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61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads

Author’s note: I wrote this post in mid-December 2011, and based it on current job openings. Some jobs may have already been filled and many postings have been taken down, so you may find some broken links. If you know of new links for these jobs or ones like them, please feel free to post them in the comments area. – Mia

At the beginning of the semester, way back in September 2011 when I’d only been in library school for a few weeks, I blogged about job opportunities for library and information science grads. I was pleasantly surprised by the options available to those with a master’s degree in library and information science (MLIS). I wrote about a few of the career paths that seemed most interesting to me, like being my own boss as an independent research consultant (like our own Professor of Practice Jill Hurst-Wahl), and working with a historic collection at a unique place like The Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, PA.

A full semester later, I’m deep into my MLIS coursework and still excited about the myriad career opportunities that await me and my fellow students. I’ve been combing through job postings at I Need A Library Job (INALJ), the American Library Association’s ALA JobLIST, and Special Library Association’s SLA Career Center, looking at the varied types of positions available right now, a year before I’ll be applying for jobs. Many of the positions are more traditional library jobs, like reference librarian and cataloger. But lots of them aren’t. (You should know that some iSchool alumni in “traditional” library positions are doing highly untraditional, innovative work!)

I’ve come up with a list of 61 jobs for librarians. Almost none of them actually have the word “librarian” in the title. Check out INALJ’s recent blog post “Top 10 Job Sites for Librarians and Information Professionals from I Need A Library Job” for more ideas on job hunting resources.

We’re a particular bunch of idealist MLIS students here at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, and many of us are attracted to solving big problems like making sure unheard voices have a say in social conversations (see iSchool MLIS student Darren Glenn’s blog) and ensuring underrepresented minorities feel welcome in libraries (see iSchool MLIS student Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros’s blog). There are jobs for these folks in the list below.

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There are also jobs for more tech-minded and students among us. Many of us are passionate about the future of scholarly work, digital curation, and digitization of information. Others are fascinated by the importance of expertly managing projects and helping organizations function better through knowledge management. Some students like these are enrolled in the eScience and Digital Libraries (Editor’s note: the eScience and Digital Libraries CAS programs were updated and developed into the CAS in Data Science) Certificates of Advanced Studies offered here at the iSchool.

And, finally, there are some jobs with the word “librarian” in the title that are so untraditional that I had to include them. (Spoiler alert: wine librarian in Sonoma and sound FX librarian for LucasFilms.)

You’ll see job titles featuring words like “architecture,” “web,” “research,” and “business.” Many MLIS degree holders are embedded librarians, functioning as librarians without a library, helping the employees of the organization or business for which they work make informed decisions about product development, business expansion, educational programs, and more.

Almost all of the jobs in the list require an MLIS degree, and it strikes me that there must be many job postings out there right now for jobs that demand the skills and knowledge of MLIS degree holders, but, since they aren’t traditional librarian jobs. How many human resources folks are posting non-librarian jobs that require MLIS skills and knowledge?

So, here’s the list in no particular order. Almost all of them require an MLIS. Almost of them are job postings from the last few weeks of 2011. Enjoy.

Non-Librarian jobs for LIS grads

Bonus Unusual Librarian Gigs

Are you thinking of a non-traditional career in librarianship? Share interesting job links in the comments.

Mia Breitkopf

Mia Breitkopf is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science at Syracuse University. In 2011, she moved to Syracuse to study after seven years in Philadelphia, PA, where she taught public school and worked at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Mia holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and will graduate with her MLIS in May 2013.

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  • Becca Oxley

    Great posting- I’ll share widely. I found this after it was featured in latest American Libraries Direct- congrats!

    • Thanks, Becca! That’s so nice of you!

      • Cathy

        I have a question for anyone out there. I earned my MLS in 1998. Since that time I have been working in schools as a Librarian/Media Specialist. I am currently in the UAE working as a school librarian. I LOVE being a librarian but want to get into the corporate field using my experience and knowledge. I work with the public, catalogue books and equipment, circulation duties, work with a budget (some have been small to non existent to really large ones). I run and manage school libraries. I have experience in almost every aspect it takes to be a  librarian. However, it’s like a black hole. I can’t get out!! My question: How can I market myself to make the corporate world look at me as a professional. Besides going back to school, what can I do to get out of this black hole and into a position with a corporation. Thanks in advance to anybody who can answer.

        • May2012MLIS

          Professionalism! I spent 22 years in the medical field before I left to go to my undergraduate college. When moving up the ladder and suddenly finding myself in the corporate world I spent $800 (in @ 1997 dollars) on a professional wardrobe, had business cards presented, and acted as if I were professional from day one. I was scared but in preparing with the simple act of starting to dress the part, after years of wearing scrubs, I made a step in the right direction. Make sure your speech, resume/CV, every interaction you have as part of your work and job hunting is performed in a professional manner and you won’t go wrong. Convey your love for your work in a passionate yet professional way too! Good luck!

        • I agree with May2012MLIS, and I would also suggest joining Special Libraries Association, and becoming active with your local SLA chapter. This will open up professional development opportunities, keep you in the loop about the newest issues in corporate libraries, and, most importantly, give you a community within which to network. But I’m just a library student! Any seasoned librarians out there have other suggestions?

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  • guest

    there are plenty of jobs, but there are more people applying than there are available positions. it took me ten months to land a permanent position. i wasn’t even getting interviews for jobs for which i was more than qualified.

  • MB

    Thanks for the post, I find it very informative, but I do have to comment on the Business research ad you included as an eample: poorly written, with numerous mistakes as in “This person will person will lead the company’s competitive intelligence and other errors” and having application email as a gmail address for a “CEO Search Partners, a national executive retained search firm” makes me doubtful this is a valid job ad.

  • Some of the jobs you listed as “non-traditional” librarian jobs, like archivist, records manager, and curator, are actually separate careers with their own grad school programs–either as specializations within the MLS or separate degrees. For example, archivists usually have a history master’s or an MLS with a concentration in archives. MLS grads trying to break into these fields without the right degree, or without the right MLS coursework, will be at a disadvantage.

    • Yes! I’m sure that’s true! I’m still learning about all of the specifics, myself, when it comes to the many many fields related to librarianship. I find it interesting that the MLIS/MLS is really an introductory degree, a gateway to so many possible specializations, such as archiving. As a newbie LIS student and wannabe librarian, I’m struggling with how to focus my studies to make sure I’m ready with the right skills for my future jobs. I’ve got to choose an internship soon, and everything sounds so interesting. Why did you decide to go into archiving? What’s awesome about it? 

    • Yes! I’m sure that’s true! I’m still learning about all of the specifics, myself, when it comes to the many many fields related to librarianship. I find it interesting that the MLIS/MLS is really an introductory degree, a gateway to so many possible specializations, such as archiving. As a newbie LIS student and wannabe librarian, I’m struggling with how to focus my studies to make sure I’m ready with the right skills for my future jobs. I’ve got to choose an internship soon, and everything sounds so interesting. Why did you decide to go into archiving? What’s awesome about it? 

      • I decided to go into archives because that’s the first job I was offered after graduation. I didn’t have any archives coursework, but it’s still a good idea if you plan to go into archives, and I’m currently working on an archives certificate.

        What’s awesome about archives? Unique collections, institutional history, primary sources, neat old photos, exhibits…I could go on. Have you seen the I Love the Archives video?

        And archives are just as essential even though so much information is digital (born-digital records are still records and need to be preserved).

        • JB

          Hi there
          I see these postings are not recent but you have touched on something that I am really looking for advice from an experience in the field graduate. I just finished my BA in History and am definitely going on for a Master’s in  Library Science. How competitive is the archiving field and how difficult is it to find a job? I would love any advice or information on this particular aspect of Library and Information Science you would be willing and able to share with me. Thanks

  • Fran

    I’m a e-learning specialist and my friend is a aeronautical database manager, both LIS graduated

  • Mikhail Koulikov

    Uh, most of those jobs are jobs *in* libraries or information centers, whether or not they have the word ‘librarian’ in the actual job title. In fact, most people who work in libraries are probably *not* classified or titled as “librarians’.

    This goes back to the question of whether the goal of the MLS degree is to prepare someone for work in a library as a physical place, or to work with information as an object or idea – and how much of each of these parts should an MLS program emphasize.

    • Mikhail, you raise a point I’ve been thinking about a lot. 

      I’m not sure I’ll end up working in a building called a library right out of library school. If I’m using some of the skills I learned in my MLIS studies, and I’m working to further to some of the basic philosophies of librarianship (ensure access to information, improve society by fostering communication/knowledge sharing/learning, etc.) would I call myself a librarian? 

      I’ll have to fiddle with my resume according to the job I’m applying for, I bet, playing up the MLIS degree for library job applications and playing up the skills I’ve acquired while pursuing the degree for other types of jobs. 

  • MLIS Grad

    Many people become discouraged after finding out that their dream job doesn’t look any like what they once imagined it to be.  The reality is that most information jobs are not in the traditional library space and this trend will become the norm.  For those interested in non-traditional work, the biggest question isn’t whether or not an MLIS qualifies you (because it does), but rather, figuring out how to market yourself.

    I hold an MLIS and secured a full-time job with a fortune 50 company more than six months prior to graduating. Today, companies are looking to hire people who understand the application, structure, value, economics, and politics of information.  Organizations do hire MLIS grads who deliver strong value propositions (that shine on their resume and ring loudly at the interview).

    Many students learn very quickly that the value of an MLIS in-part depends on the coursework taken.  While most LIS course are interesting and valuable in some way or another, the non-traditional job market itself values courses on information policy, competitive intelligence, information management, etc.  These courses qualify grads for librarian roles and so much more.  The key challenge for all students in any field is to stay relevant. 

    • May2012MLIS

      I graduated in May with an MLIS and took a majority of traditional classes every semester. Due to a lack of advisement (read that as in practically none was available. Overworked and/or indifferent instructors who get stuck do the advising) I did not realize until almost my last semester that the profession I was looking forward to doesn’t really exist any longer. Yes, I learned about e-books, e-readers, how write html, how to do work on a library websie, but the traditionalist that I am failed to explore, and the school failed to say out loud, that in 2012 library science is vastly different from the profession it was as little as ten years ago. Very few of my classmates have found jobs, although this is partly due to their inability to regard relocation as a necessity in finding a library job, and I do not have a job yet either. I’m torn. Do I try to work in a modern-day library and adapt to the technological requirements or do I keep looking for that “perfect” job which does not exist?

  • Something that I didn’t see on the list is Prospect Research/Development Research/Advancement Research. I earned my MLIS in 2010 and fell into this amazing position. The MLIS isn’t required for these types of positions, but it’s often preferred. I wrote a bare bones description of what I do here:

    • Matt

      Thanks for the information. I will certainly read it.

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  • Concerned

    I find this posting to be very uninformed and not reflective of the actual job market for LIS graduates. I think you should do more thorough research, proof-read, and double check links before posting something like that that other LIS students will be reading. I am a bit shocked that this was included on the ALA Student Direct e-newsletter. It is very true that many job titles do not include the word ‘librarian’ in them, but the core job functions are still that of a librarian. Plus, the majority of these positions are still within libraries. Also, I do not view the positions you listed under ‘Unusual Librarian Gigs’ as unusual, but rather as positions for Special or Corporate Libraries. They are unique positions, but not unusual. I would perhaps hold off on writing such articles until you gain a little more coursework and understanding of the LIS field and career.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your email. I am out of the office on vacation today Friday February 3rd. I will repy to you email promtly upon my return Monday Febrary 6th.
      Thank you.

    • I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerned thoughts. I fully admit I’m new to the profession of librarianship, and this post reflects my personal thoughts and exploration of the options available to me. I understand some of my reflections are probably naïve and even misguided. That’s part of my personal learning experience! I find it interesting to read the reflections of students who are also finding their way, though I understand you might not.

       It may be a bit self-indulgent, but I like to write about things that interest me, even if that’s not what others want to read, and lucky for me my blog editors let me get away with it! I may look back some day and cringe when I read this post, but that’s part of blogging and learning, right?

      The nature of job ad links is that they often expire after the job has been filled, so I apologize for the broken links. We added a little warning at the top of the post because we did realize it was probably going to be frustrating as the post ages.

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  • May2012MLIS

    Are you working, even if it is just a few hours a week, in a library yet? Yes, I did not read your entire article yet, but feel so strongly about this that I cut short my reading to ask you this vital question. As a recent (May, 2012) graduate from a school of library science, I have discovered just how hard it is to get a librarian job without experience other than a completed practicum. All but two out of hundreds of job descriptions I have read in the last two months has required a minimum of 2-3 years experience. Those classmates who started LIS school already working in libraries are at a distinct advantage! Very few of my classmates have gotten jobs and their concentrations run the gamut of library science concentrations.

    • May2012MLIS, when I wrote this post I’d been in library school and the world of librarianship for only four months. I admit I’ve learned enough since then that I’d never write this post the same way. It’s a snapshot of my thoughts that day in December. But I stand by the basic idea that people with an MLIS can get jobs outside of libraries. I’ve met lots who have! And I know lots of librarians who work in libraries doing jobs I, as a brand-new library student new to the field, hadn’t yet realized existed! Hopefully this naive little post will make new library students consider librarian jobs they hadn’t before, and what skills they might need for those positions. 

      Lately I have been noticing exactly the same thing you have: that librarian postings for jobs in libraries are requiring a minimum of 2-3 years of experience in the type of library posting the position. It’s given me pause. It makes me wonder if the experience requirements are truly requirements. My question for library hiring managers would be: when you write that a position requires experience, does this really mean you will not consider someone that does not meet that exact qualification, even if other aspects of their application look strong? 

      • Stud2013

        I am a MLIS student who will be graduating in May 2013. I was actually just told by my director ( i work in a library) to start looking for librarian jobs. She told me that she has hired people before they have gotten the degree. Therefore, some library systems are open to giving people a chance. However, I live in Hampton Roads and it seems like all the jobs that are open are 2 hours away. So relocation or commuting is definitely something to look at with an MLIS degree.

        • Suzy Smith

          If you Google “Dr. Maata” at Wayne State University, there is a terrific lecture on job hunting for librarians. I think you will find it very helpful.

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  • mabia

    Librarians’ is a noble profession. If you are looking for money there are many other places
    to look at. Many may rate this profession as worst.. but its important as a working Librarian,
    he/ she should not to be looking low at this profession. Ours is a supporting role and we are
    here to build other professions. If one of your user grows, your work is done.

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  • Elle

    Thank you for this post! It is really helpful to me as an LIS student wondering if I made the right choice going into this degree program. This part of your post sounds exactly like where I want to be: “helping the employees of the organization or business … make informed decisions about product development, business expansion, educational programs, and more.” I will look for more posts from you about methods to search out unconventional information work. If you decide to freelance or consult, I’d love to read about resources and ideas you encounter on the way to that too.

    • Elle, glad it was helpful! I’m about to graduate and am deep in my personal job search. I hadn’t thought about blogging post-graduation to share about my [hopefully successful] job search. Good idea! Hopefully I’ll have some wisdom to share soon.

      • Nell

        Mia, how did the job search go? I am considering enrolling in an LIS grad program and using the degree to look for a non-traditional information sciences job. I’m curious to see where you ended up after school. Best wishes,

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  • pat

    So grateful. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Was actually thinking I made a mistake in studying library and information science. I’m still in my 2nd year still working hard to get my blis. Please I still need more advice and encouragements. Thanks a bunch.

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  • vivek sinha

    Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    Pharma job board..,,

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  • kate526

    I graduated in summer 2013 and have been looking for work as an entry-level librarian for more than 6 months now. There are exactly three library jobs available in my area and all of them are for seasoned librarians, with 3-5 years experience. I did get one interview for an entry-level library position but it seems I am overqualified now that I have my MLIS. Those six entry-level library positions went to people without MLIS degrees. I have been doing my best to volunteer and gain some experience but it is really not enough. Most library volunteer opportunities are already filled by teenagers or retirees who have been there for years. After months of frustration, I decided to take two more courses to become a state-certified teacher-librarian (not a route I had planned). Now, although I have the credentials to be a teacher-librarian, there are no jobs on the school district boards currently. In my school district, they are moving teachers into the school libraries instead of hiring actual librarians. My advice to those in library school, get out there and get some experience. Get to know librarians who can vouch for your character and work experience once you are out of school especially if you are older like me (in my forties). No one wants to hire a 40-something intern and there IS age discrimination no matter what the applications say. If you finish library school without any experience you are going to be wishing you hadn’t gone in the first place. I can’t even get an admin job with a Masters degree on my resume now. Beginning to wonder if it was worth the heavy student loan debt I will probably carry the rest of my natural life.

  • heather_morr

    while helpful in some ways… I find none of these options in local job searches. Perhaps they are viable options in some parts of the country, they just aren’t available for everyone. Not to mention, most of us don’t have financial resources to pick up and move cross-country. It’s somewhat frustrating when one is laid off and finds nothing available locally.

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  • Mark

    I’ve had no trouble finding full-time work, but I don’t really like it. Every supervisor I’ve had (5) is a passive-aggressive, control freak, micro-manager. That negative attitude has taken a toll on me mentally and physically. Librarians are expendable. I’ve seen so many let go and not replaced, leaving the remaining staff to do 2-3 full-time jobs. It’s a dying profession. Requiring a masters degree for bachelor level work and pay is a joke. Hindsight is 20/20, and knowing what I know now, I would have 100% chosen a different profession. The jobs out there aren’t that great either, unless it’s a director type position which are few and far between. My advice to LIS students is to get out now and choose a more lucrative profession where you can support a family and pay bills without going broke or hungry each month.

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  • Anna Wells

    You for got Intelligence analyst!

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