When is a librarian not a librarian?

(The following was posted in 2013 and had been lost due to a problem with my database. Thankfully I managed to retrieve it via the Internet Archive, so I’ve reproduced it in full here, alongside the original comments.)

During completion of the MSc ILS, particularly towards the end, I got into the mindset that job opportunities were limited to public, academic or school libraries (I never even thought about corporate, law etc).  This particularly troubled me as I felt that my options were very narrow and either highly competitive (academic) or rapidly diminishing (public and schools).  So, I got to thinking a while back (around the time I started this blog actually), that I need to broaden my horizons a little and look beyond what was immediately obvious as a career path having bagged the Masters (um, although I’ve not actually received my certificate yet…).

Regular readers (both of you…yes, I know, predictable ‘gag’) will not be surprised to learn that I have lately taken an interest in Freedom of Information and related areas.  This is partly because of my regular use of FoI for library campaigning stuff, and partly my long-standing interest in political matters.  Recent discussions with people working in the field have made me realise that this is a potential career path for me, and it is one that I am currently exploring (although whether it will come to anything is another matter – more study, more courses and, most importantly, more cost).  Maybe it’s an aspiration that will come to nothing, but it is good to know there are other options.

Which brings me to the point of this post (at last).  Last week, I decided to find out what other possibilities are out there for someone with a MSc in library and info studies.  So I asked people on Twitter to get in touch if they have such a qualification and it is ‘desirable’ for their job but don’t work in a library nor are they considered a librarian (I mean both in the traditional sense).  I got a fair amount of job titles thrown at me over the course of the day (and the week-end thanks to my continued pestering), and I have listed them all below. But, before you read them, caveat alert!

This list is not exhaustive and I have probably missed one or two that were sent at me (sorry!). I also discounted any that were essentially traditional librarian jobs, but had just been given a fancy new name as part of a re-branding exercise. Also, some of the titles alone are fairly vague and give little clue as to what the role entails…I’ll blame that on Twitter as both my specific question and the details of a particular post are a little too awkward to summarise in 140 characters. So, yes, this is highly flawed and probably too vague. Sorry about that!

If you can think of any more that fit the criteria (information professionals who are not ‘librarians’ or librarians who do not work in libraries, essentially), please add them in the comments and maybe outline the specifics of the job a little, it may be of use to current and future students. Oh, and one other thing, if you are interested in this area and going toLibCamp London, you may like to know that @ellyob has proposed a session called ‘Librarians without libraries‘, so definitely check that out!

  • Information specialist
  • Data and Information Process Officer
  • Online Information Manager
  • Information Specialist
  • Research Specialist
  • Research and Information Officer
  • Project Analyst (for a library based project)
  • Information Specialist (careers service)
  • Freedom of Information Officer
  • Assistant Commissioner for Wales (Information Commissioner’s Office)
  • Evidence Advisor
  • Genealogist
  • Knowledge Management Systems Manager
  • Global portal content manager
  • Communications and Social Media Officer
  • Learning centre assistant.
  • Manager of Education and Library projects at a survey company
  • Business Development Executive (using information for business development)
  • Health & Social Care Governance Facilitator
  • Computerised Records Trainer
  • Clinical Auditor
  • Information assistant
  • Executive Officer in civil service
  • Information Advisor
  • Information Officer (Trading Standards Dept)
  • Information specialist (work with R&D – patent searching, competitive intelligence,  knowledge management, records retention).
  • Information Governance Officer
  • Records Assistant
  • Researcher at Financial Times
  • Research Support Assistant
  • Info Services Administrator
  • Technical Information Specialist (Centre for Diseases Control)
  • Content Development Officer, Library & Archival Services
  • Research Executive in a Business Info service
  • Film Researcher at the BBC
  • Docketing Administrator (catalog and classifies visa documents for a business immigration practice group)

Should the UK have a dedicated union for librarians?

Just a quick post based on some discussion today. Given the situation libraries/librarians are in, I’ve often wondered if a more specialised trade union is the way to go. CILIP can only do so much because of its charitable status and, in my view, existing trade unions are too broad in their membership, making it difficult to fully commit to a particular area. Indeed, I would say unions as they exist at present are unable to effectively deal with the neo-liberal world in which we exist (but that’s another argument).

My interest was piqued by a tweet from Simon at SLA Chicago earlier:


So could we have that here? Is it desirable? Would it be effective? Would it water things down? I should add, I am not thinking of this as instead of CILIP, more as well as. I’d be interested to hear what people think.

UPDATE: Further to this, Simon has pointed out the “Librarian’s Guild” in Los Angeles. Also, in looking into this, I have come across the Progressive Librarians Guild, also in the United States. I actually quite like the sound of the latter but not sure of its value at present. Would something like that be a valuable thing in the UK too?