Monday, September 23, 2013

What type of librarian do you want to be?

This Foundations course is designed to teach you about the profession and give you a taste for the types of work each type of library / archives / cultural institution entails. 

There are four major types of libraries; public, school, academic, and special. There are archives and record centers, historical societies and museums. Special collections and rare book libraries are usually part of academic libraries or museums. When you consider special libraries, those that focus on a specific topic or trade, there are information centers, corporate libraries, law libraries, research centers and think tanks, and more. 

Museums have both libraries and collections of objects including art, artifacts, animals, and minerals. Historical societies collect objects, printed materials, and records or manuscripts.

When we delve into the information science side of LIS, there are information centers, usability labs, knowledge management functions and skills, search and retrieval centers, organizations that deal with information, data, metadata, databases, and the accumulation, aggregation, and dissemination of data, big and small.

Within this broad and expanding field there are opportunities to work in tradition jobs, such as reference and cataloging, and non-traditional jobs like scholarly communications and first-year experience. New jobs crop up every day including digital curators and digital humanists, electronic records managers, and human computer interaction specialists. 

This ever growing list is just a taste of the professionals and niches out there for LIS students and practitioners. What should you specialize in? I've always felt that general knowledge is best, but over the years I've come to realize that students need strong technology and searching skills, the ability to approach a website or database and determine how to retrieve data using the available access points and limitations. Digital skills are essential these days, even for analog librarians and those who gravitate toward the printed book. 

Most of all it is important to explore the various fields and permutations of LIS and determine how your skill set resonates with the required or perceived skills for a practitioner. Explore the field, it is ever changing and challenging, yet holds many opportunities. 

Over the past year or so, I've been reading an interesting blog "Hack Library School." 
Library science students talk about their impressions of the field, provide advice for fellow students, and suggestions on viewing themselves in Hack Library School   This blog should be read by professors of LIS and by practitioners who want to know what students are concerned about. The current post   is particularly enlightening as is today's post (Sept 23, 2013) "Working, Volunteering, or Interning Before Library School"

What type of information professional do you want to be when you grow up?

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