Being a librarian without a library

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and although there are a few reasons for that (laziness being one), I think on reflection one of the major reasons was because I didn’t know how to write for a librarian’s blog when I’m not technically a librarian at the moment. Since finishing my library internship I was employed in the research department of my organisation with the title Research Administrator/Assistant. I really enjoy this role but I suppose I felt slightly disengaged from the librarian side of myself what with the lack of librarian/library/information in my title and the lack of an actual library to call my own.

However, in the past few weeks I have been thinking more and more about my new role and about how much I use the skills I developed in the MLIS and my other library experiences on a day-to-day basis. In fact, it is because of my MLIS experience that I now have this role. When I began the MLIS I couldn’t really understand why we were required to complete not one but two research modules. Now, I wish we had had even more research experience. On a daily basis I use the knowledge gained in those modules – I am involved in literature search, retrieval and review, I use SPSS (which I very surprisingly love considering the stress I felt when I first encountered it during MLIS) for statistical analysis of data and the fact is that I have a very strong understanding of the various things that people are doing in my department which makes me good at my job.

Plus, ORGANISATION – this is what we do! I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to my current project being less time consuming because there is so much organisation to be done. Files and folders need to be named appropriately and managed in such a way that things are easier to find and things need to be weeded out. Processes and procedures need to written up so that the knowledge I had gained with relation to administration for a large national survey with multiple waves isn’t lost. I cannot express how much data I deal with – piles and piles of spreadsheets from multiple projects – without organisation, without processes, this could get very messy very quickly.

On top of that I like to call myself a bit of a stealth librarian – while I wasn’t hired to be a librarian I get involved with things that I know I can help with – I help people with reference management systems, I train people how to use different platforms, I help people with their literature searching and search strategies, and I have conversations about how we should think about an open access policy etc. I keep myself visible and make sure I get involved in things that interest the librarian within. I am still in fairly regular contact with the Heritage Centre and I get updates on the projects that I have worked on and make sure that I continue to talk to other staff members about the library and the new research room. I’ve even brought my current colleagues over for a tour of the library and archive very recently.

I really like my job and I’m grateful to be working. I think I would happily stay working in research as long as I get to keep doing all of these things; however, when people ask me what I do, what do I say? I almost automatically reply ‘I’m a librarian.’ Should I say I’m an information professional or I work in research? Does it really matter what I call myself as long as I am working in a job I like and I am using my skills?

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