Corporate Librarians


Exploring this Job

The ALA and SLA Web sites offer a wealth of information on accredited programs, curriculum, and scholarships and grants. Check out the SLA's Career Center ( to get a better idea of where good jobs are located. Library associations dealing with a particular industry, such as the American Association of Law Libraries or the Medical Library Association, can also provide career insight, job hotlines, salary surveys, and access to online discussion groups. Talk to corporate librarians about their careers. Ask your school librarian or counselor for help arranging an interview. 

The Job

Public libraries and schools are not the only places where librarians can find employment. Today many librarians work for various companies throughout the United States, such as large corporations, private businesses, law firms, hospitals and medical device companies, museums, colleges, associations, and the government. These librarians are called corporate librarians.

Corporate librarians gather information of interest to their particular company. This material includes reference books, articles, reports, conferences, films and videos, and many other resources. Information is then organized, cataloged, and indexed into a working database easily accessible by the employees of the company.

Corporate librarians are available to assist staff with a project or presentation by conducting research, verifying facts, or locating certain photos. At times, they may be asked to write reports, compile data, or conduct a background search on a particular topic. Corporate librarians are experts in computers and technology, and much of their work is connected to the Internet. They may also plan and implement training sessions for employees on the use of a new server or database. Corporate librarians must also keep current with trends and developments concerning their specific industries. Company time, energy, and resources are saved due to the work of corporate librarians.

The daily work of a corporate librarian is dependent on his or her place of employment. For example, a research librarian for a television network may be asked to provide background research or locate past film footage for a feature documentary. A pharmaceutical company may rely on an information specialist to compile data to help in the launch of a new drug. Government agencies or private organizations may rely on a special librarian to cull and archive decades of work or reports and other documents.

Three of the most popular types of corporate librarians are medical librarians, law librarians, and advertising librarians.

Medical librarians, who are also known as health science librarians, gather, organize, and present information dealing with health care issues, technological advances, and the work of other health care companies. They conduct research or contribute to reports on various medical topics such as diseases, new procedures, or courses of treatment. They also maintain and cross reference a collection of medical books, journals, and association reports. Medical librarians are well versed with online computer databases such as MEDLINE. They are employed by pharmaceutical companies, medical associations, hospitals, medical schools, and large health care companies.

Law librarians gather, organize, and present information of interest to law firms. They assist lawyers with case research and background checks. At times, they may be asked to research and write reports independently. They are also responsible for managing the firm's collection of law books, reports, manuals, and corporate documents. They may also plan and conduct training sessions for staff and clients. Librarians working for firms specializing in patent law may also keep track of patents and trademarks. They should also have knowledge of Web-based services such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Advertising librarians gather, organize, and present information of interest to the particular agency or their clients. They may research industry trends, consumer preferences, specific brands or products, or competing agencies. Much of their work may revolve around video archives. For example, librarians employed at the advertising firm Leo Burnett maintain the Great Commercials Library, a huge collection of award-winning commercials. They code and organize these clips into a database. Employees can search the database by product or theme, and study the clips before preparing a new commercial pitch.