Card catalog. Dewey decimal. Due dates. Shhh. These are all terms and phrases associated with librarians. But how about we dust off those shelves and add some new words to the mix? Terms like data science and digital curation. When you think of librarians as more of keepers of information than as keepers of books, you can begin to see the profession in a new light, one that is evolving along with technology and new ways of receiving and storing information. In fact, the American Library Association says that jobs outside the traditional settings will grow the fastest in the field.
It’s no secret that many people start their research online rather than in their local library. But weeding through website after website to find reputable, verifiable information is not always easy. Enter information architecture. In relation to the web, IA provides structure and organization to a site to help make for a positive user experience. Many library science programs are beginning to offer IA training, or even standalone certificates in the area. Librarians’ experience with organizing, labeling and search terminology can aid IA development tremendously.
Foreign Information Resource Officer
Librarians interested in a global perspective might be interested to know that the U.S. State Department offers information resource officer positions overseas in various embassies and consulates as part of its Office of International Information Programs. The Organization for Advancement of Library Professionals states that these positions require a master’s degree in library science from an accredited program and at least five years of professional experience; they also require extensive travel.
When you think of a curator, you likely think of someone who works at a museum and decides what artifacts from their massive collection should be on display at any given time, whether it is a permanent or temporary exhibit. When it comes to the web, many will agree that it can be “information overload.” However, as Library Journal reported, some librarians would argue that it’s “filter failure.” Digital curation has become a new career path for librarians; this job involves finding content across the web that would fit the needs of a specific audience, usually for an entertainment or educational website. Library Journal likens this to the reference library position at a traditional library.
There’s a science behind the alphabetical subject list found in the pages in the back of many textbooks and nonfiction books. Many book publishers depend on authors to develop their own index, and because many writers aren’t trained in indexing, they turn to freelance indexers. These freelancers, usually librarians by trade, use a variety of tools and techniques — including metadata, indexing software, proofreading, and working with controlled vocabulary — to produce a comprehensive index.
Businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations all must keep and maintain records, but also do so while keeping physical space, privacy and preservation in mind. The training and skills held by librarians make records management a viable career choice. For example, cataloging skills help to organize documents and develop taxonomies, while knowledge of shelving can help to analyze space issues.
- American Library Association: Non-traditional Jobs for Librarians
- Syracuse University School of Information Studies: 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads
- Library of Congress: Good News: Librarian Job Growth is Exploding
- LIS Career: Librarians in the Information Age – Alternative Uses of MLS Degrees
- The Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees: What Else Can You Do With a Library Degree?
- Library Journal: Digital Content Curation is a Perfect Career fit for Librarians
Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."