From librarian to private investigator

Gumshoe Librarian

I recently spoke with Chris Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center for his podcast, Beyond the Book. Chris noticed my LinkedIn post about pivoting from librarian to private investigator and wanted to talk more about it.

Ever since grad school, I’ve focused on how to use my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and my information skills in other ways besides in a library setting. I’ve done that by starting my own company in 2000, specializing in research and analysis. It’s been a fun journey from librarian to private investigator, and I’m always happy to talk about it.

We first discussed why I added a PI license to my MLIS and some of the similarities between research and investigations. In Colorado, if you research someone’s reputation, which most of my client work involves, you need a PI license. Also, it always seemed like a natural career progression, using similar skills and expanding from there. For example, as a researcher, I’ve always used databases. As I librarian, I taught students how to use them. As an investigator, I’m using different databases, but it’s still database searching.

Then Chris and I talked about some of the differences between research and investigations. One big difference I’ve noticed is that I approach investigations with a lot more skepticism about my subject. I assume something is amiss from the start and look for evidence to the contrary. In research, the approach is more about gathering as much information as possible, with no decisions made until the information is in.

Chris also asked whether investigative work has become as digital as everything else in our lives. Yes, a lot more is online these days, and all PIs do some amount of online research. But, you won’t find everything online, and you need to be careful about what’s missing. That’s why an online investigation is often just the first step in a deeper, more complex investigation.

You can listen to this short podcast or read the transcript at the Beyond the Book site. Enjoy!


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