Thinking Waaay Outside the Box: Embedded Librarians and Emerging Roles

by

It all started when a member of an email list I’m on posted a link to a Forbes magazine blog item that billed the Master’s in Library Science as the “worst” Master’s degree to get in today’s U.S. economy. (You can see the post at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/06/08/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs-2/ )
Several people responded to this, I among them. In my response, I made the following points:

  1. The article isn’t exactly a rigorous study.
  2. The sources used probably don’t take into account new, nontraditional roles for librarians, which is where some of us think most of the growth in the profession will come from.
  3. Traditional jobs aren’t going away; they are changing and have their own set of challenges and opportunities. They can be richly rewarding in many ways.
  4. Don’t choose a career based solely on growth and salary. Love what you do; do what you are called to.

After I posted my response, an MLS grad from a few years ago sent me an off-list reply about her job search. After obtaining her MLS, she has gotten into the specialty of writing proposals and managing the proposal process. Her note included the following (quoted with permission):

“I have just accepted a position as a proposal manager/writer for another … company and they wanted me because (1) I have lots of experience in proposal writing/management AND (2) because of my MLS – they want me to set up an answer repository and organize their information. The MLS made the difference between me and the other candidate.”

Meanwhile, in another dialog, a different but related question came up: what about embedded librarians, when there is no central library in an organization? Just a bunch of dispersed librarians, all employed by different units that need their skills? What skills do they need, how can they best operate in the organization? My immediate answer is that they would probably be performing some mix of the information- and knowledge-related roles that other embedded librarians perform. Further, they are likely to have many common interests and challenges, so it would really be to their benefit to network with each other like crazy. They would be like any other community of interest in this regard.
As I reflect on these two discussions, it seems to me that the embedded librarian employed by a (more or less) traditional library unit, the embedded librarian employed directly by an information user group, and the person like the graduate I quoted, with a Library Science background whose librarianship duties are only part of her job, all represent points on a continuum of career possibilities for librarians. As librarians become more integrated with the organization, and more focused on using information management skills to help achieve enterprise goals, it seems likely that we’ll see more growth at the “part time librarian, part time something else” end of the spectrum.

Further, I think  that individuals across this spectrum will probably continue to draw on core competencies and values of librarianship, to perform some mix of similar tasks (at least for the part of their time that they are wearing their “librarian” hats), and will need to network with one another. They’ll continue to want to share problems and solutions, to collaborate on obtaining tools and resources, and building solutions to common problems. In many cases, a central library organization will be the best focal point for them. In other cases, informal networks and communities of interest will need to play this role.
What are your thoughts?

About these ads

5 Responses to “Thinking Waaay Outside the Box: Embedded Librarians and Emerging Roles”

  1. Claire Burke Says:

    I like the idea of being part librarian and part something else. I used to think this was bad, that any MLS worth their salt would be 100% librarian. Now after being in the trenches a while after graduation, I think it creates more inroads to be a librarian and something else.

  2. Thinking Waaay Outside the Box: Embedded Librarians and Emerging Roles | Jenny's Mashup of Anything Library | Scoop.it Says:

    [...] It all started when a member of an email list I’m on posted a link to a Forbes magazine blog item that billed the Master’s in Library Science as the “worst” Master’s degree to get in toda…  [...]

  3. Thinking Waaay Outside the Box: Embedded Librarians and Emerging Roles | Embedded Librarianship | Scoop.it Says:

    [...] It all started when a member of an email list I’m on posted a link to a Forbes magazine blog item that billed the Master’s in Library Science as the “worst” Master’s degree to get in toda…  [...]

  4. Library Friday! « lovelylikebeestings Says:

    [...] finally, in light of last week’s Library Friday, a response to the Forbes article which states that an MLS/MSLS/MLIS is the worst Masters degree you could get [...]

  5. Shelly Says:

    The article recently published in Forbes was very misleading and the study’s design wasn’t transparent; it, unfortunately, however, did reconfirm misconceptions about our profession. The positive side: librarians are redefining themselves: I’ve worked as a medical writer for the past 7 years and recently rejoined the library community… Why I got the job as a medical writer: I had industry research experience, the customer realized I was very good at researching and writing, and, very importantly, I can find information – authoritative information. Now more than ever, your information skills are necessary. Definitely think outside of the box, or the library.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 205 other followers

%d bloggers like this: