One of the really cool things about how flexible an LIS career can be is that it allows you to create your own path, and pretty much endlessly take that career onto new paths as your life circumstances dictate. And if you enjoy multi-tasking, one of those new paths might actually be to take it several directions at the same time.
For example, as you think about the future of your career, you might consider combining multiple types of income streams. For example:
That’s one of the questions we’ll be exploring in a new subgroup I’ve just created on LinkedIn – and we need your participation!
The goal of the group is to provide a forum for asking your career questions, sharing your career and professional expertise, finding out more about career paths that may be of interest to you, and finding ways to connect with people who may be able to help with your career goals.
How To Join the Group
If you’re already a LinkedIn member, just go to the LIS Career Options group page (it’s a subgroup of the ALA groups page; you don’t have to be an ALA member to join, but you will have to join the ALA LinkedIn Group) and sign up – no approval process necessary. Then jump in and start asking or answering questions, start a new discussion thread, recommend a great resource, or contribute in any way you’d like. (And yep, lurkers are welcome, too!)
Pop quiz: what’s the one resource every aspiring information broker and independent researcher should read, re-read, and keep handy on his or her desk? The recently released second edition of Mary Ellen Bates’ Building & Running a Successful Research Business (CyberAge Books/Information Today, Inc.).
Subtitled “A Guide for the Independent Information Professional,” the second edition of this popular and practical guide is even more useful than the first edition (2003), because so much has changed in the ensuing seven years. Bates captures this perfectly in her introduction:
When I wrote the first edition of this book, blogs were a novelty; Google’s ad server was cranking out ads so fast that it ran out of “inventory” (not enough advertisers for the space available); and “knowledge management” was the hot new job title. What I find most exciting about what has happened since the early 2000s is that what was then only available to the big players is probably now just an app you can download to your phone.
Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson
Grad school is not only an opportunity for you to develop your LIS skills and expertise, it’s also an opportunity for you to build a professional platform that will help launch you into a career that’s rewarding both personally and financially.
The following tactics will help you jumpstart your career:
1. Set your personal career growth agenda. Focus on growth, not grades, because your ability to grow professionally (that means stretching beyond your comfort zone, trying new challenges, recovering from failures and moving on to successes) lasts a lot longer – and will do you more good – than an A in cataloging.
“So, if I were to become an independent, what kind of work would I do?” Given the shaky state of the economy (and LIS jobs), more and more information pros are asking this question.
Or maybe you’re thinking about adding a second revenue stream in addition to your day job. Or wanting to develop a new career path into which you’ll eventually transition. If you’ve got information skills (or are willing to learn them), there are all sorts of ways to turn that knowledge into income.
What kinds of things can you do as an independent information pro? Three of the most popular types of information work are research and analysis, writing and content development, and information products.
One of the challenges for those of us in alternative LIS careers is how to describe ourselves. Information consultant? Check. Independent information professional? Check. Consulting/freelance/contract/independent librarian? Yep.
But the role I most often end up playing is information strategist. And what the heck, you may ask, is that?
The Information Strategist’s Role
As an information strategist, I work with for-profit and nonprofit organizations to help them create an information strategy that aligns with and drives their strategic goals. I meet with key members of the organization to determine answers to the following questions:
Years ago, when I was working as an executive information advisor to a CEO and was also teaching adjunct in the University of Denver MLIS program, my friend (and colleague) suggested that I wasn’t really a librarian, or a researcher, or an information manager, although I performed all those roles.
Infonista: Now My Mom Gets What I Do
Instead, she said, I was an infonista, someone who made her living using, creating, disseminating, or otherwise creating value with, information. I think she nailed it (certainly it offered a way to summarize my job skills for my mother), and I also have found that there are a lot of us who are doing exactly that – making a living with information.