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What does a Librarian do?

Librarians don't just 'shush' loud talkers or chase down overdue books. They help people find information. Librarians are organization and information specialists, utilizing advances in computing and technology to arrange and access facts, books, journals and other information resources. If you enjoy reading books, helping others or are detail oriented, library science could open an exciting new chapter of your life.

Day-to-day tasks for a librarian

In general, much of a librarian's time is spent behind a desk or at a computer. The World Wide Web and advances in information systems have revolutionized the library sciences, changing the role of a librarian in the process.

While the size of a library's staff will have a significant impact on the scope of a librarian's job description, modern librarian positions can be classified into three types- patron, technical and administrative services.
  • Patron or user services librarians assist guests in finding the information or documents. These services often include an educational component such as organizing workshops or assisting guests accessing and navigating the Internet. They also supervise assistants processing borrowed books.
  • Technical services librarians classify or catalogue materials, usually behind the scenes. They acquire new materials or information sources such as online databases and write abstracts for reference purposes. They often have significant experience in information technology.
  • Library administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their libraries. Their duties include setting budgets, negotiating contracts, public relations and guiding institutional goals. A background in business or project management is recommended.
In addition to these main areas, librarians may specialize. Some examples include document restoration or a subject area like medicine, law or children's books. However one of the main job duties of any librarian remains assisting patrons.

The librarian, in depth

The American Library Association is a professional organization that accredits library science programs across the United States. They suggest looking into different types of libraries before starting off on your career path. Public, private, school, medical and law libraries all serve different populations and need librarians with specific knowledge or backgrounds.

Typically, a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree is required to work as a librarian. Some school and university librarians are also required to maintain teaching certification, although teaching experience is not always required.

Library technicians will perform many of the traditional research and organizational duties of a librarian. A high school diploma or associate degree is often required for this position. This position can offer great experience if you are planning to pursue a MLS.

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