| James Innes

A Career as a Librarian


Librarians can be based in a public library or in a school, college or other academic library.  Their principal responsibility is to ensure the effective organisation of the available resources within the library and to manage service delivery to customers.  They are required to demonstrate an excellent knowledge of the diverse range of information and resources available within the library and to be able to advise customers exactly where to find the information they are looking for.  All stock entering or leaving the premises must be accounted for with books and resources catalogued and returned to their appropriate location.  Librarians are also increasingly required to use IT applications, including databases, to manage customer details and to develop improved search facilities.  The Internet is a commonly used resource in a library so a Librarian will also need to demonstrate proficiency in its use.

The role of the Librarian in an academic environment can also involve providing training and advice to students in the use of the resources and can include participation in research projects.  School libraries generally open and close in line with the school whereas public libraries can be open until as late as 9pm during the week.  Librarians can also work in community settings offering a mobile service to remote locations.

Entry requirements

Librarians are generally required to achieve Chartered Status of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) which requires evidence of a recognised Library and Information Studies qualification and continuing professional development.  Once you have fulfilled the criteria for Chartered Status you can apply for membership and then fellowship.  Suitable qualifications are a degree in Information Management or postgraduate qualification in Information Services.  Graduate training programs are available through CILIP as are voluntary placements designed specifically to provide candidates with the required experience.  It is also possible to achieve membership of the Association of Information Management (ASLIB).

Progression opportunities

Although the majority of Librarians work in public libraries, there are an increasing number of opportunities available in education, government, industry and commerce.  Progression is usually through a formal promotion structure and is dependent on experience and level of status with CILIP.  Salary is also dependent on experience but Librarians are, in general, not very well paid.

A career as a Librarian is ideal for those who are interested in information and research, and enjoy the opportunity to use a variety of resources to locate information on behalf of customers.  Some librarians also chose to specialise in a particular field, such as law or medicine, offering them further opportunities for career progression.

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