So why me? I have not had a traditional library career at all. I have consistently intertwined library science with information technology. I've been a corporate librarian in a library that focused on competitive intelligence, worked for a start-up high-tech company, and -- for the last eight years -- had my own business. If you had asked me in library school what I would be doing, I wouldn't have even guessed this, but it is what do and what I enjoy!
What did I talk about?
I started of talking about my career. Here's the two-second overview:
- Began working in libraries in fifth grade and then continued to work in libraries through my undergraduate degree.
- Worked in radio (announcer and program/commercial scheduler) for four years. (We all deviate into other careers at some point.) Working in radio was fun, even if it didn't pay much. And it taught me a lot about speaking and thinking on my feet.
- Went to grad school to get my MLS and began working with computers.
- Worked professionally in IT and then switched to become a corporate librarian doing mostly competitive intelligence (CI).
- Worked in a combination of IT and library science for a while.
- Began work in scanning/digitization in 1990 (as part of my corporate library duties).
- Started Hurst Associates, Ltd. in 1998 and now do both competitive intelligence/business research and digitization planning. (Those two areas are not as dissimilar as you might think.)
I mentioned Library 2.0 (L2) and saw a few people taking notes. I like mentioning L2 because it shows that the profession is looking to change. As I said, it is a move to become more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs -- and those are all good things. (And you don't have to like the label to like what it about.)
I talked about some of the skills they will need to develop. Unfortunately, some of those skills still are not taught in library school.
At some point, I talked about billable hours and covering expenses, which are important when you run your own business, as well as other business matters.
I mentioned an article in Searcher about resumes, but couldn't remember the title or when it was published. Well, it was in the July/August 2002 issue (which is a great issue). The article was "A Resume That Works." The article isn't on the Searcher web site, but would be available in a library or from one of the database services.
What questions did I get? Well, I got asked many questions, but only -- at the moment -- remember a few!
- What job to I see in the future for librarians that doesn't exist now? I said "information guide" which might mean that someone develops tools to guide people to information or actually works as a guide. I see this as being different that the intermediaries we have today and the ways people now find or connect to information.
- How do I estimate the cost of a client project?
- Is there a book or article about how to package information?
- What information (database) sources do I use?
BTW with my class this semester, I am using the paper "How to Write a White Paper -- A White Paper on White Papers" by Michael A. Stelzner as a reference for their last assignment. The assignment is for them to write a position paper and hopefully this document by Stelzner will help them formulate something that is more business-like, less academic, and helps them "sell" their point of view.
What should I have mentioned?
- I should have mentioned the book The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide, which may not be about being a non-traditional librarian, but would likely be of interest to students.
- I should have pointed them towards Meredith Farkas' posts about her job hunting experience. (Check the link and go back to her posts from summer 2005.) I think her insight is of value to any library science student.
- I should have mentioned that being an independent information professional is not for everyone. It takes discipline to work independently and a tolerance for risk (risk of failure). Some people find that they need real structure to their work. Fortunately, I have found that I can thrive working independently and I enjoy the flexibility.
- Having your own business can mean working all the time. I did kind of say that, but it is worth emphasizing. There are deadlines to meet and clients to please.
- I didn't tell them that I generally don't mention to business clients that I have an MLS. Business clients only want to know what skills I have to locate the information they need, if I understand their business/industry, and what I'm going to deliver (and how much it will cost). I always frame the "how" in terms that they will understand and don't use library jargon. I've found that allows me to come across as a businessperson and an equal. The degree doesn't matter to them. Now, with my library clients, I do tell them that I have an MLS, because it matters to them and they see me as an equal (and I'll use library jargon with them).
- And...likely there are a ton of other things I should have said. Hopefully if the students have questions, they'll e-mail or IM me.
Addendum (4/5/2006): I mentioned the Talis report on Library 2.0 (Do libraries
matter? The rise of Library 2.0). Here is a link to that.
One of the students gave me her business card. We're in an era where even full-time students should have business cards, especially when going out on interviews or attending conferences. She was fortunate to have a roommate that could design a very professional-looking card for her. If you're a students and you want a business card, check your local copy center. Likely they can great a good business card for you at a low cost. Or check online...there are even some places where you can get business cards for free.
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