Working in government

Government library and information professionals

A career with opportunities, and not just the usual ones!

  • Riding inside a tank and climbing into an AS-90
  • Watching fireworks with colleagues over the UN building in Geneva
  • Being told by a customer that your work saves him £9,000 a year minimum
  • Researching the life habits of reindeer
  • Developing a briefing database for ministers
  • Going down a mine

Yes, these are just a few of the opportunities government library and information professionals have had in the course of their work, work that covers the whole spectrum of information management. Most of us still start in libraries but the majority move in to other professional areas, such as records management, web sites, e-delivery projects and in knowledge management. We may manage thesauri and manage databases, do enquiry work and manage enquiries under FoI and related legislation, and we are responsible for information security and assurance.

We work all over the country, and sometimes we even get to work abroad. London is the main centre but significant numbers work in Edinburgh and Cardiff, in the north east and north west of England and in the south west. The high profile policy departments are the obvious places where we work but you will also find us in:

  • The agencies and other bodies that deliver government services (e.g. Highways Agency)
  • Colleges (e.g. Royal Military Academy Sandhust)
  • Technical libraries (e.g. Central Science Laboratory)
  • Medical libraries (e.g. Medicines and Healthcare Products and Regulatory Agency)

Training and development opportunities are excellent. In addition to what is offered by your own organisation and the usual commercial suppliers of specialist training, the CILIP Government Information Group and the Network of Government Library and Information Specialists (NGLIS) also run courses and visits. Professional registration is supported, as is the involvement in professional activities at all levels. Mostly this is at grass roots level but for a small sector we are well represented at senior levels in CILIP.

If you are interested in a particular subject area you will find something in Government, from agriculture (DEFRA) to zoology via crime, defence, economics, education, energy, foreign affairs, health, industry, science, sport, technology, and trade. Many areas of government work cut across departmental subject boundaries. The London Olympics 2012 was a very high profile example, but more everyday matters - such as pensions - are of interest to a number of departments.

Below are some useful case studies: