What is your educational/professional background?
I received a BA in History from the University of Virginia and then my MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I've been a librarian in special libraries and information centers for fourteen years. I have worked for large companies and small ones, in for-profit companies and non-profit organizations.
When you graduated college/graduate school what were your career goals/have they changed since?
My main goal was to work in special libraries. In school, I was mostly interested in film and the arts, but that focus changed as I realized there weren't that many librarian jobs in that area! My main areas of interest now are research, coordinating information services, and applying technology applications (including social networking tools) to the work of information seeking and sharing.
When/how did you decide the LIS career path was for you?
When I was growing up, I worked in a couple of the libraries in the schools I attended, then took a bookshelving job in a public library when I was in college. I liked the atmosphere and the people, and saw first-hand the types of career opportunities that were available. I enjoyed working with books and information and could see myself doing that for the longterm.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Currently, I manage the information center at the Special Libraries Association and also work in Click University, our professional development area. I conduct research for staff, help association members and even non-members find the information they need (resources, statistics, etc.), and help plan and present continuing education offerings. Some days I work on just one or two things, and other days I have a long list of tasks to accomplish, such as writing a blog post, organizing content for a program, answering member questions, helping staff find information. It does vary quite a bit, and being organized and having the ability to prioritize is crucial.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about your job?
I like working with our members and helping them succeed in their jobs and careers. On the flip side of that, it is difficult to hear from librarians about how their jobs are in jeopardy or that their library is closing.
What is your salary range/What can students interested in working in your type of LIS profession look to make as far as salary (both starting out and over time)?
I work in a special library, and salaries in special libraries are generally higher than those in public, school, and academic libraries. Specific career paths will definitely affect salary potential. Do your research about salaries before accepting an employment offer. SLA (as do other library/information associations) publishes a survey that can offer guidance about salary depending on job responsibilities, geographic area, and years of experience, among many other factors.
How do you think your education prepared you/didn't prepare you for your current career?
I think my education was a good foundation for the work that I do, but working in the tech lab in the library at Greensboro while I was earning my MLIS offered a different, practical training that was helpful as well. The classroom is very different than the workplace, so getting that hands-on experience even before graduating is a necessity in order to hit the ground running. Beyond giving you practical skills, internships and library jobs help you make professional connections, which can lead to career opportunities.
What advice do you have for current/graduating library and information science students?
Visit libraries to see information services in action, and ask questions. Join and be active in an association that will help you along the career path through continuing education opportunities, networking with colleagues, and leadership training. Education does not end with the diploma! And, be flexible. The economy can be challenging to deal with, and that first job may not be ideal but it will be a good start if you make the most of it.
What changes do you foresee for the field of Library and Information Science in the next five to ten years?
A continuing emphasis on technology, especially mobile applications and social networking, in all types of libraries. More of a focus on analysis for those who are doing research. Hopefully, barriers to information sharing being removed and a recognition that librarians are not just people that deal with books, but strategic professionals who track, organize and manage information in its many formats!
Special thanks to Carolyn for participating in our blog. Stay tuned for our next fun filled interview and as always if you have any special requests for interviews please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get that arranged.