Denise Peeler, Head Editor, INALJ West Virginia
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Before I applied for grad school, I asked a professor in the department I wanted to join for an interview. He granted it to me. One thing he said during the interview was, “Don’t quit your day job.” I was in the early stages of my publishing career, and thought I was going to make a small shift from publishing to putting books and information directly into the hands of readers. The reality after I finished my MSLIS was that I was happy I had not quit my “day job.” What no one tells you (and a more kind statement from the professor) would have been to tell me that I should have been prepared to serve a 1-3 year “apprenticeship” period before being hired, and, as has been mentioned on INALJ.com (see For Those Who Cannot Relocate) those jobs can be difficult to find if one cannot relocate.
For many of us alternatives to library work become more attractive after the degree is completed. There are many fields and positions related to libraries or that use the same skills one acquires in library school.
• Publishing. One of the most competitive positions in publishing is the acquisitions editor, but there are many others, such as manuscript editor; book (and e-book) designers; production coordinators; and marketers. Further, there are numerous types of publishers, just as there are libraries. Much like libraries, people who work for smaller publishers frequently wear many professional hats. For more information, visit Publishers Weekly, The Association for American University Presses, The Association of American Publishers, or one of my favorites, The Scholarly Kitchen (no job postings, but still a good resource to decide if publishing might be for you).
• Development. Jobs in development include duties such as grant-writing, database management, prospect research and development, and report writing and presentations. One of the best places to start researching these types of jobs is The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
• IT / Systems Analyst. These positions range from working the help desk in small computer labs to researching and coordinating the installation and running of large corporate or public systems. For more information visit the Association for Information Technology Professionals, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, and U.S. News & World Report. Local job boards and sites for large employers in your area will likely have several positions posted at any given time.
• Information Architect / User Experience Designer. Persons in these jobs love helping people find their way around websites and databases, most of the time without ever meeting their patrons. That doesn’t mean they don’t have contact with people. They need to know their audiences as well as their hardware, software, and the developers on the other side. The Information Architecture Institute is a great place to start.
• Social Media Coordinator. As others have mentioned on INALJ.com, social media can play a huge part in communicating with patrons, fellow students, and prospective employers (see Emerging Technologies – Social Media, Using Social Media to Get Yourself Out There, Top 3 Reasons to Use Twitter, and probably others. Add to that a librarian’s love of organizing, and many industries will be happy to hire. Mediabistro.com is a good resource to learn more about these jobs, which can be called, very specifically, Digital Media Coordinator, Digital Media Manager, Social Media Manager, and more broadly Marketing Coordinator or Editorial Assistant.
These are just a few of the areas in which those of us with Library and Information Science degrees have found ourselves happily occupied. I would encourage you to check with your alumni associations and network with graduates to find out other places and occupations that might suit you.