In an interview published on the Rutgers iSchool website, corporate librarian Beth Rizzotti offers advice to students on the business side of corporate librarianship and the value of knowing how information is collected, organized and disseminated.
Rizzotti earned her Master’s of Library Science at the Rutgers School of Communication & Information in 1991. While a graduate student, she took an internship that developed into a full-time position which in turn led to a decades-long career with her current employer, Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH). Having this experience prompts Rizzotti to advise students to start networking from their very first day at school.
Over the course of her career, Rizzotti’s roles progressed from assistant librarian to librarian to managing the information center. Today, she’s on LHH’s global operations leadership team. Although Rizzotti wears lots of different hats, she still manages their library. “That remains my very favorite part of the job. I identify as a librarian; my heart is still there.”
Rizzotti spends time each day leading and managing projects: “One of the things you really get out of the program is a solid and deep understanding of how information is collected, organized, and disseminated. We know about databases and information, and we also know about people. We learn how people seek information, how they consume information, and how they use it and take action upon it.”
It has been her experience that this skill is often missing in the corporate setting. “Companies spend a lot of time creating digital tools but they struggle to create tools that people will adopt and use to achieve their business goals. Librarians have the skills to be in the middle between the users and the creators of these products, helping to ensure that the digital tools created are used, generate actionable insights, and meet the business needs. We also know how to manage vendors. We’re used to buying information services. We understand how licenses work and that translates very well on a larger scale in a corporate setting. That’s valuable to companies.”
Stressing the importance of data science, Rizzotti said, “The data science skillset is incredibly valuable in the market today. Refine your skills in predictive analytics, taxonomies, and metadata. We cannot hire people quickly enough that have these skills. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of these courses while you’re [in school], I recommend you do that. You don’t need to know how to code or program (although it’s great if you do), but you need to be able to talk to the people who do.”
As for current students, Rizzotti offered her advice on these topics:
Communication: Know how to present a business case. Have the confidence to be able to communicate very effectively from the executive suite on down to whoever’s at your reference desk—in writing, on video, and verbally.
Work: If you can work while you’re learning, even on a volunteer basis in a library or corporate information setting, you’ll start to use the skills you’re learning in a practical, hands-on way.
Profile: If you want to pursue work in a business library, it’s critical that your LinkedIn profile is polished and reflects who you are, what your skill set is, and what value you can bring.
Networking: You’d be very surprised at where your job opportunity comes from. Talk to people. Have an elevator story about who you are and what you think you want to do when you graduate.
Life beyond the library: Once you are inside an organization, insert yourself and try to get a seat at the table. Do informational interviews. Ask people in other parts of the business what they do, try to figure out how you could bring value to their work, and try to position yourself as a solution provider. When they see you that way, your career opportunities will go well beyond what you imagine today.