Alternative careers for librarians

Since deciding to move into the Library and Information Studies field I’ve been wondering what it’s really all about.  Despite being an avid bibliophile, in the short time since starting the Masters in Library & Information Studies, I’ve had no choice but to embrace blogging, social media and the open-source software that seems to be so beloved of our lecturers.  But where does that leave me in terms of a career?

Yesterday I had the good fortune to head to the Open Day organised by the LAI CDG committee.  (That’s the Library Association of Ireland Career Development Group for anyone who doesn’t recognise the acronym – and there are so many acronyms floating around Library and Information Studies that failure to recognise one is a reasonable enough prospect).  The focus was on alternative careers for librarians, with two presentations on working in the private sector, given by Tina Byrne of Arcline and Brian Donovan of Eneclann Limited.  Prior to that however was a very informative presentation from Edel Kelly of INOU (The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed).

Yes, no-one likes to think about being unemployed, but knowing what your entitlements are and what you need to do in order to get access to them is the kind of useful information that isn’t doesn’t form part of our MLIS course.    Edel was very through, going through each of the allowances and entitlements which can be availed of, explaining the limitations (duration, means-testing etc) which apply and indicating the next steps when the Jobseeker’s Benefit runs out.

Then it was onto Tina Byrne from Arcline who told us about her experience as an archivist leading to the setup of her own company.   Tina gave clear, concise details of what she looks for in potential employees, the kind of roles they can expect to undertake and the skill sets which are found on her project teams.  She also made a clear distinction between contract work (work where an employer simply has a limited funding and consequently elects to only employ an individual for a particular duration) and project work (where an individual or team are brought in to complete a specific piece of work within a fixed time period).

Tina was followed by Brian Donovan from Eneclann Limited, a Trinity based company with a background in geneological research – a market which, Brian informed us, is worth over 2 billion a year in the USA.   Now that’s the kind of positive news a librarian likes to hear!   Brian went on to show samples of some of the fascinating material which his company has digitised over the last few years including historical prison records, UVF membership and petty sessions reports.   A key skill Brian would look for is digitisation knowledge – not necessarily how to use a specific software, but an understanding of the principles and preferably some good previous experience working in a digitisation role/environment.

All in all,  the day was a mine of information and a very valuable introduction to the career path I’ve set myself upon.   We even managed to sneak in a drink at The Lombard afterwards so we could all wind down a bit.

Giada and all the crew of the LAI CDG team did a fantastic job in pulling today’s event together and I look forward to participating in more of them.


About Caroline

Librarian. Bibliophile. Information seeker and sharer. “Life would be unbearably dull if we had answers to all our questions.” ― Jim Butcher, Death Masks
This entry was posted in Careers, CPD, Personal Learning Network, Skills & competencies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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