Stealth Library Jobs

Diving into the thick of job-hunting now that I have my MLIS, I’ve been noticing just how many jobs out there are stealth library jobs. Stealth library jobs are ones where employers don’t say they want a librarian, but everything else in the job description screams WE NEED LIBRARIANS.

This is important to recognize, especially since these stealth jobs won’t show up if you search for “library” on job boards. Sometimes they show up under if you search for “archive,” but not always. “Information organization” is another keyword that these employers DON’T use, even though they desperately need someone who understands the principles of organizing information.

It’s also important for us MLIS grads to realize that stealth library jobs exist for another reason. Remember how people kept talking about the upcoming retirement wave that would open up thousands of library jobs? At the risk of sounding cynical, it’s an old lie. Well-meaning, perhaps, but it doesn’t help us when it comes time to search for jobs. (and why am I thinking about the last four lines of Wilfred Owen’s poem?)

Here’s a prime example of a stealth library job from the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve highlighted the library-relevant terms:

Collection Manager for Comprehensive Inventory

Duties
Assists the curator in his or her work on the eighteen-month inventory of the permanent collection. Participates in research and cataloguing of the collection. Serves as liaison between departmental curator, departmental specialist, and support staff, with departments of Conservation, Registration, Imaging, and other museum departments for all collection inventory-related issues. In consultation with curator, departmental specialist, and staff from other relevant departments (e.g. Registrar, Conservation, Imaging, and Digital Information and Access), assists in developing protocol pertaining to the permanent collection inventory (it sounds like they want someone who can set up an ongoing procedure for inventorying the permanent collection) and is responsible for its coordination and implementation. Maintains and updates departmental accession files, locations lists, and corresponding CITI records in an accurate, consistent and timely manner. Assists the curator in ensuring that all documentation is correct. Serves as departmental liaison with CITI projects. Coordinates with the department specialist in organizing movement of works of art to facilitate inventory process and safe keeping of the collection. Provides research support to curator in regard to the permanent collection inventory.  Coordinates rapid imaging of collection with curator and imaging personnel.  Assists visiting scholars in viewing works in storage and departmental files and makes museum resources available through providing photographs and collection information for the assessment process as appropriate, and as time permits.  Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications
M.A. in Art History or related subject required; museum gallery and collection management experience a plus; knowledge of European Decorative Arts and/or collection important; strong research and cataloguing skills; comprehensive knowledge of CITI or other collection management systems desired.

I looked up CITI, and if I’m correct, it’s the Corporate IT Inventory software. So, basically if you know any ILS, you can figure out CITI. Anyway, you can see just how much theyneed a librarian without actually realizing it. Bonus points if you have an art background.

So, if you’re in the job hunt, too, don’t despair at the lack of library jobs. There’s actually a fair bit of jobs out there that need librarians.

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5 Responses to Stealth Library Jobs

  1. Q says:

    Any suggestions for good keywords to use when looking for these stealthy jobs?

    • admin says:

      Very good question, and quite honestly, I haven’t found any one definite keyword that finds these stealthy library jobs. Sometimes archive brings up jobs that involve information management, and sometimes catalog does. Usually I find these jobs while looking for ALL the jobs in a particular city (in my case, Chicago) on various job sites, and just scroll through all the recently posted ones. It’s too overwhelming to do so on Indeed unless you have a lot of free time, but I do this on Idealist.org and NPO.net, and various company job sites for universities, government agencies, etc. That’s the thing that makes them so stealthy–it doesn’t show up very easily.

      One thing that I do notice, and I suppose it’s an obvious statement, but museums frequently need people with library skills even though they don’t specifically ask for it sometimes (as in my example) so I have museum as a saved search on Indeed.com.

      If you or anyone else find some good keywords, please certainly send them my way! I plan on writing more about these stealthy jobs.

  2. Beth says:

    During the thick of my own job search, I found out that keywords weren’t always super helpful looking for jobs; like the OP mentions in the comment, sometimes you just need to look at EVERYTHING. I was also looking for jobs in Chicago, and I just started targeting organizations I was considering and going directly to their pages. I would go to “Google Maps” and narrow in on downtown, then enter “law firm” and go to each individual page. I found all sorts of things that I never would have considered, like “Conflicts Analyst” at a law firm. Some of them called it “Conflicts Research Analyst,” but as you may know, searching for “Research” or “Analyst” is often far too broad and can return jobs that are IT related or animal science related and so on. However, I found law firms loved the MLIS skill set for this particular position type, even though it’s not a job that librarians even think about. I actually got called for interviews from two different law firms. Of course, none of the law firms called me for actual law library jobs I applied for. Side note, the title I currently have (not at a law firm) is “Information Resource Specialist.”

    Excellent post! I completely agree with you that there are plenty of jobs out there requiring library skills, but don’t blatantly say it. I love your example above as well. So true.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for commenting, Beth! And you hit the nail on the head about the keywords being too broad–that’s one of the issues I’ve run into while searching for jobs, too, complicating any advice about keywords.

  3. Pingback: On Finding Stealth Library Jobs (must read) | INALJ

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