Recently I had an opportunity to connect with Kelly Kowatch, Assistant Director of the University of Michigan’s School of Information Career Development Office. Kelly is also one of the co-authors, along with Judy Lawson and Joanna Kroll, of the excellent The New Information Professional: Your Guide to Careers in the Digital Age (Neal-Schuman, 2010).
I asked Kelly to do a bit of “virtual career coaching” for students by providing some practical advice on how to make the most of a program’s career services.
In the constantly morphing world of LIS careers, one of the areas that has continued to grow is knowledge management, i.e., the organization and management of, and provision of access to, an organization’s internal and external information via a technology infrastructure.
While this definition is subject to interpretation from organization to organization, the knowledge management role has generally been one of execution, especially as taught in MLIS programs. Recently, however, Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education has announced a new degree – an M.S. in Information and Knowledge Strategy – that takes a different approach. Knowledge management consultant and thought-leader Guy St. Clair, who’s been involved in its development, shared insights about the nature, scope, and goals of the Columbia University program.
Embedded librarianship refers to the delivery of library and/or information services outside of a physical library setting. Often this is as part of an operational team – whether in an academic or business or other organization setting. So, for example, in an academic environment, an embedded librarian might be working as part of an instructional design team for an online course, or working in collaboration with the course instructor to develop, monitor, and grade course assignments.
In a business environment, an embedded librarian might be working as part of the marketing team doing market research, or doing competitive intelligence hand-in-hand with the business development team, or doing patent research for the engineering department.
In a nonprofit organization, an embedded librarian might be working with the donor relations team, or aggregating topical resources as part of the website team, or researching community issues for the community outreach department.
These are basic examples of what can be very innovative roles; the bottom line, however, is that this type of “librarianship” is focused on adding value 1) at the point of need, 2) in a collaborative manner, and 3) with or without the existence of a centralized library. It’s also the role more and more special librarians are transitioning into as their libraries (perceived as overhead) are closed down.