Transferable skills

Unshelved - 23 Feb 2011

As always, Unshelved made me laugh. However, it does raise the question for me of what exactly IS an information professional? Are we people who ‘look stuff up in books’? Do we actually have any real life, useful skill that is valued anywhere outside the library profession?

I suspect the answer is yes and no.  I think we do have real life skills, but whether they are valued outside the profession is another thing.  It’s the whole ‘librarian’ stereotype I think.  I have members of my own organisation introduce me to outsiders as the librarian ‘but she does other stuff too, like information literacy and search skills training’.  I know, and everybody else inside the profession knows that the ‘other stuff’ is actually librarianship, how come nobody else seems to know that?

This is an old, hoary chestnut – I know this. Everyone in library land has had similar experiences. However, in my quest for a new job I am coming up against this transferable skill thing more and more.  I have skills from outside library land that are, in fact, highly transferable into this environment. Similarly, my library and information skills should be transferable to another environment. The trick is having a prospective employer who can see that.  This has come up for me in a big way in the past week or so.  Out of the blue I was offered a job with a start up professional development company – but it was on the basis of my previous administration experience (clearly very transferable skills but I don’t want to work in admin – that’s why I studied for a career change). I turned the job down after much deliberation as I want to have a chance to show this profession my skills.

So I just keep putting in job applications and waiting for the opportunity.

One response

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. I guess one question is, ‘What is the library profession?’. I know the question has almost literally been tackled to death. How can be define the library (and information management) profession enough so we can communicate what is and isn’t a transferable skill? In my previous role I was referred to as the “Librarian”. I dealt with a ‘hard copy’ library. In my current role, I’m on the impression that the word “Librarian” is a taboo. So…where do we fit?
    What is a bit disheartening about my current role is that I share the library responsibilities with someone who does not have a basic understanding of document control, metadata and reference services, and HR do not recognise the value-adding skills I possess. According to them we both have the skills required to do the role and that’s it.
    In my work environment I’ve found that by ‘playing up’ the “librarian” stereotype (because that’s what people recognise) it creates a conversation starter to speak about my skills and what I can potentially do with the library.

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