Monday, March 8, 2010

Professional Profile – Kathryn FitzGerald, Rotman School of Management, Business Information Centre

Describe your current position.
“I’m currently on a one-year contract covering a sabbatical leave at the Rotman School of Management’s Business Information Centre, in the University of Toronto Library system. I’m the Public Services Librarian, which involves interacting with Rotman faculty and students. I help students find and access resources for their coursework and teach them how to use library resources. On the faculty side, I provide services to support teaching and research – for example, adding resource links to course pages.”

Describe your first job as a librarian or information professional etc. and subsequent career path.
“I graduated from the Faculty of Information in 2007 and started working at MaRS, a non-profit commercialization engine, the week after graduation. My position at MaRS began as a one-year internship. I was essentially a University of Toronto librarian embedded in the MaRS corporate office, working with Ontario-based start-up companies and the University of Toronto’s tech transfer office. I provided market research to support their business plans and commercialization efforts. I stayed at MaRS for two and a half years before starting at Rotman last month.”

How did your information training and background prepare you for the job you now have?
“The best training I received as a student was working part-time on the reference desk. That position provided hands-on experience interacting with students and faculty and managing difficult requests. For coursework, the subject-specialized courses were very helpful – for example, a course on health sciences librarianship was great preparation for my work at MaRS. The cataloguing class was also really important for providing a thorough understanding of how information is structured and organized. Finally, the “big picture” classes on things like the social contexts of information and privacy issues helped me think more broadly about the practice of librarianship.”

What advice would you give someone who is currently doing his or her Master of Information?
“Take courses that interest you and look for ways to incorporate your interests into library work. If you don’t like cataloguing or reference, there are many other areas of opportunity. There are librarians managing data sets, building taxonomies, supporting grant applications, experimenting with social media, conducting research and so much more. The MI degree gives you a lot of flexibility.”

Any general advice for new information professionals?
“First, don’t say no. If someone asks you to join something or asks for your help or input, take him/her up on it. When you’re just starting out, everything can be a good learning or networking opportunity, and saying yes even to things that don’t sound like your cup of tea can lead to more interesting opportunities down the road. Second, pick the brains of your colleagues. Librarians have incredible expertise on a huge range of topics, and they are always willing to share that wealth of knowledge”.