What's a burned out librarian to do?
March 23, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Help a librarian sell out!

I've been a librarian for 10 years and I can feel myself burning out. Also, I can feel myself not making enough money. What else can I do for a living?
Details: public librarian, middle management (i.e. branch manager), reference background, better at big-picture stuff than keeping track of the day-to-day minutiae, pretty smart but kind of ADD, comfortable with tech but not a programmer or sysadmin (though the latter is probably doable with a little training), generally good at my job & regarded as a leader by my peers, can't afford to take on any more student debt.
I seem to be able to help other people brainstorm/research similar questions, but come up empty when trying to apply it to myself.
Throwaway email: lib.pock.suppet@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any librarian type qualifications? Used to know a few people in the UK civil service trained as librarians who had ended up in records management/archivist roles.
posted by fatfrank at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2011

Knowledge management.

Some links:

Wiki entry


posted by methroach at 9:49 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a reference librarian at a law firm and I have nothing but love for it. Challenging work but without the craziness of working with the public, good pay and benefits, plus the satisfaction of knowing you're part of making the legal process work. Consider the corporate world! I didn't have a legal background when I got into this line of work - my reference skills and library experience got me the job. Lots of companies have libraries.

I'm happy to take me-mail if you have any specific questions.

Other ideas: if you're reasonably good with databases, consider looking at jobs for major library vendors - they need people to be account reps and do trainings, and that might work for you.
posted by marginaliana at 9:52 AM on March 23, 2011

I'm basing this on what I see around me in my current temp assignment -- I wonder if you could spin that to a job in the research office at a financial firm. There seems to be a lot of records management and research-assisting going on around me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I hear the money is *VERY* good if you can land a position as a corporate librarian. I have a family member with an MLA & she was making 6 figures by the time she was 30 & flying all over the world for her work.
posted by Ys at 10:03 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I left libraries for the user experience design field, information architecture in particular. It's satisfying work that pays the bills. Some people will say you'll need a second Masters degree, but that's rubbish - you just need to build up a portfolio of work and develop relationships with people who'll advocate for you. Take a look at the IA Institute, and if you join you'll have access to their mentoring program.

If you don't want to leave the library field, Ys makes a good point about corporate librarians.
posted by Anima Mundi at 10:14 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Off topic/ Ys, what is the MLA degree you speak of? (Master of Landscape Architecture is all I could come up with.) Is it a degree in North America, or elsewhere? /OT
posted by Riverine at 10:24 AM on March 23, 2011

Perhaps it's an MLS? Forgive me; it's not my degree. I just know it's a masters & that it's specific to librarians.
posted by Ys at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2011

I am a former librarian & am now a civil servant. My job involves a lot of librarian type tasks - organizing information, communicating it, analyzing stuff, training, etc etc. I worked for a gov't contractor before I went to work for the Fed. I love my job 90+% of the time!

(brief response as lunch break is coming to close. MeMail if you like)
posted by pointystick at 10:40 AM on March 23, 2011

I'm an R&D librarian for a Fortune 500 company. I truly love my job. When I got my MLIS I wanted to do academic reference, but I can't imagine ever leaving the corporate library world. (Unless I become a kept woman.)

There are so many areas of special librarianship that use the core skills you describe, but without the bad parts of public service. (I joke that while I don't have to deal with random crazy patrons, I see the same crazies everyday, because they're _my_ crazies. And they all have PhDs.) I am not in the above mentioned six figure salary world, but I am compensated well for the field. Think about Competitive Intelligence, Knowledge Management, or Records Management.

Like the above person who mentioned MeMail, please don't hesitate to contact me. I am on the board of our local SLA chapter, and would be happy to leverage any info from there that I could to help out.
posted by librarianamy at 11:12 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

(I could have written this question).

Do you want out of librarianship entirely, or do you want to parlay those skills into a different field? I would suggest checking out What Color is Your Parachute if you want to assess transferrable skills. Like Anima Mundi, I am looking into IA/usability design.
posted by sugarbomb at 2:14 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Broader in scope than "corporate librarian" is the Special Libraries Association. They have conferences, local chapters, and a career center. You might get some ideas from them about directions to consider.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I too am a corporate librarian at a Fortune 500 company, and am willing to take questions by MeMail.

I won't deny that there's a part of me that would like to work in a public library—one of the things that appealed to me about librarianship was the chance to be a generalist, and here I've ended up being fairly specialized after all. (Maybe that's why I spend so much time on AskMe, to scratch that itch.) But I work with/for intelligent people whom I like, I get paid much better than I would in a public library, and I don't work nights or weekends.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:18 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Give an Academic Library a try, specially at a bigger state university or a good private college.
posted by WizKid at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2011

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