Types of Alternative LIS Jobs
One of the challenges when exploring alternative LIS jobs and careers is that there are so many different paths to consider, it can be a bit challenging to figure out how to approach all those potential options. To help you organize your exploration, here are eight ways to think about or categorize alternative LIS job options:
- Performing traditional library roles but within an organization whose mission is not librarianship or education (this has generally been the role of a special librarian).
- Taking on nontraditional roles within traditional special libraries (for example, being the instructional design specialist for the company information center).
- Doing these nontraditional activities embedded in operational units but with “dotted line” reporting to the library or information center (this category refers to being “embedded” or located in, for example, the marketing or engineering department – essentially, you are on permanent loan to a specific department and focused solely on helping them meet their goals).
- Doing these nontraditional activities embedded in operational units but in an organization where no library or information center exists. Being an “integrated” information specialist means that you’d still be using your LIS skills within a specific operational unit or department and, similarly to being an embedded librarian, you’d be focused solely on helping them meet their goals. However, your title would much likelier be something like “research analyst,” “competitive intelligence specialist,” “digital asset manager,” or many other names that don’t include “librarian.”
- Performing library-focused activities outside of – but for – libraries and librarians (for example, working as an editor for a publisher of LIS professional books or a trainer for a library automation vendor).
- Building on skills honed in a library-based job by bridging those skills into a new, nonlibrary role. (Perhaps you developed strong project management or training skills in your traditional library job? If so, these skills are much in demand by all sorts of nonlibrary organizations.)
- Creating your own job, either within a library or for a nonlibrary organization (being able to see an information need and propose that you step in to fill it is a terrific way to craft your own career opportunities).
- Becoming an independent information professional (using your information skills on behalf of clients who will pay on a contract or project basis for the specific skills you provide).
Each of these options will have benefits and drawbacks for you, depending on your unique circumstances, interests, and preferences. For example, option #4, being an integrated information specialist, might be a terrific choice for someone who thrives on the fast pace of the corporate world, but a less desirable choice for someone who enjoys working closely with a team of information- professional colleagues.