Q: Are there work-from-home opportunities for copy catalogers?

Q: Are there work-from-home opportunities for copy catalogers?

Q: I have worked in libraries for 30 years. I have worked as a copy cataloger for about 20 years at a university. Are there any work at home jobs in that area?

CNW: The short answer is yes: there are many kinds of work-from-home opportunities for librarians. Cataloging is an area that can be home-based, especially if you are cataloging digital materials.

To find opportunities, you’ll need to think broadly about alternative ways you might use your copy cataloging skills. You will also have to broaden your search beyond the usual library list serves to include sources like Indeed.com and LinkedIn, as well as any local job sources for your geographic area. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Ed will be more targeted to your background and experience. Library vendors like OCLC are much more likely to offer work from home options than universities, although every situation is different.

I recommend approaching your current employer about the possibility of working remotely. It can be difficult to approach a supervisor with a request for an arrangement, but there are things you can do to frame your request effectively, including:

    Brush up on your negotiation skills before you make the ask
    Frame your request in terms of benefits to the employer. For example, you can research statistics on employee productivity and satisfaction to show why this could be good for the library. See the Suggested reading below for some articles to get started.
    Listen actively to any concerns your employer may express
    Keep the door open for further discussion, even if the first answer is no
    Suggest a trial period to try out the arrangement before either side commits to a long-term arrangement

Be honest about any personal reasons for making the request. If it is related to a health issue or a need to care for a family member, that can influence how your request is heard and received. It is also worth heeding LCP commenter Renee Young’s helpful advice:

I work for NoveList, an online Readers’ Advisory database primarily marketed to public and school libraries…. Although my position requires me to work on-site, a similar position could easily lend itself to working from home. Some of the considerations that I, as a supervisor, have, when considering requests to work from home, include the employee’s dedicated workspace and internet connection as well as the possible distractions they might face. Not to mention that working from home requires an inordinate amount of concentration and self-discipline and is not for everyone. If you are seeking a position that allows you to work from home, having these issues worked out in advance would make your case much more appealing to your potential employers.

Suggested resources:

Yes, Flexible Hours Ease Stress. But Is Everyone on Board?” Phyllis Korkki, The New York Times, 8/23/2014

Where do I look for home-based cataloging jobs?” Carrie Netzer Wajda, The Library Career People Website, 8/4/2013

Location, Location, Location,” The New York Times, 3/2/2013

Pros and Cons of Working at Home,” CareerBuilder.com, 4/17/2009

Q & A with Tiffany, 10/17/2011

Q: Where do I look for home-based cataloging jobs?

Q: Where do I look for home-based cataloging jobs?

Q: I have a MIS and M.Ed. School Library Media. I have 6 years’ experience as a university/college librarian, mainly cataloging periodicals and academic materials. I also have 5 years’ experience as an elementary school librarian.

I love cataloging. I was thinking of finding a cataloging job I can do from home (online). Can you advise me on where to search for home-based cataloging jobs?

CNW: How I adore the Internet for opening up remote working capabilities. Cataloging is an area that could lend itself to home-based work, if you are cataloging digital rather than physical materials.

Therefore, you’ll need to think broadly about what kind of cataloging opportunities are available on a remote-working basis. As a cataloger, you may find that taxonomy development or information architecture jobs are new ways to use your skill set and similar enough to cataloging that you could find them enjoyable. You’re also more likely to find these types of jobs more suited to location independence than traditional cataloging jobs that require physical interaction with books and other materials.

To find opportunities, you will have to broaden your search beyond the usual library list serves to include sources like Indeed.com and LinkedIn, as well as any local job sources for your geographic area. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Ed will be more targeted to your background and experience. Also consider library vendors like OCLC.

You don’t say whether you’re employed now, but if so, I also suggest approaching your current employer about the possibility of working remotely. The response may be no, but  asking for a trial period has the benefit of trying out the arrangement before committing to it fully. While working from home can be wonderful, some people find that productivity becomes a challenge, or that they miss the activity of a traditional office.

In your search, look at colleges and universities with distance learning programs. These institutions may be more comfortable with remote work arrangements than schools with a more traditional, in-person approach to instruction. Keep your eyes open, think creatively about who might need your cataloging skills, and you will likely find a work-from-home arrangement that works for you.

Suggested resources:

Location, Location, Location,” The New York Times, 3/2/2013

Pros and Cons of Working at Home,” CareerBuilder.com, 4/17/2009

Q & A with Tiffany, 10/17/2011

Q: How can I find indexing and abstracting jobs?

Q: How can I find indexing and abstracting jobs?

Q: I am retiring this year after 30 years as a librarian and wish to provide indexing and abstracting from my home. Do you have any suggestions of publishing companies who may wish to employ someone for this task?

SM: Indexing and abstracting are essential services for libraries and researchers. Although some indexing is done electronically, much is still done by actual people – often by library professionals. Keep in mind that indexing now involves more than just publishing houses and books. Web indexing, for example, “includes back-of-book-style indexes to individual web sites or an Intranet, and the creation of keyword metadata to provide a more useful vocabulary for Internet or onsite search engines” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_indexing). When you look for indexing jobs, don’t rule out these non-traditional roles.

To begin with, you should look into one or more indexing and abstracting associations. The American Society of Indexers (ASI) is a great place to start. Their site contains information on becoming an indexer, taking classes, getting certified, looking for jobs, pricing your services, and much more. Joining an association is also one of the best ways to network with colleagues. When you are looking for jobs, keep in mind that publishers and database companies (e.g., H.W. Wilson, EBSCO) will advertise indexing/abstracting jobs in the usual places: newspapers, corporate sites, association sites, and library job sites. Check job descriptions or contact companies to see what they require and if working from home is an option.

Best of luck in your new adventure! You are proof that librarianship is more than just a job.

Other Useful Sites:

Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)
Independent Librarian’s Exchange Section of ALA
Indexing and Abstracting Society of Canada
The Library Co-op, Inc.
NFAIS (National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services)

The Society of Indexers (Britain and Ireland)
Web Indexing SIG
Wright Information

Q: I would like to learn how to do indexing and abstracting. How do I get started?

Q: I would like to learn how to do indexing and abstracting. How do I get started?

Q: I am interested in becoming an information specialist, preferably working out of my home. I have several years of experience in searching medical databases, the Internet, and some legal databases, and would like to learn how to do indexing and abstracting. I have contacted the AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals) and joined as a student, and will take some classes this fall but have not decided on which ones. I am already enrolled in a Certificate in Translation program, but it will take me a while to complete since I will be going part-time over the next few years. Any advice or direction would be most appreciated. Thank you.

SM: It sounds like you know exactly what you want and are already on the right track to achieving your professional goals. An information specialist’s job can be quite diverse, challenging, and exciting; like many other roles within the information industry, it is changing all the time. A white paper put out by the AIIP discusses the history of the independent information professional, from its roots in the 1960s, to listing examples of how these professionals can serve business and industry today. “Independent information professionals provide information services to organizations of all sizes and types, either in conjunction with existing staff or by contract. Although document retrieval and delivery, literature surveys, and data-gathering are still the mainstay of some information brokerages’ work, other companies gather data, analyze it, and provide comprehensive, high-quality substantive reports that play a key role in their clients’ decision-making process.”

As an independent information professional, you will need to be very proficient with technology and also be able to keep current with new resources and programs that may help you in your work. Not only are you finding and gathering information, you may also have to manipulate it, analyze it, and present or package it in different ways.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is network, network, network! You will depend a lot on the guidance, experience, and recommendations of others in your field. You should try to contact (or network with) independent information professionals in your area or online and see what kind of advice they can give you. Another option, while you are still taking classes, is to see if you can do an internship with an information specialist. Talk to your school’s career advisor and see if he or she can help you find information specialists that would be willing to work with you.

Information Today is publishing a book called Information Services Market Place: The World Directory of Independent Information Professionals (ISMP): a “comprehensive directory of individuals working in this segment of the information industry, ISMP is the authoritative source for companies looking to hire or outsource work and for professionals seeking other qualified professionals for subcontracting projects and networking.” It is scheduled to be out, in print and online, later this year; you can submit your information for a free listing.

Another way to network is to attend conferences and meetings, if this is financially feasible for you. Taking classes in indexing and abstracting is an excellent idea, and getting a certificate in translation will certainly help you market yourself to potential clients. The more skills you acquire, the more marketable you will be.

Whether you intend to be a freelancer, work as an independent contractor, or start up your own home-based business, working for yourself can be extremely rewarding and exceptionally intimidating at the same time, especially when you are first starting out. You really need to know what you’re doing and be able to market yourself as well as your skills and services. In other words: exude confidence. I have listed some sites and resources below that may help you as you learn more about becoming an “independent information specialist.” Best of luck!

Additional Resources:

American Society for Information Science and Technology

American Society of Indexers

Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)

NFAIS (National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services)

Potts, Kevin. “Starting a Business: Advice from the Trenches.

The Riley Guide – Steps in Starting Your Own Business

SLA

United States Small Business Administration

Q: Do you know of any library-related jobs that can be done online?

Q: Do you know of any library-related jobs that can be done online?

Q: I graduated from library school not too long ago, but it’s been hard for me to find a job in the immediate area because of family obligations. Do you know of any library-related jobs that can be done online? Since I got my MLS from a distance ed program, I think I’d have a lot to offer employers looking for librarians to do online reference or research, if only I knew where I could find them. Thanks.

– Virtual Job Seeker

RSG: Your question at its heart boils down, not to whether there are library-related jobs that can be done online (of course there are!), but how to find and apply for such positions – which is somewhat trickier. There is unfortunately no central source that lists all virtual positions. Occasional postings, however, can be found on general library job sites such as Lisjobs.com and libraryjobpostings.org. These have included virtual reference positions with companies like LSSI and partially at-home indexing opportunities with organizations like the National Library of Medicine. You can also bookmark HR sites at some of the individual organizations that tend to offer virtual jobs and check them weekly for new offerings.

Although this will be less help in your immediate situation, realize that librarians also often have more success negotiating part-time telecommuting work with an existing employer who is already familiar with their work ethic and abilities. In my last full-time position, for example, I began working one day a week from home doing collection development and web design, and have continued to work from home on a part-time basis since starting a family in fall 2002 – the precedent had already been set. So readers thinking of having children, or who are simply looking to get some work done without office-related disruptions, might want to discuss the option with their current employers.

SLJ: Because there is no one source that lists virtual positions, employers who hire contract librarians to do online projects frequently turn to recruiters. There are a number of recruiters in the library field, and most have web sites. See this list of agencies that place librarians with employers on a temporary or permanent basis. Investigate the web sites of these agencies, and speak to their representatives, to get a feel for how frequently they receive job ads for online positions. The type of work can vary, and the employers doing the hiring may or may not be libraries. Examples of employers and typical jobs available may include: publishers looking for freelance indexers or copy editors; firms that outsource cataloging work for other libraries; and database vendors looking for abstractors. Be aware that indexing jobs may require additional training; you can learn more about the indexing field at the American Society of Indexers site.

Also, if you enjoy online research so much that you would like to make it your permanent career, you may want to investigate becoming an entrepreneurial librarian, running your own research business from home. The Suite 101 site on The Entrepreneurial Librarian has a number of good suggestions. In addition, a great book to get you started is Mary Ellen Bates’ Building and Running a Successful Research Business: A Guide for the Independent Information Professional. The book will give you an overview of what is involved in starting your own business, and will recommend useful resources for you to consult. For example, a good organization to join is the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP). AIIP has a number of useful resources on their web site, and they also offer an annual conference where you can meet others already involved in the field or interested in pursuing such work. [Ed.: see also Barbara Fritchman Thompson’s article later in this issue.]

RSG: Sarah’s suggestions on starting your own research business are very helpful. You might also want to consider exploring related work-at-home fields, such as freelance writing (which involves both research and synthesis!). A useful site for any freelance writer is Writer’s Weekly, and you can also explore contributing to some of the library-related publications that pay honoraria. While writing for trade publications probably will not entirely replace a career, this can be a helpful supplement for stay-at-home librarian parents, part-time library workers, and anyone else interested in contributing to the profession this way. (For much more on writing for the profession, check out my forthcoming Librarian’s Guide to Writing for Publication, available from Scarecrow Press. Online orders at the Scarecrow site receive a 15% discount.

If your family obligations include stay-at-home parenting, you might also want to join the Librarian Stay At Home Mom e-mail list. Home- based work is a topic that often comes up for discussion there, and list members can have additional ideas and leads.