Types of Library Jobs

Oak Park Public Library

Oak Park (Ill.) Public Library

Just as not everyone who works in a hospital is a doctor, not everyone who works in a library is a librarian! There are a wide varieties of jobs to be done, and all are important. Whether it's putting the books on the shelves, paying bills, answering questions, hiring staff, or preparing a story-time, they all must be done to keep the library running.

Job titles and descriptions vary from library to library, but there are some similarities. Look through the samples below to gain a better understanding of what type of job might be right for you:

  • Pages are usually responsible for putting returned books and other items in their proper places on the shelves. They are also responsible for keeping items in the right order. Some handle requests for retrieving materials that are in secured areas, and others may be responsible for checking items back in. Page jobs are usually part-time, with pay of roughly $5.15 to $8 per hour.
  • Library Assistants or Technicians generally perform clerical duties, and are often mistaken for librarians as they are the first face people see, since most libraries' checkout desks are near the entrance. Library assistants often check materials out and in, collect fines and fees, answer general phone questions, issue library cards, process new library materials, and assist with items on reserve. Library assistant jobs may be part- or full-time and can range from $8 to $15 per hour. 
  • Librarians help people with homework and research questions, decide what items to purchase and to discard, offer programs and training, help people use the internet, build websites, and more. Specialized librarians may run computer systems, work with seniors and non-English speaking populations, become specialists in a specific subject area, or maintain the records for the online catalog. Librarian jobs are often full-time, although most libraries also rely on a core of part-time and "substitute" librarians to help cover all of the hours many libraries are open. The average starting salary for a full-time new librarian was $37,975 in 2003, with the average for all librarians at $43,090 for 2002.
  • Library Managers such as department heads, branch managers, and assistant/deputy/associate directors, and are typically middle managers responsible for the operation of departments or other functional areas such as "all library branches." As managers they may be responsible for work schedules, employee evaluations, training, and managing budgets. Branch managers, in particular, can have additional director-like responsibilities, such as overseeing the condition of the facility or involvement in local neighborhood groups and projects.
  • Library Directors have the main leadership role in the library. Typical duties include preparing and overseeing the budget, developing employment and service policies, strategic planning, public and governmental relations, reporting to the governing board or official, ensuring compliance with laws, fundraising, hiring, motivating and firing staff, and more. Directors' duties and compensation can vary greatly depending on the size of the library. The director of a small rural library can literally be the only regularly scheduled employee with a salary of $20,000 to the director of a large urban library with hundreds of employees and a salary of $175,000.
  • Other Professionals can play major roles in libraries. These may include jobs such as public relations, accounting and human resources, network administration, facilities management, transportation services and security. Rates of pay vary widely depending on the size of library, geographic area and skills and educational requirements.

TIP: Interested in conducting research and teaching at the graduate level? Consider a career as a professor in a library and information science program.

read more about it:

Working in the Virtual Stacks: The New Library and Information Science
Written by Laura Townsend Kane. Gives information on a variety of jobs within libraries.  Includes first-hand accounts from "real-life" librarians in both traditional and nontraditional library careers.

Careers in Libraries: A Bibliography of Traditional and Web-based Library Career Resources
Books and Web sites compiled in 2000 for ALA Office of Human Resource Development and Recruitment.

U.S. Department of Labor—Librarians
How the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes librarianship.

U.S. Department of Labor—Library Technicians and Assistants 

How the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes librariay technicians and assistants.

What Interests You?
A brief overview of librarianship from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Directed at K-12; some statements a bit problematic).