Interviewed by Ellen Mehling
EM: What was your first professional position?
MSB: I am old enough to have found my first job on a physical board (which consisted of pieces of paper attached to a framed slab of cork) when I was a Sound Engineering student at Columbia College Chicago. One of those pieces of paper advertised an assistant position in a new library and archive at the Center for Black Music Research. I got the job, and they kept me after I graduated. The job consisted of helping my boss set up a new library and archive relating to aspects of black music worldwide.
EM: How did you get it?
MSB: Getting the student job was easy, but I was really interested in the work and I think I showed meticulousness and enthusiasm (you would have to ask my boss at the time!). I was working with a great team and I enjoyed my work. So then they kept me on after I graduated.
EM: To what do you attribute your job search success?
MSB: Mostly luck, and also a good match-up between the requirements of the job and my interests and abilities. The world of audio preservation was utterly unknown to me, but as a sound engineering student I was of course interested in sound, and I happened to have lived all my life in a house full of antiques and with an appreciation for all things old. My boss, Suzanne Flandreau, was a great mentor and sent me to conferences, and was herself enthusiastic about her work. And after almost 30 years in my field, I still love it and am learning things every day.
EM: What advice do you have for librarian/info-pro job hunters?
MSB: Be lucky –just kidding. How about this?: there is a fine balance between being open and doing something that stirs your heart. You are not going to become rich in our profession, so let passion drive your job search –but be open to learning and to exercising different muscles. Almost any human endeavour is much deeper than you think when you first encounter it, and I think this is particularly true in our profession –so roll up your sleeves, dig deep and enjoy!
Marcos Suiero Bal is Senior Archivist at New York Public Radio http://www.wnyc.org/people/marcos-sueir-bal/