by Dave Cappoli, Lisa Chow, Jill Hurst-Wahl, Sonja Sajonas, John Walsh
Future Ready Toolkit
This post is from SLA’s new Future Ready Toolkit. The Toolkit was constructed by SLA members who have drawn upon substantial professional experience and alignment research to help you hone your skills in a way that is relevant and global. The toolkit is collaboration, alignment, adaptation, and community put into action.
Table of Contents
- SLA Tools for LIS Students
- Examples of Job Titles for MLIS Graduates
- Networking Advice
- Your Reputation, CV, and Portfolio Matter
- Tools, Tips, and Tricks for the New Information Professional
As the premier association for library and information professionals, SLA’s mission is aimed at promoting and empowering its members through learning, advocacy, and networking initiatives.
The first section of this tool will provide in-depth overview of SLA’s resources specifically for library and information students seeking to begin their careers as information professionals.
The following sections will examine relevant topics that an LIS student is faced with as they near graduation and are faced with career-decisions.
SLA Tools for LIS Students
By David Cappoli
- Student Membership – A bargain at $40, a student membership provides you with access to the full range of membership benefits, from Information Outlook, to job listings, to chapter and division scholarship opportunities. And as part of your membership you can join a topical division and regional chapter.
- What is a Special Library? Presented on behalf of the SLA First Five Years Advisory Council, this recorded presentation presents a case study of a special library.
- Career Center – A valuable collection of resources that can assist with furthering one’s career in the information profession. Includes job listings. Particularly useful are:
- First Five Years Advisory Council – The council focuses on the needs of individuals new to the profession. The council has developed the following presentations to assist new professionals in their careers:
- First Five Years on Facebook – Connect with the Council on Facebook.
- Scholarships – Chapters and divisions may offer scholarships to library and information studies students. Divisions often sponsor contests for travel stipends so that students can attend an SLA conference.
- SLA Early Conference Award – Presented by SLA Europe, this award was established “provide the opportunity for those at the start of their career to attend the SLA Annual Conference.”
- SLA Innovation Laboratory – Not enough time to explore an emerging technology on your own, then it is time to play and discover in the Innovation Lab.
- SLA Students Facebook Group – Join fellow SLA students on Facebook.
Examples of Job Titles for MLIS Graduates
If you’re in school as a library and information science student, you are probably aware of the large degree of variation in job title that an information professional is faced with. This variation is only getting bigger. Below is a quick-list of examples, taken straight from the source: the SLA career center.
*disclaimer: the importance of job title varies on a case-by-case basis. When it comes down to it, every manager is looking for a good team member.
- Manager of research services
- Business intelligence analyst
- Systems librarian
- Senior information specialist
- Prospect researcher
- Sales manager
- Business research librarian
- Head of cataloging and technology services
- KCM information services manager
- University librarian
- Curator of rare books and manuscripts
So, the word librarian is used in a little less than half the listings. And yes, you’re reading that right, a sales manager position was listed on the SLA career center. Why? Because the organization wanted someone with a knowledge of document and record keeping, publishing, and cataloging, an MLIS graduate, who happens to be good at sales. Some SLA members even have job titles such as VP of marketing and VP of strategic markets and partnerships. Lots of members have founded their own research, competitive intelligence, and social media consulting firms. What else do you happen to be good at?
Your degree is your gateway.
From Jill Hurst-Wahl’s post on Digitization 101. Jill is a professor at Syracuse University School of LIS.
- What stops people from networking is that they think they have nothing to say, aren’t interesting, or are too shy. I bet you talk to the checkout clerk at the supermarket about your groceries, right? That is a short, focused conversation. When you’re networking, your conversations can also be short and focused.
- In Syracuse, NY, the natural conversation starter is the weather. At a conference, the natural conversation starter is asking about the sessions. For example, “what sessions have you thought were the best so far?” (Notice that it is an open-ended question and not a yes-no question. This gives the person an opportunity to say something meaningful.) Every situation has a natural starter…and once you know it, you can use it over and over and…!
- Remember to introduce yourself. If you want to make a connection with the other person, that person needs to know who you are. “Hi, I’m…”, ”By the way, I’m…”, “…nice to meet you. I’m…” And say your name clearly. Even though you know who you are, it can be helpful practicing saying your name and your affiliation, so that you are guaranteed to say it smoothly. (“Hi, I’m Jill Hurst-Wahl. I just graduated with my MSLIS with a focus in digital libraries.”)
- If this is someone that has some synergy with you, give the person a business card. This not only gives the person your contact information, but it reminds them of your name. (Honestly, I have had many great conversations with people that I know, but whose name I can’t remember. Exchanging business cards is very helpful.) Feeling awkward handing over your card? “Here’s my card, in case you want to talk about this later.” “My contact information has changed a bit, so here’s my new business card.” “I don’t know if you have my contact info, so here’s my card.”
- Consider including on your business card the URL for your LinkedIn profile and other relevant (and professional) social media accounts. For many, this is much more useful than having your mailing address.
- And there is the magic word…listen. Networking isn’t just about talking; it is about listening. Learn how to be an active listener, then ask open ended questions, listen carefully to the replies, and ask follow-up questions when appropriate. You’ll gather lots of useful information and the other person will think that you are a wonderful conversationalist!
- Remember that it is quality not quantity. It isn’t the number of people that you talk with, but the quality of the conversations that you have. In other words, it is better to talk with a few people and make excellent connections that to talk to lots of people in very quick (likely meaningless) conversations.
- Have fun! While you should be professional in your networking activities, engaging in fun events with potential colleagues is okay. And honestly, even in lighter moments, serious topics and wonderful connections can be made.
- It is possible to network all the time. That may be a scary thought for some people, so think of it this way…it is always possible to encounter someone with whom you want to make a connection. When you run into someone like that, take the opportunity to exchange contact information, schedule time to talk, or whatever is appropriate.
Your Reputation, CV, and Portfolio Matter
From Jill Hurst-Wahl’s post on Digitization 101
Many people are creating their portfolios online and including in them samples of their work (e.g., papers and presentations). Keep in mind that your portfolio doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to be a good representation of you. Placing this information online — either on a web site, in a blog, or in LinkedIn*(*perhaps with a connection to SlideShare) — allows you to present what you want people to know about you and your work. It also makes you more findable. Someone searching on a topic of interest may stumble upon something you have and then be interested in you as a professional. And – yes – you want to be findable.
- Take time to clean up that information that is online about you in Facebook and other social networking site.
- Review the photos that you’re in and make sure that they reflect the you that an employer would like to hire.
- And check your profiles – even in places like Twitter- to ensure that they say what you truly want to communicate.
- The bottom line is – Don’t lose out on a job opportunity because you either were not findable or what was found wasn’t deemed professional.
- Use all of the resources that are available to you.
- Have you stopped into Career Services on your campus?
- Have you done mock interviews?
- Have you checked out other resources that have been mentioned on syllabi, in classes or during orientation?
- Ingest content about the profession
- This will prepare you with in-depth understanding of the important trends and issues that the industry you are about to enter is facing.
- That includes reading blogs as well as the professional literature, watching videos and presentations, and listening to podcasts.
- Below are some places to start:
- Information Today (magazine)
- Library Journal (magazine)
- LibPunk Radio (podcast)
- Adventures in Library Instruction (podcast)
- T is for Training (podcast)
- Free Range Librarian (blog)
- Tennant: Digital Libraries (blog)
- Book of Trogool (blog)
- David Lee King (blog)
- Walking Papers (blog)
- Finally, no matter the day or the time, there are people who are supportive of you and your desire to be a librarian (or knowledge professional or information professional or…). Grad school is a stressful time for everyone, so do reach out to family and friends and allow them to heap words of encouragement on you and maybe a little help to get you through a rough spell (e.g., dinner, a game of cards or help with laundry). Don’t worry…at some point, you’ll repay their efforts by being there to give them or someone else needed support. Who knows…you might find yourself lending support to a stressed LIS student.
Tips, Tricks & Tools for the New Information Professional
By Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas, presented at SLA@PRATT Career Day
David Cappoli is the digital resources librarian at the UCLA department of Information Studies. He is former president of the SLA Southern California chapter (2008) and was the chapter’s treasurer from 2004 – 2006. David was a member of the 2009 Centennial Commission of SLA, and a member of the 2009 Conference Planning Committee. Prior to coming to UCLA, he was a librarian at the LA Times, and was research database coordinator with Glasgow Polytechnic in Scotland.
Jill Hurst-Wahl is a professor at Syracuse University School of Information Studies. She is a member of the SLA Board of Directors and several SLA units. She co-authored The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook: Define and Create Your Success with Ulla de Stricker.
Lisa Chow is a newish information professional with a few “library ribbons” including SLA Rising Star, Library Journal Mover & Shaker, ALA Emerging Leader and ARL Diversity Scholar. She is currently serving as the SLA DBIO Medical Section Chair.
Sandra Sajonas is a newish information professional with countless projects, presentations and accolades under her belt including ALA Emerging Leader and Library Journal Mover & Shaker. When she’s not shaking up the library world she’s checking items off of her “to do before I die” list.
John Walsh is the communications & marketing manager at SLA headquarters. A graduate in economics and English from UVA, he comes to SLA with experience in test prep education, sales, marketing, and market analysis. John is the staff liaison to the Public Relations Advisory Council.