Libraries & Information Management

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Sector Overview

This page has been written by Shona Mach, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Shona, or any of our advisers, go to our website to view how and when you can meet them. 


Is it right for me? - further information on this career area, including skills/attributes required and tactics for success (pdf)



Information and knowledge is a valuable resource for both organisations and individuals, but only if it can be found. The need for excellent information resources and the ability to access them has never been greater, with an increasing recognition across government, education and business of the pivotal role they can play. The role of the professional Librarian or Information Manager is to ensure that information is acquired, organised and is accessible to the people who need it. The role involves working with information in all its forms including digital resources such databases and e-publications.

Range of jobs in the sector

Information professionals work in many sectors of the economy including business and industry, schools, further and higher education, central and local government, the health service, professional bodies and trade associations, the voluntary sector and national public libraries. Job titles vary and include librarian, information officer, information manager, knowledge manager, information scientist and learning resources manager. There are a wide variety of posts for the qualified librarian and information professional with opportunities to specialise increasing with experience. The Prospects website has a good resource of detailed job profiles in the information management sector.

This is not a large profession and it can therefore be hard to gain promotion by remaining in the same locality. Salaries are not particularly high, with relatively higher salaries often available in business and industry than the public sector. Conditions of employment, however, are usually good. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) website has careers information on the information profession.

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Network with alumni

Networking is particularly important and can really help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for an organisation you are applying to you will have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you.

Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with employers and the sector.

St Andrews graduates have gone on to work in many major and not-so-major companies in the UK and around the world. These alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni:

  • Saint Connect - the new networking platform which allows you to connect with University of St Andrews alumni
    • Join the Information and Library Management Group to find mentors and receive sector related news
  • LinkedInAlumni Tool. This feature shows the career paths of over 27,000 University of St Andrews alumni, searchable by location, employer, industry and academic subject.
  • Graduate recruiters - ask if they can put you in touch with any alumni now working for their company
  • Friends and family - ask around your immediate social network for any contacts in organisations which interest you

Have a look at the Network with Alumni section of our website for more advice and information.

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How to get experience

During your studies it is worthwhile gaining library experience which will provide an insight into the work - this might be paid or for a short period of work shadowing:

  • Approach the University Library or local public library for work experience.
  • The St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme has offered University Library placements in the past
  • Keep a look out in the Job Shop for part-time jobs in the University Library
  • Make speculative applications to other libraries for work experience during vacations
  • Otherwise look for some work that will give you experience delivering a front line service to customers.

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How to find a job

Most library and information management professionals have a relevant undergraduate or postgraduate qualification. CILIP accredits a number of full-time, part-time and distance-learning Diploma and Masters programmes with a wide range of titles reflecting course and module content.  Details of these can be found on the accredited courses page of the CILIP website, along with suggestions of financial assistance for study.

Having experience of working in a Library environment would be advantageous before applying to a PG course. As a potential librarian you can apply for a one-year training post in a library, which will give you helpful pre-course experience and also help you to ensure that you have made the right choice to embark on a full-time library or information programme. A number of charities, law and commercial organisations also offer opportunities to gain experience. It is sensible to check the work experience requirements of the library and information courses of interest to you. Each year CILIP publishes a Directory of Graduate Training Opportunities throughout the UK for graduates who want a library and information career but have little or no relevant experience.

Increasing numbers of graduates are undertaking their Diploma or Masters courses in part-time or distance-learning modes whilst in relevant employment, often supported by their employer.

Library and information management vacancies can be found in a variety of sources:-

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Key Links and Resources

Careers Centre

Online

  • The Careers Centre subscribes to Going Global, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide, found via Access MyCareer on the Careers Centre website.

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & background information

USA

Internships in the US - Library & Information Management

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point:

  • Library of Congress Internships There are many internship, fellowship, and volunteer program opportunities throughout the Library. Non US applicants must be eligible for US visas.
  • The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), located at the Washington Navy Yard, offers a variety of internship opportunities including archivist, collections management, curatorial (museum and Naval Art Collection), historian, librarian, museum education, and public relations areas. The program is a partner with the US Department of State's Visitor Exchange Program that allows successful non-resident, non-US citizens to receive the pre-J-1 visa document free of charge. Online application form.

Vacancy websites

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