Corporate Library Jobs
April 9, 2012 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Are there any former corporate librarians out there having any luck with getting a job in public or academic libraries? In the corporate library our jobs focused more on online literature research and analysis of information, writing reports and not so much on traditional reference desk work, circulation, or tech services duties--so I don't have much recent experience there. Meanwhile corporate libraries are closing right and left. I can still learn other library roles but everyone wants years of experience.
posted by sandra194 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I transitioned from corporate to academic in 2007. Actually, my carrer path went from high school librarian to corporate information specialist to academic subject specialist. My experiences are probably a bit outdated, but this is how I did it:

*Tailor resume/cover letter to what the job wants. Play up your strengths. (since I'm on a hiring committee right now, I can't stress this enough.)
*Count total years of professional MLS experience (Academic job wanted 3 years academic experience, I argued that 3 school + 2 corporate was acceptable)
*Focus on transferability of skills (assisting patrons is the same, whether they're undergraduates or CEOs).

Can you volunteer at a public library or get some night/weekend hours at an academic one? That would give you more experience. If you want more experience teaching, you could also approach a public library with the offer to run workshops on business information for local small businesses, or workshops for job seekers.

Your corporate skills would be an asset for a business information literacy/subject specialist job, and depending on your industry, to a science/tech/med subject specialist. Some of the larger public libraries have a business library, like Boston Public Library's Kirstein Business Library. You could focus on jobs like that.

Memail me if you want to discuss this more. Good luck!
posted by bryghtrose at 12:47 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes I have done some volunteer work at a medical university library so I always include that in my resume; and I always write resumes and cover letters to match the job description.
posted by sandra194 at 1:21 PM on April 9, 2012

I work in an academic library and two fairly recent hires came from corporate libraries. Their experience there and outside made them good fits for the job, but I think that also they were able to tie their special library experience to the requirements in the job posting. As bryghtrose says, your experience would make you stand out for a business librarian posting or something similiar. Don't worry about circulation duties---the circ staff will handle that, and you can pick it up easily anyway---and cataloguing is probably one of the kinds of librarianship that are out of your range now without a lot of catching up, so just forget about it and concentrate on your strengths. Finding information and helping people is generally the same everywhere.

Outside activities, professional development and research interests will count too. The academic library world is very different from the private sector, and a committee will want to see evidence that you'll fit in. You won't have experience dealing with faculty so you'll have to find ways to handle that by comparing their demands to your clients now, etc.

Good luck! Academic libraries are great places to be.
posted by wdenton at 9:49 PM on April 9, 2012

Also consider that in public libraries the employers are often looking for managers.
What experience do you have that shows you could be in charge of a building? a program? a staff?
I know of an excellent candidate that was able to parlay experience with a small group of volunteers into a mid-management level job.
Public libraries will often ask situation questions--

what would you do if a customer complains about XXX?

how would you organize a new service?

what would you do if you heard a colleague give incorrect/harmful information to a customer?

we're most interested in your thinking and planning process than the details of your answer.
we want to know that you know how to figure this stuff out;
that you can represent the library/city/county well;
that you can be left in charge of a building;
that you are friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable;
that you are interested in participating in our community life;
and that you can imagine, plan, adapt, and evaluate library projects or services.
posted by calgirl at 9:50 PM on April 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks guys..great info! Now if I could only get an interview at least. I have played up my experience in managing a global reference team and reference services in the corporate library on my resume--granted that was a few years ago; but doesn't seem to get me in the door for an interview.
posted by sandra194 at 5:59 AM on April 10, 2012

If you've managed a global reference team, you might have distance education skills. Were you videoconferencing and creating online instructional videos and answering reference chat and stuff like that? Teaching fully online classes through WebEx/Elluminate/comparable programs? You might see positions in academia called "distance learning librarian" or "online learning librarian" and have some applicable experience.
posted by lillygog at 6:51 PM on April 10, 2012

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