Oh, hey, I do that: skills that cross career boundries. Part One

phone-and-bookLately I’ve been thinking about how the library skills I’ve studied and put into practice over the years could be adapted to other career fields. I still occasionally have conversations with people who think that because I am a librarian, I only know books. I try to share that we do so much more than recommending books (though don’t get me wrong, I think this is a wonderful service that librarians provide). I like to try to recognize all the different skills sets that we work in, and how they are similar to other professional jobs.

Just today I had an article come across my news feed that ties in with this. But in the reversal. It is how an activity that librarians do all the time can be applied by other professionals, in this case to content management. In What Librarians Can Teach Marketers About Weeding Out ROT by Jessica Coccimiglio on the Content Marketing Institute website, discusses how the principles of weeding can be used to keep websites usable. Keeping something that someone may need one day actually costs you more than making it easier for your users to find what they really need/want. Weeding out content (text/images/links or books/DVDs/CDs) can seem painful and difficult to do, but once you are done there is less clutter for the eye to go over to find the goods that you do have.

Another way to think about it is thinking about retail stores. I was buying fabric the other day and went to two different fabric shops. One was the discounted places. Fabric was everywhere, and it seemed fabric rolls were placed among rolls of not similar types. Even pulling out the fabric to look at it was difficult as it was all crammed in next to each other. It was  a huge place, and it felt overwhelming to try to find the type of fabric I wanted.  I needed a latte after that stop.

The next place was higher end and laid out beautifully. You could gravitate to the colour palate you were looking for (easy to navigate), and the rolls of fabric were arranged in a logical fashion that didn’t require a lot of effort from the user to go through. I left feeling much happier and determined to come back here.

Whether you work in a library, as a content manager, or in another environment where your goal is get your customer to your product, it is important to consistently go through your content and get rid of what is no longer relevant. I’ve been weeding for a number of years now, and it does give me a satisfaction to tidy up the area, and keep the really good content for our patrons. And thanks to the this article, I feel that this is an skill set I can pitch to future employers or to discuss at the next opportunity I have to share what librarians have to offer.


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