There are numerous big decisions we have to make in life, and selecting the right course for study is one of them. It can be a daunting process at the best of times, especially for those who have little-to-no experience in the Library and Information Services (LIS) sector. Consider the following steps to find the right course of study, that will get you to where you want to go!
1. Identify your interests
The first thing to consider when deciding on any course of study, is identifying where your interests lie. Think about what your passions are, and what you would love to wake up to do each and every day? Consider the space you would love to work in as well.
2. Consider your future
What would your ultimate job be? What would your ultimate day look like? What role or job is congruent with that vision? Don’t get caught up in any nasty head chatter that identifies every reason under the sun why you think you can’t do it. Let’s be aspirational and consider all the possible options, and lay them all out on the table.
The next thing to do is research, research, research! Find out what jobs exist in the industry/sector, and what would align with your passions and interests. If you are able to, identify any areas of specialisation that you might be interested in pursuing, although if you aren’t too sure right now, that is absolutely fine. Things will become clearer as you get to know more about the sector, and gain more experience.
For a LIS career, consider the following roles that may be of interest:
|Library Technician||Customer Services Assistant|
|Government researchers||Patent Searcher|
|Teacher Librarian||Discovery Metadata Coordinator|
|Information Resources Specialist||Freelance Researcher|
|Technical Information Specialist||Document Control Specialist & Archivist|
|Documentation Specialist||Digital Manuscripts Project Manager|
|Curator, such as at a Media Resource Centre or Organisation||Information Management Officer|
|Archival Consultant||Research Analyst|
|Research Lead or Coordinator||Data Officer|
|Visual Resource Coordinator||Library Events Coordinator|
|Digital Archives Systems Administrator||Electronic Resourcing Specialist|
|Records Management Coordinator||Information Resource Specialist|
|Digital Archivist||Repository Librarian|
|Digital Infrastructure and Technology Coordinator||Library Community Engagement Officer|
|Digital Curator||Digital Preservation|
4. Dream location
Consider a place of work that you might love to aspire to work in. There are numerous types of great work locations near you, including:
|Public libraries||School libraries (primary or high school)|
|University or TAFE libraries||Museum or other cultural services|
|State or National libraries||Archives|
|Parliamentary libraries||Special interest libraries e.g. wine libraries or even venom libraries!|
|Law libraries||Film / music libraries|
|Business or Corporate libraries||International libraries|
|Health libraries||Information consultancies|
|Government libraries||Research organisations|
|Book shops||Library suppliers|
5. Ask around
Try to chat to as many people in the industry as you can, or approach people who have your dream role. Ask them if it is possible to ask a couple of questions to ascertain how they got to where they are at. What did they study? What skills and knowledge do they feel is important to do their job? What do they love about their job, what do they dislike about their job? This is the best intelligence you can get in determining if their particular role is right for you, and most people are happy to help.
6. More research!
Consider what education, qualifications or courses are required for your dream role. Again, research, research, research. There are often courses or qualifications that have flexible entry possibilities, flexible delivery options (e.g. blended delivery with an online component, or distance education), or flexible payment. Whilst it might not be practical or possible to get the full qualification straight away, it is often possible to complete an intermediate qualification which you can use for credit towards your future full qualification.
For example: You may wish to be a Librarian, which requires Undergraduate or Postgraduate study at University. If you are unable to go straight to uni for whatever reason, you could do a Diploma of Library and Information Services, which you could use for credit towards your degree. It will certainly decrease the cost of your degree!
Here are the required qualifications for four common roles you normally see in a Library:
- Teacher Librarian: Undergraduate or Postgraduate teaching qualification + postgraduate study in Librarianship (or Teacher Librarianship)
- Librarian: Undergraduate or Postgraduate degree at University
- Library Technician: Diploma of Library and Information Services (required for ALIA membership)
- Library Assistant: No formal qualification required*, but it is highly recommended to study a Certificate IV in Library, Information and Cultural Services; a Certificate III in Information and Cultural Services, or for simply an introduction, a Certificate II in Information and Cultural Services.
* Consider your employability and skill level when considering whether or not a qualification is required for a Library Assistant role. Further study will be required for any specialisations.
Important tip: Always check that the uni recognises qualifications from your target education provider, if there are any possibilities for credit transfers from any previous study you have done, or if Recognition of Prior Learning is available for any previous experience or study you have completed – a great tip to shorten your study, and decrease costs.
7. Training Needs Analysis
Identify what skills, knowledge and experience is required for your dream role. Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis, or a Training Needs Analysis (or TNA). This identifies what skills or knowledge is required to perform your dream role successfully, and identifies where you are at currently. Identifying the gap or shortfall in skills or knowledge will assist you in identifying what courses or education is required to bring you up to speed. We can help you with this if you like (all LTSA enrolees are automatically given a Training Needs Analysis as part of their on-boarding process).
Always check if there is any federal or state funding available for you. You never know! This area is a bit of a minefield and changes often, so it’s best contact your state education department and have a chat to them about your specific scenario.
9. Make contact
Get in touch with your dream employer and see if they have any trainee roles available, or if not, if they offer volunteering opportunities. The important thing is to get your foot in the door, and volunteering is a fantastic way to get experience, apply your education in a practical context, and prove your fantastic work ethic!
10. Don’t give up!
Keep researching, keep searching, keep networking and talking to people, and find a way to get there! There is always a road available to get you to your dream job, even if it isn’t the main road or highway. There is always a qualification that can help jet propel you towards it.
For further information or to simply have a chat about your options, please feel free to contact us on 1300 17 15 60, or email us.