Special Libraries Association

Categorized | News

Member Voice: Exploring the Independent Info-Pro World

Member Voice: Exploring the Independent Info-Pro World

Joy M. Banks, MSLS, is an independent consultant specializing in helping institutions make their collections and services more visible through actual processing projects; project planning, assessment, and management; documentation review; and grant seeking services. She lives in South Florida with her husband, Jeff, and an ironic calico named Tabby.


When I began my library career, I had a vague notion of the path I wanted to pursue. My first job in a library was as a college student working in technical services. The cataloger taught me quite a bit since she knew I was interested in entering the cataloging profession and even allowed me to complete an entire reclassification project for the Shakespeare section of the college’s collection. It was at that point that I realized my passion for cataloging was not just about the black and white rules and order of the profession but also about the chance to allow and encourage greater discovery of items.

I am fortunate to be in a position now that I can pursue this dream of helping others improve accessibility to their collections and services. The first step towards success as an independent information professional was identifying my passion and strengths within the field. I have a knack for project planning and development, a keen ability to look at chaos and design order, and a love for the challenge of developing a streamlined way to process items to the advantage of the institution and its users. In realizing that not every person shares these passions, I knew there was a market for my unique combination of skills.

Even though I didn’t set out to be a contractor/consultant, I knew the importance of fostering genuine relationships with others. The client base I have built to this point developed organically through my own professional network. I find that by reaching out to other individuals in related organizations, offering a helping hand or suggestion when needed, and, generally speaking, just trying to be nice, I have made a more memorable impact in the profession than I imagined.

My participation in SLA has helped me hone my networking and outreach skills as well. An introvert by nature, my natural inclination is to focus entirely on the project at hand rather than also seeking out the next project for my queue. I realize that to keep my business viable, I must continually work on making new connections. I used most of my time in the INFO-EXPO at the 2016 SLA Annual meeting practicing my answer to the question, “Where do you work/What do you do?” The biggest compliment came when one of the vendors told me my description of what I do was one the best he’s ever heard (and he didn’t even know I’d been practicing!).

Have you been considering a switch to the independent information world? As a newbie myself, here are three tips that have worked for me:

  1. Find your passion.
  2. Be genuine with everyone.
  3. Verbalize your dream and actively pursue it.

I can’t guarantee that these will bring you financial success, but I do know they will help you find greater satisfaction in any work that you do.

Comments are closed.

Thank You to our 2018 Conference Sponsors

ARC Document Solutions (Silver Sponsor)

EBSCO (Silver Sponsor)

ProQuest (Silver Sponsor)

ELSEVIER (Breakfast Sponsor)

IEEE XPlore Digital Library (Sponsor)

University of South Florida (Table Sponsor)