Alternative careers for new library & information professionals
Alternative careers for the new library &information professionalBethan RuddockMMU, 12th November 2012 mimas.ac.uk
What is an „alternative career‟?Depends what you think of as traditional!Can be:• A traditional role in a non-traditional environment• A non-traditional role in a traditional environment• A non-traditional role in a non-traditional environmentWhatever it is, it will use your librarianly skills and knowledge – and you might get tolearn interesting new ones, too! mimas.ac.uk
It‟s not all stamping books and shhhhh!When you say „librarian‟, most people think of public or academic librarians.In fact, there are librarians (often called „information professionals‟) in nearly everysector.I asked some of them what they do every day... I am an Information Governance Office in the children‟s services directorate of a local authority in Greater Manchester. I am responsible for providing advice and guidance in relation to the Data Protection and Freedom of Information. Most of my work is to ensure information is shared appropriately and securely, and includes providing guidance around how to do this and putting data sharing agreements together. I also coordinate all the Freedom of Information requests we receive, and provide help if colleagues think any of it might be exempt from release. I also work on records management, including putting together retention schedules. Michelle Peel mimas.ac.uk
Digital Resources Librarian, Royal Institute of International AffairsOrganisation: an International Relations think-tank, commonly known as ChathamHouseResponsible for: Electronic resources including discovery search, authentication andLMS.Customers: Members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, who are politicians;policy makers in government, private sector, law; academics and others interested ininternational relations. Staff of the institute who are researchers in the fields ofinternational relations, and international aspects of law, environment, economics andhealth.Job Involves: Managing subscriptions and access to e-resources, system administrationof LMS, Sharing enquiry desk work with the other 2 librarians, supporting archivedigitisation project with corporate partner, and being the library go-to person for ITquestions. Magda Robertson mimas.ac.uk
Our main day-to-day role is research support for editorial staff. This involves puttingtogether cuts packages on request, for interviews or opinion pieces (for example, todayIve been asked to find cuttings on Scott Walker, the PCC elections, and the SocialCharter of the Maastricht treaty in 1989.)For this we use a variety of sources - we still have the old school cuttings files, wherelibrarians would have literally cut and pasted articles on specific people/subjects intofiles, but its mostly electronic sources now, primarily Factiva and Lexis Nexis.We are also asked for things like factboxes and timelines, either in advance of thingsthat might happen or as a story breaks and develops, and fact-checking and statisticalinformation - at the moment one of my colleagues is looking something up on the 1851census.We also compile things from the archive - a daily piece which goes onto the websiteand in Saturdays paper, and an archive blog if we want to go into stories in more depth- from the digital archive (all of the Guardian and Observer have been digitised - seemore here!http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/series/from-the-archiveWe are a research library for our journalists rather than for the general public, so it variesevery day, although Nina (the current graduate trainee) does deal with queries frommembers of the public (this is usually asking for the date an article appeared, orsomeone whose grandad was in the paper in 1904 or something) Lauren Niland, Research and Information Dept., Guardian News & Media Ltd
In terms of more traditional "library" type management:Head of Information manages subscriptions and access to the databases we haveaccess to.The graduate trainee manages the daily digital archiving of the paper and the storageof bound volumes and microfilm.We maintain an intranet research page of resources (although this is being overhauledat the moment)We do have a physical library, but (sadly) this is not used as often as it could be - herewe have books relating to the paper itself and media/journalism history andbiography, and magazines. Lauren Niland, Research and Information Dept., Guardian News & Media Ltd mimas.ac.uk
• Provide a multiple-jurisdiction (Scotland, England/Wales, Ireland, Europe) internalcurrent awareness service, tailored to the business interests of the firm. These interestscover many areas: waste and recycling, utilities like wind farms and wavepower, banking, planning, construction, company law, employment law, commerciallandlord and tenant issues, civil procedure in the various courts...• Provide research on any topic requested, whether its a core business interest or atargeted new market - Im always having to learn something new!• Train trainee solicitors on abstracting and categorising material from journalsassigned to them, content is then uploaded to the current awareness system.• Train users on request on electronic resources such as databases we subscribeto, and organise external trainers to visit regularly for same purpose.• Identify, purchase, catalogue and process new materials, and general librarymaintenance. Jennifer Findlay, Law Librarian mimas.ac.uk
My job is to ensure health professionals have access to the best available information sothat patients receive evidence-based treatments and care. I conduct literaturesearches for staff which involves searching online for guidelines, published research andsystematic reviews (which are generally considered the strongest form of evidence-based medicine) on many different topics. I quality check and publish to the Trustintranet all new and updated clinical guidelines and policies. I also conduct regularinformation skills sessions with staff searching for and appraising medical information. Lesley Firth, Health Librarian mimas.ac.uk
I work for a property consultancy. This is a slightly niche, unusual job even within speciallibraries. There are, as far as I can tell, about ten librarians in the UK who work forproperties consultancies which is tiny in comparison to accountancy, law or otherprofessional services firms.We‟re a very small team, two full-time and one part-time so there is a lot of scope forgetting experience in lots of areas.The way to manage working in such a fast-paced environment is to be as organised ashumanly possible. Time management and prioritisation skills are absolutely core in a rolelike this. Communication skills also come in handy as you may need to pass workaround within the team to ensure everything gets done.I don‟t really have an average working week because so much of my time is enquiry-based and thus driven by what demands the users have put on my time but a few ofthe tasks I might expect to get done over the course of a month are: meeting with oneof the suppliers to discuss our new contract, our usage stats and how the product isdeveloping; crunching the numbers on how many enquiries the Information Unit istaking and what kind of information is required; current awareness on various topicssuch as Planning or Housing; meeting with the heads of teams to see if the InformationUnit can help them; cataloguing newly bought books or reports; checking in andcirculating journals; attending fee-earner briefings; downloading and circulating marketdata such as property specific information, exchange rates, inflation and house priceindices; undertaking complicated searches for the ownership of a piece of land; settingup new accounts for various databases; investigating companies or people with whomwe might work; and training people on databases.
The main key to working in a professional services environment is to socialise with theusers. You need to know what makes them tick. If there is a briefing open to anyone inthe firm, go. If there is a drinks reception, go. If someone mentions a team event andasks if you are interested, go. Additionally, go on courses in-house especially soft skillsboth because it will help you but also in order to get to know your users. It is alsoimportant that they know you aren’t a secretary. I chartered mainly because I work withchartered planners and chartered librarians and I felt it was important to be and beseen to be on the same level.It might also be worth remembering that, unlike academic librarians, there is a dresscode. I get to wear cardigans but I generally am in smart office attire…on the plus sidethere is very little climbing shelving or walking so I also get to wear killer heels!
I help lawyers find the information they need to win cases and negotiate deals. I searchspecialist business, legal and news databases; I teach trainees how to use theseresources in tandem with general internet searches; I circulate journals and I buy books.Sometimes I‟m searching on a short deadline to help save lawyers’ time; other times I‟mleaving no stone unturned in search of an elusive piece of data. Sometimes I‟mtroubleshooting database problems, evaluating new resources or thinking how we canpromote our services to the firm. Sara Batts, Law Librarian
Special collections are materials that require specialist handling, description andstorage because of their age, rarity, content or other significance such as whocollected or owned them. Special collections librarians draw on detailed historical andtechnical knowledge to describe these materials using specialist standards. Theyinterpret their collections for others via exhibitions, articles, public talks and educationalevents as well as managing and staffing reading areas where researchers can study thematerials. They answer a lot of enquiries from a wide range of people. Specialcollections librarians have to manage security, preservation, conservation, budgets.They require technical skills to commission and manage digital projects. Katie Birkwood
Information Centre Manager for BDP -a multidisciplinary design firm (architects andengineers):I am a qualified information professional delivering Information Services throughout allUK offices. I used to just look after our Sheffield office but am now the only remaininginfo professional within the company, and thus am managing the Information Centres inour Manchester, Sheffield and London studios, but also offering research and a qualitytechnical enquiry service to any member of BDP staff.Roles also include library management skills, including stock control, digital andhardcopy info provision, info literacy; Intranet editing and dealing with intranetfeedback and problems; assistance with marketing information, sourcing & collatingtenders/ bids (ie to win work).The main difference working within a corporate environment as opposed toacademic, is that I am actually doing the research/ sourcing the documents in order tosave the technical staff* doing it, as every minute of their time is paid by the projectthey are working on, thus wiser and hopefully more profitable for them to delegate thanspending time searching themselves. It is much more a research role than an infoliteracy role, although we do subscribe to IHS so technical staff are encouraged toalways search this first (available on our intranet) before coming to me, and info literacydoes come into play with regards to teaching them how to search those databasesavailable to them on their desktops.*technical staff = the architects, engineers, project managers, interior designers etc.Basically those members of staff earning a fee. Although a qualified professional, Icome under “admin” and am not a fee earner as I am not being charged out to theclient. Tracey Lunt
I am an Assistant Librarian at the National Police Library at Bramshill in Hampshire.Currently our Library is a part of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), butwill belong to the College of Policing as of the 1st December. This makes me agovernment librarian, but possibly only for the next few years. I am primarily responsiblefor enquiries and literature searches, abstracting and indexing journals, line managingtwo Library Customer Support Officers and I am now branching out into usereducation, a new area for the library. Our customers are the NPIA, in particular theresearch department, and potentially all UK police officers and staff. Often we supportofficers undertaking Master or PhDs as we are able to offer them more focused supportthan the universities they attend can. Challenges include the remote customerbase, working within a secure network, and making the UK Police Forces aware of ourexistence! Emily Powell
Looking for something even more alternative?How about a career in a related field? You could try Archives Teaching Technology Research Publishing Cultural heritage Knowledge management Communications Community relations mimas.ac.ukImage used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncan/99863704/
Bethan RuddockContent Development Officer,Library and Archival Services,Mimas,University of Manchester mimas.ac.uk
How did I get here?Graduate Trainee, University of Manchester Library, 2006-7MA Library & Information Studies, MMU, 2007-8Copac Challenge Fund Officer, Mimas, 2008-9Content Development Officer, Library & Archival Services, Mimas 2009-nowHow did I get this job? I took a chance, and applied! mimas.ac.ukImage used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/wes2theg/2913960324/
My job requires me to be... • A good communicator • Face to face • In writing- various styles • Teach & train • Technically literate • Enough to know what can and can‟t be done, and work with programmers • Flexible • Work on different projects & need to switch quickly • Willing to learn • Don‟t be scared of trying new things – always ready to have a go • Proactive • I need to identify and take opportunities • An expert • And willing to use that expertise Image used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicafoley/4270697958/ mimas.ac.uk
Finding an alternative career • Decide what you want to do! • Skills audit • Write down everything you can do! • Think about: • What can you do? • What do you enjoy doing? • How can you do more of the stuff you enjoy? Resources: CILIP Professional Knowledge & Skills Base: SLA Future Ready Toolkit: http://www.cilip.org.uk/jobs-careers/professional- http://www.sla.org/content/resources/t oolkit/index.cfm (members only) knowledge-and-skills- base/pages/professional%20knowledge%20and%2 0skills%20base.aspx (members only)Image used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/squeakywheel/296747265 mimas.ac.uk
Finding an alternative career• Use the skills you‟ve identified as keywords• Look in professional press for the area you‟re interested in• Look beyond “librar*” • Information • Communication • Research • Training • Data handling • Outreach • Support • Metadata Image used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/boliston/3966640589/ mimas.ac.uk
Use your contacts• Build good professional networks • Who knows where your current colleagues might end up? • Be generous – give and receive• Make new contacts • Talk to people at conferences • Talk to vendors in the exhibit hall • Ask them about their workplace• You will often find out about jobs through word of mouth, rather than adverts. mimas.ac.uk Image used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobbygreg/168206195
Use your opportunitiesWhile you‟re training and studying, you‟ll havelots of opportunities to make contacts and findout about different areas of library andinformation work.Make the most of them!Can you shadow someone in a different areaof the library?Or in a different library altogether?Apply for bursaries to attend conferencesOnce you have this experience? Make themost of it!Write it down and reflect on it mimas.ac.uk Image used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/iansand/2216235850/
Applying for jobsSo, they haven‟t asked for a librarian... How do you convince them they need one?• Tailor your application to that job. • Speak the language of the organisation • Don‟t use librarian/info pro/sector jargon!• Address all essential requirements • Address as many „desirable‟ requirements as you can• Be explicit, not implicit. • Don‟t expect them to make the connections between your experience and their needs – lay it out for them.• Prepare to be Googled • Have a good online reputation that showcases your professional skills• Be brave! A job application costs you nothing, except a little time and effort, and the rewards can be huge. mimas.ac.ukImage used under a CC licence from http://www.flickr.com/photos/timothygreigdotcom/4975771901/
Resources & further readingLibrary routes/roots: http://bit.ly/W34IrVLibrary Day in the Life:http://librarydayinthelife.pbworks.com/w/page/16941198/FrontPageMy First Month: http://lisnewprofs.com/category/my-first-month/Special Collections Librarianship: a map of the field:http://prezi.com/bmoag2sdf1d5/special-collections-librarianship-a-brief-map-of-the-field/Voices for the Library features on „celebrating librarians‟:http://voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/Alternative careers webinar: http://vimeo.com/34984523 mimas.ac.uk
Bethan.email@example.com @bethanar http://lisnewprofs.comSign outside Boise State University Library, from mimas.ac.ukhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/travelinlibrarian/223839049/ 27
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