A Closer Look at a Career as a Librarian
Reading – whether for leisure or educational purposes – has and will always be a part of our lives. While there is undeniably a proliferation of digital materials like e-books and e-newspapers, there remains to be a need for experts to ensure every reading material, whether print or electronic, are organized and correctly catalogued for efficiency and convenience purposes.
While most people tend to think that librarians’ primary place of employment are academic institutions, they actually have more opportunities than we all think. Some government agencies, private institutions, museums, and nonprofit organizations maintain libraries to ensure their documents are stored and filed properly and related literature are available for their employees, and thus there is a need for librarians. So, if you’re looking at a career as a librarian, there is certainly more to look forward to than working at a school or university.
Librarians – What You Need to Know
Libraians are primarily responsible for classifying any type of reading material and making sure they are easily and readily accessible to those who need it, whether they are students or employees. It’s an asset to be knowledgeable in the traditional system of item organization using card catalogues, but most libraries now rely on computerized databases to keep an inventory of all reading materials, so it pays more to have skills in computer systems.
Librarians also have to maintain the orderliness and cleanliness of all materials in a library, so they have to be readily available to collect stray items and ensure these are placed back to where they belong to.
Apart from these tasks, librarians are recommended to be customer-focused as they are expected to attend to visitors, making sure their requests or inquiries are completed or answered. While it is an extremely customer-centric job, librarians also need to be a pillar of authority as some library visitors can get rowdy and impolite and would need to be reminded of the library rules and etiquette (most public libraries now employ their own security personnel to maintain safety within the premises). They have to remind visitors about check-out processes and should be making sure that items are checked out and returned properly.
To thrive in this profession, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in library sciences or any related field. Being computer savvy is definitely an asset as you would have to be knowledgeable in operating the library database. Of course, skills in organization and time management are a must as well, but more importantly skills in customer service.
According to PayScale.com, a librarian can earn an average of $30,867 – $78,037 a year, with more experienced workers tending to have an increase down the line.
A bachelor’s degree in library sciences is preferred but not necessary in order to become a librarian. Some institutions also offer specializations now such as studies in digital libraries, archives and records management, rare manuscripts, and others. You will also need to have a passion for helping people and customer orientation. In some cases, librarians do more than inventory. They also work with kids to promote literacy programs and with adults in job search-related causes. With these tasks, the job of a librarian is all the more rewarding.
Pros and Cons
As with any staff that deals with people face to face, librarians enjoy the advantage of being in touch with people from all walks of life. As they deal with different people all the time, librarians can look forward to different encounters on a daily basis, which means no day is the same.
A disadvantage is that it can involve working long hours and being available for weekends as some branches now offer weekend hours. Some libraries also hold events such as author talks, and the librarians are often a part of the organization committee which can have them performing double duties—attending to regular visitors and event visitors. For some, this can be ultimately rewarding as they are front and center for these events.