A week of networking….or, you can learn a lot in two hours!

August 12, 2011

I met with two individuals this week who are consultants and prominent in the library field.  Both were so generous to share with me their views on the following questions (yes, I geeked out and actually had typed questions for them)!

  • Can you tell me about your career path?  How did you gain experience and transition into your current position?
  • What have you enjoyed about your current position?
  • Do you have a mentor or have your served as a mentor in your career?  What was your experience (good and bad)?
  • What are some trends you see currently in information work?
  • What is your view of libraries and their existence in the future?  What threats do you feel exist to our profession?
  • What kinds of skills do you see as being the most important to someone wanting to work in the library industry?
  • What kinds of local networking opportunities can you recommend to me?

Of course, the majority of our conversations took place outside of these questions–both of the contacts were smart, articulate and passionate about the profession, and, I think, genuinely interested in me, as I was in them.

Here are the most fascinating things I took away from these meetings:

  • Each person had such an interesting evolution in information work, which led them to the successful consultancy businesses they have today.  Sometimes the “leap of faith” or the “master of your fate” moment is the best decision you can make, and you have to take the bad with the good.
  • Librarians/information workers have an innate sense of curiosity and wanting to help people.  They are interested in people and want to help them solve their problems.
  • Their views on information trends were really cool–the “hot” things right now are discovery tools, ebooks, embedded librarianship, downsizing/outsourcing, content curation (AKA alerting), and an emphasis on beginning to offer analysis (rather than summaries) for clients.  Also, I found the idea of “sceptical knowledge seeking” really enlightening–the idea that even though a publication is evaluated to be a good, sound publication does not mean that you shouldn’t go further and analyze  anything that seems like it could be questionable (make phone calls, go to a source directly).
  • Important skills: ability to write a business case and talk in business language, financial skills, technology skills, curiosity, excellent oral and written communication ability, and dedication to customer service.

Plus, I gained some good information about face-to-face networking opportunities in this area!

If you have the opportunity to make contacts within the profession, do it!  I learned so much and got some great feedback and advice that will help me to be even more confident in my job search.

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