Corporate Art/Architecture Librarianship

My question to Samantha, MLS student and corporate librarian in an architecture firm:

Are corporate positions advertised in library job listings or in listings for
architects or somewhere else entirely?

Samantha’s reply:

I ended up stumbling backwards into my position, promoted
from office manager, which I just found on Craigslist. I had 3 library
classes down, and A LOT to learn. I am uncertain as to how/where they
recruited the previous librarian — Perhaps in the New York Times —
which is where we usually hire from. I recently hired a new full time
assistant, and I posted the ad to area library schools, area art
schools, SLA Philadelphia chapter, and the Philadelphia Cultural
Alliance website ( — the last was the winning
location. I don’t see jobs like mine advertised too often, but I have
seen listings either come through across SLA SoloLib or the
Architecture, Building Engineering, Construction and Design caucus of
SLA. Also, I have seen library staffing companies hiring for similar
positions. I bet the Architecture Roundtable of SAA is also another
source, as I have several colleagues in firms that I have made contact
with through there.

My firm is very into being at the cutting edge of the research field, so
they’re starting to get that having their library be at the forefront
helps them attain their goals. I take a very academic approach to my
position, and the firm is starting to support for my involvement in the
greater community –like I’m getting sent to SEI this summer. I share a
lot of the same woes as expressed in the round of job category emails,
as sometimes the library is outnumbered here 70:1 and it can be very
hard to get the resources and attention that I need. Things like OPACs
and automation systems are considered a frill here, as I have heard
echoed by other colleagues at other firms, as well. So I’m still a
little resource starved, but I believe in time I will get what I need —
But I believe a certain sense of salesmanship and self-promotion will be
needed in any library position.


  1. ALA’s JobList allows you to search for Special/Corporate libraries; however, there are rarely many postings (e.g. today I received 4 hits)

    Besides SLA’s SoloLib listserv, SLA also has a Web-based job search ( Yet, with that one, you’ll only be able to see the job title & who’s hiring for free. Otherwise, you have to be a member of SLA (Students are $35 just like ALA).

    In regards to my position at Fitch, I was an intern who took over the position of “Information Manager” when the former manager left. The internship had been cross-posted on the Kent State University SLIS listserv. Most of the positions here are obtained through social networking. Many of the strategists and designers are local (i.e. they came through Ohio State University’s MBA program or through Columbus College of Art & Design).

    I can echo Samantha’s sentiments in regards to automation. I’ve created a homebrew, quasi-ILS with MS Access, and I’m currently looking into Koha as an open-source alternative.

    I agree that self-promotion and salesmanship are necessary for any library; however, it is more pronounced at the corporate level. Typically, one must continually validate one’s existence. As I understand it, in the academic arena, this is usually taken on by library administration.

    I’m lucky at Fitch in that the Resource Library has a certain “halo effect”–the associates place a great emotional value to the RL. Yet, I would argue that by working closely with our associates (i.e. BI, creating an online presence, and having a renewed collection development policy) I’m giving the RL more substance.

  2. From Samantha’s colleague, the Archivist/Records Manager at Moore, Ruble and Yudell Architects
    in Santa Monica.

    Alison Langmead:

    “If I were to give out advice, I’d say that there’s no use saying that
    VR stuff isn’t librarianship and that any high-quality graduate program
    in information studies now knows that not everyone there is there for
    public or academic library jobs. Information-intensive fields like
    architecture are just beginning to understand that their
    livelihood–their assets–come in many shapes and sizes. People with
    MLIS’ should know/learn how to market their skills to just this sort of
    audience. Visual resources are crucial to design firms and they can get
    much greater productivity and returns on their VR investments if they
    are well taken care of.

    “More and more design firms will be looking for people like us,
    especially as firms like Olin and MRY prosper. Marketing/Development
    departments are where the need for VR professionals usually shows up
    first. If you’re going to go out and drum up business (which is probably
    the only way to duplicate our jobs right now), do so by addressing
    yourself to Marketing, not necessarily to the designers.”

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