If you’re like most MLIS candidates that I know – or you’ve graduated with the degree – you’re quietly obsessed with watching job opportunities in the field of librarianship and information management.
You track hybrid jobs that pop up because of your background or current employment. You’ve inventoried your transferable skills, scanned the job boards and listserv emails, kept your LinkedIn up-to-date, and finessed your resume to the brink of madness.
Still want to know more about what’s out there? You’ve come to the right blog post.
A version of this blog post was crafted in December of 2011 by InfoSpace author Mia Breitkopf. At the time of Mia’s post, I was a senior in high school.
While Mia was perusing jobs, I was perusing post-graduation life choices.
My Path to Librarianship
I went to a college I couldn’t afford. So I dropped out of college, joined AmeriCorps, traveled and distance hiked, and attended a “SOLE” (Self-Organized Learning Environment). Then I returned to college with a newfound sense of the career path I intended to pursue (and the challenges of financing it). This time, I enrolled in state university, keen on becoming a librarian and uncertain how to design my undergraduate curriculum.
At first, I began to create an individualized major in Instructional Design based on Dave Lankes‘ recommendations in The Atlas to New Librarianship. From there, I found my way into a new program offered in UConn’s School of Fine Arts: Digital Media and Design. I studied library job postings and began backpacking and couch-surfing my way to ALA conferences. Job postings and professional conferences reinforced the sense I got of the MLIS: you need it to land a great library job.
How to Prepare for a Library Job
But what if you have the MLIS and now you’re not sure the library is where you want to end up? Or what if you’re looking for a position that’s a little more niche, or is more compatible with your interests?
Since beginning my curriculum at the iSchool, I’ve grown to understand that the MLIS prepares you for more “traditional” pursuits of librarianship and for less conventional information-oriented jobs. This is especially true when you consider the intersection of your previous work or educational experience and your librarianship training.
There is no typical prerequisite bachelor’s degree to the MLIS, though iSchool Professor Rachel Ivy Clarke has studied the trends in her research Where Do Librarians Come From? Examining Educational Diversity in Librarianship.
My hypothesis? Your interests before entering your MLIS program may play a role in the job you eventually land, and ultimately, the career that you create for yourself.
Popular Library Job Resources
This post sources jobs from the sources Mia referenced in her original “non-librarian jobs for librarians” post, such as:
You might use these resources and others, such as LinkedIn, in your job search. Your career also depends on what jobs are available and whether you have any constraints (geographic, etc.). INALJ does a great job of regularly listing job openings by region and maintaining regional INALJ sub-sites. The American Alliance of Museums also keeps an updated directory to current job opportunities. There are also many regional job blogs, such as LITA: Find a Job, Archives Gig, and Digital Koans.
You can also read Mia’s original post for “non-librarian job” search term inspiration. Because job postings have a limited lifespan, Mia’s post frames opportunities in terms of “job titles”. You might use the terms in her post in your own job search.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for non-librarian library jobs right now, here are a list of 45 more jobs to inspire you.
45 Non-Librarian Job Titles Hiring MLIS Graduates in 2018
- State and Local Government Records Analyst
- Associate Dean for Technology and Technical Services
- Digital Archivist (for the Sierra Club)
- Associate Editor, Social Sciences (for ALA CHOICE Reviews)
- Library Systems and Applications Developer
- Chief Information Officer
- Junior Editor (for Manzama Intelligence Services)
- Business Systems Analyst (for the University of Pennsylvania)
- Taxonomy Functional Consultant
- Browse Developer and Taxonomy Specialist
- Development Services Manager
- Advancement Assistant (for Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian)
- Senior User Experience Specialist (for Elsevier)
- Public Affairs Specialist (for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)
- Senior Information Specialist (for PNC Financial Services Group)
- Community & Services Support Specialist
- Material Research Specialist (for SANDOW)
- Research Specialist (for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP)
- KARMS Metadata Production & Management Supervisor
- Head of User Inquiry Experience
- Library Technology Analyst/Engineer
- Web Developer/Designer
- Outreach Archivist
- Assistant Director for Digital Collections (for the National World War II Museum)
- Supervisor of Metadata Production & Management
- Product Owner, FOLIO (for EBSCO)
- Digital Humanities Project Manager (for the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University)
- Documentation Project Assistant (for The Garden Conservancy)
- Content Coordinator
- Project Manager
- Experience Designer
- Intelligence Manager
- Learning Resource Centre Manager (International)
- Head Knowledge and Information Management (International)
- Digital History Project Manager
- Document Management (for Macquarie Capital)
- Curator of Curiosity/Director of Education
- Events & Programs Coordinator
- Book and Paper Conservator
- Research Impact Analyst
- Data Curation Network Project Coordinator
- Chief Curator
- Corporate & Philanthropic History Archivist
- Community Programming Coordinator
Editor’s note: at the time of this post (5/24/18), all of the above links are active. Positions listed may expire or be filled over time.
Inspiration for your Non-librarian LIS Job Search
In the words of Jill Hurst-Wahl:
“In the iSchool, we focus on information, technology, and people. If you look closely at all of our degrees, you can see those three areas combined in different ways. Libraries work to make information available to their communities. That information can take many forms, and can include helping people acquire, use and even create information artifacts. Creating and learning in a library setting can mean using tools like 3D printers, as well as more traditional tools like books. Information and technology run through everything that libraries do.
I also consider the ‘I’ in MLIS to represent the fact that we (librarians) can use our skills in other fields. My background is as a corporate librarian. In that role, I and my staff did competitive intelligence research. After leaving corporate life, I did that work on a contract basis with many corporations and researched a wide variety of different industries and situations. In that role, my clients were very focused on the “I” and my ability to find, acquire, and analyze data/information, and then deliver a report which met their needs.
There are MSLIS graduates who have taken their knowledge, skills and abilities into government agencies, businesses, and research settings. Some have combined the MSLIS with the CAS in Data Science or Information Security Management, which can lead a person into data science or cybersecurity positions. With the increased amount of data around us, governments as well as businesses need people who understand how to collect, secure, organize, describe, analyze, etc. large datasets. With more devices capturing data (e.g., the Internet of Things), this is an area which will continue to grow. Our Dr. Lee McKnight did a webinar recently on the Internet of Things and that webinar was archived.”
Keep Reading about Jobs for MLIS Grads
Want to learn more about cool non-librarian jobs for MLIS grads? Or maybe you want more guidance on professional development for librarians? Check out the original blog posts that inspired this article and other LIS career resource posts. You can also read more LIS posts using our Librarianship tag.
- 61 Non-Librarian Jobs or LIS Grads (December 2011)
- Recommendations for Getting the Most out of Your MLIS Program (January 2018)