Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!



My name is Mary Joy Gilbert, but most people call me MJ. A fun fact about my name is that I am named after both my grandmothers – my paternal grandmother was Phyllis Joy (or, PJ), and my maternal grandmother is Mary. I am the baby of the family, and because I have an older brother instead of a sister, my parents had to figure out how to honor both grandmothers in one go as there weren’t going to be any other cousins in my generation on either side to bear the burden of namesake. Hence, Mary Joy. Joy is technically my middle name (as was PJ’s) just to make my life easier with legal documents, but there is a long tradition in my dad’s family of us going by a compounded first-middle name (starting with our Gold Rush-era patriarch, Abraham Pierce – or, AP). 


Anyways, I grew up in Folsom, CA (yes, like the prison), which honestly doesn’t tell you much aside from the fact that I was raised in deep suburbia with a mighty respect for Johnny Cash. Being Sacramento-adjacent and San Francisco-accessible, however, meant I was practically raised in some really amazing museums and historical sites, like Sutter’s Fort/Mill, the Crocker Art Museum, and the de Young/Legion of Honor. As elementary schoolers, we made our pilgrimages to the Northern Californian holy sites such as these, and, combined with the release of the film Night at the Museum in 2009, I was long-sold on getting involved in museums and archives from the tender age of ten.


Long story short, after obtaining my bachelors in English Literature from UC San Diego in 2020 and any further postgraduate studies being postponed due to the pandemic, I ended up having the insanely good fortune of landing a job as an elementary school librarian in the East Bay. I have been working in this school (TK-5) for four years now, and while the ultimate career goal is not in education or public libraries, I cannot appreciate enough the opportunities and lessons that this job has afforded me. I could go on forever about all the things I’ve learned (and how much I love my students), but I’ll summarize it all with the most important among them – this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. So, here I am!


I now live in Benicia, CA with my three dogs. I am a marathon runner (I just ran the Disneyland half marathon two weekends ago!), a cosplayer (the weekend before that, I was at Sacanime!), a theatergoer (I got to see Cabaret in London last summer, starring Mason Alexander Park!), and an amateur baker (I make a mean chocolate chip cookie!). I’m very excited for this course and working with you all these next few months!


Thanks for reading, and best of luck in your studies this semester!


I’ll leave you with a picture of my big, silly dog, Jenny (named after the Gordon Lightfoot song, “Cotton Jenny,” because she puffs up like a cotton ball after a bath). She’s a Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd mix that we rescued in 2019. She’s a gentle giant and, as you can tell, she has a majorly goofy smile.

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