As patrons may know, the Free Library has been expanding staffing efforts throughout the library system in recent months. With all the hiring excitement, there’s a mix of both new and familiar faces in all of the branches, and you might be wondering what some of these folks do. "Faces of the Free Library" is an interview series intended to introduce library staff to the public and highlight the important work they do every day.
Mark has been working at Parkway Central Library since January 2023. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science from Rutgers University. Mark enjoys collecting eyewear, Japanese pencils, and home goods. He is fond of Reading Terminal Market, where he gets his favorite corned beef sandwich on rye (with a black cherry soda) from Herschel’s Deli and an ube-flavored macaron from Tambayan for dessert.
What is your role with the Free Library of Philadelphia?
I’m a Library Assistant in Philbrick Hall, and I’m “on loan” to the Special Collections division working in Music Special Collections.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the work you do?
I am immensely proud that I help users access resources that they need, whether it’s an orchestral set or a library card — especially the new hip hop library card!
What are your favorite library resources, services, or programs that you think more people should know about?
I think the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music is underrated; it’s the largest circulating collection of orchestral sheet music in the world!
What do you believe is the most significant role that libraries play in our community?
Libraries level the playing field with access to resources and knowledge. If you have an idea and want to realize it, you can achieve that at a library.
What are your favorite genres of books to read?
They aren’t technically books, but I love to read book review magazines like the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books — also, back issues of Consumer Reports at my local branch!
What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
The Icelandic novel Children in Reindeer Woods by Kristín Ómarsdóttir. It’s like Björk, but wilder.
Do you have any tips or advice for someone interested in pursuing a career in library services?
Jump right in and find your community in the library world. There’s a place for you!
What do you love most about living in Philly?
Philadelphians help each other out. Whenever I have trouble getting the SEPTA bus's back door to open, the other riders become a chorus saying, “Back door!” I love that.