How to Become A Librarian


On October 13, 2017, Michael Hoon’s “Careers: 8 jobs that won’t exist in 2030” appeared in USA TODAY. And who does he rank at No.1 – Librarian. According to Hoon, e-books and online libraries will replace the traditional libraries. In reply, Samantha Mairson, a student at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, on November 6, 2017, debunked Hoon. The gist of her argument is that this field is rapidly transforming and this transformation is being led by none other than librarians and library students themselves. Today’s librarians are tech-savvy and will remain relevant in the Information Age. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics seems to agree with her.

If you are interested in becoming a librarian then continue reading.

What Does a Librarian Do?

Anyone who has ever set foot in a library would know that librarians help people find books and other documents for research. While this remains every librarians’ overall duty, their specific job description would depend upon the type of library they are working at. For example, a law school librarian’s job would differ from their counterpart at say, The Library of Congress.

A Bit More Detail…

In addition to helping people conduct research, librarians may also:

  • Help patrons evaluate reference materials and search results
  • Organize library materials and maintain collections
  • Develop databases of library materials
  • Choose new books, videos and other library materials based on their reviews
  • Prepare budgets
  • Train junior staff
  • Teach classes about library resources
  • Hold classes for different age groups – storytelling for children
  • Buy new equipment for the library

Librarian Job Growth & Salaries

The following statistics are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the salary data represents May 2016.

Librarians (Median Annual Wage)

Librarians Job Outlook (2016-26)




In layman terms, from 2016 – 2026, approximately 12,400 new librarians job will be created. The BLS further reports that in 2016 there were 138,200 librarians, which will increase to 150,600 in 2026.

Steps to Becoming a Librarian

Librarians typically hold a master’s degree in library science. However, some libraries may require additional credentials, specializations, certificates, or may be even a degree in a field other than library science.

A Bit More Detail…

A Master’s Degree in Library Science (MLS) is the academic qualification you are looking at if you intend to become a librarian. It goes without saying that in order to pursue MLS, you would first need to graduate with an undergraduate degree. It could be in any field.

The MLS degree may also be named Master of Library and Information Studies or Master of Information Studies.

Master of Library Science

The degree can typically be completed in 1 to 2 years. Coursework would focus on internet search techniques, online reference systems, learning different strategies and research methods, organizing information and selecting library materials. In short, there is a strong digital emphasis. However, the degree also focuses on traditional documents, such as rare books, archives and manuscripts.


A master of library science could gain expertise in:

  • Rare Books and Manuscripts
  • Archives and Records Management
  • Music Librarianship
  • Art Librarianship
  • Information Architecture
  • Children’s and Young Adult Services
  • Digital Libraries
  • Data Science
  • Digital Humanities
  • Digital Curation

Types of Librarians

MLS graduates may find employment in the following:

Medical Librarians – These librarians help medical professionals, researchers and patients find health information.

Law Librarians –These libraries can be found in law schools and law firms. Librarians working here help people associated with the legal profession locate and organize legal documents.

Government Librarians – Librarians working at government libraries help government officials with conducting research.

Corporate Librarians – Corporate librarians may be hired by publishers, consulting firms, insurance companies and other types of businesses. They help employees in private businesses in conducting research and locating information.

School Librarians – In order to work as a librarian in a public school, a teacher’s certification may be required. These librarians may be hired by high, middle and elementary school libraries. In addition to helping teachers with finding materials, school librarians also teach students how to use library resources.

Public Librarians – Some states require certification for public librarians. Public libraries serve their local communities. Public librarians help patrons find books of their interest and also hold sessions educating the public on how to access the library’s resources. These librarians may also hold events such as story time for children, etc.

Academic Librarians – These librarians are employed by colleges, universities and other postsecondary institutions and assist faculty, students and staff. They help students with research relating to their coursework. They also assist faculty and staff in locating resources related to their studies and areas of research. Academic librarians may have specialized in a particular subject.

Administrative Services Librarians – While these librarians conduct the same set of duties as other librarians, there is one aspect of their career that distinguishes them from other librarians – they conduct fundraising for the library. 

Technical Services Librarians – They obtain, prepare and organize electronic and print library materials. Their main task is to organize materials in a way which is easiest for the patrons to find. They also order new materials and archive older materials.

User Services Librarians –These librarians help patrons conduct research from both print and electronic resources. They also help patrons locate library materials. They may also educate patrons on how to effectively employ Internet search techniques. Their distinguishing feature is that some user services librarians may only work with young adults or children.

How to Become a Successful Librarian

If you have the following qualities or you think you can acquire them, then you have all the signs of becoming an exceptional librarian.

  • Communication Skills – A librarian must be able to communicate effectively with the patrons.
  • Technology Skills – Librarians must be able to use computers and other technologies to create databases, classify resources and perform administrative tasks. 
  • Initiative – Library science is constantly evolving and so should librarians in order to better help their patrons with research and recommendations. A librarian must be a step ahead when it comes to changes in information, technology and resources.
  • Reading Skills – This goes without saying – a librarian must be a consummate reader of books. This especially holds true of those working in law, medical, government and corporate libraries.
  • Interpersonal Skills – A librarian must be at ease equally when helping a patron and when working as part of a team.
  • Problem-solving Skills – When a patron hits a problem while researching, a librarian must be able to identify that problem and must know how and where to find a solution.

Famous Librarians

The most common denominator between Laozi, the high god of Daoism and Ben Franklin – books. And not just love of books but making a career out of lending them to those who needed them the most – yes both were librarians at some point in their lives. Lewis Carroll of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was also a librarian.

From the real world, librarians have made their way into Hollywood as well. You would remember Evelyn O’Connell of The Mummy? Is this something you would like to do for a living?

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