Do you enjoy the feel and smell of newly minted and aged books? Do you enjoy helping others find just the right book for them and their individual needs? Does the thought of research and reporting make you smile? Most importantly, do you love to read? If you answered yes to these questions then you may want to consider being a librarian.
It may sound like a quiet, unexciting job at first, but for the right person it can be just the career for them and their unique set of skills.
Librarian Job Responsibilities
The position of a librarian, also known as an information professional, oftentimes is centered on one of three ares of library work: administrative services, technical services, and user services. Information professionals in user services like children’s and reference libraries assist patrons in finding the information they need. The position requires analyzing the users’ specifications in order to determine what information is relevant and searching for, providing, and gathering the information. The job comes with an instructional role as well, such as teaching users how to track down and search for information.
In small information hubs or libraries, librarians usually take care of all areas of library operations. They read publisher’s announcements and book reviews as well as catalogs in order to stay abreast of the current literature and other resources at hand. They also choose and purchase materials from wholesalers, publishers, and distributors.
A quickly growing trend among librarians is to utilize their information management and research skills to other areas outside of the scope of libraries. Such areas can include reference tool development, information systems, database development, publishing, marketing, Web content, Internet coordination, and the training of database users. Entrepreneurial librarians sometimes even open their own consultation firms, operating as information brokers or freelance librarians and offering services to other businesses, government agencies, or libraries.
Librarian Training and Education Requirements
Anyone looking to enter a library science graduate program will need a bachelor’s degree, although any undergraduate major is perfectly acceptable. Several universities and colleges have library science programs, but employers usually prefer graduates from the 49 schools in the United States accredited by the American Library Association. Many programs take a year to complete and some might take two. A usual graduate program consists of courses in the foundation of library and information science, such as the history of printing and books, censorship and intellectual freedom, and the role in society played by information and libraries.
An MLS (master of library science) degree gives general preparation for library work, although some individuals choose to specialize in a certain area such as technical services, reference, or children’s services. Obtaining a Ph.D. in library and information science can be a monumental advantage for a college teaching position or a head administrative occupation in a university library or college or even a public library system.
Librarian Salary and Wages
In March 2009 the average annual salary for librarians in the Federal Government in either a nonsupervisory, supervisory, or managerial position was $84,796. The salary of a librarian depends on the individual’s qualifications as well as the location, type, and size of the library in which they are employed. Librarians with mainly administrative duties usually have better earnings. Median annual wage of librarians in May 2008 were $52, 530. Between $42,240 and $65,000 was earned by the middle 50 percent. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,190, and the highest 10 percent made more than $81,130.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Generally states have certification requirements for librarians working in local libraries and public schools, although there is a rather wide degree of variety among States. In 20 States school librarians are required to have a master’s degree, either an MLS or a master’s in education with a focus in library media. Over half of all of the States have the requirement that school librarians have teacher certifications, but not all of them require any teaching experience. A few States might also need for potential librarians to successfully pass a comprehensive assessment. A majority of States have devised certification standards for local public libraries, but in some States these guidelines are mostly voluntary.
Librarian Professional Associations
The ALA is the American Library Association and was founded on October 6, 1876 during the time of the Centennial Explosion in Philadelphia. The ALA was developed in order to give leadership to the foundation, improvement, and promotion of library and information services and the profession of librarian-ship for the goal of enhancing learning and allowing access to information for everyone.
The Public Library Association, PLA, was created in 1944 and is an organization steered by its members to administer a varied program of publication, advocacy, communication, and continuing education as well as programming for the association’s members and other parties that are interested in the advancement of public library service.