Librarians are professionals with formal training and experience in library and information science. This field encompasses the organization, management, and administration of materials and information services. Most librarians work in public libraries, but others can work in company/corporate libraries, elementary and post-secondary school libraries, college or university libraries, and in information centers and agencies. Depending on their specific job and area of expertise, librarians may have titles such as reference librarian, catalog librarian and library media specialist.
Day in the Life of a Librarian
These professionals perform a variety of library jobs, but those responsibilities vary according to the size of the library.
In larger libraries, they typically focuses on one area or aspect of library work such as user services, technical services or administration. Examples of library jobs:
- Librarians working in school libraries and media centers serve as the school's literacy advocates, teaching students how to use library resources and helping teachers develop curriculum and find related materials.
- Administrative services librarians oversee the planning and management of the library. They supervise staff, purchase equipment, handle public relations, fundraising and and budgets.
- Technical service librarians catalogue materials and handle acquisitions (e.g., computer equipment, database subscriptions).
- Electronic resource librarians manage the library database.
- Systems librarians develop, troubleshoot and maintain all library systems.
- User service, reference, or research librarians assist library patrons by assessing their needs and locating information. They guide patrons on how to find the information on their own, including using electronic information resources and databases.
- Collections development librarians oversee the selections of books and electronic resources, within budget and using guidelines or approval plans.
- Outreach librarians provide library and information services to disadvantaged groups such as the disabled, homebound adults and seniors, those who are incarcerated, and those who live in low-income areas/neighborhoods.
- Archivists manage historical (or archival) materials.
Librarians in small libraries are often responsible for most, if not all, aspects of managing the library. On a typical day, their duties may include:
- Researching and ordering materials, such as books, newspapers, magazines, video and audio recordings, photographs, graphic materials, maps and digital resources
- Organizing library materials so they are easy to find
- Developing databases of library materials
- Maintaining special library collections
- Teaching classes and workshops on using library resources
- Planning programs for various audiences, such as book clubs for adults and storytelling for children
- Helping library patrons do research, evaluate search results, and locate materials
- Training and supervising library assistants, technicians, support staff, and volunteers
- Researching and buying equipment, such as computers
- Preparing library budgets
Important Characteristics for Librarians
Successful librarians tend to share some key skills and characteristics. They are skilled at communicating (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and excel at gathering information and conducting research. They are also competent teachers and instructors. Because they have strong interpersonal skills, they are effective at managing employees and serving library patrons. Librarians are organized and detail-oriented, and they manage time well. They take initiative and are creative when solving problems.
Typical Steps for Becoming a Librarian
What library training, or librarian courses, are required to become a librarian? A "librarian school" can be found at colleges and universities through their library and/or information science degree programs. The following steps can help you to realize your goal of becoming a librarian.
- Earn a bachelor's degree, in any major. This is a prerequisite for a master's in library science program.
- Earn a master's degree. In most cases, a master's degree is required to become a librarian in an academic, public or special library. These programs normally take one or two years to complete. Types of master's degrees include:
- A Master of Library Science (MLS)
- A Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS)
- A Master of Information Studies (MISt)
- Librarian, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/librarians.htm
- Summary Report for Librarians, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-4021.00