Alternative careers for library professionals

This week we’ve been asked to look at alternative careers for LIS professionals.  We’ve had a lot of discussions in various classes on this course about libraries and librarianship and we’ve been fortunate enough to have guest speakers come to us from Visual Arts libraries and medical libraries as well as having guest speakers on Online Reputation Management and other topics.  So, the focus hasn’t been only on the “standard”  librarianship roles.

The library sector is changing.  In Ireland the last 4 years have seen a 10% reduction in university funding (source: European University Association), with similar and in some case much higher cuts being applied to the library services within those universities. In the public sector overall, staff numbers have been decreasing following firstly the Moratorium on Recruitment and Promotions in the Public Service in 2009 and subsequently the implementation of the Employment Control Framework for the Higher Education Sector 2011 -2014.   Where a vacancy arises due to attrition through resignation, retirement or voluntary redundancy, the vacancy must be filled via redeployment from within the public service.   The overall result is that public sector libraries, academic or otherwise, are not the first place newly qualified librarians should be looking.

So, where should we start?    Well, when looking at job titles we need to understand that the omission of the words “library” or “librarian” doesn’t mean they aren’t for us.  Jana Verlejs in her article “Careers and education in Library and Information Science” looks at a range of jobs including:

  • Categorisation Analyst
  • Assistant Professor of Digital Services
  • Taxonomist
  • Staff training and development co-ordinator
  • Youth services team lead

Mia Breitkopf blogged a list of 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads which included Wine Librarian and sound FX librarian at LucasFilm.  Yes, wine librarian is a real job.   No, I don’t know if LucasFilm has any other library vacancies.   If LucasFilm isn’t your thing you could always be a Disney librarian.   When encountering the library stereotype for the umpteenth time from friends and family, neighbours and acquaintances, how great would it be to turn around and say “Actually, I manage Beyonce’s personal archives”?   Or  “Boring?  No, I’m the supervisory librarian at the US President’s executive office“.

Alternatively you could consider staying in Ireland and working in law firms like Mason Hayes Curran  and Arthur Cox who are looking for Knowledge Systems Managers and librarians or in Financial Services companies like AIB and Bank of Ireland which have internal training and development teams as well as in-house libraries.  Videogame companies such as Bright Head Games Studio and StoryToys are another possible alternative.  

And don’t forget that companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and Google all need MLIS graduates for a variety of roles.

However, if you are looking for a more intriguing (or intrigue-worthy) library career, you could always try:


nasa logoKnowledge management at NASA*

MI5_Logo   Intelligence analyst at MI5 **

Personally, I’m still figuring out what my favourite alternative library job is, but I’m looking forward to seeing some of the suggestions from my classmates.

* Yes, those are links to real jobs.

** MLIS 2013 colleagues, please note that SPSS is required for this one

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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, Classwork reflection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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