Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Former Librarian #6

This week we welcome Former Librarian Michael to the blog.  Michael started out in traditional reader services style library roles before undertaking his masters and then gaining a job as Digital research repository assistant within an academic library setting.  This led him out of libraries to a job as Knowledge-Exchange Coordinator.  Michael has now in fact left this role after several years and returned to further study relating to his original academic background.

Name: Michael

Former role: Digital research repository assistant at an academic library. I worked in the team responsible for managing the university’s online record of research by its academics. I advised academics on how to comply with their funding bodies’ policies on making their research publicly available. I also had to provide guidance on copyright and other issues around digital publication. The role also involved many traditional library skills such as cataloguing and metadata curation.

What led you to move on from libraries? Like many people nowadays – in and away from libraries – I was working on a relatively short (one year) fixed-term contract. These often causes stress and anxiety, and can make it difficult to settle fully into a role. But there are positive aspects too. I found I was always on the lookout for the next exciting opportunity, and I became aware quite early on of the need to develop a career. This is especially true in something that’s changing as quickly as librarianship. When I saw something that looked exciting, and a way to combine my academic background (chemistry) with the skills I had gained from working in libraries – I took the opportunity even though it was not a library job and meant leaving my previous role a little early.

Latest role: Knowledge-Exchange Coordinator for a university science department

What did you do in this role? I helped the university showcase its work to industry in order to attract funding and increase its societal and economic impact, mainly through networking and organising events like conferences and symposia.

What library skills do you use in this role? Certainly an ability to be able to build connections and working relationships with academics was invaluable. When working in an university library (in front- and back- room roles) I think you have to understand the mindset of academics – people who rely heavily on you and what you do, but who can sometimes see you as underqualified and in their way. As a result, you have to work hard to sell your skills and ensure people understand how what you do will ultimately help them and make their life easier. Learning how to do this in the context of providing library services certainly served me well in my next role, where I often had to convince sceptical academics as to the value of participating in some of the projects I ran.

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? Yes, I think so – although the interview panel (who weren’t librarians) would probably not see them as specifically library skills.

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? I needed to become a more confident networker, particularly with those outside of the organisation that I was familiar with.

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate? I never actually joined CILIP, though if I ever end up back in libraries I would certainly consider doing so.

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