Career Strategies for Students and New Librarians

I want to draw attention to Rachel Singer Gordon’s excellent post at the Liminal Librarian blog.  Her Making our Careers Happen post references Meredith Farkas’ Making Things Happen! post at the Information Wants to Be Free blog.

Rachel is also the author of The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide, as well as a plethora of other publications on starting a career in librarianship. Many of her tips are worth implementing for those trying to break into the art librarianship field!

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.

ARLIS-STC – Students and Trainees News Jan/Feb 2007

In October the Student and Trainees Committee ran its regular event “An Introduction to Art and Design Reference Resources” which gave an introduction to online and print resources and answering enquiries in the subject.  The day was a great success and we’d like to thank the speakers and our host the National Art Library.

Events for 2007

It’s the start of a new year and a good time to get a run down on some of the other talks, conferences and events that students, trainees and library assistants could attend over the next 12 months.

Finding out about careers

The ARLIS Student and Trainees Committee will, of course, be holding its popular annual event “Taking the Plunge: Art Librarianship as a Career Option,” which provides insights and advice on starting out and working in the sector.  Past speakers have included representatives from a museum library, slide library, and the commercial sector, as well as a recently retired librarian, and a recent graduate.  The event will be held on Saturday 3rd March at the National Gallery, London.  Look out for more details coming soon on the ARLIS website and discussion list.

The Career Development Group of CILIP holds regular events around the country throughout the year.    Of particular relevance is their National Student Conference, which offers the chance to hear from information professionals working in various different sectors and to network with other students and recent graduates of LIS courses.  The one-day student conference was held last year in November, and the Group hopes to run the event again in 2007.

Another event that may crop up in 2007 is the open day held jointly by the Association of UK Media Librarians (AUKML) and the Industrial and Commercial Libraries Group (ICLG).  This day is aimed at graduate trainees, first jobbers and library students.  The day includes talks by information professionals from all parts of the workplace sector, offering tips on finding jobs in their area and talking about their working day.  Past speakers have included representatives from the BBC and the Guardian, as well as law firms and Government departments.

Conference Bursaries

ARLIS offers a student bursary each year to attend its annual conference, which this year will be held at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, from 4-6 July.  Other conferences of interest include the Digital Resources for the Arts and Humanities (DRHA) conference and the Computers and the History of Art (CHArt) conference, which have both offered student bursaries in recent years.  DRHA will be held on 9-12 September at the University of Sheffield and the CHArt conference is usually held each year in November.  The bursaries are offered by the AHRC ICT Methods Network and are available to UK-based postgraduate students who’ve had a paper or poster accepted at DRHA or would like to attend CHArt.

Finding out about LIS qualifications

If you’re considering applying to library and information courses, it’s worth looking out for a couple of events organised by CPD25.  The group usually holds an event each year which provides information on applying to study LIS, with speakers from CILIP, UK Library Schools, a LIS graduate, and a head of service.  The group also holds a development day for library assistants, aimed at those who are considering their options for obtaining qualifications whilst working.  CPD25 events are provided in the first instance for staff working in the member institutions of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries, but non-members are normally able to attend at a slightly higher fee.

Resume Review Service Available at ALA Midwinter

Job hunting? Want a great resume?
The New Members Round Table offers its resume review service to all attendees of the Midwinter Conference in
Librarians from all types of libraries, with various specializations have volunteered to help you make your resume shine!

How does it work? Reviewers meet with a job seeker for 30 minutes and give constructive advice on how to improve your resume and/or cover letter. Reviewers comment on overall presentation, layout, organization, content and spelling/grammar issues. More information at

Visit the NMRT Resume Review Service Booth in Room 6A on Level 6 of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle, Washington.

Friday (1/19): 12 noon - 5 pm
Saturday (1/20): 9 am - 5 pm
Sunday (1/21): 9 am - 5 pm

Monday (1/22): 9 am – 1 pm

New Member Roundtable Resume Review Service Committee

Kristina Keogh
Reference Librarian for the Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

A day in the life of an art librarian

I think it’d be fun, and hopefully helpful, to share what we do on a day-to-day basis. If you have an art-library-related job — whether you’re a “librarian” or not, full time or part time — please give us a glimpse into your daily work life by leaving a comment below. It’d also be useful to read about jobs that aren’t necessarily in art libraries, but provide experience useful to art librarians, such as general reference, instruction, rare books, cataloging, or database/IT positions.

Is a watercooler forbidden or provided? Do you attend meetings? Do you spend more time with books, computers or people? Are you supervised closely? Do you boss people around? Do you commute? Do you work in library-like silence? Do you wear a boa to work or just gem-encrusted glasses? What’s the most repetitive task you do? Do you have any idea what the show The Office is about? What’s the most creative or theatrical role you play? And, of course, what are your favorite things about your job?

If you want to know something, please suggest questions! Be as creative you’d like; bullet points also accepted! No word min or max either. Just remember — your boss might read this! :)

Happy New Year!

Personal is the Professional is the Personal

Rachel at The Liminal Librarian wrote a post titled Think Personally, Act Professionally, which addresses the important issue of how what we write online in our personal lives may affect our professional lives. This is something that many of us will face as we begin our careers, especially in this age of freely available personal content on the internet.

She also points out that several other librarians have been considering issues of balance between the personal and professional commitments, which leads to the question, “How in the world do we avoid burnout?!”

These are great issues to address at the Backpack to Briefcase session in Atlanta.

Choosing a LIS Program

I’ve been reflecting lately on how I chose to enroll in my current LIS program. Making this decision was a really big challenge for me, but there were a few resources that made it easier. For one, the ARLIS/NA document Library Schools in Canada and the United States was a good starting point. For more current information on the LIS programs listed in document I’ve recently discovered Peterson’s search guide to be very useful.

Beyond print and online searches I did a lot of informational interviewing – I think that the professionals who shared their time and perspective with me were the most helpful resource of all.

What are other useful resources that prospective students should investigate before making their decisions?



With the fall semester underway, please note that the deadline for submitting papers or projects for the Art Libraries Society of North America’s Gerd Muesham Award for best student paper is approaching.  We want to encourage any student with an appropriate paper or project written in the last 18 months (back to spring 2005) to send their work to the address below, postmarked no later than November 17, 2006.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning the award.

Sincerely yours,

Tony White
Gerd Muehsam Award Committee Chair