Why Librarians Should Apply for Tech Jobs

A match made in library school

If you’ve been doomscrolling r/librarians recently like I have, you know that many librarians are questioning how they can break into the tech sector. It seems like an obvious fit. Librarians are early adopters of technology. We think deeply about user design and accessibility. We practically invented metadata. But is it that easy to make the jump from the library to Silicon Valley? How far from the traditional library setting can an MLS/MLIS take you?

Keywords for job skills

San Jose State University School of Information publishes a yearly snapshot of career trends for information professionals. One of their key findings is that people with MLS training are uniquely qualified to “provide leadership in managing AI/GPT applications while also addressing concerns of information accuracy, equity, transparency, and access to these new technologies” (p. 5). Librarians do have the perfect skill set for such positions, but many people don’t think of their current jobs or their training in terms of transferrable skills. I made a quick list of some of the core skills of librarianship, but I’m sure there are a million more:

  • Customer service
  • Management
  • Programming
  • Event planning
  • Research
  • Information organization
  • Instruction
  • Knowledge management

Putting keywords to work

Once you have defined your own core skills, it’s easier to see that there are plenty of jobs for librarians hiding in plain sight. For example, I pulled up a job ad from a major library vendor that is looking for a Manager of User Experience.


  • The right candidate for this role should have a passion for creating user-centered solutions and a vision for how UX/UI can drive user engagement and business growth.
  • You should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the user experience design process, be skilled in creating prototypes, and have a strong understanding of the latest UX/UI trends.


  • As Manager, User Experience Design, you will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the company’s user experience design strategy.

This job combines knowledge of UX design and management. That’s a librarian… But an MLS/MLIS is not one of the required qualifications. It’s not even mentioned! I wonder if many librarians wouldn’t give this job a second thought.

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Uncle Sam is hiring

I think we all know that AI isn’t coming for our jobs, but rather creating a lot of opportunities for information professionals. The US government doesn’t say explicitly that it’s looking for a few good librarians, but who better to fill out the United States Digital Corps? To qualify for a project management position, applicants must have experience or an advanced degree in a technology field—and yes, Information Science is a technology field. (Remember the MLIS is a Master of Information and Library Science.)

A year ago, I had no idea what prompt engineering was, but now I find that my MLIS uniquely qualifies me to be a Prompt Engineer & Librarian. The responsibilities for this job are:

  • Build up a library of high-quality prompts or prompt chains to accomplish a variety of tasks, with an easy guide to help users search for the one that meets their needs. [collection development]
  • Build a set of tutorials and interactive tools that teach the art of prompt engineering to our customers. [instruction]
  • Work with large enterprise customers on their prompting strategies. [customer service]

If the $250K starting salary entices you, just swot up on prompt engineering by watching Leo Lo’s fantastic webinar about prompt engineering before you go into the interview. You got this.

Putting it all together

The San Jose State University report and r/librarians offer some good tips: use keywords to match your skills to job ads, and continue to develop and hone your skills (learn how to use the Adobe Suite, take a Python class, play around with ChatGPT). I think generally showing that you’re a lifelong learner is a good look. Don’t hold yourself back—apply for the job!

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