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Dutchess_III's avatar

How hard is it to be a librarian?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42444points) September 17th, 2014

Saw an ad for a library assistant at the college. Associates degree required, bachelor’s preferred.

Why would anyone need a college degree to become a librarian?

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34 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

For most actual librarian jobs ( not just “assistant”) a Masters of Library Sciences degree is required. It involves more than just shelving books.
I believe there is at least one librarian, here, you should direct this at her.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know who that would be.

Buttonstc's avatar

It’s the Penguin (janbb).

JLeslie's avatar

Janbb and I think keobooks also. My aunt too for that matter, but she isn’t here on fluther. My aunt has a masters.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dutchess_III That would be janbb. I forwarded the question to her.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks you guys.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III You are in so much trouble.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Not a guy.

If you are interested in applying for this position, may I make a recommendation? Do some research first. This link is a place to start. Read up on the field. Go visit local libraries and chat with the people who work there. Find out what their jobs are really like and decide if it would be a good fit for you. It will also arm you with valid questions should you apply for this job.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s kinda what I’m doing now, see.

hominid's avatar

@Jan should be able to provide enough info. But I will admit that I thought you needed at least your masters (maybe that is just around here). My friend is a librarian at a library here at a major university. He has his MLS, but there has been constant pressure for him to continue his studies. Much of his work is in information science, archiving, and research methods. But he also needs to be a bit of a content specialist as well. They are providing services to professors and researchers at the library in a particular academic area.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sounds really interesting.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I know a librarian that was at a local four year college, he got a doctorate and went on to a large school.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. I got my degree in education so I could be on the same schedule as my kids. I should have gotten a librarian degree. Would have accomplished the same thing, and then when they got older, I could have moved on up. I wish I’d had someone to counsel me.

janbb's avatar

Wrote a long answer and it just vanished into the ethernet. Let’s just say that being a professional librarian requires a Masters degree – just as other professions require advanced training – and that other jobs are performed by clerks or staff, for some of which tasks it is helpful to be educated as well as pleasant, intelligent and openminded.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As an assistant, would I need a library degree, or will a bachelors in anything do? They weren’t clear on that. Also, they said library experience was required. Sometimes the let that slide if they think you can do the job. Do you think I could do the job @janbb?

janbb's avatar

Each library will have its own requirements for staff education but in my library which is an academic one, any bachelor’s degree will do for clerks.

It’s worth applying although if they said library experience is required, you may not have much of a chance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s at Southwestern College here. I’m going to apply! Maybe no one else will!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, but now I can’t find where it was advertised. It’s not on their website.

ragingloli's avatar

Stop dancing around the issue, all of you.
Just answer this: What does a librarian do?

rojo's avatar


keobooks's avatar

In my State, there are five levels of librarian

Level V—Associates degree plus a class in basic cataloging, collection development and library management. If you live in a VERY small town (most likely a tiny rural town) You’d have a level V and maybe a few volunteers running the library.

Level IV—Bachelor’s degree with the appropriate library classes. Most school librarians are level IV with a degree in education. I am a level IV librarian with a degree in school media services (school librarian)

Level III – MLS with no experience needed. —Entry level librarian Might be a manager in a small town or a non-manager reference or children’s librarian.

Level II and level I MLS with more experience. Level IIs tend to be low level managers of larger libraries and level Is can be the head of the library or library system. Most academic or archival librarians are level I and II.


I’ll write more about what librarians DO with their education when I don’t have a preschooler whining for attention.

rojo's avatar

@keobooks Can’t you just file him away on a shelf somewhere then find him later using the Dewey Decimal System?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer‘s link is the best example, above you @ragingloli.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There’s a book for that @keobooks!

keobooks's avatar

@rojo—Low level clerks mostly do the work you describe.

LIbrarians are trained to catalog original materials (stuff like local archives or school yearbooks—stuff not found online) Cataloging is actually a pretty complex process with a lot of different philosophies of order. You can even get your PhD just in cataloging.

Collection Development—Librarians learn how to select the best materials for their department or library. This includes writing an official collection development policy and growing your collection to be useful to your population. You can’t just randomly buy stuff. Collection development is also important for de-selecting materials (throwing out old books that no longer fit the needs of the population)

Program Development—This is mainly for public libraries, but you learn how to run events and evaluate them so you can improve them in the future. I was a programmer in a public librarian for years.

They also have library management training, archival restoration and book maintenance. There are special libraries where you learn to catalog and collect maps, theater equipment and all kinds of odd stuff. You also take

There’s more. This is just off the top of my head. Thinking that a librarian just shelves books is like thinking the minister at church only works on Sunday morning.

Just a word of advice: Do NOT ask why librarians need special degrees on your job interview. This is something that annoys and insults most librarians.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III The posting that @Pied_Pfeffer linked is not for a librarian. There is a difference between “librarian” and “person who works in a library”.

rojo's avatar

@keobooks I was just trying to get @ragingloli to be quiet, since none of you librarians were doing so!

Or did you mean the filing of the preschooler? I had no idea.

keobooks's avatar

Oh and I forgot reference! That’s like one of the most detailed jobs. Don’t just say “Look it up on Google” there are tons of other sources and Google doesn’t have everything. Also, librarians are the ones who did a lot of the behind the scenes work to make Google work at all.

A lot of people don’t know this, but you also have to have a lot of training about the specific books or other material you are working with. A law librarian is required to have a law degree. A medical librarian has a medical degree as well as a library degree. Other librarians may have spent years studying reference materials or children’s literature.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I can see why it would be insulting, @keobooks! I had no idea.

janbb's avatar

And you were a teacher??

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just because I was a teacher doesn’t mean I fully understood what librarian does. From what I saw in schools, they just checked out books!
I don’t know what all is involved in food prep at the schools, either.

ragingloli's avatar

getting it out of the freezer and putting the slush in the microwave

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