Discussion topic: librarians at large

Research Data Management by janneke staaks https://www.flickr.com/photos/jannekestaaks/14391226325

Research Data Management by janneke staaks https://www.flickr.com/photos/jannekestaaks/14391226325

The majority of librarians work in libraries. That’s a fairly broad statement, and we know that there are multitudes of different kinds of libraries, but for the most part librarians work in libraries. But not all librarians work in libraries. This topic is about exploring the world of librarians that work outside of libraries.

Librarians can often be found working for libraries, rather than in them. Most large digital publishers employ librarians, because they’re good at training other librarians on how to use database products and they have a good understanding of what clients need. Small companies and individuals may employ librarians to do research for them, such as politicians or other high profile individuals. Organisations managing large data sets, particularly in the field of business intelligence, use librarians for their data organisation and mining skills. Some librarians have set up their own businesses providing specialised skills in research or data management.

There are a few reasons why it’s important to detach librarians from libraries. One reason is because in many parts of the world, physical libraries are under threat, either from shrinking funding or from a change in client needs. It can be inspiring to look at how the skills that librarians have can be used in spaces outside of physical buildings holding shelves of books, because it gives us a positive story to tell about the future of our profession.

It’s also important to talk about librarians outside of libraries because these people are a valuable part of our profession, and have a crucial role to play in advocating for the value of the librarian’s skill set. Working outside of libraries can give librarians exposure to different kinds of business and new ideas about how to work with clients and content – and the ILN is a big fan of finding new ideas wherever they are!

Over the next two weeks we’ll publish some posts about alternative career paths for librarians, and about how librarian skills can be used outside of libraries (including some tips on how to describe your skills to non-librarians). We’ll feature some guest posts from people who have a library background but are working in roles not traditionally associated with libraries.

Some questions you might like to share with your partner include:

  • Do you currently work in a traditional library, or do you work in a different kind of environment? Are you a librarian at large?
  • Have you used your librarian training in any jobs outside of the traditional library setting?
  • What skills do you think a librarian could offer to different kinds of businesses?
  • How would you describe what you do to a non-librarian?
  • What other jobs could you do with those skills?

We’d love to hear from our community on this topic. Feel free to join in the conversation in our comments below, or on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn using the tag #interlibnet.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016A and tagged , , , .

One Comment

  1. Very interesting topic at a time when librarians are facing great challenges and have to give evidences of their usefulness in this digital era. This reminds me of the discussion I had one day with a friend of mine. Indeed he isn’t librarian and asked me which skills are required to work in a library and if I studied at university before working in libraries. When I told him that I’ve studied librarianship for three years, he showed his astonishment and replied: three years of study before putting books on shelves!
    It’s really amazing but it shows the difficulties that we have to be recognized, mostly in Africa. In my home country for example most of the time that I introduce myself as librarian I have to explain what I mean. Thank for choosing such topic.

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