IF YOU WANT TO WORK IN LIBRARIES
here are ten things you need to know
IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT BOOKS
Do you like books?That’s great, but best not to put too much
emphasis on that in your job interview. These days the library is
all about other things.
IT IS ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
You need good communication skills to work in libraries, and
you can’t really afford to be shy. Everything is focused on
catering to the information needs of whatever community your
library needs, and it can be hectic out there.
IT IS ALL ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
If you’re scared of technology, you can’t work in libraries.
Libraries are at the cutting edge of content delivery;
Information Professionals have to lead the way and be early
adopters of new platforms and trends.
YOU WILL NEED A QUALIFICATION
Once you get beyond the entry level, everyone going for the
good jobs will have some kind of post-graduate qualification:
a Masters or a Diploma.
If you’re serious about the profession, you need to factor in
the time and money involved in doing this.
THE COMPETITION IS TOUGH
More people qualify in librarianship each year than retire.
And there are a lot of over-qualified people in the
Information Profession, generally. In short, librarianship is
not the soft option it is sometimes portrayed as: you have to
work really hard to get anywhere.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND
Information Professionals love social media. Places like
Twitter and the LIS New Professionals Network (LISNPN)
can provide support, guidance, encouragement, and a place
to exchange ideas.They help you feel plugged in to the wider
YOU NEED TO BE READY TO FIGHT
There is a more or less constant battle against the old
librarian stereotypes, and it inhibits our ability to do our job.
If people don’t respect us, they don’t get the most out of our
Library Advocacy is something we are all involved with, all
the time – it’s just a question of whether or not we seize our
opportunities and do it well.
YOU HAVE TO BE OKAY WITH CHANGE
Libraries have probably changed more in the last two decades than
in their entire previous history put together. Change is the only
constant, so you need to be comfortable embracing new things all
YOU CAN PURSUE EXISTING PASSIONS
One of the great things about librarianship is how often you can
pursue existing passions in a professional capacity. Like writing? Get
published in any number of journals. Like social media? Use it to
promote your library. Like history?Work in an archive. Etc etc.
THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT ROLES
You can work in Customer Services, Marketing, Digitisation, Archives,
Preservation, Press & Publicity, Training, Information Literacy,
Reference, Subject Teams, Music Librarianship, Law Librarianship,
Medical Librarianship, Special Librarianship, Public Librarianship,
Academic Librarianship, Mobile Librarianship, School Librarianship,
Children’s Librarianship, e-Resources, Acquisitions, Cataloguing,
Administration, Management, IT and Systems, the Virtual Learning
Environment, Special Collections, Estates, Design, Accountancy,
Human Resources, Museums, Galleries, Collection Management, e-
Strategy, Metadata, Space and Collections, Book Repair, Conservation,
Publishing, Projects, Copyright, Community Engagement, Repositories
Backgrounds adapted from flickr CC images by Ervin Bartis
Icons from iconfinder.com
My blog is at thewikiman.org/blog
I tweet as @theREALwikiman
My other presentations are available via Slideshare