Tag Archives: rare books

About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter Maria Lin

Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later. 

Maria Lin completed the original survey in 2013 and her answers appeared as Hire for work ethic first, past achievement second. We followed up with her in 2014 and learned she had found a job about a year after she started looking. Then we checked in again in 2016 and learned she was still in that job, with increased responsibilities and having had the chance to do some exciting professional development, such as attending the international antiquarian book fair in Tokyo. 

She is still enjoying her career as a bookdealer, in that same job she had just found when we first followed up. She was kind enough to answer my questions below and to offer to answer your questions about the trade if you email her directly. You can also reach her on Tumblr or possibly via her little used Twitter account, @squeerocks.

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?

I am still working as a bookdealer. I ended up in this position because I was frustrated with the lack of engagement with actual books in my LIS program, and was met with complete silence from all of the libraries that I was applying to in the leadup to my graduation. I had already attended the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS) (full disclosure: I now work for the Seminar) and had been doing part-time work in the trade while a student, so when a dealer offered me a job I thought it would be a good fit. I didn’t know if it would be a stop gap into the library world or not, but it turned out to be a great career all its own and I have just passed 9 years with the business.

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?

I fully intended to be an archivist, but library school beat me down a bit and I realized that I had 0 tolerance for bureaucratic nonsense, which is not a good personal trait if you’re looking to work in institutions! Bookselling was always on my radar, and it became a good fall back for me. I wouldn’t call it unexpected since I was actively looking for options there but it wasn’t plan A. I didn’t expect to stay at the same job for so long though. I got lucky there.

Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed? 

If anything I’m more convinced that bookselling is a good career choice for library students who are looking for something different. A lot of booksellers were librarians or academics who wanted more independence or intellectual stimulation. And we need more people in the trade who are interested in many different types of books and collectors. There’s an active effort to make “rare books” more welcoming and a lot of training we get in library school is directly applicable. 

Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?

I typically don’t have a say in hiring, which happens rarely and on a temporary basis most of the time. Getting a job with a dealer is pretty hard actually because they are small firms who do not typically post listings. 

Do you have any advice for job hunters?

There are a number of orgs, like the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and regional orgs that can help you announce your interest in a job. But rare booksellers generally have narrow margins and few can afford employees. The good news is this is a business that is easy to get into on your own, the bad news is it takes either great persistence or a lot of capital to make a killing at it. I also know of librarians who moonlight with booksellers to do research or cataloging projects. This is a possible avenue for either a side hustle or dipping a toe in for a later career change.

Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?

Post the salary. The degree doesn’t indicate competence one way or the other and I still think work ethic and attitude are the most important things.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Best of luck to my library land cousins!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

Personal Professional Websites: Allie “Book Historia” Alvis

Allie Alvis is a book historian, and rare book cataloguer at DC antiquarian bookseller Typer Punch Matrix. They are the former special collections reference librarian of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and hold masters degrees in book history and information management from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. They are passionate about bibliographic communication, and maintain popular social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (among others) as Book Historia.

What is your site’s URL?


Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To act as a hybrid dynamic CV and central point of contact, with a place for miscellaneous pieces of writing not published elsewhere

Are you actively looking for work? 

√ Yes, for speaking gigs

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

Yes! I’ve received a number of media inquiries and speaking opportunities through the “contact” portion of my website, and orders for book supports through my links. 

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide

√ Blog about professional topics

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email

√ Contact Form 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

√ TikTok

√ Tumblr

√ YouTube 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

Generally whenever I give a new presentation or get new press, or get around to writing a blog post; frequency depends on how often those things occur

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Squarespace 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ Other: $144/year

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ Yes 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: Depends on if I post a new blog; 0-50 if no new posts, 51-250 if I’m promoting a post on social media

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All!

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

Since I’m kind of a bibliographic “public figure,” there’s not much on my website that isn’t on my various social media presences, so I don’t feel any less comfortable having info there

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

That’s a hard one – I’m able to have an (I think) attractive website because I’m not *so* early career that I can afford to pay for it. If you don’t have the money to spend, Tumblr or WordPress can be a sort-of alternative.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

I’ve been thinking about good web design since I had a LiveJournal back in 2002, so I’m a bit picky! But there are lots of nice templates out there that you can use as-is with very little additional work.


What is your job title?

Rare Book Cataloguer

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Other: Rare book seller, formerly (and likely future) special collections library

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ Yes 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Eastern US  

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

This is a cool project, good luck! 🙂

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website (kind of an awkward phrase) that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites