Alternative Librarian Careers


I need a good elevator speech about my non reference role in a law library. Surprisingly that was one of my outcomes from attending a discussion called Alternative Careers in Information organized by the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services, part of Canadian Libraries Association. Cathy Lindsey-King, Erica Sum and Jennifer Stein challenged our beliefs of what a librarian can do. In Stein’s case at FPinfomart,  she collaborates with clients, customer service, technical department and sales division to ensure she has a “saleable” product that the customer wants, and also it must be something that FP can sell to them. A pretty interesting balancing act.

Erica Sum gave a synopsis of what prospect research is (mining public information for prospective donors for non profit organizations or hospitals), and talked about her journey to her current job. Ironically she went to a talk about alternative careers as a student, did her own research into this field, and networked like crazy along with attending a 1 day prospect research course. She recommends joining the Association for Professional Researchers for Advancement as well. By the time she sat down to interview for a prospect researcher position, she had done a ton of leg work as well as having some information on her interviewer.

Perhaps most impressive was Cathy Lindsey-King of Sound Ideas, which publishes sound effects. After 16 years she still has the enthusiasm for her work that she must have had in year one. King’s responsibilities include production development, corporate communication and search engine optimization. She wears many hats because the company may be small in size, but is clearly dynamic. She advocates that library skills can be implemented by any private enterprise, as executives need information on competitors, or they may need brand management in terms of what people think of their product, service or reputation. Finally everyone wants to know new trends on the horizon that will affect their business (competitive intelligence).

I left the discussion energized thinking about the broad range of possibilities for careers. Things are looking up!

– Brenda Wong

More to Read

How to Perfect an Elevator Pitch About Yourself from Harvard Business Review

CASLIS Toronto’s Toolkit on Job Hunting on delicious

Connie Crosby on Fragmentation, Elevator Speech and Breaking Down Information Silos


2 Responses to “Alternative Librarian Careers”

  1. I’m glad you found the panel helpful and thank you for writing this review, Brenda! I’ve linked to it from the CASLIS Toronto blog. I also wanted to add for any interested readers that the one day prospect research workshop was run through the iSchool Institute at the University of Toronto and students can take the course at a significant discount.

  2. 2 Anjali

    Hi Brenda and Erica, Thank you so much for this very interesting post, I must confess I read it just now. I would love to get into this new arena, I have done loads of work as a volunteer/fundraiser myself in India/NZ/Australia and Canada. I have researched through several biographical tools, Who’s who, directories, etc. As a law/business/headhunting researcher, I am very familiar in using several legal, health, business/financial databases. I would suggest to keep an eye on APRA and also on Charity Village websites. They rpovide loads of useful information. I also know about the seminar by the ischool of UofT. Thanks again.

%d bloggers like this: