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Federal Library Advice & Tips

Recently, a federal librarian from the National Park Service provided us with some insight and advice for those that are seeking library careers in the federal government. See below for some relevant information for our readers....

"I'm sorry to inform you that the National Park Service (NPS) is losing, not gaining, professional librarian positions (which are already few and far between), as incumbents retire or vacate the position for other reasons.

Occasionally, a park will get funding for a temporary or term librarian, but our staff is often not made aware of these opportunities until after the fact. The same situation exists regarding work-study positions/paid internships and volunteer positions for library school students or recent grads.

These positions would be posted on the USAJobs (federal government jobs) or the NPS Volunteer website, respectively. The links to those websites are provided on the Opportunities page of the NPS Library Program website. I include the links here for your convenience -- please feel free to post them on your job board:


Once in a blue moon, a park will get money to hire a library cataloging contractor to do backlog cataloging and/or retrospective conversion (aka 'recon,' which involves automating the card catalog or upgrading legacy electronic records to MARC records). As with all federal contract job opportunities, these must be posted in the federal register and the jobs must be bid for.

Recent library school grads would probably not be able to compete successfully for these jobs on their own, but would have the skills to subcontract with a library contract cataloging organization having experience submitting bids for federal jobs -- new librarians are often hired to do copy cataloging on recon projects by such companies, as I'm sure you're aware.

Best of luck to your grads -- it's a challenge these days for the library profession; I am encourage all recent grads to get a post-grad credential in image management/digital libraries, as that's the future. The other track is end-user interface design.

Key areas (in my opinion) for library school grads to research re leveraging their library science degrees and getting input on what other skills or certification would be good to acquire (there are blogs aplenty as well as electronic journals on the Web to get people immersed in these subject areas quickly -- I've provided a few links below), particularly with respect to careers involving management and dissemination of government information, are:

digital libraries
preservation of digital resources
enterprise image management systems
enterprise document management systems
enterprise knowledge management systems
enterprise metadata management systems
metadata standards
federated searching
end-user interface design
project management (PM is really picking up speed in federal agencies now -- anybody working with any sort of information management application would do well to bone up on PM basics).

There are a handful of universities offering certification in digital libraries but I've been most impressed with Syracuse University's program
-- I think some or all of it might be available through distance learning:

Here's a good website I recently discovered that you may already know about
> http://liscareer.com/ -- there's a book called 'a day in the life...'
advertised on their website that looks great -- offers bird's eye view of 95 different jobs performed by librarians, some of which are quite surprising!

Here's a blog called 'cataloging futures' with IT competencies for metadata librarians > http://www.catalogingfutures.com/catalogingfutures/2008/07/it-competencies-for-metadata-librarians.html

And here's a listserv for metadata librarians and digital librarians:

And here's a blog for metadata librarians > http://metadatalibrarian.blogspot.com/

Posted by kkowatch at July 14, 2009 09:48 AM


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