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, visit our website
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 i.e. books, dvds, journals and increasingly, computer based services such as on-line databases and the internet.
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 guides to salaries in different sectors. To address the downsizing of the public sector in 2010/2011, CILIP produced a useful Supplement to their Update publication in October 2010, entitled LIS education and prospects for employment.
How to get experience
Work experience obtained after you've left university is important for a career in Library and Information Management, and this is detailed in the section How to find a job below.
During your studies it is worthwhile gaining library experience which will provide an insight into the work - this might be paid or unpaid:
- Approach the university library or local public library. If this interests you then make early enquiries; you will need to be proactive and make speculative applications.
- The CILIP website has a page on finding voluntary work in information.
- Otherwise look for some work that will give you relevant related experience like shop work or voluntary work with charities, in fact anything that relates to delivering a front line service to customers.
- Networking can be helpful. You can find useful contacts through the Careers Alumni Network on the Careers Centre website.
- You can also apply for the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme
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 (65-75% in 2009/2010) whilst in relevant employment, often supported by their employer.
Library and information management vacancies can be found in a variety of sources:-
Key Links and Resources
Careers Centre resources
- Careers Alumni Network- a database of St Andrews graduates who have volunteered to offer careers information to existing students.
- The Careers Centre subscribes to 'Going Global', a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide. To access Going Global login to My Career on the Careers Centre website and select Going Global Database from the top left hand menu.
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & background information
For internship opportunities, please visit Internships in the US - Library & Information Management