When people hear I am studying to get my MLIS, they automatically assume that I am going to be a librarian in a traditional public or academic library. These are limitations of the past now. Our job titles and duties are evolving and I think it’s as exciting time as ever to be pursuing this line of study.
It’s that time of the year again: scholarship application time, that is. As I began to write down the requested work history for one of them, it asked to specify any library-related experience I had at each job. I hesitated before listing my previous social media position, but ended up writing down my duties anyway. This got me thinking of how relevant a MLIS degree is for working in social media.
1. Curating content
Working at a digital agency requires expertise at searching through the noise and finding relevant information for each client’s account. This means staying up to date with multiple data streams, picking through information overload and developing digital savvy; things we are taught during our LIS course of study. Not only is finding these valuable gems important, but learning how to organize and store them for timely release to the public is also essential (database creation and maintenance, anybody?). We are no longer the gatekeepers of information, but more like helpful road signs guiding a user in the right direction. We can personalize the content that our user is receiving, and users are thankful for this timesaver.
We have to know how to find information about these users’ activity. There are all kinds of digital tools available to aid us, and choosing one is just as important as the choosing which information is deemed relevant. What useful information are these “likes,” comments, retweets and favorites telling us about the information needs of our users? These are the exciting things that we can put our analytic and research skills to work on.
3. Information visualization
Once we have these analytics, it’s important to present them in a manner that is easily interpretable to the client or funders, or whoever you might be trying to get your message across to. Pulling these random data points together and creating an aesthetically pleasing story is something that LIS students are great at, and may even be a course requirement (like the Info Viz class I’m currently taking).
4. Adapting to users’ habits
Everyone is online now. Using social media is simply adapting to users’ information-seeking patterns. Who better than to take advantage of this than information professionals? We are supposed to be on the cutting edge of every new way information can possibly be disseminated, and social media is no exception. To deny the need for expertise in this area is to live in denial. One need only rewatch the YouTube video we first watched in class to grasp the impact this is having on the way we store and seek information about just about anything.