Types of jobs in libraries

There are a wide variety of specializations in library jobs which can vary depending on the type and size of the library. Usually, larger libraries offer more specialized positions. In addition, special libraries (i.e. law libraries, music libraries, etc.) require very specific subject knowledge and skills in addition to professional library knowledge and skills.

Administrative services

Library Managers may be responsible for the operations of a department or library branch. They often  manage budgets as well as train and evaluate employees.

Library Directors have the main leadership role in the library. The duties of a library director can vary greatly but often include:

  • preparation and oversight of the budget
  • strategic planning and development of policies
  • fundraising and public and relations
  • interactions with the governing board
  • hiring, motivating and firing staff  

Digital librarians plan and supervise the digitization, organization and preservation of library materials for online access. Digital librarian positions require good project management skills and specialized knowledge of digital library technologies, protocols and procedures.

School Library Media Specialists are usually part of a school system serving students between Kindergarten and grade 12. They are often required to have a second degree in education or a certificate in school media. Duties of a school library media specialist include:

  • Administer the school library
  • instruct individual students, classes, and faculty in effective research methods
  • work with educators to design and teach curriculum.

To learn more about the job of a school librarian, visit the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) career page.  

Consider a Career as a School Librarian
Developed by the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science

Systems librarians are responsible for the information technology infrastructure for the library

  • develop, troubleshoot and maintain the information technology infrastructure for the library's systems.
  • requires a high level of computer skills.

Serves as the database administrator for the library's integrated system. Responsible ; trains staff on new technologies; provides leadership in solving problems associated with delivery of electronic resources. Researches, evaluates and recommends methodologies, standards, software for the creation and preservation of digital collections; serves as expert to other library and college staff regarding the digitization and preservation of resources and records. Manages any open source projects and licensing of digital content. Degree requirement: ALA Accredited Masters 

Technical services

  • Collection development-Identifies and selects materials for the library collection
  • Acquisitions-Orders,receives and checks in materials for the library collection, including periodicals.
  • Cataloging-Creating and editing bibliographic records-classification?

User services

This covers a broad range

  • Reference librarians help people doing research to find the information they need. They may be generalists or have a specialized subject expertise.
  • Children's and Young Adult librarians organize activities and provide appropriate materials for children at all age levels.
  • Outreach librarians perform outreach to underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities, low income neighborhoods, homebound adults
  • Instruction librarians teach information literacy skills in face-to-face classes and/or through the creation of online learning objects.

Salary Information

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 median salary for librarians was $59,050 in 2018.

More Salary Information

Bureau of Labor Statistics Librarian Pay

ALA-APA Salary Surveys

Read more about it:

Career Profile of  Librarians from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Video on becoming a Librarian from CareerOneStop   (Scroll down to “L’ to find Librarian)

School Librarian's Career Planner by Hilda K. Weisburg

Making the Most of Your Library Career by Lois Stickell and Bridgette Sanders

Straight from the Stacks: A Firsthand Guide to Careers in 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

So You Want to Be an Academic Library Director by Colleen S. Harris

The Future Academic Librarian's Toolkit: Finding Success on the Job Hunt and in Your First Job by Megan Hodge


If you would like to discuss the possibilities of careers in the library profession, you may contact the Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) staff, Beatrice Calvin at 800/545-2433 ext. 4280 or bcalvin@ala.org.