This is an interview with Laura Pike-Seeley, a corporate librarian and knowledge professional currently serving as knowledge manager at HKS, Inc., done by Naomi House of INALJ. This is part of INALJ’s 2020 series on non-library jobs for library workers. Laura has provided us with further insights into her work as a Brand Archivist as well.
On Knowledge Manager (KM) Work :
an Interview with Laura Pike-Seeley
part 1 of 2
Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand what Knowledge Manager work is and how LIS folk can get into this field. First could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you got your MLIS (or your educational background) and what you do?
Happy to contribute!
I grew up in the Houston, Texas area and got my undergraduate degree in History at Texas A&M University. While I was there I fell in love with research and the many ways that libraries facilitated learning. I began working and interning in libraries on and off campus, and because I loved studying history, I decided to pursue a career in archives (though that’s not exactly where life took me in the end). I chose to attend Simmons University in Boston, where I earned my MLIS as well as a Master’s in History.
Q2: Now can you tell us how You personally got into doing this type of work?
After graduation, I ended up working as a Reference Librarian in a public library near Houston, Texas. It wasn’t a good fit for me because I craved the ability to be innovative and lead change. When I saw a job posting for a Brand Archivist at Fossil, Inc., I was intrigued. The position would involve establishing a library and archives for the company; it would require a ton of information organization, problem solving and creativity. I also loved fashion, art and design, so it was clearly a dream job for me. I moved to Dallas, Texas and have been here ever since.
After six awesome years at Fossil, I decided it was time for a change of scenery. I had become particularly interested in organizational development and the ways that the curation and sharing of knowledge could change the way an organization functioned. Using the search term “intranet” across job post aggregators, I found a position with a knowledge services group at HKS, Inc., a major architecture firm in downtown Dallas and again, it seemed like the perfect fit. They agreed, and I’ve been there for three years.
Q3: What makes this a great field for LIS workers and likewise, what do you think makes LIS workers strong candidates for hiring managers in this field?
First of all, as working from home becomes more prevalent, improving the digital workplace experience will become a priority across industries. Knowledge management is a crucial piece to this puzzle, and I believe it will become an increasingly relevant function. LIS workers can serve an important role in this workplace movement.
Knowledge management is a wonderful fit for librarian types because we are often equally interested in people, technology and ideas. LIS workers should consider knowledge management if they are passionate about collaboration, learning, change management, and the findability of information.
Keep in mind that knowledge managers typically work for large organizations. If you’ve never worked in a corporate environment, I encourage you to consider it! A corporation is just a large group of people who need your help and support, not unlike any other type of community. These people tend to be very welcoming of your skills and insights because you are something of an anomaly, and what you have to offer can transform the way they work for the better.
And heads up, hiring managers! People with MLIS degrees are often incredibly versatile and are an excellent fit for knowledge management positions. They tend to be smart, diligent and conscientious and they have perspectives that can augment nearly any organization. Hiring managers should strongly consider professionals with this degree any time they are hoping to move their processes and/or resources from a state of chaos to order.
Q4: What is the best way to get your foot in the door or your first knowledge management job?
Work in non-traditional library environments as much as you can. Small and special libraries usually offer positions that involve a variety of tasks, allowing you to efficiently develop a diverse set of skills. If you are currently employed, find out if there is an opportunity to contribute to the development or maintenance of your organization’s intranet. Develop your own personal brand, because basic marketing and communication skills are a must in this field; you can and should start this at any phase of your career.
Q5: Finally what are some of the most important skills / certifications / etc that LIS folk can do to prepare them? Any last tips?
Skills that would serve you well in the field of knowledge management include taxonomy development, original and unique cataloging, basic web and graphic design, and change management, so any opportunity to develop those skills will help you in the job market. While you’re working on your personal brand, go ahead and create your own personal website, which will help you grow your communication and web design skills. Check out materials from conferences like KM World and CMSWire’s Digital Workplace Experience, both of which I’ve found valuable.
Laura Pike-Seeley is a corporate librarian and knowledge professional currently serving as knowledge manager at HKS, Inc., a leading global architecture firm headquartered in Dallas. In this role, Laura helps guide the firm’s knowledge strategy by championing information organization and findability, robust resource description, process optimization and employee experience.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, Laura earned her Master of Library and Information Science (MS) and Master of Arts in History (MA) from Simmons in Boston. Her interest in the digital workplace follows naturally from her background in corporate library services, where effective outreach and communications, information and resource organization, and a constant focus on the user experience were key drivers of success.
She lives in Dallas with her husband and two sons. Outside of work, she creates a particular style of portrait photography known as “bookfaces.” These portraits were recently featured in her first solo exhibition, “Cover Stories: A Bookface Series” at Dallas’ Umbrella Gallery.
Views expressed are those of the interviewee and not INALJ or their employer. Photo provided by the interviewee and permission granted to use it for this interview.