Career Profile: Librarian
Imagine a stern-looking middle-aged woman wearing half-glasses at the end of her nose. What kind of job do you think she would have? Many people would say that she was a librarian. For them, librarianship is a job for plain, quiet people who enjoy spending all day with dusty books. These days, however, librarians and library technicians do much more than that. They can be important sources of information and research help for people of all ages and backgrounds.
If you visit libraries, you probably know that libraries are about far more than just books. Most of them also have computers, videos, DVDs, and online catalogues where people can find information on what’s available in the library. Working in a library usually requires knowledge of many different computer programs and Internet sites. Library staff members might also need to know how to find information in special computer databases on medicine, law or other subjects. Helping people use and understand library materials like these is a large part of what librarians and library technicians do.
Besides helping people find information or books and DVDs, library staff members do many other jobs. Some of them catalogue new materials by recording information such as the author and title and by choosing a number like 398.2 that tells people where to find the books or other materials. Some of them work with children’s programs or help organize events for adults, such as information sessions on job searching or on retirement. Others choose new materials and decide when to get rid of the old ones. Others hire and train new employees or work with budgets to decide what to buy and when to spend money. Even putting books and other materials back onto the shelves is a job for librarians, library technicians or library clerks.
What education do you need to work in a library? That really depends on where you want to work and what you want to do. In the past, people needed a Master’s degree in librarianship to be put in charge of a library or to work in other areas such as the reference desk where they would answer people’s questions. Library technicians would get a certificate or diploma and learn to do jobs such as cataloguing. Library clerks would put materials back on the shelves and do other jobs requiring only a small amount of library knowledge. In many cases that has now changed, and people with different levels of education can work in almost any role. This is true especially in small libraries.
If working in a library sounds interesting to you, you can already get started on preparing for your career. You can read different types of books and get to know how to use databases and other resources. If your school or public library has volunteer opportunities, you can begin to learn more about what a job in librarianship is like. That will help you decide what training to get and how to find the best library job for your skills and interests.