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 in Knowledge Manager (KM) as well.
On Brand Archivist Work :
an Interview with Laura Pike-Seeley
part 2 of 2
Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand what Brand Archivist 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?
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.
As Brand Archivist, my interns and I organized and maintained a variety of collections of physical resources, including wonderful collections of art and design books, vintage bag samples and Fossil heritage products. This required the creation of taxonomies, organization systems and systems for original cataloging in our custom developed Soutron ILMS. We also digitized almost thirty years of catalogs. I eventually began focusing on competitive intelligence and internal education using a number of tools, including our organization’s WordPress-based intranet. Other tasks included writing posts for the brand’s blog, delivering history presentations to everyone from interns to media outlets, and even creating an Dallas Public Library exhibit on the history of Fossil graphic design.
After six awesome years at Fossil, I decided it was time for a change of scenery, and I now work as a Knowledge Manager at HKS, Inc., a major architecture firm in downtown Dallas.
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?
Serving as a solo librarian and/or archivist for a corporation can be incredibly fun and rewarding if you are someone who craves a dynamic career with lots of opportunity for growth. You will often be challenged to pave your own way and market yourself and your services internally, and if you do this well, you will often be given the chance to establish your own priorities. If you are a self-starter who isn’t afraid of change, this could be a great path for you.
Don’t be afraid to work for a large organization. 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.
Hiring managers should be aware of the field of library science and the people who are drawn to it. There is so much these professionals can do to organize your resources, which can not only save time but can actually support innovation. LIS workers 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 brand archivist job?
If you want to serve as a solo librarian or archivist for an organization, start by working 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. 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?
You should prepare to be an LIS generalist, rather than a specialist, if you are interested in special libraries. You should be comfortable with original cataloging, reference and outreach, and collection development. Outside of library-specific skills, you should be ready to develop communication, research and management skills. Check out the Special Libraries Association for more resources and to connect with other LIS professionals existing in the hinterlands of the profession!
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.