Librarian Job Description, Salary and Skills

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Interested in a job as a librarian? Here’s information on what librarians do, specializations, educational requirements, skills employers seek, and what you can expect to get paid.

Librarian Job Responsibilities

Librarians evaluate books and other informational resources for consideration as additions to collections. They organize resources so that patrons can easily find the material that they desire.

Librarians assess the research needs of individual visitors and identify the necessary resources.

Librarians arrange speakers, entertainers and workshops to educate and entertain patrons. They publicize services to their constituency and endeavor to expand the use of library resources. 

Libraries are increasing the use of digital delivery systems to present resources to patrons at their facilities and remotely through the internet.  Librarians evaluate systems for storing and delivering digital content and follow technology trends in the field. They evaluate and purchase computers, electronic databases and software for their facility.

Library managers and  directors formulate budgets, recruit, train and supervise staff.

Work Environment and Specializations

Librarians work for colleges, corporations, schools, law firms, hospitals, prisons, and museums as well as traditional community libraries.

Some librarians become specialists with expertise regarding collections in areas like music, art, law, science, social science or literature.  

They focus on evaluating materials for purchase and advising patrons regarding how to access and utilize that type of information.  Librarians can also specialize on specific populations like scientists, artists, medical professionals, lawyers, prisoners, children or youths.

Educational Requirements

Librarians typically complete an undergraduate degree in any discipline and then acquire a Masters in Library Science.  Individuals intending to specialize in a particular content area benefit from an undergraduate major in a related area.

For example,  art majors are well equipped to be art librarians, legal studies majors to be law librarians and biology, chemistry and physics majors to oversee science collections.

Librarian Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, librarians earned an average of $56,170 in 2014. The bottom 10% of librarians earned $33,680 or less while the top 10% earned at least $87,060.

Library area managers and library directors earn higher salaries while library assistants and technicians earn considerably less.

Librarian Interview Questions

Describe a particularly stressful or chaotic situation at the reference desk and tell me how you handled the incident.

Tell me about a job you held where you had to multitask. How did you handle successfully completing each task?

Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you handle the situation? What would you have done differently?

What would you do if you were unsure of how to answer a reference question?

Imagine you heard a staff member provide a patron with an incorrect answer. What would you do?

What would you do if you were assisting a person at the reference desk and the telephone rang?

How would you integrate technology into your work with teens and children?

How would you recommend promoting reading for secondary school children? Name two books you have read within the past two months and describe one of them as though you were recommending it to a patron.

Do you have any experience with audio-visual materials?

Do you have any experience with setting up displays?

Tell me about a team or group project you have worked on and how you contributed to it.

Tell me about a presentation you recently gave at work or school. How did you prepare for the presentation?

Librarian Skills List

Here's a list of librarian skills employers seek in the candidates they hire.

Skills will vary based on the position for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

A – G

  • Acquisitions
  • Administration
  • Archival Collections
  • Book Selection
  • Catalogs
  • Catalog Searches
  • Cataloging
  • Cataloging Operations
  • Circulation
  • Circulation Services
  • Coaching
  • Coding
  • Collaboration
  • Collections
  • Collection Development
  • Collection Management
  • Communications
  • Computer
  • Customer Service
  • Database Search
  • Digital Archiving
  • Digital Curation
  • Digital Preservation
  • Digital Projects
  • Documents
  • Documentation
  • Digital Preservation
  • Education
  • Evaluating Library Services
  • Evaluating Stakeholder Needs
  • Facilitation

H – M

  • Information Technology
  • Instruction
  • Instructional Materials
  • Internet
  • Interpreting
  • Interlibrary Loans
  • jQuery
  • Learning Updated Technologies
  • Lecturing
  • LexisNexis Librarianship
  • Library Policies
  • Management
  • MARC Records
  • Marketing
  • Material Selection
  • MLIS Degree
  • Mobile Environments
  • Microsoft Office

N – S

  • Operations
  • Oral Communication
  • Organization
  • Preservation
  • Procedures
  • Proficiency
  • Project Management
  • Public Service
  • Reference Materials
  • Reference Tools
  • Research
  • Research Assistance
  • Scheduling
  • Searching OPACs
  • Shelving
  • Software
  • Special Projects
  • Supervision

T - Z

  • Teamwork
  • Teaching
  • Technical
  • Technology
  • Time Management
  • Training
  • Troubleshooting
  • Verbal Communications
  • WebCast
  • Written Communications

Quick Facts: Librarian (Occupational Outlook Handbook)

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