Exotic stereotype busting librarian jobs
March 6, 2007 11:54 AM   Subscribe

What are some examples of exotic librarian jobs or jobs out of the norm for a person with an MLS?

I'm looking for some non-traditional occupations for librarians or types of careers that people with an MLS have branched into. I'm hoping to get some examples so when I'm in the position of informing others of my future occupation I won't leave that stereotypical image in their heads.
posted by andendau to Work & Money (25 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Exhibit A: jessamyn of AskMe.

Also, sometimes you see web stuff like this on LIS job sites. Or regular librarian jobs that happen to be in unusual special collections, like this one (not quite pornbrarian, but close, and there are academic special collections that have porn and related things).
posted by clavicle at 12:24 PM on March 6, 2007

Best answer: I did a presentation for our corporate bring your child to work day on what a "special librarian" is, basically, on a kid's level - to think of whatever hobby they were most interested in, and there's probably a librarian out there working in that field. My examples specifically were the Pixar librarian, Hershey's librarians, the librarian at the Culinary Institute of America, archivist at the Baseball Hall of Fame, botanical garden librarians and the popular culture library at Bowling Green. (Personally, I've always coveted the job at Entertainment Weekly.)

Will you be getting an MLS, or an MLIS, or a MIS? Could it help your image to tell people you're becoming an information scientist as opposed to a librarian? With the increase of Library 2.0 and web 2.0 there are a hell of a lot of cool things out there that people with our degree are doing. Vivisimo/Clusty has a librarian on staff for one.

Or else just tell them "I'm cool, therefore being a librarian is cool." There are a ton of us who defy the stereotype, and could care less what people think of us or our image. (That's not me being snarky, that's me speaking from what I heard at SLA Leadership this year.)
posted by librarianamy at 12:47 PM on March 6, 2007

There are some pretty sweet librarian jobs at the Library of Congress, including, but not limited to, working for the Congressional Research Service.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:47 PM on March 6, 2007

Ditto for the National Archives.
posted by grateful at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2007

I had a friend with an MLS that worked in the research room for a corporate consulting firm. He did online research mostly, got consultants the numbers they needed. Seemed happy, but smoked a lot at night, so maybe not so happy. Same type of position should be available at Investment Banks.
posted by Eringatang at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2007

I saw a job posting recently for the prison librarian at Guantanamo - um, sorry, that's "detainee librarian". From the job description:
Job Title: Chief Librarian
Location: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
Description: Are you interested in putting your library science education and experience to work in one of today's most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments? Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is recruiting for a Chief Librarian to manage the Detainee Library, under the direction of the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I also liked the job posting for the "Semester at Sea" librarian - once every three years, you got to be the onboard librarian, and travel around the world.
posted by saratravels at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

My husbands former boss is a software architect, because he has a solid background in information design.

(Apostrophe not working for some reason...Also have no idea how to make this small font.)
posted by acoutu at 2:40 PM on March 6, 2007

I'm likely the world's youngest sliderule expert (besides the MLS, I also have an AB and MA in history and philosophy of science). My official title is "curatorial assistant" at a university museum, where I do everything from hands-on conservation to answering reference questions to database administration.
posted by nonane at 2:47 PM on March 6, 2007

The library jobs with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service always caught my eye. Then you can be a Spy Librarian!
posted by saucysault at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2007

You could always say that you are an archivist?

The versatility and availability of jobs has convinced me to get a MLIS. (In a former life I was a film archivist - ahem, Preservationist)

Here is an interesting position that I found yesterday:

Information Resource Specialist for the State Department's Foreign Service.

You'd be working in a consulate or embassy...
posted by cinemafiend at 2:59 PM on March 6, 2007

Project Manager (though not sure of how exotic that is)

A colleague was able to parlay his project management for several library projects into becoming his college's Project Manager. He was the project coordinator for a website re-devlopment, implementation of the Virtual Reference service and finally migration to a new integrated library system.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 3:44 PM on March 6, 2007

I had a job as a librarian in Fiji for a minute. But that's more the location that's exotic than the job, and I wouldn't really wish it on anybody.

But when you talk to somebody, they'll see you (awesome, and non-fuddy-duddy) and their stereotypical image will be broken when they hear that you are going to be a librarian.
posted by dipolemoment at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2007

More and more, library school grads are getting jobs as information architects.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2007

Google is hiring a librarian.
posted by superfem at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2007

The Guantanamo librarian job has been going around for at least a few months now. When I first saw it I remember noting that it was going to take them a while to find a librarian who would accept that job.
I always thought the Semester at Sea one sounded super fun, though. There are also cruise-ship librarian jobs, too.

More and more, library school grads are getting jobs as information architects.

Like me! And about twelve of my co-workers, and my husband, who is also my co-worker! Feel free to email if you have questions on that front.
posted by librarina at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2007

News librarianship is very cool, but also very competitive. NPR has librarians, major magazines have librarians, People Magazine has a library, most news organizations have news libraries and archives.

Typically, in a large news organization, there are three types of librarians: database managers, archivists, and reference librarians.

Go here for some job postings.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:03 PM on March 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for these excellent responses.

Librarianamy: I am not sure what type of degree I am going for yet. I am still checking things out.
posted by andendau at 8:16 PM on March 6, 2007

I work with a lot of MLSs who specialized in systems and work in information systems analysis, search (Google on our intranet), information management policy, knowledge management, project management... So, IT is a possibility. Also seconding Information Architecture.

I'm in an Information Mangement program myself at Syracuse that has a lot of overlap with the LIS program. ist.syr.edu
posted by mingshan at 8:10 AM on March 7, 2007

Lots of people with MLS degrees work at agencies in Washington DC. CIA, NSA, GSA, etc. Data data everywhere, but not a drop to drink!
posted by zpousman at 8:39 AM on March 7, 2007

Best answer: Don't forget legal or corporate librarianship. I am a librarian working in a law firm and only a small part of what I do is what you'd think of as "dorky librarian stuff" - the rest of it is research. The work is constantly changing with the specific cases my firm is working on, but it's always interesting (how hospitals deal with dead bodies of homeless people, what's involved in starting up a toilet manufacturing company, how to find old aquifer maps of the US, etc.). Email's in my profile if you want any more info.
posted by marginaliana at 8:52 AM on March 7, 2007

When I got my MLIS, one of the interesting job listings circulating around was a position with Ripley's Believe It or Not.
posted by candyland at 9:09 AM on March 7, 2007

One of my neighbors is a librarian/archivist for Coca-Cola. They have a company museum and tons of old ads, bottles, etc. that they have kept over the years.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:14 PM on March 7, 2007

marginaliana- can you say more about your job, how you got it, etc? Specifically, did you go to a joint program or get the JD and MLS separately?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:40 PM on March 10, 2007

I actually saw this last week: Library Technician for the US Army's Military Intelligence Library.
posted by SenshiNeko at 8:28 PM on March 10, 2007

Anotherpanacea - Actually, I don't have a JD. I got a regular straightforward MLS (masters of library science) and then I got this job straight out of school as the assistant to the librarian. Then the office grew, she got promoted, and I got promoted into a full "research librarian" which is my actual title. I have a coworker who was picked up right out of library school into a full librarian position, though, but she had some reference experience while also being a student, whereas I just had the degree. We also have "senior research librarians," some of whom have a JD and some of whom have just been doing their job forever and a day. My former boss, for example, only had her MLS but she focused on business and corporate librarianship in school. Our NY senior librarian was an atty first, then decided he didn't like it, became an account rep for Westlaw, decided he didn't like that, and finally went back to get his MLS before he came to us.

I do a little bit of everything - normal library stuff (checking books out, ordering new materials, process new stuff), what we call "ready reference" (check citations, arrange trainings, document delivery), and then full on research (finding sources to answer specific legal questions, compiling information on businesses like who owns it and how many times it's been sued and for what reason, find sample contracts, dig up dirt on opposing counsel).
posted by marginaliana at 6:08 AM on March 12, 2007

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