Friday, February 18, 2011

More on Freelancing

I have read a few blog posts recently that discussed librarians working a few part-time jobs to make up for the lack of available full-time jobs, and also what kinds of things librarians could do while they are riding out their library-related unemployment:

From "In the Library with the Lead Pipe":
Struggling to Juggle Part-Time Temporary Work in Libraries

From "Agnostic, Maybe":
Reader Mail: Unemployment in Libraryland

(Above, Continued...)

My previous post discussed a freelancing job I have with a local publishing company. I am fortunate to have a full-time job, but I have done various freelancing projects throughout my career too. Maybe I can expound on the blog posts above by adding some more ideas for "other" employment for those with library-related training.

I personally choose to do library-related work in what would otherwise be my free time for a variety of reasons:

1. I like to be busy

2. I would probably be thinking about libraries in my free time, so I might as well get paid to do it

3. I like money (hey, at least I'm honest!)

4. I genuinely like to learn new things

5. I am good at time management, and can handle some extra work without overextending myself. This is not for everyone! You can't work all the time. The projects I choose don't require a lot of extra time or energy.

6. I like the networking that comes with side jobs. I have met people in the industry that I would not have met otherwise. I've been able to tap into their expertise and experience at other times and places.

7. I have a short attention span. I get bored easily. I like to have something to pick at, think about, and look forward to. Having outside work to focus on when I'm outside of work is interesting and refreshing. I'm never bored.

8. I have managed to find a career that is almost a hobby. I want to do it all the time. I do have non-library hobbies (beer tasting, roller coaster riding, a little garden in the summer), but it's the library projects that excite me the most.

Those are the reasons why I seek outside projects. Now I'll describe some of the opportunities that exist for library types (not necessarily "librarians" but library-related people). There are way more than this - these are just the freelance activities I've been involved with.

1. Writing content for publishers of reference materials. I've written essays, book lists, and read-a-like lists for one publisher.

2. Speaking at library events. One-day workshops and annual conferences are often able to pay speakers. I do not charge for events that relate directly to my day job, but I sometimes get asked to speak out of state or on library topics that relate more to my freelancing activities. I've often spoken for Michigan professional library groups and student groups without any need for compensation. I've also flown out of state for a 3-day library conference that required me to use vacation time from my day job.

3. Blogging can actually be lucrative. I don't make a dime on this particular blog, mind you. This one is truly hobby-driven. However, my other blog (Awful Library Books), is a money-maker. We (Mary Kelly, ALB co-owner) have a very few, subject-relevant ads placed on that site, and we are paid by the page-load. We're not getting rich, but we are getting paid.

4. Write a book! Drastic, I know. I didn't plan to write a book, but when the opportunity arose I took it. Book proposals are easy to fill out - it's the writing that takes some effort. If you like to write and have something interesting to say, there are all kinds of library science publishers looking for authors. Just go to publishers' web sites and see what they're looking for. (I have yet to see any money from our book, but copies have definitely been sold so I guess the check's in the mail!)

5. Substitute librarian. I no longer do this, but at one time I was a substitute librarian at an area library while working full time at another. It was great! I would do a 3 or 4 hour shift on an evening or weekend. The best thing about subbing, to me, was the ability to choose exactly how much and how often I did it. That library planned most of its sub shifts for a whole month at a time, so you could pick and choose a few of those available shifts. When a shift came up last minute, you could either accept or deny. It was really easy to fit an extra four hours a week into my schedule for something I truly enjoy. It was all service desk time with no librarian-in-charge responsibilities, so it was only the fun part: helping patrons. It was also a great way to experience a completely different library and learn a different way of doing things.

For anyone looking to jump-start their career or branch out to new library experiences, freelance work could be just the thing!

1 comment:

  1. I agree about subbing as a librarian- it really is a great way for a newer librarian to jump-start their career (as I am doing!) but it's also a great thing to have if you just want to pick up some extra hours and/or get some added experience under your belt. I actually just wrote on the pros and cons of being a sub, and the interesting experiences you can encounter!