The Transatlantic Librarian
March 12, 2013 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Give me insight, tips, and strategies for transitioning from American to British librarianship.

My husband (British citizen) and I (American) currently live in the US, but are considering moving to England. We're not yet sure where we'll be located.

I have an MLIS and nearly 4 years of professional experience as a librarian. I've worked in a research library/archive, a small business school library, and am now employed as a reference/electronic resource librarian at a community college.

Right now my job includes instruction, reference, web development, electronic resource management, library media, programming, and publicity. I do not currently perform cataloging or collection development, but have done so in past positions. Areas of expertise include Humanities (Language, Literature, History, Art), Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Business), and Culinary Science.

I'm hoping to find employment in an academic library in England. I will not begin applying for jobs until I have a visa (through my husband) and eligibility to work, so I do not need a university to sponsor my visa.

Things I'm already doing/plan on doing:
1. Searching for jobs on LISJobNet.
2. Setting up a couple of informational interviews with academic librarians (probably in London) to ask questions and make contacts.
3. Browsing some university library websites to get a sense of what types of resources are offered to students, and how they're presented.
4. Making sure that my application materials are correctly sized and have the right date & phone number format! :)

But I have so many questions!

1. Do I need to apply for chartership with CILIP? Would that be a prerequisite for being considered for a position?

2. What are some of the key differences between working in this field in the US and UK? In particular, I wondered about: electronic resources, citation styles, research, and instruction. But any insight regarding cultural differences would also be appreciated!

3. Are there any good information sources regarding this type of transition?

4. Would a librarian trained in the US be particularly qualified/desired for any specific type of position?

5. Can you share any anecdotes about working in, or using, academic libraries in both countries?

Thanks in advance for your guidance!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
To answer a couple of questions that you didn't ask ;-): you could also try - here's the library services/information management section (this overlaps with LISJobNet but has some unique ads). Also worth a look, although mainly corporate/public, is Jinfo.

Noting your point 4: I've applied for a few UK academic library jobs, and they used online application forms, rather than asking for a CV/resume/covering letter. Not sure how standard this is (and I've never actually worked in a UK academic library, so I can't give any more help unfortunately).
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:15 AM on March 12, 2013

The biggest issue is that there are so very, very few jobs in the UK right now for librarians, so prepare to be flexible. Be prepared to answer questions about any UK knowledge or experience - when I was in the UK they were overly concerned that my Australian experience would not translate to UK academic libraries. Your informational interviews will help with this.

All universities wil require you to fill in their institution-specific application form. A lot of cutting and pasting is required.
posted by wingless_angel at 10:27 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chartership is frequently a nice to have, rather than a requirement (some of my coworkers are chartered, others including myself are not but there's no reward etc for it and I have issues with chartership as it currently stands) and it is structured to be done while employed, so I wouldn't worry about it too much to start. Academic (and othe sector jobs) in librarianship are in low supply/high demand so keep that in mind.

In my experience, publishers are the same across the board (I.e. pains in the arses), endnote and reworks are the common citation managers, my front line coworkers do not teach in the same way that might be the case in the US. (I am a former corporate librarian and currently I work in technical services, so ymmv)

If you're a member of SLA, we do have a European chapter (I am on the board there, fwiw), which you might want to have a look at - non-members are welcome to come to our events and that may be useful if you'd like to meet other librarians once you're over here.

Do feel free to memail me.
posted by halcyonday at 2:10 PM on March 12, 2013

Not a librarian, but a Records Manager who did a similar move a few years ago.

Sue Hill Recruitment specialises in library recruitment but were also very helpful in helping me prepare CV and break into the market. TFPL and Glen recruitment are the other two that are information industry specialists. Have you found yet?

The UK job market is hell at the moment but my experience has been that having quals (non British) and experience has meant it's not been so brutal for me.

Nthing getting in touch with CILIP
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 12:20 AM on March 13, 2013

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