by Amy Maule, Oregon Chapter, Competitive Intelligence and Information Technology Divisions
At our annual conference last month, Thomas Friedman talked about the challenge of standing out in a world where potentially thousands of people are ready to do your job better and for less money. Employers aren’t looking for someone who can DO the job, they’re looking for someone who can invent and reinvent the job based on the needs of an evolving organization.
His statement really hit home for me. I work with a small consulting team at a major engineering firm doing primary and secondary source research, writing, editing, information and document management, a bit of intranet support, and whatever else comes up. I see my job as a kind of extreme-embedded-librarian gig, but my business card says “Analyst,” and my coworkers couldn’t care less about librarianship. My boss recently told me that I’m appreciated most for my adaptability–I’m always ready to learn a new skill or contribute in a new way. I’m constantly inventing and re-inventing my job.
For example: Earlier this year, I helped a co-worker with some statistical research, writing and editing of a report for the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. A few months later, we were asked to do similar analysis of a specific site in the province. Because I had helped write the previous report, I was asked to co-author the second report, which included a trip to Newfoundland for in-person site analysis. The initial report opened the doors for exciting travel and more direct project involvement.
I’m sharing my experience with you because I’ve learned that being Future Ready can mean more than staying on top of new technology or developing the skills needed to run the library of the future. It can mean thinking outside the library and inventing and reinventing yourself as a professional. The skills that make you a good librarian could help you to stand out elsewhere in your organization–you just need to reinvent your job in a way that lets you shine.
Here are my tips for being Future Ready in the uncertain climate of today’s special libraries:
- Look for ways to use your skills outside the library. You might discover that skills we take for granted will set you apart in other groups.
- Think about how you can adapt your skills set to contribute in new ways.
- Do even the most routine tasks quickly and well, because sometimes the little things lead to big opportunities. (But do have boundaries. I only make coffee when I’m hosting an SLA event!)
- Worry less about whether the bosses think libraries are valuable. Make sure they know that you are valuable.
- Stay actively involved in SLA. Contact with like-minded professionals is even more important when you’re venturing into unexplored territory!
I hope that next time you browse the job listings or ponder ways to advance with your current employer you’ll remember that in addition to being a librarian, you are a highly skilled, adaptable professional. There are great opportunities for enthusiastic, creative, organized people like us inside the library and out.
Amy Maule is most recently known to her coworkers as a “Business Location Analyst” for CH2M HILL’s Industrial & Advanced Technology group. She worked in public, academic, law and corporate libraries prior to becoming embedded in an engineering consulting team. Amy is also president elect of the Oregon Chapter of SLA.