sitting in your pajamas all day, feeling sorry for yourself (I was there), but you have to pretend that you’re going to have a job any day. Read up on whats new in the field, start crafting, leave your apartment once in a while! In addition to perseverance, patience, and a good attitude, I would also recommend limiting your Netflix viewing to under two hours a day.

I graduated from with my MSIS from SUNY Albany in August, moved to New York City in October, and got my first professional job offer in December. I start in January as a reference librarian at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, and will be teaching Information Literacy courses at a college in Manhattan. My hobbies include reading, cooking, taking pictures of my beagle sleeping, and enjoying New York with my fiancee.