Librarians who have moved out of the library space. Are you willing to be interviewed?

I am doing some research into librarians who have moved out of the library space without undertaking further study – that is they have built a new career based on their library skills and knowledge. This includes those who have moved to new organisations, new positions within their organisation and those who have moved out of libraries and have also returned to working in libraries after undertaking other roles. It may be you have moved to records management, knowledge management, project management or a position which on first impression looks like it is not even related in any way to information management. It may even be that your ‘library’ no longer resembles a ‘library’ as such.

The research will be in two parts:

  • first an online survey to gather the demographics – this data will be aggregated up so I get a general profile of the group being interviewed in part 2.  I do not intend to identify individuals unless they are happy for me to do so. You can link to the survey here;
  • second will be one on one interviews to gather the narrative (or individual stories) about your key skills, knowledge and attributes which made your library training valuable outside libraries. This will include how you have made the move and what parts of your library/information management skills and knowledge have been most valuable in achieving the move. Interviews will be achieved via Skype (if possible) to keep costs down.

I intend to publish the results of this piece of research late in 2012 or early 2013.

If you are wondering why I want to to do this research my story is as follows:

From 2006 to 2009 I was engaged as the Program Manager for the Knowledge for Regional NRM Program at Land & Water Australia.  The team had a total of three professional librarians (including myself).  We also had an ecologist, a science communication professional and an environmental science practitioner in the team.  It was an excellent and diverse mix of individuals and we all learnt a huge amount from each other.  One of the things we noticed as we moved around the National Resource Management (NRM) organisations across Australia was that we experienced similar conversations and comments from our stakeholders when they discovered the library background of the three librarians.  It was basically “Thank goodness you are here”.  Every organisation we went in to had challenges with information and knowledge management and the identification as a ‘librarian’ brought about a very positive reaction.

Since leaving my position at Land & Water Australia and the Australian Public Service to set up my own consultancy I have had nothing but positive comments about my library background.  I constantly discover just how much I know about finding information in comparison to my clients and colleagues. I used to call myself a ‘recovering librarian’ but now am happy to state that you don’t recover as your librarian skills, knowledge and attitude is one of your greatest assets.

As the 2012 President of the Special Libraries Association ANZ Chapter and a former Chair of the KM Division, I decided it was time to get some hard evidence on why librarians are viewed so positively outside the traditional library sector. As such I invite you to be part of my research.

To take part please send me an email to nerida@hartknowledge.com.au with a brief background and contact details (especially your Skype ID) and I will be back in touch with more details.

A brief update on this project – I will be sending out the survey component the first week of July as other work pressures are keeping me busy at the moment.  There is still time to participate by sending me an email.

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