Academic librarianship is for those who are constantly intellectually curious and who can apply that curiosity to efforts that help increase the knowledge base of the institution for research, teaching, and learning.
Dr. Camila A. Alire, ALA Past President and Dean Emerita at the University of New Mexico and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado
Academic libraries serve colleges and universities, their students, staff and faculty. Because larger institutions may have several libraries on their campuses dedicated to serving particular schools such as law and science libraries, academic librarianship offers a great opportunity to utilize subject expertise. Professional status varies by institution, but many academic librarians have faculty status including tenure.
Today’s academic librarians are involved in a variety of challenging activities. They may:
- consult with individuals in analyzing, identifying, and fulfilling their information needs
- create campus-wide information literacy programs and deliver classroom instruction to strengthen information literacy skills
- select, organize, and facilitate access to information in a variety of formats
- keep abreast of technological advancements and develop strategies to take advantage of them
- plan, implement, and administer computer-based systems, electronic databases design and manage Web sites
- collaborate with classroom faculty, computer specialists, and instructional developers
- contribute to effective teamwork among colleagues
- participate in and lead public relations efforts to promote and raise funds for academic libraries
A master's degree in library science (MLS), preferably from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited school, is necessary to obtain a position as an academic librarian, although some positions may require an advanced degree in a subject specialty.
Learn more about academic librarianship
College & Research Libraries News has published a column entitled Job of a Lifetime, which showcases academic library careers:
- Lizz Zitron, (outreach services librarian at Carthage College Hedberg Library, April 2011)
- You can hear the smiles in Claudia Covert's voice (PDF) (reader's services librarian, Rhode Island School of Design, October 2006)
- Yours, mine, and ours: Reinventing reference at San Jose (PDF) (academic services librarian at a joint-use library, September 2005)
- Information literacy, technology, and forgotten barcodes (PDF) (solo academic librarian, June 2007)
Todd Gilman has written about his experiences as an academic llibrarian for The Chronicle of Higher Education:
- Becoming a Librarian: Article by Todd Gilman (Chronicle.com)
- Covering the Bases: Article by Todd Gilman (Chronicle.com)
- A Matter of Degrees: Article by Todd Gilman (Chronicle.com)
- Putting Your Ph.D. to Work in the Library: Article by Todd Gilman (Chronicle.com)
Also of interest:
- Academic Librarianship & Foreign Languages: Western European Studies Section (ACRL)
- Becoming a Subject-Specialist Librarian: LIScareer.com
- Health Sciences Librarianship: LIScareer.com
- Librarians and Languages: LIScareer.com
ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) is dedicated to enhancing the ability of academic library and information professionals to serve the information needs of the higher education community.