Thinking outside the box: moving beyond the cubicle and other office space

Angela J.A. Kent, Head Editor, INALJ-Virtual Work

Thinking outside the box: moving beyond the cubicle and other office space

angela.kentNeed to stretch your library skills? Need some extra cash? Looking to fill a gap in your skills, interests, or time? One way to fulfill these needs is through virtual work. Cut the commute time and log on to build your skills and earn some extra money. Below are a few interesting trends and tips specific to virtual job searching.

Featured Jobs. There are some great jobs that can be done from the comfort of your own home. Currently, INALJ-Virtual Work has job postings for a “Content Crafter,” an “Online Curator,” and even Virtual Catalogers. As the INALJ-Virtual Work Head Editor, I have been happily surprised and thoroughly impressed with the types of online library jobs that myself, our assistant, and other members of the community have found.

Think about your favorite online sites. One reason to turn to virtual opportunities is because the organization itself is geared towards the online environment. Think about online shopping sites like Amazon, online readers like Feedly, or other online websites that you frequently visit. All these organizations need employees who understand metadata, filtering, tagging, user behavior, among other library skills. Just like you would seek out organizations you’d like to work with in person, the same philosophy can be applied to your virtual job search.

Health Information Technology. Health IT is not only a growing field within the general marketplace (think, “electronic medical records management”) or even just in the field of library and information sciences. It’s also a growing field for virtual work. If you are a medical librarian, a medical professional with a library science degree, or an LIS grad with an interest in records and data management, you should be looking into virtual health IT work.

Keywords are key. As with any job search – and as any good librarian knows – keywords are crucial to finding the types of virtual jobs you’re interested in. If you’re on a library jobs website, include terms like “telecommute,” “virtual,” or “remote.” Sometimes you can also filter for virtual positions using the “Location” filter. If you’re on a virtual jobs website, be sure to include library keywords like “Knowledge Management,” “Records Management,” and “Information Professional.” You can also focus in on virtual library-based jobs by looking for terms like “Digital Content Curator,” or “Database Designer,” or “User Experience Design.” See the left-hand side of the INALJ website for more examples).

Staying focused on librarianship. To go along with your keywords, remember to keep an eye towards librarianship and not just the virtual. It’s also no surprise that tech jobs dominate the professional virtual work world, so here are some points to remember (thanks to Naomi for recently pulling these ideas together):
○ While some librarians may have software developer skills, most librarians can more easily translate their skills and training into database developer positions.
○ While some librarians can (or have to) act as the IT helpdesk, most librarians are better off leading with their analytical and information professional skills.
○ While some librarians have taught and instructed, stay focused on the library side of education. In the virtual setting, this can include online academic companies that could be looking for online resource professionals or library-based vendors that provide course management software (like BlackBoard, Moodle, or LibGuides). Other virtual, academic-library positions to consider, include online bibliography managers (like RefWorks or Zotero), online IM services (like Library H3lp), and many academic journal databases (like ProQuest or Ebsco, to name just two). All these vendors provide online library services that may also hire virtual workers as well.

Virtual Volunteering. Just like in the physical space, online volunteering can lead to great things. Some examples of virtual volunteer websites include Volunteer Match (select “Virtual” from the filters on the left-hand side) or the UN’s Online Volunteering website. And, while INALJ doesn’t focus on volunteer positions, we do promote virtual volunteering in one important way. INALJ runs on volunteers who work all over the country and communicate primarily online. If your interests match the skills we’re looking for, consider volunteering with INALJ.