Information Skills Put to the Test: Am I Librarian?

iStudent Blog

Published: June 7, 2019 by Havilah Steinman

Earlier in the semester, the Special Library Association Student Chapter at the iSchool hosted an engaging event about information professionals working in the corporate world, instead of a traditional library. MLIS alumni who presented during the event are currently working at large companies, including Genetec, Oracle Inc. and Zovio. The Special Library Association Student Chapter also live tweeted this event, and the recording can be viewed on their website. I had the excellent opportunity to attend this event, and have shared some exciting insight below.

Anne Barker – Legal Director at Genetec

Anne Barker dazzled attendees of the event with descriptions of her favorite hobbies: glassblowing, cider and rehabilitating raccoons! In Barker’s professional life, she enjoys challenging and engaging work at Genetic as their legal director. In her role she supports the patent group, researches targeting specific genes and spends a lot of time looking at court dockets. She didn’t expect to end up in this type of work, though!

Initially, Barker hoped for a position at the Lucas Film Research Library. When she did an informational interview there she was advised to get her MLIS. She graduated from SJSU, and her first job was at a patent boutique law firm. After spending some time there, she decided she didn’t want to be pigeon holed as a law librarian. She chose her current role at Genetec because it was very different from what she had been doing, and the role highlights the versatility of the librarian degree.

Barker started with one thing, and ended up with something else. She very much enjoys her current position, and encourages students to juggle their workload with balance, grace and a genuine smile! She ended up on her current pathway by adapting, focusing and making adjustments along the way. She also advised students to join a professional association and seek out a mentor.

Scott Brown – Senior Cybrarian at Oracle Inc.

Scott Brown is a proud professor at SJSU alongside his work as a senior cybrarian at Oracle Inc. Interestingly, Brown doesn’t work in a library or an office. He works remotely! 

Brown categorized his work into two main areas: raising awareness to the enterprise resources available and researching any topic that may benefit strategic research groups within the company. A long time information professional, Brown has been in academic, public, corporate and community college settings. In fact, one library he worked with had still had their card catalog!

Brown advised students to recognize blind spots in their work right away and learn how to do those things. Identifying these blind spots helps information professionals challenge themselves and build their skill set. He also encouraged students take a look at the MLIS Skills at Work: A Snapshot of Job Postings located on the Career Development section on the iSchool website. He ended with his favorite quote by Ken Robinson: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Jamie Lin – Education Technology Designer at Zovio

The final presenter at the event was Jamie Lin, experienced digital technologies librarian and president of the Special Libraries Association. She began her corporate librarianship work at Qualcomm with Scott Brown, and ended up there by networking through SLA. Today, she’s an education technology designer at Zovio, formerly known as Bridgeport Education.

In her current role, Lin creates multimedia learning objects for a variety of different online university courses. From personal experience, she knows that online education can be really isolating, so she tries to make fun videos that help liven things up! She cautioned attendees interested in corporate librarianship work that there will always be a lot of change. This can be exciting, as well as challenging.

Towards the end of the presentation she asked a timely question, “Am I still a librarian?” and, “What is a librarian?” Lin believes that librarians search, find, organize, analyze, synthesize and share information. She engages in this process on a regular basis in her role. While she works in the corporate world, she is still absolutely a librarian. Lin shared that desirable skills in the corporate world include a willingness to learn, a self-motivated work ethic, the ability to find your own learning opportunities, a collaborative spirit and strong communication skills. While Lin believes this field is not for everyone, she personally feels like she can work anywhere and do anything, because of the skills and experience gleaned in role.

What Next?

I hope you were able to gain some insight into corporate librarianship, and were encouraged in your current professional journey. To learn more about SLASC and the other fantastic events they host, feel free to check out their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

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