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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5 things to consider if you are an emerging Librarian

I was fortunate last night to attend an event at the performance space at the new Docklands Library in Melbourne.

At a time in history when Libraries are closing down and librarians are losing jobs, City of Melbourne has decided to take a risk and open a $23 million dollar state of the art modern library with over 100,000 accessible resources.

Run by ALIA, the networking event for Library Students brought together four librarians who have had different experiences within the profession to talk about how to position yourself in this changing employment space. Here are some of the ideas that resinated with me.

  1. As a librarian, you need to have sales and marketing skills. You need to sell your services as no-one is going to trumpet your cause as much as you can. This can be confronting if you are an introvert, so you need to fake it! Information Services people with sales experience know how to deal with customers and focusing on their needs. Libraries are all about people and connections, sales people tend to do well in this space.
  2. Work out what your edge is.
    Is it database management skills? Is it social networking? Is it marketing? You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. What is your specialty? Someone from Box Hill mentioned that their Information Services course is "database" heavy. You might not be directly maintaining the database but you need to understand how it works. Do you have experience in event or project management? These skills are highly sought after as well.
  3. Information Services is a small industry.
    Everyone knows everyone else and you need to remember that when applying for jobs. Do not rant online, no-one likes a ranter .... at the same time network your boots off. And again, if you are an introvert -  fake it!
  4. 80% of academic library resources are digital.
    This impacts on the way that people use them, how they access them and what they do with them (copyright and intellectual property). So the role of the library has changed from handling physical resources to electronic resources (that still need to be processed and managed!).
  5. The new niche for Information Services is Copyright and Intellectual Property.
    The digital resource space has opened up these hot topics and librarians with the pedant for understanding the ethics and legalities can position themselves quite nicely in the changing employment space.
It was great to talk to so many different Information Services students from RMIT, CSU and Box Hill. All studying something a little different to what my focus is, but with similar challenges. A large percentage were women and Information Services was their second career.

A big thank-you to the Docklands Librarians who kept the Library open past the closing time and allowed us to network in their (bookable) performance space with breathtaking city views. It was a challenge to get us all out at a decent time and they were very gallant despite having worked a whole day on their feet!

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