General Question

Eleanor's avatar

Anyone know anything about becoming/being a librarian?

Asked by Eleanor (49points) October 9th, 2008

I’m thinking of going to school for it, so I need help figuring out, also this is in Canada, not the U.S.

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9 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

How about asking your local librarian? :)

gailcalled's avatar

Which province are you in?

Here’s U.B.C
U. Toronto
for starters.

kapuerajam's avatar

you can get a passport and go to ”Gary Indiana,Gary Indiana

gailcalled's avatar

@Kap: she is both very young and Canadian. Give her a hint.

ljs22's avatar

I have two friends who are librarians. One is a children’s librarian in Boston and one is a library director in Wisconsin. Both love it…I think it’s a cool field. Go for it.

dalepetrie's avatar

My wife is a librarian…what do you want to know specifically, I’ll ask her.

kapuerajam's avatar

@eleanor it’s from the “music man”

Eleanor's avatar

Well, I just want to know if it’s a career that actually pays something. All the information I can find is just for the states. The public libraries where I live are full of volunteers, I haven’t found anyone that actually works there.
I’d just like to know if I go to school for it, are there are real careers waiting? Or just some lackey in a public library.
I live in Ontario and University isn’t really an option, I found one college; Seneca, in Toronto that has it but that’s it.
Thanks for your help everyone!

dalepetrie's avatar

Well, I don’t know how the pay is in Canada, but yes, here in the States, Librarianship is a bona fide career option. As a Librarian I (the lowest level librarian position there is) in the county my wife works for, the pay range for that position if $43 – $59 thousand a year. Directors can (and do make 6 figure salaries). As a substitute librarian for a different county, the minimum hourly pay rate was $17.46/hour. So, yes, a librarian, which requires a Masters degree (in Library and Information Sciences) is a well paying, professional career.

Now, libraries also hire low paying lackeys. The people you see checking out books are by and large not librarians, they are clerks. The people you see shelving and moving books around are usually pages. Librarianship isn’t what a lot of people think it is. It’s really a research like position…it’s about answering people’s questions, it’s about organization and research, and to a degree it is about customer service.

But if you’re just looking at getting a 2 year tech degree, or a 4 year bachelor’s type degree, you’re probably not ever going to be a “Librarian”, you are going to need to get a Masters degree from an acredited MLIS institution (at least that’s how it works in the states). Generally the positions where you do a lot of the busywork, at least in my area pay better than you’re going to get in fast food certainly, maybe $11 or $12 an hour, depending on where you go.

The other thing about librarians are that there are a number of careers that you can attain that many people don’t think of. You don’t just have to work in a public, government run library. Many large businesses have a library with a librarian on staff to help staff research various issues. Pharmaceutical and medical companies, as well as clinics and hospitals would hire medical librarians. Law firms and schools hire legal librarians. Even curators of museums often have Librarian backgrounds.

The downside is, many of these specialty type jobs are few and far between so you have to be good and have a lot of experience to get them (such has been my wife’s challenge starting out…she really didn’t want to work in public libraries, but she has to put in her time). The other problem is that the government, particularly in trying times, is going to often look at libraries as one of the first places to cut…after all they don’t bring in any money. So, it can be very tough to find a job, but then again if you choose to live near a big urban area which doesn’t have a library school right in it, that can be an upside, because of the supply and demand issue. For example, where my wife and I live, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, one of the private schools offers an MLIS degree (where my wife got hers) through a cooperative venture with a college in Chicago. So, there is a steady stream of new graduates, and whenever she goes up for a job interview, there is tons of competition. In my wife’s case, a year out of school and $60k more in debt, she finally found a substitute librarian job for one of the counties in the area. She has to be flexible, grabbing a shift here and there when they pop up…some weeks she’ll work 24 hours, some weeks she won’t work at all. No benefits, but it’s some $. She got a permanent half time job from another county with benefits and was able to keep both jobs so she can fill in on the days she’s not working in the other county. Another thing they’re doing to cut is the county she was just hired permanent at, they don’t hire substitutes, they just let their part time staff fill in those hours, so she can get extra hours there. Not a bad deal. But conversely the county she has been working for, they are going through more budget cuts, and there’s rumblings that they are going to fire all the subs and start doing what the county she just got hired for is doing via letting their part time staff fill the sub hours.

So, if there really are bigger companies and a lot of libraries where you live or will want to live in Ontario or wherever you’re going to move to, but there isn’t a school with an acredited program nearby, and Seneca has such a program, it might not be a bad idea. My suggestion would be to go to Seneca, ask to meet with the program director and discuss their program and potential careers. Talk to your local libraries as well and see if they ever do hire or if they really rely on staff. For sure they will have to have at least one librarian on staff, that’s a good person to talk to about the career in fact. But it’s not surprising that you’d find a high percentage of volunteers…they have to rely on volunteers because governments in lean times cut so much out of public services.

I think if it’s something you like doing, and you get to be good at it, you can make an incredible living at it. But yes, it is a real career and it can pay well…but it can be hard to find that first job or hold onto it in the beginning.

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