What Does A Librarian Do?

A librarian works in an environment that is surrounded by books, computers and other sources of information. They should love helping people find the information they need for school, work or personal purposes. Contrary to the stereotyped image of a grumpy lady with hair tied in a bun telling students to keep quiet, librarians today actually come in different shapes and sizes.

One reason to become a librarian is one’s love for reading and sharing information. If you can’t let a day pass by without reading a single book, magazine or newspaper then this career would really suit you. School librarians also have the opportunity to teach young people. Another reason to become a school librarian is that you enjoy the same vacation time as teachers—a privilege that many occupations don’t have. Librarians also enjoy above-average pay.

Although the general work of librarians is to help students carry out research and find the information they are looking for, there are actually different kinds of librarians assigned for various tasks, especially in larger libraries.

Everyone is acquainted with librarians. They have assisted students in the elementary, high school and college, helping them find the books and other resources they need. Librarians also assist professionals and the rest of the members of the general public by managing public and special libraries.

Librarians mostly work in school settings. They are found in colleges, universities and professional schools as well as elementary and secondary schools. They also work in the information industry as well as in local government offices. The work schedule is fulltime although some work part-time. Librarians who are assigned in school libraries usually follow the school calendar which means that they take summer breaks like teachers do.

User services librarians are the ones patrons most commonly associate with the librarian occupation. They are the ones who assist library users and teach them how to use the resources of the library. There are also technical services librarians whose work involves organizing and classifying library materials so that people will find it easy to locate the information they need. Most of their work is done in the background so they don’t usually interact with the public. Then there are librarians who take care of running the operations of the entire library. They are called administrative services librarians.

Although the main task of librarians is to help library users find information, the work they do is actually varied. They can act as leaders in the school community in matters related to information, as teachers and as helpers of patrons seeking library resources. Within the school community, librarians act as leaders and influence decisions pertaining to information and how it is used or delivered. For example, they can advocate for the use of technology to improve library services and enhance students’ learning.

Librarians, no matter where they work, also serve as teachers. They orient patrons on how to use library resources and use information for various purposes. They also teach users ways to utilize new technologies to make information retrieval faster and more efficient. Librarians may also initiate activities that promote love of reading to young students, such as by holding regular story telling sessions.

As a librarian, you’re not only confined to working in schools. You can also work in community public libraries, corporate libraries, government libraries and medical libraries, among others. You will be helping the people who work or need to do research in these settings.

To succeed as a librarian, you first need to have an inherent love for reading. Librarians are expected to be updated on the latest literary releases so you must really love digesting the written word. You must also have excellent communication skills since you need to be able to explain information in ways that library users will understand. You also need to be comfortable around computers since today’s libraries rely on computers to catalogue their resources. You also need to be genuinely helpful since people ask for your help all in locating resources all the time.

The specific work that librarians do often depends on the place where they work.

School librarians work in elementary, middle school and high schools. They deal mostly with students, helping them find the resources they need. They may also provide assistance to teachers who are trying to find teaching resources.

Academic librarians work in libraries in higher institutions of learning like colleges and universities. They also work with students and teachers, usually in helping them find the resources they need for research, projects and dissertations.

Public librarians are found in community libraries and they deal with a wide variety of individuals. They may help students locate books for homework, senior citizens looking to read books for pleasure or organize programs that encourage patrons of all ages to visit the library or cultivate their love for reading.

Librarians may also be hired by companies, medical facilities and government agencies. Corporate librarians maintain the libraries of various businesses and assist employees of that particular company find the information they need.

Medical librarians provide doctors, medical students and patients information about medicine and health.

Law librarians, on the other hand, are tasked with organizing legal resources and ensuring that law students and legal professionals are able to locate cases and other information they need.

Government librarians work in libraries of government agencies. Their goal is to provide information to those in government service as well as to members of the general public.

Not all librarians help patrons find the resources they need. Some of them work behind the scenes. For example, technical services librarians are concerned with ordering the materials and equipment for the library. They also see to it that new books, magazines and other resources are catalogued for easy retrieval of library users.

Systems librarians also don’t get to interact a lot with the public because their main task is to maintain the computer and cataloguing systems used in the institution. They need to have a good background of computer programming since they will be setting up the library’s cataloguing systems. Then there are also administrative services librarians who are concerned with the smooth running of the operations of the entire library. They hire library staff and train them. They also take care of library finances and negotiate with suppliers for library equipment and resources.

The entry point for a librarian degree is a master’s degree in library science (MLS), master of information studies or master of library and information studies. A bachelor’s degree is needed to enter these programs. Librarians who work in special libraries may need to obtain a degree that proves their knowledge of that field. For example, those who work in corporate libraries must also have a business degree.

Career Spotlight: Librarian



Librarians have been trained to help people find information and conduct research at their local library. Librarians may run programming at the library, help patrons find books, or answer all kinds of[...]

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