Librarians in Disguise

On Wednesday I went to an Alternative Career Panel sponsored by the Simmons Special Libraries Association (SLA). The panel consisted of three women, all of whom graduated from Simmons GSLIS in the past ten years and none of whom are employed in a library. (Gasp!) One of the panelists researches potential litigation cases for an economic consulting firm, and the other two, whom I will call “techies” for lack of a better/more creative term, work in the user access/user experience area of technology. On the most basic level, the first panelist does research (duh), and the techies collaborate with web engineers and graphic designers to simplify and enhance user interaction with a web interface.

One of the questions for the panel was “How do you define yourself professionally?” The researcher said “librarian” (although no one she works with would refer to her as such), one of the techies said “information scientist” (but sometimes “librarian” when she really wants to blow someone’s mind), and the other techie said “information architect.” Technically, they are all librarians. Technically, they are also information scientists. Remind me again why people perceive an LIS degree as a one-way ticket to Libraryville, USA?

What I found most interesting was that the panelists’ GSLIS experience directly inspired their career path. They each had distinct memories of the courses and professors that helped shape their future as a librarian/information scientist/information architect. A lot of people (myself being one of them) come to GSLIS thinking solely about libraries or archives, and a lot of people end up working in those settings. But one of the most refreshing things that I have learned in my time here is that librarians can apply their degree in far more ways than one might expect.

[Author’s note: This post initially concluded with the sentence “But one of the most refreshing things that I have learned in my time here is that librarians can do anything.” After intense internal turmoil, the anti-hyperbolist in me deemed the word “anything,” although poetic, to be slightly misleading, so I toned it down a bit. I do, however, think that librarians can do anything within reason, but that qualifier takes the oomph out of the dramatic final sentence and, frankly, sounds pretty lame without adding further qualification.]

Events | Libraries

Leave a comment