Librarians develop, organize, and maintain library collections and provide reference and research consultation services to users, such as literature searches and bibliographic information, as well as technical and web maintenance support and information literacy training. They might also design and produce teaching and learning materials.
Most Librarians work for educational establishments, hence why most of their tasks are education-oriented. They assist students with a full range of on-site and virtual services and resources and accommodate individual consultations with students who require further assistance, providing services to support their information and research needs.
Librarians could also work for public libraries, in which case their tasks are community-oriented. They might also plan and coordinate community activities, providing specialized programs for children, seniors, and other groups (e.g. book club meetups and children reading sessions). They must meet and anticipate the needs of the community, ensuring the library evolves accordingly.
However, in some cases, Librarians work in a corporate setting, for private or public organizations, such as news stations or government entities. Such Librarians are more likely to be referred to as Archivists, since they play a bigger role in data analysis and interpretation.
All Librarians support innovative teaching, learning, and research, and do so by providing user-centred services. They usually supervise library technicians, assistants and clerks, as well as manage relationships and agreements with publishers, vendors, aggregators, and software suppliers, and take care of other strategic partnerships.
As explained above, Librarians can work in a broad variety of environments and with different settings and clienteles. However, the core tasks remain almost the same in all cases and involve, but are not limited to, the following:
- Providing information and research services, as well as participating in the development of information tools:
- Identifying and using information resources efficiently and comprehensively, researching information using various tools (e.g. catalog and reference questionnaires) and/or from open sources;
- analyzing the information in order to draw inferences, conclusions, and/or recommendations, as required;
- providing photocopies of selected journals and other items upon request;
- supplying necessary directions for proper use of audio-visual tools; and
- preparing bibliographies, indexes, reading lists, guides, and other finding aids.
- Continuously evaluating and improving effectiveness of resources, collections, and services to ensure quality information and services are provided in a timely and efficient manner.
- Coordinating the development and maintenance of the library collection and information resources:
- Selecting, classifying, cataloguing, and weeding library materials in compliance with the American Library Association (ALA) filing measures and other standards; and
- recommending acquisition of books, periodicals, audio-visual and interactive media, and other materials for inclusion in the library collection.
- Selecting, purchasing, identifying, and keeping track of library materials:
- Ordering required books, periodicals, and other resources, listing them with thorough examination to avoid duplication.
- Coordinating the development and utilization of library applications.
- Coordinating the development and maintenance of a circulation system.
- Developing and maintaining communication with libraries and information service providers:
- Facilitating user access to collections of research material in other libraries, data-bases, and research centres; and
- arranging physical access to these collections or borrowing material through interlibrary loan.
- Providing information and research services.
- Developing and maintaining the library collection by classifying, cataloguing, weeding, and keeping track of the library materials.
- Purchasing additional library materials, as required.
- Regularly reviewing current, best, and next practices, as well as monitoring trends and emerging digital technologies.
The average Librarian salary is $64,615 per year or $33 per hour. This is around 2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $45,000 while most experienced workers make up to $90,000. These results are based on 69 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to develop and sustain effective and collaborative professional working relationships, as well as to effectively interact with customers;
- being a demonstrated team player with strong leadership skills;
- displaying strong customer service skills with a high level of professionalism; and
- displaying an extensive knowledge of information literacy, as well as the ability to teach it to others.
- Creative thinking and problem-solving skills:
- Effectively reading and interpreting information;
- presenting data in a resourceful manner;
- skillfully gathering and analyzing information;
- fostering innovation and progressive change; and
- identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while managing a high volume of work; and
- multitasking; being able to meet deadlines while working in a dynamic, fast-paced environment that requires quick decision making.
- Exceptional adaptability and flexibility within a variety of professional contexts:
- Being able to deal with rapidly evolving opportunities and challenges facing all types of libraries (especially academic libraries).
- Ability to operate related equipment, using the most advanced technology available.
Aside from the skills listed above, Librarians also need to demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the following: applicable legislation, such as Human Rights, Privacy, and Copyright; current trends in information literacy; library operations, including file-based production workflow, systems, and tools; and electronic-resource licensing and negotiation. They must also be able to evaluate, plan, and implement library services in a digital environment.
Librarians must have completed a master’s degree in Library Science or Information Studies, or have obtained an equivalent certification from an ALA accredited school. Any higher level of education in a related field of study could be recognized as experience.
Most Librarians positions require between 1 and 10 years of experience working as a professional Librarian in a library or information centre environment, using automated systems, including bibliographic systems.
Experience in information literacy instruction is a strong asset for Librarians who wish to work in an academic environment. Strong ties with the community is, on the other hand, an advantage for any Librarian who wishes to work in a public library. As for Librarians who’d rather work in a corporate environment, experience in the business subject specialty is highly desirable.