As the title clearly states, Librarians work in libraries organizing its content. Another key part of their job is providing 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, which is 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.
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. catalogs and reference questionnaires);
- analyzing the information in order to draw inferences, conclusions, or recommendations;
- providing photocopies of selected journals and other items upon request;
- supplying necessary directions for the proper use of audiovisual tools; and
- creating systems such as indexes and guides to help users locate books and other literature in a quick and simple manner.
- 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:
- Organizing and inventorying new library additions, as well as disposing of obsolete or old material; and
- maintaining the library collection updated by periodically incorporating new literature and other materials.
- Selecting, purchasing, identifying, and keeping track of library materials:
- Ordering required books, periodicals, and other resources, listing them with thorough examination to avoid duplication.
- Supervising the use of the library’s facilities and equipment by visitors.
- Maintaining an efficient circulation system that effectively tracks rented materials.
- Establishing professional and academic liaisons with other libraries, vendors, and distributors:
- Facilitating user access to collections of research material in other libraries, databases, 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 cataloguing and keeping track of the library materials.
- Purchasing additional library materials, as required.
- Monitoring trends and the latest digital technologies so as to improve current practices.
The average Librarian salary is $64,403 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 83 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 work 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.
- Analytical and problem-solving skills:
- Effectively reading and interpreting information;
- presenting data in a resourceful manner;
- skillfully gathering and analyzing information; 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 handling 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 American Library Association 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.