What you need to know
Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, and medical libraries.
Most librarians typically work on the floor with patrons, behind the circulation desk, in the offices, or go on site visits. Some librarians have private offices, but those in smaller libraries usually share work space with others.
Some of the things librarians might do:
- Help library patrons conduct research and find the information they need
- Teach classes about information resources
- Help patrons evaluate search results and reference materials
- Organize library materials so they are easy to find, and maintain collections
- Plan programs for different audiences, such as storytelling for young children
- Develop and use databases of library materials
- Research new books and materials by reading book reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogs
- Choose new books, audio books, videos, and other materials for the library
- Research and buy new computers and other equipment as needed for the library
- Train and direct library technicians, assistants, other support staff, and volunteers
- Prepare library budgets
- Communication skills. Librarians need to be able to explain ideas and information in ways that patrons understand.
- Initiative. New information, technology, and resources constantly change the details of what librarians do. They must be able and willing to continually update their knowledge on these changes to be effective at their jobs in the varying circumstances.
- Interpersonal skills. Librarians must be able to work both as part of a team and with the public or with researchers
- Problem-solving skills. Librarians conduct and assist with research. This requires being able to identify a problem, figure out where to find information, and draw conclusions based on the information found.
- Reading skills. Librarians must be excellent readers. Those working in special libraries are expected to continually read the latest literature in their field of specialization.
- Technology skills. Librarians use technology to help patrons research topics. They also use computers to classify resources, create databases, and perform administrative duties.
The average pay for librarians in the United States was $61,190 in May 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A librarian’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
About 14,900 new job openings for librarians and library media specialists are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.
Overall employment of librarians and library media specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations.
Communities are increasingly turning to libraries for a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a continuous need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information.
Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science (MLS). Students need a bachelor’s degree in any major to enter MLS programs.
Librarians working in a special library, such as a law, medical, or corporate library, usually supplement a master’s degree in library science with knowledge of their specialized field. Some employers require special librarians to have a master’s degree, a professional degree, or a Ph.D. in that subject. For example, a law librarian may be required to have a law degree or a librarian in an academic library may need a Ph.D.
Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Library Science.