Non-Traditional Roles in LIS
11/04/2011 § 24 Comments
Research Analyst. Yup, no “librarian” in that title. Yet, it’s my current job title. And it is the job title of my 6 other colleagues. They all of have MLIS degrees (and very soon so will I!) Now I’ve discussed my role in a previous post on special libraries. So I won’t go into that again. But what I did want to talk about is this whole idea of using the skills taught in the MLIS degree and how you can apply them to positions outside the “typical” library setting.
As students, how prepared do you feel to pursue alternative information-professional jobs? Do you have a sense of where to look for them? How you would market your skills? Do you feel as though you have a good enough understanding of how non-library organizations work in order to find where your skills could add value? Do you feel that you are prepared to work in a non-library organization or corporate setting? Do you feel you understand how these types of organizations may operate?
Earlier this week I had the great opportunity to discuss this post with Kim Dority. She writes a blog called The Infonista and there she explores some of these very issues and was kind enough to assist with some of the above questions and thoughts. She, along with her running a consultant business, teaches two courses at the University of Denver – “Alternative Career Paths for Librarians” and “The Corporate Information Environment” where she deals with some of the questions and issues posed above. Do you have courses like these in your program? Do you wish you did? Where/how could they fit into the MLIS curriculum?
According to an IDC study put out in 2009, “looking forward, the Digital Universe is expected to double in size every 18 months. In 2012, five times as much digital information will be created versus 2008.” That’s a lot of information. Hm. Seems like a job for a librarian…. And I would guess that much of this digital information is being created in the non-library world. Now how do you take your skills and convince these organizations that these are the types of skills they need to thrive in the information future?
Courtney Walters currently works as an administrative assistant at a private university in its Teacher Ed Curriculum library. Again, no “librarian” in that title. Yet, from what she has described to me, she uses her “librarian” skills every moment of the day. From circulation, acquisition, and reference to collection development and IT development and support for the department – she is functioning as, what I think we would all describe, as a librarian. And while that may not necessarily be her job title, she has developed this role and has added true value to the library because of the skills she learned in her graduation program.
We posted an entry on the blog the other day about non-LIS blogs to read – as it seems to be important to look outside the field to “help inform and shape the future of LIS.” It seems that reading these kinds of blogs may also give us a better understanding of how the skills we learn in the MLIS program can be helping us to perhaps get hired outside the traditional library field!
And then this brings me back to the questions above – if you were to get hired outside the traditional library field – would you feel prepared for that? Could you feel comfortable negotiating a salary? Understand the hierarchy of the company? Know what to even wear? I’m not suggesting that the MLIS degree come with a personal style course but sometimes these even seemingly trivial ideas can be a real hindrance to success in any organization.
I know I’ve posed a lot of questions but I really feel this is a valuable discussion to be having, especially as “traditional” roles are changing everyday. What are your thoughts?