A recent issue of Online magazine focuses on some career changes of library and information science professionals.
I found Susan Klopper’s account of switching from being a business librarian to an academic librarian working at a business school library quite interesting. A few days ago, I chatted with someone about this very topic. Worth noting are a few of her paragraphs that deal with one key difference between how librarians treat students and business customers. In a corporate setting, librarians often serve clients by completely doing lots, if not all, of the research and then, quite possibly, summarizing the findings in a report of some kind. In an academic setting, librarians often serve more as advisors and teachers during a search. Instead of completing the student’s work for them, they guide the inquirer toward useful resources, then leave them so they can learn how to do research on their own. While I believe strongly that teaching people how to do research on their own is important, especially in an academic setting, I wonder how many of those business students go into the corporate world not realizing how valuable librarians in corporations can be and how different their role(s) might be. If a new business school graduate has good searching skills (and why shouldn’t they, really?) and feels like s/he doesn’t need to consult with a librarian, how valuable will a corporate librarian be to him/her? One of my library school professors often warned us about ways we can eliminate our own jobs, even accidentally. When I read those paragraphs, I wondered how much interactions between business school librarians shape corporate attitudes toward special librarians. Heavy, eh?
Is there room within an interaction in a business school library for the librarian to point out to the customer that often librarians exist in corporate settings to perform research and assist coworkers? Do special librarians speak to business school classes about the role(s) of librarians within businesses like some of us news librarians do with journalism classes?
Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. I’m not saying business librarians are responsible for the closing of corporate libraries or anything like that. I’m just wondering if there’s a marketing opportunity within the client/librarian interactions in business schools.