Instant Ideas and Collaboration
Our chat on 15th May was on careers, and was one of the liveliest chats we’ve had. Sorry that this summary got missed earlier in the year! We’re going through our tweet archives this month and trying to catch up on all the outstanding summaries.
The discussion covered many of the troublesome aspects of making a career in libraries and information, including the difficulties of changing sector, finding jobs outside of the traditional library, and keeping up with professional development throughout your career.
As this chat was so popular we have proposed a session for Library Camp 2012 on the same topic, so if you missed the chat or want to have another discussion about all things careers-related, either see us at Library Camp or keep an eye on the #uklibchat hashtag on Saturday 13th October.
Q1 Are companies aware of our role in society? Do they know us enough?
@rugabela: I think that there are still many companies which don’t really know what we do
@Annie_Bob: Not sure about corporate libs (is that what this q is referring to?) but in the college I work in I do feel appreciated :)
@theatregrad: Bit of a silly question in response but what do we mean with question 1? Do companies know what librarians are?
@NicolaFranklin: Short answer = no; some companies have some idea, few (can’t think of any e.g.) realise everything info pros could do for them. E.g. some firms have intranet/content mgrs, &/or knowledge mgrs, &/or records mgrs, but often not connected internally
@AgentK23: well for sure I think most people outside of those who work closely with libs, have no clue what librarians can and do do.
@bumsonseats: Yes & no. they are aware libraries & librarians exist but not necessarily what we do/can do for them. Need to be more proactive
@LibWig: I think q1 needs reversing and answer do librarians know about the roles they can fill but don’t have library in job desc
Q2 Are there job roles we’re qualified for, but aren’t aimed at librarians? (e.g they’re filled by other professions e.g. IT)
@AgentK23: I think yes, but may require you to have an extra skill? like TV would require media/film knowledge?
@SiobhanTThomas: I’d feel able to do a general admin job, I spend half my time sorting post anyway, but other than that I don’t know. I think I could only get a job in retail or libraries, and I really don’t want to work in retail
@bjf_librarian: A lot of project management/consultant/systems analyst roles at LMS suppliers are filled by information professionals
@Lady_PGD: How can we identify non-traditionally named job roles that are info jobs?
Q3 What tasks and field is it tough to get experience in? How can we overcome it?
@uklibchat: Personally – have found getting cataloguing experience difficult
@AgentK23: Cataloguing experience, unless you volunteer. Systems librarian – you need more IT bg. Art Libraries – too competitive
@erikadelbecque: If you have time to volunteer, getting cat experience is easy … I completed 2 cat. placements this yr. Just email libs and ask!
@NicolaFranklin: In my exp, hardest to get started in= law libn, unless u do pre-lib 1yr in law lib before masters; they always look for law exp
@bjf_librarian: Going by job adverts it seems difficult to get into corporate, esp. law sector without previous experience in that sector.
@weededlibrarian: Think this varies but in big setups often management skills are hard to experience, especially people and finance
@theatregrad: I worry about how I will be able to progress up to management jobs that require things like supervisor experience.
@shaslav: Probably management – sometimes can be more likely to gain in smaller organisation where do more of everything
@bjf_librarian: Often a bit easier to get experience in new fields if you work in smaller libraries.
@MadelineInCH: Getting management experience seems tricky. Colleagues in US say the same thing, but I don’t know if this holds true in UK/Europe
@rugabela: Archives and very specialised libraries. You need additional background and formation. Also, some IT jobs
@AgentK23: Jobs that require specific language skills will obv not be available to those without them. I think European counterparts to UK have an edge over us in that most have to learn English?
Q4 Is there a gap between what we have studied at University/Library School and the labour market?
@AgentK23: Maybe more that market is so competitive and they will hire people with experience. Training on the job happens less
@Lady_PGD: I am currently at Library School & thru my current job search I’d say there is a BIG gap which I am worried about
@LibWig: Not necessarily a gap, but a completely different way of applying it and putting it into practice. And there will always be in house processes to learn and sector knowledge to pick up but this is true of all professions (@LibWig)
@weededlibrarian: Not sure abt this – I qualified a long time ago so any practical skills lrnt wd be useless. Theory/knowledge still ok
@AgentK23: At Brighton U, your dissertation is based on a work placement, so more practical than most other places it seems?
@shaslav: I think courses will never fully prepare for the practicalities of the work place and will only become more distant over time!
@erikadelbecque: It’s essential to work/volunteer during MA course to develop practical skills. Dont wait until after ur course to address gaps
@Lady_PGD: I think the graduate training scheme needs to be combined with the MA like an apprenticeship, then can apply what you learn to your job.
Q5 How can we update our knowledge and skills? Do you think there are enough and accessible resources to do it?
@cjclib: At @hvcats we are still working on a cat23, but will be departure from usual 23 things. Still cpd tho + welcome new suggestions. I’m also thinking abt the possibility of using #codeyear style model for informal cataloguing training (rda?)
@theatregrad: I’ve struggled with this since moving out of trad libs. When in HE lots of training but my organisation has less opportunities. External opportunities are often expensive or far away plus don’t want to use all my leave on training events. Taking advantage of everything suitable through work but online self teaching and informal is my current strategy
@Lady_PGD: I have been trying to gain experience but cos am on MA I can’t get considered for lower level jobs…and there’s no volunteering ops
@kosjanka: Have found it much more difficukt to find relevant, affordable training since moving to govt sector. Esp living outside Ldn. Most development I’ve done has been vol work, mentoring, job shadowing, prof reading, odd meeting and new responsibilities.
@rugabela: Sometimes I feel I can’t cope!!! Constant Changes in technology, catalogation, labour market trends…
@tinamreynolds: You need to use CILIP, BIALL, SLA etc cheap and free events to build skills if work won’t help. If you organise an event, you can get the benefit & not pay. Also @El_Isabe gives a room for free at work to get free attendance for staff
@cjclib: I think informal + free is crucial for training/cpd, there’s not enough of that on offer just now. Need more imagination
Q6 How easy is it to change sectors? Is your first likely to determine the sector you will be in for the rest of your career?
@shaslav: Different sectors can link together in my case government led to investment to property in logical fashion. Use skills and experience imaginatively when applying for jobs-every little helps and may differentiate you
@AgentK23: Staying in the same sector becomes the path of least resistance.
@theatregrad: Have found moving within current sector a lot easier. Tried to use transferable core skills to get move sectors but comp tough
@NicolaFranklin: Easiest at start of career (e.g. series temp roles while study) & later in career (senior mgt skills become more vital than sector)
@bumsonseats: I’ve worked in HE, retail, then again HE, now public libs. it’s possible but stressful as loads of different things 2 consider
@kosjanka: I started off as para prof in pub lib. Moved to academic lib, then on to gov lib. Gained prof role by progressing in govt lib. As I only have Dillon and acilip, I doubt I could move back to academic lib, but know others who have done with ease.
@rugabela: About changing/ working in other sectors: I think it depends on your CV, abilities, skills, experience, knowledge…
@tinamreynolds: It isn’t easy to change sectors but is possible. Depends on the role, level and sector
@herslantfinely: 1st job HE, 2nd Health, always thought I’d swap back once qualified but definitely want to stay with health now, think passion and interest influence more than 1st job alone, especially as most skills transferable
Q7 do you have a job that is below your qualification level? Has anyone succeeded in getting a job above qualification level?
@AgentK23: I’m still searching for that elusive professional role!
@Lady_PGD: If u want a job above your level do you just showing willingness to learn?
@theatregrad: I ended up in job where MA made me overqualifed +LIS quals not recognised in my sector but it has led to exciting opportunities. I’m the only person at work with a LIS qual & I’m low down the ranks
@kosjanka: I gained a role as Info Spec, prior to completing degree (I only have UG dip). Did it with lots of external vol work, enthusiasm, proving I had skills – gained elsewhere, getting involved internally w projects, and demonstrating capability.
@joenglish: Qualified 6 months ago, just got first professional role
@tinamreynolds: Mine was above my qualification level when I got it
Q8 Does library school do enough to inform students about the full range of career options – not just traditional library roles?
@AgentK23: Brighton University did, we had a session talking about different job titles. someone from Sue Hill also came in chat.
@Annie_Bob: I applied for a couple of digital comms jobs on back of a tweet by one of my lecturers, not formally on course though
Q9 Have you ever considered going freelance?
@shaslav: Yes but not libraries
@myweeklybook: Had my last permanent, full-time job in 2000. Have been either freelance or running my own company ever since. Jobs are highly overrated, IMHO ;D
@theatregrad: I have no idea how you would even go about going freelance…not that I want to
@r_n12: In theory sounds great and intriguing but surely you would need to be v.v. flexible and have back-up cash for lean times?
@myweeklybook: It’s a trade-off. Jobs = stability. Self-employment = flexibility. Need to find your place on that spectrum.
@AgentK23: Freelance librarian?? Or freelance some other kind of job?
@shaslav: Probably more opportunities in past before everyone was expert in Internet! Although still some options…
@elizabethutch: Would love to go freelance…not sure who would need my skills though!
Q10 How can we get potential employers to consider us if we’re over qualified?
@myweeklybook: If you have a credible reason for wanting the job – e.g. I want some stability and regular income to fund study.
@LibWig: Can’t say I can speak from exp but for other jobs (ie supermarkets) jst downplay other roles & emphasise diff skills
@jwebbery: Employers focus on what skills are required. We have many staff more qualified than required – most paraprofs have Masters
Q11 What type of companies are more likely to contract us? Where can we find a job easily?
@rugabela: I think that some companies when it comes to looking for new workers they seem to be seeking a Prince Charming
@rugabela: I’m sure that all related to Internet, Digital Media have good employment prospects for us
Q12 What are the best and worst types of companies/fields to work in?
@myweeklybook: Public is intensely rewarding and also intensely frustrating. In IT you can do fantastically interesting work but sometimes feel distanced from your users.
@joenglish: I loved working in public lib. while doing MA, but lack of job security / feeling unvalued was a killer. Now working in HE.
@laurelburn: Surely this depends on personal preference? I have found the work environment to be more important than sector
@ErikaDelbecque: HE very good sector to work in imo. Good wages, lots of training opps and support, career progression
@AgentK23: HE is good, but depends on place you end up. I’ve been warned off places that are very ‘hierarchical’ [won’t let you do more]
@tinamreynolds: It is a tiny field but I love property consultancy work. Can’t imagine working outside of corporates/with adults. Like the sound of HE in theory as people like @liz_jolly enforcing #Chartership & more CPD opportunities
@Lady_PGD: Working in a secondary school is rewarding if you have support from wider school but it can be isolating. Great op to learn lots of skills
@shaslav: Agree HE very good for reasons mentioned – also corporate as less likely to set boundaries based on quals – more about ability
@SuzyRedRec: My one piece of careers advice: take responsibility for your own development/career/life.
@NicolaFranklin: Library careers are at the centre of my role – I would advise continual learning and an open mind for success
@medievaljenga: Are there any cataloguing courses I can take if I end up doing a postgrad course that doesn’t offer it (as lots don’t)