Career description of a librarian

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Tracy Smith is a senior library and information officer with City Libraries. You may think that a librarian looks after a collection of books, but Tracy's job also involves staff management, customer service and marketing.

Can you describe your role?

I manage the day-to-day running of three branch libraries. My responsibilities include managing the staff, stock, and buildings to meet the needs of local communities. I probably spend most of my time managing staff.

What does that involve?

I have to make sure there will always be enough staff on duty to cover all the services that the libraries provide. I must find replacements for staff who are sick, and check that staff don't all take their holidays at the same time. I am also responsible for the training of new staff in my branch libraries.

What about tasks in the library?

I have to make sure that books and other stock, such as CDs and DVDs, in the libraries are in good condition. I remove stock that is worn, dirty or damaged, or items that aren't popular with customers. Then I tell the buyers what new stock is needed.

Do you have a say in the buildings?

Yes, I do. I have to make sure that buildings are safe and attractive for customers and staff to use. That could include providing comfortable seats in children's libraries for parents and grandparents to use while children are choosing books.

What about promoting the library?

I work on ways of promoting the wide range of services we provide. There is a library display stand that we can take to community events so we can encourage local people to become library members. I also come up with ideas for posters and other publicity material.

What hours do you work?

A normal 36-hour week but over a flexible six-day rota which covers Saturdays and evening work.

What qualities make a good librarian?

Good communication skills are vital. People skills are also extremely important for dealing with staff and members of the public. You should pay a lot of attention to detail – library services are all about giving people the right information.

What do you like most about your work?

I enjoy feeling that what I do benefits the local community by helping people to learn, have access to information and to enjoy their leisure time. Also, the changing way we provide and obtain information is motivating when providing exciting new services like internet access and lifelong learning opportunities.

Tracy's route to becoming a librarian

  • BA (Hons) in Information and Library Management.
  • Assistant librarian at College.
  • Community librarian.
  • Present job.

Tracy's librarian tip

  • Any voluntary work which gives you experience of working with the public is a good foundation for this job.

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Salary of a librariann

  • Newly qualified librarians earn between £14,800 and £18,580.
  • Experienced librarians can earn between £16,380 and £22,000, rising to £40,000 at a senior level.

How to become a librarian

There are two routes to becoming a librarian:

  • An honours degree accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Course titles include Information Administration and Information and Library Studies. Courses are available full or part-time, or by distance learning for those with experience of working as an information assistant.
  • A degree in any subject followed by a full-time, part-time or distance learning postgraduate diploma or masters degree, accredited by CILIP, in Information and Library Studies, Electronic Information Management or Information Analysis. You usually need around a year's relevant work experience before starting a postgraduate course.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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