Career Spotlight: What I Do as an Entrepreneurship Librarian
February 29, 2016
Entrepreneurship Librarian, University of Toronto
First of all, tell us a bit about your current work and how long you’ve been at it.
I am the Entrepreneurship Librarian at University of Toronto’s St. George Campus. It’s a new role, and I started in September 2015.
What drove you to choose your career path and how did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
My experience with the academic librarians I encountered during my first master’s degree was very inspiring. They were incredibly dynamic, smart, and helpful. I found myself wishing I was on their side of the desk. My background is in journalism and I worked as a marketing trade journalist and editor, as well as a web copywriter for a large European digital agency and for a mobile operator startup that launched in the UK in the mid ‘00s. All of this informed my career path as I went back to school to get my MLIS from FIMS at the University of Western Ontario a few years ago. After I graduated, I worked as a reference librarian and then as a research and instructional services librarian at two business libraries at research universities in Ontario before I landed here.
What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
I’m new to my role and to this institution, so right now I spend a lot of time figuring out who does what and how the whole engine functions! I also do a lot of email reference with students and faculty, which is one of my favourite parts of the job.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
People have a lot of questions about entrepreneurship and how the library can help entrepreneurs. We are best known for supporting academic research and this is definitely more of an applied discipline, when you’re talking about students and faculty developing tech ventures and startups and doing market research. It’s a new area for a lot of people and while I’m not sure what misconceptions they might have, they’re often curious about it.
What are your average work hours? Typical 9-5 thing or not?
I keep a pretty strict 8:30-4:30 schedule, with exceptions for evening instruction sessions and the occasional Saturday event.
What personal tips and shortcuts made your job easier?
Having a background in journalism definitely helps me work in teams and communicate with others. You can’t be shy about reaching out to people and making connections.
What do you do differently from your peers in the same profession?
Interesting question! My role is more of a functional specialist than a traditional liaison role, so I’m not assigned to a particular faculty or department. I do a lot of collaborating with colleagues who are, as well as with other groups on campus like the Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or the Career Centre.
What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
There aren’t always ready-made resources to answer all the questions people have, particularly about niche markets or industries. If we don’t have a market research report available in the collection, we look at using primary research and data like statistics to build our own mini-reports.
What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
I love meeting students and faculty who are so motivated and dedicated to applying their research in ways that can potentially make a real difference in the world. They are incredibly inspiring.
Is there a way to “move up” in your field?
It’s still early days and the field is changing all the time. I’m always learning more and I hope to grow along with the discipline.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Get some experience outside librarianship, in a field that interests you.