I had a call yesterday from someone who was thinking about re-training as a librarian. She’s had a career as a teacher and wanted some advice from a recent graduate about the pros and cons of studying librarianship. She also wanted to hear about why I did the triple qualification Masters degree (libraries, records and archives) instead of the Graduate Diploma.
The first thing I told her was, don’t do it unless you are interested in learning about technology. You don’t need to know much about it at the outset but you are at a real disadvantage if you’re not willing to learn.
She sounded taken aback by this. She asked if there were still traditional librarian roles available. Yes there are of course, but increasingly fewer and if you’re going for these and you’re up against someone with an interest in/experience with tech you are likely to be at a disadvantage.
I told her that it’s not enough to like books. Yes, I love books and it influenced my decision to take this career path, but I don’t work with books at all in my current role (and that’s ok with me). It’s not just about the books any more and I want to be clear about that to people thinking about joining the profession.
I mentioned different types of libraries (public, academic, special etc) with some of the differences and encouraged her to go into her local library and talk to the people who work there about what they do and how they find it. I also suggested that if she gets a chance, to ask the library manager what skills they would be looking for in a new librarian.
Some of the things I wish I’d been told when I was considering librarianship as a career is:
- To follow librarians on Twitter and ask them questions
- To read blogs written by librarians and pay attention to the comments
- To learn about the direction(s) the profession is going in and think about whether these are a good fit for me
- To investigate the options available for non library degree graduates (shambrarians) in libraries
- To dig deeper into records and archives before studying them (a subject for a future blog post)
To be an effective Information Professional, you really need to keep learning throughout your career. Going in to it as an alternative to a job you don’t want to do any more may work for you, but it’s a good idea to dig deeper and learn more before committing to a change of career.
Do you agree? Disagree? What do you wish you’d been told before you went into librarianship?