Librarian Career Information and Job Description
The role of a library is evolving from that of a location where paper records or books can be accessed to one where all kinds of media are stored, including virtual libraries, CD-ROM’s , the internet, as well offering the ability to remotely access numerous other sources. As a result, librarians, or information professionals, are consolidating traditional librarian responsibilities with duties related to evolving technology. Librarians help customers locate information and using it proficiently for personal and professional objectives. Librarians need to be knowledgeable of a vast array of scholarly and public information resources and have to follow trends and advancements in publishing, computers, and the media as they direct the selection and organization of materials. Librarians direct staff and develop and design information programs and systems that will be used by the public, making sure that all information is displayed in a user friendly way.
There are three main areas of work related to a librarian job. Theses three areas are user services, administrative services, and technical services. Librarians who might specialize in one these areas still will perform additional duties. Librarians specializing user services, like reference or children’s librarians, assist visitors in locating the material they are looking for. As part of the job such a librarian must determine the patron’s needs and decide what information best fulfills those needs, and then provide assistance in the search for and acquisition of such material. They might also serve in an instructional way, demonstrating to patrons how to find and acquire information. For instance, librarians routinely assist patrons in navigating the internet as they look for quality information. Those working in technical services, like acquisitions and cataloguing, have the responsibility of acquiring and preparing materials that will be used and typically do not work directly with patrons. Librarians employed in administrative services administer to the management and planning of libraries. They are also involved in the negotiation of contracts for services, materials, and equipment, supervision library workers, set budgets, oversee all activities so that the institution is running sufficiently, and carry out public-relations and fundraising related responsibilities.
Librarians employed by smaller libraries or information centers typically are involved in every aspect of the operations. They brows reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogues so that their library is stocked with up to date literature and they make decisions related to buying materials from publishers, wholesalers, and distributors. They also organize materials into the various subject matters and provide descriptions of the materials so that can be easily located. They also work in a supervisory role, monitoring assistants, who are in charge of preparing cards, computer records, or other access tools which aid users in locating materials. In larger libraries, normally librarians become specialists in a select area like acquisitions, cataloguing, bibliography, reference, special collections, or administration. An important of aspect of making sure the public receives great service is good teamwork.
The classification of a librarian depends on the kind of library by which they are employed. Types of libraries include public libraries, school library media centers, and college, university, or other academic libraries or special libraries. Some librarians interact directly with certain groups, like children, young adults, adults, or disadvantaged people. Librarians working in school library media centers are commonly know as school media specialists and assist teachers in developing their curriculum, acquiring materials in class instruction, and at times team teach with other teachers.
Other librarians are employed by information centers or libraries run by a wide body of organizations like government agencies, museums, professional associations, corporations, law firms, advertising agencies medical centers, hospitals, religious organizations, and research laboratories. They are responsible for acquiring and arranging an organization’s information resources, which typically contain select subjects related to special interest’s of the firm. Many key information services, like the preparation of abstracts and indexes of current periodicals, organization of bibliographies, or analysis of background information and preparation of reports related to key issues are performed by these special librarians. For instance, a special librarian employed by a company might provide the sales department with materials and info related to their competitors or new developments and improvements affecting their market. A medical librarian would likely find information related to new medical treatments, clinical trials, and standard procedures and provide such materials to health professionals, patients, consumers, and corporations. Government document librarians, employed by government agencies and depository libraries located in individual states are involved in the preservation of government publications, records, and important documents form the historical records actions taken and decisions made by the government.
Quite a few libraries are able to remotely access databases and maintain their own computerized databases. Since automation has become so common within libraries, it is important that librarians are skilled in database searching. Librarians are responsible for the development and indexing of databases as well as instructing patrons how to efficiently search through and located needed reference materials. Many libraries have created consortiums with other libraries utilizing electronic mail. Such relationships enable users to submit request for needed materials to many different libraries at the same time. The development of the internet is also creating a wider foundation of accessible materials. Thus librarians need to understand how to utilize all types of resources in the search for desired materials.
Those skilled in computers and information systems might be employed as automated-systems librarians, involved in the planning and operation of computer systems, or as information architect librarians, who design information storage and retrieval systems and develop techniques for the collection, organization, interpretation, and classification of information. These librarians work on analyzing and planning for information needs that might arise in the future.
An increasing number of librarians are utilizing their information management and research skills in fields beyond libraries, like database development, reference tool development, information systems, publishing, internet coordination, marketing, web content management and design, and training of database users. Librarians with entrepreneurial desires might found their own consulting firm, or work as freelance librarian or information brokers for other corporations, government agencies, or libraries.
Librarian Training and Job Qualifications
A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is required for the majority of librarian positions public, academic, and special libraries as well as a few school libraries. To work for the Federal Government one must have obtained an MLS or the equivalent in education and experience. MLS programs are provided by many colleges and universities, but most employers look for graduates of one of the 56 schools which have accreditation backed by the American Library Association. To get into an MLS program typically one must have obtained a bachelor’s degree and any liberal arts degree is acceptable.
For the most part MLS programs last one year, though some take 2 years. A normal program involves classes related to the foundation of libraries and information science, as well as course related to the history of books and printing, intellectual freedom and censorship, and the role libraries and information plays in society. Additional basic classes relate to the selection and processing of materials, the organization of information, reference tools and strategies, and user services. Of course, classes and programs are always evolving as new resources brought about by advancing technology, like online reference systems, internet search techniques, and automated circulation systems are introduced. Elective courses might involve classes related to resources for children or young adults; classification, cataloguing, indexing, and abstracting; library administration; and library automation. Part of the MLS degree that is gaining importance is the course work related to computers. There are few programs which provide interdisciplinary degrees which join technical classes in information science with traditional training in library science.
While the MLS degree prepares librarians for general work, many will become specialists in select areas like reference, technical services, or children’s services. It is to one’s advantage to obtain a Ph.D. degree in library and information science if they hope to become a college professor or serve in a top level administrative position for a college, university, or large library.
Typically, to work in a special library one must obtain an MLS. Also, the majority of librarians will enhance their knowledge by seeking education in their area of emphasis by obtaining a master’s, doctoral, or professional degree in the field. Some specialize in areas such as medicine, law, business, engineering, and the natural and social sciences. For instance, a librarian employed by a law firm might also be a licensed attorney, having obtained a degree in both library science and law. In other jobs familiarity with a foreign language is required.
The requirements to become certified to work as public school librarians vary by state. School librarians, sometimes know as library media specialists, normally must be certified teachers and have taken classes in library science. For some situations, one will be required to obtain an MLS, maybe specializing in library media specialization, or receive a master’s in education with an emphasis on school library media or educational media. To work as public librarians in municipal, county, or regional libraries some states require employees to be certified.
Librarians also enroll in continuing education courses and training programs even after they are hired so that they can keep up with modern information systems and ever evolving technology.
Librarians with experience might be promoted to administrative positions, like department head, library director, or chief information officer.
Librarian Job and Employment Opportunities
Employment of librarians is projected rise on pace with the overall average for jobs through 2002-12. Job prospects should be excellent as many the retirements of many librarians are projected in the next 10 years. Additionally, the amount of job seekers in this field has decreased significantly in recent years, meaning in certain situations there are more jobs available than qualified applicants to fill them. Colleges and universities are having a hard time finding librarians since the pay differential between there and other libraries is significant.
Counteracting the demand for more librarians are the moves by government to slash budgets and rely more on digital information storage and retrieval systems. These changes will mean fewer librarians are hired in the future and current librarians will be replaced by cheaper library technicians. Library technicians are able to perform more work thanks to the advent of computerized cataloguing systems. Additionally, many libraries allow remote access to central library computers by patrons who in their own homes or offices. This way patron can perform their searches without any aid from librarians. Despite these changes, staff will still need to be managed by librarians, database-searching methods will still need development assistance provided by librarians, and librarians will still be needed to assist patrons with complex requests.
Employment for librarians beyond traditional conditions will increase the fastest over the next ten years. Nontraditional librarian positions include jobs working as information brokers and performing work for private corporations, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms. Many corporations are employing librarians because of their excellent research and organizational skills and their understanding of computer databases and library automation systems. Librarians are able to review expansive amounts of information as well analyze, evaluate, and organize the information as the company desires. Some librarians are finding employment through organizations that need information published to the internet. Librarians employed in such conditions might be called systems analysts, database specialists and trainers, webmasters or web developers, or local area network (LAN) coordinators.
Historical Earnings Information
Wages of librarians differ depending on the individual’s qualifications and the type, size, and location of the library. Librarians performing mostly administrative tasks typically make more. In 2002, the average yearly wages of librarians were $43,090. The middle 50 percent made anywhere from $33,560 to $54,250. The bottom 10 percent made less than $24,510, and the top 10 percent made upwards of $66,590 a year.
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