Librarian: Career Summary, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a librarian. Learn about degree requirements, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Librarian?

Librarians are responsible for acquiring, categorizing and maintaining library materials, such as books, magazines, and newspapers. Some of the places librarians may work include public libraries, schools, museums, law firms or government agencies. They need to be familiar with the materials in their care and be able to assist individuals seeking information or a specific type of resource from their library. The organization and cataloguing of materials that librarians perform play a critical role in ensuring that library materials are easily accessible.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Library science
Key Skills Problem-solving, interpersonal computer literacy, customer service
Certification Often required to work as a librarian in a public school; a teaching certification may also be required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6%*
Median Salary (2018) $59,050*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are a Librarian's Duties?

A librarian assesses the information needs of library users, selects and acquires materials, manages the library's collection and facilitates access to information resources. You may be responsible for all of these or only a select few depending on the size of the facility in which you work. If employed by a university or public library, you might work evening and weekend hours. In a law or business library you can expect to work regular daytime hours. As a school librarian you would work the same hours as teachers.

Locating facts and information in standard print and online sources, locating unusual content, explaining library policies and use of library resources, leading classes or workshops and responding to complaints are some of the tasks you might perform when serving patrons. Duties related to information management could include abstracting, cataloguing, indexing, compiling bibliographies and analyzing patron data. Duties related to administration may include budgeting, fundraising and event planning.

Where Could I Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your leading prospects for employment are with elementary schools, secondary schools, local governments, and colleges and universities ( Museums, law firms and healthcare providers are other possible employers. You could also find work as a freelance library consultant. As of 2018, approximately 125,750 people were employed as librarians, a figure that was projected to increase six percent from 2018 to 2028. Budget constraints and expanded access to information through electronic sources will limit your opportunities with public libraries, but more opportunities will arise with non-traditional employers such as consulting firms, nonprofit organizations and private corporations. The median salary of librarians was $59,050 as of May 2018.

What Degree or Training Do I Need?

Most academic, specialist and public libraries require you to have a master's degree in library science. Entry into a program requires a bachelor's degree in any subject. Programs teach you the fundamentals of providing services, managing a library facility and managing a collection of print, audio and visual information sources. They also explore current public policy debates and examine technology trends affecting libraries. Other course topics might include information systems, information science and library leadership. Some offer you specializations in school librarianship, archive management or preservation.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Library technicians and assistants help identify materials in need of repair or replacement and return items to their assigned locations after patrons are done with them. They may also help individuals find specific types of materials in the library. Archivists and museum curators are also involved in acquiring materials, cataloguing them and displaying them. Teachers may also assist students in the library or media resource center and be responsible for recommending materials that will be stocked in their school's library.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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