Librarians like to read, do research, and find facts. They usually spend a lot of time at a desk or computer. Librarians organize information and help people look for books, magazines, and other resources. They arrange the books and other items so people can find them easily. Some librarians keep records, develop databases, and supervise other library workers. They also decide which materials and equipment to buy for the library.

A librarian’s responsibilities may vary depending on the size of the library and the clientele it serves. There are many types of libraries including private and public school libraries, academic libraries, church libraries, public libraries, and special libraries such as medical, business, and governmental. Some librarians specialize in a particular subject such as art or maps. They may also work in museums and information centers. Others work with children, reading to them and teaching them how to use the library. Most librarians work in schools and public libraries.

Many people assume that anyone who works in a library is a librarian, but there are actually various levels of library personnel. A librarian holds a master’s degree in library science. A professional specialist has education beyond the master’s degree, or another degree in a certain subject field. A library assistant has a bachelor’s degree plus some library course work at a graduate level. Library assistants are further classified as Library Assistant I, II, or III according to degree of responsibility. A library technician or technical assistant has completed at least two years of college, with some training in library science. Some community colleges offer a two-year Library Technician degree.

Small libraries may have only one to three full-time staff members, who must also do the typing and filing. In larger libraries, a library clerk may be hired for those clerical tasks. A library page is an entry level position in which the primary responsibilities include shelving books and arranging them in order so that patrons can easily find what they are looking for. A library page might also check books in and out, do simple clerical tasks, and perform various housekeeping duties. This is a good first job for high school students who enjoy being around books and helping people.

A library degree program will emphasize the following areas of study: Technical Services (acquisition, organization, selection and management of library materials); Reference and Electronic Information Resources (basic Internet, on-line research, data retrieval/transfer, databases); Public Services (circulation, working with patrons and interpersonal communication); Media and Multi/Media (traditional media equipment as well the emerging multi-media field); Library Information Systems (technologies in libraries and the information industry). In addition to classroom instruction, internships are usually integral to the program.

Students may also choose an area of concentration for an individualized program of study. For example, a knowledge of medical terminology or a strong background in science and mathematics may be required for employment in a special library. A wider background in general education, literature, humanities and communications may be necessary to be an effective employee in a small public library or school library. A course in children’s literature would benefit the student who is interested in working with young people.

Personal qualifications would include a love of books and information, an aptitude for library work, ability to communicate clearly, ability to understand and follow written and oral directions, computer skills, and a desire to help people. Continuing education is important to keep up with state-of-the-art technology.

Related Occupations:
Medical Records Technician
Museum Curator

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