Career and Job Search Guide


Libraries have traditionally housed records and books, but more libraries contain state of the art computer database systems. Librarians, also known as information professionals, assist researchers by locating sources using traditional means and technology. They must understand the different scholarly and public information sources, and they are responsible for selecting library materials. Librarians manage employees and organize the library so researchers can easily locate materials.

Most librarians specialize in technical, user, and administrative services. User service librarians, also known as reference librarians, help patrons find books and other materials, as well as show them how to find materials within the library or use technology to locate materials. Technical service librarians acquire and organize new books and other materials for the library. They may also be required to write summaries or abstracts for books and other research materials. Administrative services librarians perform administrative duties such as managing staff, negotiating contracts, develop budgets, conduct public relations, organize fundraisers, and they perform numerous other responsibilities.

Librarians at smaller libraries are responsible for all library functions. They stay up to date about current literature by reading publishers' announcements and book reviews and then purchase new books. They also organize materials so patrons can find them easily and supervise assistants entering information into electronic databases. Librarians at larger libraries often specialize in special collections, cataloguing, administration, etc.

Librarians may recommend books, compile lists of articles, magazines, and videos about certain topics, and examine their library's collection to determine what new materials to purchase. Moreover, they collect books, manuscripts, music, and other materials, and appropriately organize these collections. Also, they coordinate and supervise programs meant to improve the community such as child and adult literacy improvement programs.

Most libraries provide access to computer databases. Librarians design and index databases and teach people how to utilize them. Many libraries are now consolidating database with other libraries, so patrons can have access to more materials. Librarians educate the public on how to utilize all the materials available to them.

Librarians work for public, school, college or university, and special research libraries. Librarians working for special research facilities may work in government agencies, law firms, museums, hospitals, science laboratories, religious organizations, as well as numerous other types of libraries. They acquire and organize materials usually specifically intended for the patrons who use these libraries. In addition to organizing and indexing library items, librarians often write abstracts about research materials. A medical librarian, for example, would provide researchers with the results of medical tests and clinical trials. Government librarians store and locate historical documents and government records.

Some librarians work with specific groups of people such as children, adolescents, adults, or the poor and disabled. School media specialists, librarians working for schools, help teachers locate learning materials for their classes. They also show children how to use the library's services.

Automated system librarians, librarians with information system technology experience, design information technology storage systems, and specialize in storing and indexing information in these systems. They also make plans to accommodate new information to be stored in the future.

Librarians can apply their knowledge learned from working at libraries to other fields such as database systems, information systems, and publishing. Some librarians begin their own consulting businesses.

Work environment. Librarians spend a lot of time in front of computer screens, so they may get headaches and experience eye strain. Some librarians lift heavy loads of books and climb ladders to reach books on the top of bookshelves. Most librarians enjoy their work although it can be stressful.

20 percent of librarians work part time, and public and college librarians usually work weekends, nights, and certain holidays. School librarians work the same hours and months as teachers. Special librarians often have normal schedules, but in certain industries such as marketing, librarians work long hours.