Work-From-Home LIS Careers

iStudent Blog

Published: September 10, 2018 by Priscilla Ameneyro

When you think of library and information science or archives and records administration careers they are usually tied to a place, that is, a library or archive! While there are many types of jobs physically located in a library or archives building, many LIS career options lend themselves to working from home.

For example, some of the behind-the-scenes work like cataloging. Even jobs that require interfacing with people such as students or the public can be done online via phone, chat and email. In this blog post I explore career opportunities in the field that are available as telecommuting roles and discuss how you can go about finding one for yourself. I also chatted with two School of Information alumnae, both of whom enjoy working from home.

Is Working From Home Right For You?
Work-from-home (or WFH as it is affectionately referred to) opportunities abound in today’s connected and technologically advanced society. Recent stats indicate 3.9 million U.S. employees telecommute at least half of the time for their jobs. There are many reasons why you might prefer working from home, from saving time and money by not commuting to the ability to set the lighting and temperature just how you like it. iSchool alumna Nora Sawyer, who works as an Information Specialist at Cornerstone Research and telecommutes from her houseboat three days a week, finds she enjoys a more relaxed pace of life with additional free time before and after clocking in and out. Joni Savage, iSchool alumna and Content Manager at Mozilla, has worked remotely full time for the past four and half years and likes that she can focus better at home without the typical distractions of the office. She also enjoys being location flexible, for example, she can travel without having to use up any vacation days. 

As a virtual student, you’re pretty used to studying remotely at this point and chances are you have many of the qualities that will help you enjoy working from home. However, it’s not for everyone, many people miss the social aspect of going into the office and feel isolated. Read about some of the issues to consider from a  librarian who telecommutes three out of five of her work days.

What Jobs Can Be Done From Home?
Positions that require you to do online research can easily be done from your residence, like donor research, patent research or market research. Indexing and abstracting also don’t require you to be present at the office. In fact, you’ll probably be more productive at home as these tasks require long periods of focus, something that is hard to come by in the workplace with phones ringing and co-workers stopping by your desk for a quick chat. Other good options for working from home include user experience and web design, information architecture, database management and digital records management. There are a huge variety of careers you can do from home with your MLIS or MARA degree. What about working as an online lecturer or instructor like many of the iSchool staff? With a computer and an internet connection, you could also become an entrepreneur and start your own independent information professional business. Why wait until you’re looking for a job when you can do a virtual internship now? This could be a good way to get a feel for what it would really be like working from home in a professional setting.

Tips for Working From Home
Nora’s top tip is to continue to “cultivate and maintain relationships with coworkers as much as possible,” by whatever means you can. That could be picking up the phone for a chat or making the effort to go into the office for a staff meeting. Nora chooses to work in-person two days a week as she likes to have face time with her coworkers. Joni recommends you treat working from home just as if you were going to the office by establishing a routine and making the effort to get ready (not spending the day in your pajamas). She also suggests switching up your environment; once a week or so she visits a coworking space close by. You could also work out of a coffee shop or the library.

How to Find Work-From-Home Jobs
Look for the words “remote,” “virtual” or “telecommute” in the job title or description. Different companies have different ways of describing this type of work, so switch up your keywords in your searches. There are sites that are dedicated to helping you find a remote role, like FlexJobs, or sites like INALJ have a section for virtual jobs. You could also look at companies that are entirely remote or that are known to employ remote workers; check out this list of 30 companies with the most work-from-home jobs. Even if the opening isn’t advertised as a work-from-home position, you can negotiate some work-from-home days as part of the job offer. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss if it’s possible to come up with a telecommuting arrangement in your current position either; there are benefits to the employer as well as the employee.

I hope I’ve opened your eyes to the possibility of working remotely in your chosen field. Do you work-from-home or do you want to? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.