Exploring a Career as a Librarian
By Olivia Condlln-Wilby
For high school students, it can be overwhelming to consider the vast number of career options that lay ahead. It’s a good idea to research the pathways you’re interested in and weigh the pros and cons of each one. If you’ve considered pursuing a career as a librarian, this resource is for you.
Roles and Responsibilities
Librarians monitor the daily operations of public and/or private libraries, including those that can be found in schools, government agencies, and research organizations. Their work may involve any or all of the following responsibilities:
- Engaging directly with library visitors (e.g., suggesting books, resources, etc.)
- Managing library staff – including assistant librarians and other employees
- Developing literacy-based and recreational programs for children, youth, and adults
- Ensuring that library content is appealing and updated (e.g., researching popular literary genres, ordering new books, updating research and inventory databases, etc.)
What are the Benefits of This Career Path?
Working as a librarian can be very rewarding. Your primary job is to help people find the information they need and support their learning. You might connect them with scientific articles, historical records, editorials, or other resources. For that reason, this career is suited to people who are interested in the fields of education and academia. Even if you don’t want to be a teacher or professor, this career allows you to engage in the learning process.
This career is also a good choice for social, customer-service-oriented people. As a librarian, you will spend much of your time interacting with others. You may engage in story-telling, research assistance, or casual conversation.
What are the Drawbacks of This Career Path?
Some people (mistakenly) believe that being a librarian doesn’t require much skill or expertise. In reality, most library positions require at least an undergraduate diploma. Employers may also expect you to have experience in research, administration, and/or management. People who pursue this career path should be passionate about learning and willing to complete multiple credentials.
Unfortunately, it is also possible that demand for librarians will significantly decrease over time. As technology advances, libraries may become obsolete. With that in mind, people who enter this field must be adaptive, flexible, and open to change.
How Much Can I Make as a Librarian?
In Ontario, librarians earn approximately $36 per hour. Depending on the region, that can add up to over $84,000 annually. Across Canada, librarians earn salaries ranging from $70,000 to $88,000 – not including benefits or bonuses. With one to three years of experience, you can expect to earn roughly $30 per hour, with gradual increases as you progress in your career.
Education and Experience
To become a librarian, you typically need at least an undergraduate diploma. For Ontario students, these programs usually look for credits in English, math, business, and/or computer science.
The requirements for this career path vary widely across Canada. For example, in Alberta, librarians are expected to complete a master’s degree in library sciences. They may also be required to provide evidence of subject knowledge (e.g., English, history, science, etc.). For students in any province, it may be helpful to pursue additional credentials to advance more quickly in your career.
Advancement and Other Career Opportunities
As a librarian, you may choose to specialize in specific areas of practice. For example, administrative librarians manage daily operations, supervise library assistants, make budgeting decisions, and identify funding resources. On the other hand, user service librarians support visitors with research. They may provide digital and print resources or teach people how to use technology, databases, or search engines.
You may start out as a library assistant but eventually become a library director or branch manager. Depending on the level of education you attain (e.g., diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, etc.), you may also pursue a career as a teacher, guidance counsellor, paralegal, archivist, researcher, historian, or policy analyst.
Since technology is always evolving, it’s difficult to predict what skills and experiences librarians will need in the future. Even today, librarians require knowledge – such as data management and computer literacy – that wasn’t necessary as little as ten or twenty years ago. People entering this field must be committed to lifelong learning if they want to maintain their employment.
Currently, job prospects for librarians are best in Manitoba and worst in Alberta and Nova Scotia. Across Canada, over 5,000 positions are expected to open in the next seven years. At the same time, roughly 5,600 people are expected to enter the field, meaning it may become more competitive.
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