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If you love books and helping others with research, then working at a library may be the best job for you. Working at a library has many benefits and it's a special job that can be very rewarding. If you want to work at a library, you typically need some type of official qualification. However, there are ways around those qualifications, especially if you're open to taking any job that's available.
The Benefits of Working at a Library
When you were a child in school, you may have had a certain perspective of librarians. You may have thought that their job is boring – sitting in a library all day having to be quiet as others read. Yet, as you get older, you learn that librarians are very special people. Not only do they know what seems to be endless information about books and authors, but how to find what to look for in a massive library, so that you can conduct the appropriate research for a project.
Working as a librarian, therefore, has many benefits. First and foremost, if you love books, then what's better than being surrounded by books all day long? Secondly, librarians get paid decent money for doing a job that allows them to do what they love. While that's not to say the job doesn't have its stressful moments, the pros seem to outweigh the cons.
A Librarian's Salary
A librarian's salary depends on many different factors, such as where they work, how many qualifications they have and how long they've been doing it for. But, in general, a librarian can expect to make around $35,000 a year. This salary is something to consider before pursuing librarian qualifications, as it is very expensive to go to school in the United States.
A Librarian's Qualifications
In general, a librarian will have several qualifications that would have helped them land what can be a very competitive job. Most librarians at least have a bachelor's degree, but many libraries require their librarians to have a master's of library science (MLS) or a related degree. However, you'll find that some libraries are more lenient in this requirement.
What are Other Requirements to Work at a Library?
In addition to having some type of degree, there are other requirements and skills for those working at a library. And, if you can demonstrate that you've met these other requirements, then it may not be necessary to possess a degree:
- Organized and the ability to work independently.
- Knowledge of organization systems in a library.
- The ability to think analytically.
- Typing and writing skills.
- Ability to work with non-English speaking populations.
- Ability to write comprehensive reports.
- Familiarity with and/or willingness to learn library software and programs.
- Positive and friendly attitude.
- Interpersonal skills.
Different Types of Library Jobs
While becoming a librarian is a very desirable position for those who want to work in a library, it's good to recognize that there are other ways to work in a library setting. If you're interested in working in a library but you'd like to do something else than be a librarian – or, you do not possess the qualifications commonly required of a librarian – then you can explore the possibility of doing other jobs.
If being a librarian simply isn't a good fit for you, then take a look at other types of library roles:
- Library Assistant or Technician: Working as a library assistant means you'll be in charge of clerical duties, such as checking out books, managing late fees or directing people on where to go in the library.
- Pages: These people are responsible for returning books and other materials back to their shelves or their home within the library.
- Library Managers: These people manage the entire library or different branches of the library. They are responsible for things like work schedules, dictating the responsibilities of other employees, training, managing budgets, etc.
- Library Directors: This person is the head of the library, overseeing all the functions within the building.
- Miscellaneous: Depending on the size of the library, there may be many other roles available. Perhaps you could be an HR manager or even a summer reading tutor. Visit your local library to see what positions are available and to get an idea of how you can get involved.
What Does a Librarian Actually Do?
After seeing the many different positions that one can have at a library, you may be wondering what it is librarians actually do. Well, librarians have many responsibilities, and if you sit in a library and observe a librarian, you may see them performing a lot of these responsibilities throughout the day. These include, but are not limited to:
- Deciding what items to purchase and add to the library's collection.
- Helping students with their homework or directing them to where they need to go to find certain information.
- Managing library programs.
- Run computer systems, such as an online catalog.
- Categorizing books.
- Meeting with people who need help with looking for a job.
- Helping others to access materials in the library.
How to Work at a Library With No Library Qualifications
So, you know you want to work at a library – maybe even become a librarian – but you don't have a master's degree and perhaps you don't have a bachelor's degree either. Or, you may also want to see if working in a library is really something you want to pursue, before spending the money on a degree. Luckily, there are ways to find work at a library, even without the standard qualifications.
The first thing you can do is fix up your resume so that it highlights the skills that are useful in a library setting. It may also be good to think about why you want to work in a library in the first place and what kind of library jobs you'd be willing to do. Visit your local library or look online for available positions, then contact the library to ask about how you can go about applying for a job. They may ask to hear your qualifications, but if you express your dedication and desire, you never know what can happen.
Other Tips for Getting a Library Job
Sometimes, mere interest in wanting to work in a library may not necessarily be enough to get you a job, especially without the right qualifications. This is especially true at universities and public libraries in major cities. But, there is still a way to get your foot in the door. Ask about volunteer opportunities in the library and show your face there as often as you can. This will demonstrate how serious you are about getting a job there.
Additionally, get to know the librarians and other employees and ask them questions about how they got to where they are today. Continue to browse job openings at libraries that don't require specific qualifications and get recommendations from those in the field. Make connections and whatever you do, don't give up!
If you're really passionate about getting a job in a library, then you will find a way to do it. And, if going to school and earning those qualifications seems to be the only route, a strong interest in library sciences can perhaps help you to obtain a scholarship.