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Far from the image of the prim librarian who shushes every noise offender, librarians today are Internet and tech-savvy individuals who must utilize new databases and rapidly-changing technology to help patrons find what they need. Also known as information professionals today, librarians wield more powerful tools today than ever before.

Librarian Job Description

Whether they work in school libraries, public libraries, or in corporate settings, librarians use traditional methods combined with new technologies to help people find info for research or personal use. 

They must have knowledge of a wide variety of scholarly and public information sources and must follow trends related to publishing, computers, and the media to oversee the selection and organization of library materials. Librarians manage staff and develop and direct information programs and systems for the public and ensure that information is organized in a manner that meets users’ needs. The typically focus on one of three areas of library work including user services, technical services, and administrative services.

Those who work in user services, such as in library reference or in the children’s section, work to help find patrons what they need. They may conduct a variety of searches for users to determine what info is appropriate to what they’re searching for. Some librarians work in a teaching role, helping patrons how to navigate the Internet or the library’s catologues to find what they want. Those librarians who work in technical services will acquire and categorize new materials, so that people can find them readily. Some will write summaries of the books, articles, or media. Still other librarians work in administrative roles and negotiate contracts, maintain library facilities, and supervise library employees. 

Librarians who work in libraries within colleges and universities should be able to navigate the databases of information with ease, as well as be able to retrieve books, media, and electronic files from other libraries if necessary. 

Librarian Training and Degree Programs

A master’s degree in library science is usually necessary to work in a public, private, or educational library setting. To enter into a master’s program, you’ll need a four-year bachelor’s degree – however any major is acceptable.  Although many colleges offer a library science program, it’s preferable to gain your master’s degree from one of the 49 schools in the country that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). 

Many librarians will choose to specialize in an area that overlaps with type of library branch they would like to work in. For example, law librarians should specialize in law, and natural and social sciences librarians will want to specialize accordingly. A Ph.D in library science is necessary for those who seek administrative or supervisory roles.

Librarian Salaries

Salaries of librarians will vary according to the location of the particular library, as well as their qualifications. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly salary of librarians in May 2008 was $52,530. The highest salaries were reported in universities and community colleges.  Also, according to the same report, the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,130.