A major highlight of my just-completed course, The Special Library/Information Center, at the Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science, was The 17th Special Libraries Symposium, held on August 25th.

Eleven panelists donated their time to meet with my students: Joanne Berger- FDA Biosciences Library; Linda Broussard- SLA/Special Libraries Association; Cameron Gowan- Jones Day; James King- The National Institutes of Health; Rick Kowalski- Consumer Electronics Association; Thomas Mann- Library of Congress; Jennifer McMahan- U.S. Department of Justice; Susan O’Brian- The American Prospect; Angela Titone- Consumer Electronics Association; Joan Weeks- Library of Congress/CUA SLIS and Amanda Wilson- U.S. Department of Transportation. Our special guest on the panel was Derek Attig, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was this summer’s 2012 Google Policy Fellow at the American Library Association’s Washington, D.C. office.

Among the key takeaways on to how to begin and progress through a career journey in special libraries and related fields:

1. Get involved in SLA or a related professional association, where you can develop leadership skills, take on unfamiliar responsibilities, build friendships and your personal network, and stretch professionally.
2. Learn about contracts and how they are negotiated. Sit in on contract negotiations, and if necessary, learn about these areas away from the library.
3. Sign up for free webinars, including ones in different fields, to learn content and discover how they are produced.
4. Investigate the potential of becoming an electronic resource librarian, and become familiar with how mobile apps can serve organizations.
5. You may have to create your own job, or look for jobs not in libraries, but that call on library-like skills. Don’t limit yourself.
6. Keep developing your writing and presentation skills.

I’m grateful that the panelists made the time on a hot summer evening to help prepare a new generation of information professionals for success in this brave new world.