Mario Macias, a new librarian at the Pierce College Library, believes that “there is so much more librarians can do than just allow students to check out books and print something.”
At 26 years old, Macias is one of two new hires for the library this semester. Macias’ goals are to change the library’s social media presence on campus. He previously worked for the Oviatt Library at California State University Northridge.
Macias did not always see himself as having a profession in librarianship.
“I didn’t think that I was going to be a librarian. I didn’t even know librarianship was a career option,” Macias said.
Macias was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the age of 10, he and his family moved to California. According to Macias, when he started fifth grade and bilingual education, it took him “a while to get out of E.S.L. classes.”
Though it initially took some time to get through E.S.L classes, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa on scholarship and majored in English. During his time at Grinnell, Macias befriended some librarians who encouraged him to consider librarianship as a career.
After graduating in 2011, Macias did not immediately jump into the library scene. He moved back to Los Angeles and worked as a receptionist for a public relations firm. Not too fond of the job, Macias had been thinking about returning to school, and applied to a graduate program at the University of Washington.
“I applied to this graduate program just to see if I’d get in,” Macias said. “I didn’t even feel confident that I would get in.”
Macias was accepted into that program. He spent two years in Seattle, working towards his Master of Library & Information Science through the University of Washington’s residential program. People who want to earn their master’s can do so through online, residential, or hybrid programs. For Macias, being in the physical environment, earning his master’s was an important aspect of learning.
“I feel there was a little bit more that I could get out of being physically there on campus,” he said.
While in Seattle, Macias began working in the community college system. It was there he was introduced to the community college culture, and where he “learned to appreciate the values that community colleges uphold, because of their special place in academia.”
Macias said he is happy to have landed the job. According to Macias, to get a permanent job, librarians for the Cal State system are on a tenure track. Those positions, he said, “don’t often come up.”
Because his time with CSUN was only on a temporary contract, Macias actively applied for other opportunities. Pierce College just happened to be hiring.
“In the world of librarians, getting a librarian position is rather difficult,” said Macias.
According to Pierce College Library Department Chair Paula Paggi, there were 70-100 candidates for the open position. Of all those candidates, Paggi said Macias had “a strong presentation and a lot of enthusiasm.”
The library is currently looking to expand outreach. One way this can be done is through social media. According to Macias, “Nobody here was jumping to do social media.”
Though it already had a Facebook and a Twitter account, the library was not very “proactive and consistent” with them. Macias’ first course of action was to create an Instagram, Youtube Channel and Snapchat account, all of which are already up and running.
Because all of this is relatively new, Macias says that the library is struggling just a little bit.
“We’re trying to get the word out there. We’re trying to get students to know that we exist,” Macias said. “We’re trying to get students to follow us, so that we can create a culture online that exists outside of the physical environment here.”
Outreach librarian Lisa Valdez, who is also a new employee at the library, works with Macias on occasion. They “have a lot of chemistry” and “make a good team”, she said. Together they want to “wake up the library.”
When he isn’t working, Macias continues to improve on his craft.
“I use to read a lot for pleasure, like fiction and poetry,” Macias says.
Currently, he tries to read more professional material related to his career during his off time.
“There’s so much that I still need to learn about libraries and librarians,” he said.
In addition to getting better at his profession, Macias finds it important to read in Spanish as well. It is something he has been trying to do to help improve his writing, as well as his Spanish language speaking skills.
As a continuing learner himself, Macias feels that “the value of a community college library is so important.”
“It is a really exciting time so we’ll see what happens, ” he said.