Q: [Question edited for length] I am a displaced worker [living in a major US city] who has work experience in both graphic design and records management. I also have an English degree. I think I am pretty good at doing research and locating information, although I have never spent any time on specialized databases like Factiva and LexisNexis, etc. I have just begun the certificate program of Library and Information Technology at my local community college, and am hoping to have some exposure and/or further develop my research and information retrieval skills through these classes. My questions concern future employment issues. Am I strictly limited to corporate libraries and/or any positions involving research? Are there any good web sites/links that might point me in the right direction?
TA: Your initiative in taking classes at your community college to re-tool yourself for new career opportunities is to be commended. And I especially like that you are interested in applying both your diverse work experience and your interests in research to a career in library and information technology. Your questions are good ones: What do I do with this certificate? What are my career options? And where can I find more information?
Most professional librarian positions require an advanced degree, usually the MLS. However, the community college certificate program may land you an advanced support staff position and will certainly be an excellent introduction into the field of librarianship and library-related technologies. One of my local community colleges has a Library and Information Technology certificate program and their website states:
If you enjoy working in a library setting and have an interest in technology, you should consider enrolling in the Library and Information Technology (LIT) program. Students in this program tend to be detail oriented. They enjoy assisting others and utilizing computer technology. The LIT program is suitable for persons seeking entry-level employment in either public or private libraries. The curriculum is also ideal for current paraprofessional and professional library employees who seek specialized training in new technologies… Graduates are employed in libraries, media areas, learning resources, information and instructional materials centers and with other organizations engaged in library-related activities. They are prepared for jobs with any organization that use technology to process, manage, and communicate information [http://www.cccc.edu/curriculum/majors/library/].
So essentially, the certificate will introduce you to library and information technologies, vocabularies and cultures, and will prepare you for a job working with data and managing information (which is broadly applicable in workplaces these days). Also, I would suggest that your diverse work experience, coupled with demonstrated initiative and the educational credentials, make you more marketable in a competitive workforce.To learn more about library support staff positions, I would explore the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 edition, which is available online: [http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos113.htm]. The Handbook provides information on training qualifications, earnings, work environment, and related occupations, as well as many other topics that may be of interest to you as you pursue your certificate.