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

image of librarian action figure

Image from dollymixtures.com

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: LibraryCareers.org):
    • 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 About.com Career Planning: http://careerplanning.about.com/library/quiz/career_quizzes/bllibrarian_quiz.htm

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Librarians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm (Accessed March 23, 2012).

“How to Become a Librarian”, Career Suite @ suite 101, July 28, 2009. http://sapna-nayyar-pellicane.suite101.com/how-to-become-a-librarian-a94337 (Accessed March 23, 2012)

“What Librarians Need to Know”, American Library Association, November 21, 2006. http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/whatyouneedlibrarian (Accessed March 23, 2012)

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