What is a Librarian?

A librarian is a professional trained in information science. Working at a school, a local library, or even for the government, a librarian aides those in need of informational articles and services while managing and organizing those materials as well.

Librarians are responsible for a vast amount of information, from the classic management of books and periodicals to more modern responsibilities involving audio and video recordings, as well as digital resources.

Also known as: School Librarian, Outreach Librarian, Electronic Resources Librarian, Systems Librarian, Medical Librarian, Serials Librarian, Children's Librarian, Catalog Librarian, Technical Service Librarian, Public Service Librarian, Reference and Research Librarian

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What does a Librarian do?

There are different classes of librarians in this modern era, including public service librarians, reference and research librarians, technical service librarians, collections development librarians, archivists, systems librarians, electronic resources librarians, outreach librarians, and school librarians. The general duties of each are outlined by class below.

Public Service Librarians
- spend their time working with the public in many local libraries worldwide. They provide proper material for each age range from child to adult. A public service librarian advocates reading competence with many libraries offering services for children that aid in early learning.

Reference and Research Librarians
- specialize in aiding with research. An interview is often performed with the individual requesting research aid to help organize the proper materials and services that will be needed for the research. Research often involves a very specific subject and a reference and research librarian will give directions on the proper database needed and the use of the database, along with locating and organizing any specialized materials that will be needed.

Technical Service Librarians
- are the staff involved in ordering materials and subscriptions, as well as any other equipment needed by the library. Librarians working in this department will supervise new materials, over-seeing the processing and cataloging of each one. Excellent organizational skills are required for this position and strong communication skills are suggested as well as an avid interest in research.

Archivists
- are often specialized librarians. They handle many manuscripts, documents and records, varying by country or region. There are many paths taken to reach this profession and the duties can vary between countries.

Systems Librarians
- are responsible for maintaining the many systems used in the library. They often troubleshoot any problems that arise in the library cataloging, as well as developing those systems as needed. Systems librarians should have a sound background with computers as these librarians are responsible for maintaining the computer systems used for record keeping.

Electronic Resources Librarians
- are responsible for the management of the databases licensed from third-party vendors. Librarians in this field will need experience with licensing for electronic resources including individual journals, databases, and e-books. They will also need to have strong troubleshooting skills and a good knowledge of the use of these resources. The ability to obtain, compile, and analyze usage data is strongly recommended considering the large amount of resources to be handled in this field.

Outreach Librarians
- are responsible for promoting library resources and services, as well as working to develop research proficiency in students. This class of librarians will be active in social networking forums on campuses, making visits to residence halls, and even physical and on-line exhibit development. Excellent communication skills are strongly suggested for this field as this class of librarians will be dealing directly with students to help further their education.

School Librarians
- aid in the educational needs of students directly, through the latest information technology as well as traditional materials. This class of librarians will work with students, directing them in the use of the systems available in the library, as well as recommending the correct materials needed for research and learning. School librarians help to promote education of students, helping teachers to develop a curriculum and acquire the needed materials for classrooms.

Medical Librarians
- focus on helping people access information about medical sciences and health care. They can be found working in hospitals, insurance companies, medical schools, and other facilities which deal with medical information.

Serials Librarians
- keep track of all things serial in the library, like magazines, journals, and periodicals, and keep up to date with all the subscriptions the library has to these publications. They will stamp anything new that comes in, add a strip so that it'll beep when someone tries to take it out of the library, add a reinforced binding if necessary, and shelve it. They will also dispose of old publications.

Catalog Librarians
- sit down with a book and identify: author, title, publication date, publication place, edition, ISBN number, illustrations, subject, size, etc. The catalog librarian then puts that information into a Machine Readable Cataloging format (MARC format) that lets the library catalog find the book you're looking for when you perform a search.

What is the workplace of a Librarian like?

A librarian can be found working in many places, including college and university campuses, law offices, court houses, local library buildings, public schools, and even in museums. The duties of each position often vary, with a recurring educational theme in their work.

Videos

Further Reading

  • What Do Librarians Do All Day? Or, A Day In The Life Of A Music Librarian

    Like many librarians, I am often asked if I read books (or listen to recordings) all day long. I realize this question is often asked with tinges of envy since, in academia, we are all in our lines of work because we love books and music.

  • Two Days In A Librarian’s Life

    Librarians have varied and interesting jobs! This librarian works 15 hours per week in a Local Studies post, and has shared with us the enquiries they researched and responded to, with the help of one assistant, in just two days last week...

  • Day In the Life Of A Librarian

    Life as a public librarian means no two days are ever the same. It's one of the reasons I love my job-I never know what to expect each day and each day brings something new. Here's a peek into a day last week...

  • Library Lover Part 2

    What do you think of when you read the following word: LIBRARIAN? Do you think of mousy-haired women in pencil skirts shelving books?

  • Why Does A Librarian Need A Masters Degree?

    I just finished explaining to a member of the public why a librarian needs a masters degree for the umpteenth time...

  • What People Don't Get About Working In A Library

    People have made an extremely strong link between librarians, libraries and books. This is only natural, but it really sells short the full value of libraries and the full scope of librarian work.

  • How To Become A 21st Century Librarian

    Before deciding librarianship is right for you, make sure you understand what today’s librarians do all day. If you want quiet and lots of time to read, think again.

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