Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900
Library JobsAs a graduate student, you have no doubt grown adept at navigating libraries, databases, and piles of information from many sources. If you like helping people solve research problems, managing and organizing information, and educating others about information management, you might consider employment as a librarian or information professional.
Personal Skills and Qualities
For careers in information management, you will probably need to be prepared for having a high level of interaction with colleagues who are turning to you as a resource, and interpersonal communication skills will serve you well. They will be expecting answers or results quickly. You’ll likely be involved in project management and will need to able to track several projects concurrently. Organization is one of the most important skills for these jobs, following by comfort with technology, expertise in your field but also having broad areas of knowledge and listening skills so you can understand where others are coming from. In preparation for these kinds of jobs, it is advisable to become familiar with technology, including hardware (computers, scanners, printers) and software: databases, spreadsheets, telecommunication, graphics packages.
You should be aware that many librarian positions require a MLS, IS, or MILS degree. However, not all do, and perusing the alt-academic listing on #Alt-academy reveals several people who have PhD or MA degrees in a humanities field but are currently working as librarians at various locations. If you have experience that you think makes you relevant for library work, make your case to the potential employer. You might choose to get a library degree in addition to the work you’ve already done in graduate school, but that might not be necessary if you have relevant professional experience in information work. At UT, another option is to pursue a Certificate of Advanced Study from the School of Information (see “Action Steps” below).
If you do not have a library degree, your specialized training and area of expertise makes you more likely to fit into academic or special libraries.
Academic libraries are the libraries on college or university campuses. In addition to the typical duties of librarians—acquiring, cataloging, and circulating texts and other sources of information, academic librarians will also likely teach students and make presentations to graduate students and faculty. Some academic librarians have an academic area of focus. Your content area expertise could be your best advantage in applying for these jobs, especially bibliographer positions since bibliographers are subject specialists.
Special Librarians work in specialty libraries. These could include libraries at
• news organizations,
• governmental organizations,
• medical organizations, etc.
Special librarians help members of the organization access stored information and documents.
Archivists work with materials deemed to have long-term value. Their job is similar to a curator’s job in a museum, but archivists tend to work more with printed materials than the broader range of cultural objects a curator handles. Archivists may be charged with acquiring new materials or collections, cataloging materials, preserving them, and managing access to them. Typically, a degree in library science is required, but if you gain some experience working with archived materials as part of an internship, you may have a shot at archivist jobs.
• Apply for internships at some of UT’s archives, such as the Harry Ransom Center or the Center for American History.
• Contact some of the alt-academics with MA or PhD degrees in the humanities on the “Who We Are” page of #Alt-academy who are now librarians to ask how they acquired their positions—many of them have provided their Twitter handle.
• Apply for UT’s School of Information’s Certificate of Advanced Study program for those who already have master’s degrees. The minimum for completing the CAS is 12 hours of coursework in the School of Information. While many information jobs are only open to those with a master’s degree in library or information science, humanities graduates with a CAS would certainly be more competitive for other information jobs than without it.
Independent Research Library Association
American Library Association
American Society for Information Science and Technology
Special Library Association
Association for Library and Information Science Education
“Who We Are.” #alt-academy, May 10, 2012.