How do you become a librarian and what do they do?

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The Empire State College library currently has four professional librarians. What does that mean when you say professional librarian?

A librarian is someone who:

  • has successfully completed high school, Undergraduate and Graduate School. Their Graduate Program needs to be a library science or information science program from an ALA accredited institution.
  • may have more than 1 master’s degree. Many librarians specialize in certain subject areas based on their Undergraduate background or their Graduate education in other fields.
  • is qualified to work in many places like colleges, law firms, hospitals, prisons, corporations, legislatures, the military, and nonprofit agencies as well as libraries.
  • needs to keep up-to-date on information and technological resources available to better serve patrons in helping them find the information they need.
  • is a lifelong learner who continues learning and seeking out education to keep up with the constant changes in information systems, resources and technology they use and provide.
  • has the following skills (as listed on the ALA website:
    • Desire to meet and serve the library’s user community
    • Ability to think analytically and to develop new or revised systems, procedures, and work flow
    • Ability to exercise initiative and independent judgment
    • Knowledge of computers, the internet, and commercially available library software
    • Knowledge of a foreign language for communities with non-English speaking populations
    • Ability to prepare comprehensive reports and present ideas clearly and concisely in written and oral form
    • Ability to make administrative decisions, interpret policies, and supervise staff
    • Ability to motivate, establish and maintain effective working relationships with associates, supervisors, volunteers, other community agencies and the public
    • Knowledge of the philosophy and techniques of library service
    • Ability to organize job duties and work independently
    • Demonstrated knowledge of library materials and resources
    • Creativity to develop and implement library programs and services
    • Ability to communicate both orally and in writing
    • Positive attitude toward library users with special needs
    • Accuracy and skill in typing

Curious to know if you should become a librarian? Try this quiz from Career Planning:


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Librarians, on the Internet at (Accessed March 23, 2012).

“How to Become a Librarian”, Career Suite @ suite 101, July 28, 2009. (Accessed March 23, 2012)

“What Librarians Need to Know”, American Library Association, November 21, 2006. (Accessed March 23, 2012)