Exploring Options: Traditional Library Jobs are Just the Beginning
There are so many directions to take your library science career that part of the challenge is figuring out which of those directions to pursue first. However, sometimes it helps to frame the choices as categories of options. From librarian to independent information professional, these may include:
- Traditional library jobs: Working within facilities-based librarianship, such as becoming a school librarian, public librarian, or campus-based academic librarian (although it’s increasingly the case that few types of librarianship can any longer be thought of as “traditional”)
- Going nontraditional with traditional: Doing nontraditional things within a traditional library setting (perhaps creating unique outreach programs for the local small-business community)
- Librarian with a twist: Performing traditional library roles but within an organization whose mission is not librarianship or education (the traditional special library role)
- Going special within special: Doing nontraditional types of librarian work within traditional special libraries (e.g., designing and running the company intranet)
- Becoming part of the ops team: Doing these nontraditional activities embedded in operational units, rather than in a designated organization library (for example, being the researcher on a business-development team) – a major trend in the special library world, known as “embedded librarianship”
- Supporting the cause: Doing library-focused activities outside of – but for – libraries and librarians (think vendors, bibliographic utilities, etc.)
- Content-related work: This may include content strategy, creation, curation, aggregation, licensing, digital assets/right management; taxonomy creation, thesaurus-building, metadata creation and assignment, indexing and abstracting; accessibility, usability/findability, user experience; information architecture, database development, knowledge/content management, data mining; and social media outreach, among others.
- Bridging: Building on skills honed in a library-based job to bridge those transferable skills into a new, non-library role (for example, shifting your reference librarian skills to competitive intelligence or prospect research)
- Making it up: Creating your own information-focused job, either within a library or for a non- library organization
- Going solo: Going independent, doing any of the activities that fall within the categories above on a freelance, contract, or project basis – an increasingly popular information professional path
The Library Science Skill Set: What Kind of an Information Professional Do You Want to Be?
Which of these options seem most appealing to you? Happily, it’s not necessary to choose one and exclude all the rest. It’s only necessary to decide which you want to pursue first, and design and execute your strategy for achieving that goal. Then decide what you want to do next.
Whether you choose to pursue one of the traditional library jobs or decide to explore any of the multitude of other opportunities for which your LIS knowledge base prepares you, keep in mind that one of the best things the MLIS degree guarantees you is a lifetime of career options.