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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.

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree, in any major. This is a prerequisite for a master's in library science program.

  2. 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)

  3. Gain specialized knowledge or an advanced degree. Librarians who are employed in specialty libraries (e.g., corporate, medicine, law) typically take additional librarian courses related to that field. Some employers require these librarians to have a master's degree or Ph.D. in that subject, or a professional degree.

  4. Get your certification or credential. Public school librarians and those in some public libraries must have a teaching credential or certification. Some states may require candidates to pass a comprehensive test. A few states require teaching experience.

  5. Earn a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science if you aspire to a high-ranking administrative role in a large public, university or college library. This step is best taken after you've spent some time working as a librarian.

  6. Join a professional association to stay aware of industry advancements and technological changes. This also provides opportunities to network with others in your field.

Professional Resources

Sources:

  • 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

Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be librarian education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Reading Comprehension4.124
Active Listening44
Speaking3.884
Writing3.754
Critical Thinking3.53.75

Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be librarian education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Expression44.12
Information Ordering44
Oral Comprehension3.884.25
Near Vision3.883.88
Written Comprehension3.884.25

Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be librarian education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.65.49
English Language4.34.78
Clerical3.955.13
Computers and Electronics3.944.61
Education and Training3.924.59

Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being librarian education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.753.73
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.465.11
Getting Information4.324.3
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.234.53
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.224.99

Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being librarian education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Cooperation4.62
Dependability4.58
Adaptability/Flexibility4.55
Integrity4.53
Initiative4.48

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Librarian Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim3,310 $79,490
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington2,900 $63,700
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land2,160 $62,470
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue1,830 $72,990
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward1,650 $81,690
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,500 $61,860
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn1,480 $48,840
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell1,410 $59,650
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson1,200 $66,920
Pittsburgh1,130 $55,750

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Librarians

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to librarians

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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