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Special Libraries: The Law Librarian Employment Market

Article List
Academic Libraries
      Disaster Recovery at Rio Hondo Community College
      Serials Holding Display Project at University of Southern California
      Staffing Strategies in Academic Libraries

AIM in the News
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SBVC Fall Convocation
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SCALL Fall Meeting
      Linda McKell Awarded the Mark Baer Award

AIM Services
      AIM Outplacement Services

Job Search Tips
      Electronic Resume
      Frequently Asked Interview Questions
      Interviewing Tips & Techniques
      Interviewing: From Both Sides of the Table
      Networking Quickies
      Questions to Ask the Interviewer
      Resume Writing Tips
      Retooling Your Career
      The Ten Commandments of Interviewing
      What else can I do with my Library Tech degree or certificate?
      What NOT to ask during an interview?
      Where to Find Library Jobs

Professional Development
      SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND the Annual General Meeting of the Society of California Ar

Public Libraries
      AIM's Project Team tackles San Francisco Public Library Project
      Creative Staffing at Torrance Public Library
      Fresno County Partners with AIM
      Solano County Library Expands

Special Libraries
      Consultants Provide Solutions
      Law Libraries - Staffing Strategies
      Microfilming History
      Non-Traditional Libraries
      The Law Librarian Employment Market

SCALL Fall Meeting

The Law Librarian Employment Market in Southern California
(Its Current State and Future Prospects)

Future Prospects Speaker, Belinda Beardt

I wish I had a crystal ball to confirm and guarantee that the future of law librarianship is bright and secure. All I have is my 12 years experience at AIM Library & Information Staffing to back up my claim that as law librarians and information professionals, your future has endless possibilities.

I was a speaker at the SANDALL Fall Workshop last month and I picked up a handout summarizing the state of special librarians compiled by Sr. Associate Librarian, Betsy Chessler at Morrison & Foerster. I am going to share with you, three points of the survey summary:
* A survey conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science, about 40% of special librarians made between $50,000-$79,999 per year between 2002-2007.

* The Law Library Journal reported that California had the highest number of job postings on AALL followed by NY and DC between 2002-2007.

* According to the 7th annual survey of head librarians at the top 200 law firms, 50% of firms surveyed said that the library was the main source for competitive intelligence (CI); 63% of firms said that the library was the main source for marketing research; 75% of librarians play an active role in the firm's knowledge management (KM).

So what does this all mean in the future?
* As special librarians with the focus in the legal field, you have a great potential to earn more money because of the short supply of experienced law librarians in the job market. There will be an increased demand for law librarians in the future at all levels from library clerical support staff to executive level librarians and information professionals. I have found that, even in this job market, candidates want to change jobs, but the salary being offered is not significantly high enough to risk being laid off as the last one hired in the new job.

* You don't need to move out of California to find a job. You can always find a job in public, academic and school libraries. These libraries will be around for a very long time. There will be jobs for you anywhere information flows in special libraries. You just need to know where to look.

* If you do not know or participate in CI (competitive intelligence), KM (knowledge management), DAM (digital asset management) or some form of high level specialty research in business, marketing, pharmaceutical, technology and etc, you better start now because that's where your career is heading.

Yes, the economy and the job market are not doing well right now. What you have to understand is that everything goes through a cycle. What comes up must come down. When there is a downturn in the job market, think of it as a reality check or a learning experience. Since things seem to slow down, take some time to reflect on the past, learn from it and plan for the future.

If you are currently employed:
* Be thankful that you are employed. Accept the "no bonus this year" or "minimal raise next year" or "possible pay cut" gracefully with "I understand." You can't really do anything about it, so complaining or being upset about the situation will only make things worst. Yes, it's a hardship. It's not fair. You deserve that year end bonus or a raise because you worked hard for it. But think how fortunate you are to have a job with benefits, while others may be working part time at minimum wage with no benefits or worst, unemployed. Take this opportunity to re-assess your goals and prepare yourself for the next boom.

* Make sure that your employer knows that your contributions are valuable to the firm.  Learn to toot your horn and look out for yourself. What makes you more valuable than another employee? Why can't the firm hire a paralegal or the legal secretary to manage the library?  Or hire the receptionist to maintain and file the updates? Why should the firm downside or close another department and not the library or information center?  Make sure that you are able to defend your job or department with facts and in writing.

* Be prepared. There is really no way to predict how long you will stay employed with any employer. Is your resume current and ready to go? Do you have a wide range network of colleagues to solicit for jobs or references? There are reasons why library associations put together meetings and workshops: professional development and networking opportunities.  Are you marketable in the current job market? Can you compete with retired librarians, seasoned information professionals and new MLIS graduates today? Do you have the right skill set, flexibility and competitive salary range? These are important things to think about while you are still employed. Are you aware of the current trends in the library and information field and the environment that you are in such as legal, business, technology, and etc? As an employee of AIM, we have to network and learn about the trends in the staffing industry, human resources and the library and information field from professional librarians to library support staff; public, academic, school and special libraries. You have to be aware of not only the library and information field but also the legal environment if you are in law firms, academic field if you are in university or college law libraries and etc. Expand your horizon and get out of your comfort zone.  Attend local and national meetings and conferences outside your specialty. You might learn something new and exciting.

If you are unemployed or may be laid off:
* Don't worry. You are an educated, experienced and talented individual who was employed before and will be employed again. Nobody can take away your education and work experience.

* Maximize all your benefits: unemployment, severance pay, outplacement programs and etc. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. These benefits are in place to help you.

* Be flexible and open minded. You don't know what you like or don't like until you try it. This is a good time to explore other employment opportunities and environments. Become a temporary employee. Sign up with AIM and you can work in various library settings (public, academic, school and special libraries) and do a wide variety of tasks. Have you thought about being your own boss or owning your own business? Become an information broker or an independent contractor/consultant. You can get creative and do what you couldn't do in the past because you were busy working a full time job.

* Don't be discouraged. Having a positive attitude is very important. Whatever you do, don't give up. The job market will pick up sooner than you think.

Your future is as bright as you want it to be.

Check out the photo slide show of the meeting on the AIM Blog.

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