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What do you imagine when you think of librarians? If the image that comes to mind is of a woman with glasses, orthopedic shoes, and a bun, seated at a desk with a sour look on her face, you couldn't be more wrong. Librarians are vital, creative men and women who use books, magazines, videos, music, and the Internet to assist the public to access information, enhance their educational and cultural experiences, and provide programming for children, adults, seniors and new citizens. They work directly with the public at information desks, they work in government and law libraries, they interact with children daily in youth libraries, they organize and display resources for people to use. Librarians play a very crucial role in the development of our communities.

Librarians tackle a lot more than just making sure visitors are respecting quiet. They are detectives, answering questions for people who are having trouble researching themselves. They make phone calls, look for videos, newspaper articles, and books, as well as help those researchers use the Internet, all in looking for a satisfactory answer. Librarians are also involved in purchasing and removing books and other materials for the library, developing displays, and creating resources like bibliographies, web pages, and indexes. They use the library computer systems for storing and retrieving information on items in the collections, they write newsletters, they supervise volunteers, and sometimes take on the role of activist, especially when it comes to education and freedom of speech issues. Some librarians also manage staff, plan library budgets, and interview and hire candidates for library positions.

Librarians have come a long way from that spectacled stereotype. They are great communicators who enjoy helping people. They are imaginative, analytical, and critical thinkers who enjoy puzzling out questions, organizing materials, and working in a team to bring education, and the pleasure of reading, to their communities.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a librarian? Librarians need to be an excellent communicators, able to interact with both professionals and the general public. They need to be comfortable with computers, enjoy books, and be able to work alone, as well as in a team environment. They should enjoy organizing, researching, and presenting information. Successful librarians enjoy helping people, as well as supervising other staff and volunteers on a daily basis.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Help clients access information and materials, using books, newspapers, and online Internet searches
  • Choose materials for purchase, including print, recorded, and electronic resources
  • Remove out-dated, unused materials from the collection
  • Develop bibliographies, web pages, and indexes
  • Plan and deliver programs and services, such as newsletters, lectures, or storytimes
  • Supervise volunteers
  • Manage staff
  • Develop budget
  • There is no such thing as a typical day for librarians. Usually, they are involved in a number of tasks at once. They may spend some of each day on the library floor, helping visitors locate materials, they may spend time at a desk in an office, analyzing the library catalog, developing programs, or deciding on new purchases. They must balance working in public service with the management of the library. They will search for specific books or items, especially in rare book collections, or law and government libraries, and other libraries where the public is not allowed to venture.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Librarians work in schools, colleges and universities, government libraries, hospital and legal libraries, at newspapers, museums, religious offices, publishing firms, and even bookstores. The majority of librarians are employed at public libraries, both large and small, found in cities and rural communities.
  • They usually work in offices, or at desks within the library, surrounded by books and the public. They will be part of a staff of librarians, library technicians, and volunteers. They can work weekends and evenings if they are employed at public libraries.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Librarians can become head librarians, reference librarians, or children's librarians. They can work in companies as archivists or catalogers. They can become teachers, writers, researchers, or historians.

  Educational Paths  
In order to work as a librarian, you are required to finish a master's degree in library science or library and information studies. Certain schools focus on different aspects of library work, so make sure you research the programs before enrolling in one. You should take some computer courses as well.

If you want to work as a teacher-librarian in schools, you should think about getting a bachelor's degree in education degree before you tackle the master's of library science.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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