A librarian


Librarians manage libraries and perform related library services. They manage, collect and develop information resources. They make information available, accessible and discoverable to any kind of user. Librarians play a vital role in fostering a love for learning, supporting research, and promoting literacy within their communities.

Librarians typically do the following:

  • Select, acquire, and catalog books, periodicals, multimedia, and other materials to build and maintain the library’s collection.
  • Organize and categorize materials using standardized systems like Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress Classification for efficient retrieval.
  • Assist patrons in finding information, conducting research, and utilizing library resources effectively.
  • Provide guidance on how to use library resources, databases, and technology, promoting information literacy.
  • Plan and organize events, workshops, and educational programs to engage the community and promote reading and learning.
  • Oversee digital resources, including e-books, online databases, and multimedia materials, ensuring accessibility and proper organization.
  • Facilitate borrowing and lending of materials between libraries to expand access to resources.
  • Collaborate with schools, community organizations, and local businesses to enhance library services and meet community needs.
  • Weed out outdated or damaged materials, ensuring the collection remains current and relevant.
  • Stay updated on library management systems, digital tools, and emerging technologies to enhance library services.
  • Develop and enforce library policies regarding the use of resources, borrowing privileges, and conduct within the library.
  • Contribute to the preservation of historical documents, rare books, and special collections.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to librarian:

library network coordinator
special collections librarian
electronic resources librarian
library associate
literature researcher
thesaurus manager
library supervisor
school librarian
library assistant
library technical assistant
music librarian
catalogue librarian

Working conditions

Librarians work in various settings, including public libraries, academic institutions, schools, and specialized libraries. The work environment is typically indoors, and librarians interact with a diverse range of patrons. The role may involve regular hours, including evenings and weekends.

Minimum qualifications

To become a librarian, a master’s degree in library science or a related field is commonly required. Some positions may also require additional subject-specific qualifications for academic or specialized libraries. Practical experience gained through internships or part-time work in libraries is valuable. Librarians often possess strong organizational and communication skills, a passion for literature and learning, and a commitment to providing excellent service to library patrons. Continuous professional development and staying informed about evolving library technologies contribute to the ongoing success of librarians.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Librarian is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Librarian career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to librarian.

library manager
information manager
university teaching assistant
admissions coordinator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of librarian.

  • Collection management: The process of resource evaluation, selection and life-cycle planning to create and promote a coherent collection in line with the developing needs of the users or customers. Understanding legal deposit for long-term access to publications.
  • Information governance compliance: The policies regarding processes and procedures for use of information, the balance between information availability and information security and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and personal data protection.
  • Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing a hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of librarian.

  • Manage digital libraries: Collect, manage and preserve for permanent access digital content and offer to targeted user communities specialised search and retrieval functionality.
  • Negotiate library contracts: Negotiate contracts for library services, materials, maintenance and equipment.
  • Develop solutions to information issues: Analyse information needs and challenges to develop effective technological solutions.
  • Conduct scholarly research: Plan scholarly research by formulating the research question and conducting empirical or literature research in order to investigate the truth of the research question.
  • Assess informational needs: Communicate with clients or users in order to identify which information they require and the methods with which they can access it.
  • Carry out internet research: Execute efficient search on the internet in order to gather relevant information and share it with others.
  • Analyse library users’ queries: Analyse library users’ requests to determine extra information; assist in furnishing and locating that information.
  • Evaluate information services using metrics: Use bibliometrics, webometrics and web metrics to evaluate information services.
  • Provide library information: Explain the use of library services, resources and equipment; provide information about library customs.
  • Perform customer management: Identify and understand the customer’s needs. Communicate and engage with stakeholders in designing, promoting and evaluating services.
  • Classify library materials: Classify, code and catalogue books, publications, audio-visual documents and other library materials based on subject matter or library classification standards.
  • Buy new library items: Evaluate new library products and services, negotiate contracts, and place orders.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of librarian. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Literature: The body of artistic writing characterized by beauty of expression, form, and universality of intellectual and emotional appeal.
  • Music and video industry: Players and products available on the market in the video and music industry.
  • Musical genres: Different musical styles and genres such as blues, jazz, reggae, rock, or indie.
  • Primary school procedures: The inner workings of a primary school, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, the policies, and the regulations.
  • Types of literature genres: The different literary genres in the history of literature, their technique, tone, content and length.
  • Post-secondary school procedures: The inner workings of a post-secondary school, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, the policies, and the regulations.
  • Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.
  • Kindergarten school procedures: The inner workings of a kindergarten, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, policies, and regulations.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of librarian. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Assist in the organisation of school events: Provide assistance in the planning and organisation of school events, such as the school’s open house day, a sports game or a talent show.
  • Compile library lists: Compile exhaustive lists of books, magazines, periodicals, articles, and audio-visual materials on particular subjects.
  • Assist students with library operations: Help students or pupils with tasks relating to library services such as the lending, return, or search for library materials.
  • Guarantee students’ safety: Ensure all students falling under an instructor or other person’s supervision are safe and accounted for. Follow safety precautions in the learning situation.
  • Manage human resources: Conduct employee recruitment, helping employees to develop their personal and organisational skills, knowledge, and competencies as well as providing feedback and performance appraisals. It includes motivating employees, by implementing rewarding systems (managing pay and benefit systems) in order to maximise employee performance with regard to employer’s strategic objectives.
  • Maintain library equipment: Maintain, clean and repair library resources, equipment and facilities, such as dusting or fixing printer paper jams.
  • Escort students on a field trip: Accompany students on an educational trip outside the school environment and ensure their safety and cooperation.
  • Digitise documents: Load analog documents by converting them into a digital format, using specialised hardware and software.
  • Apply change management: Manage development within an organisation by anticipating changes and making managerial decisions to ensure that the members involved are as less disturbed as possible.
  • Use software for data preservation: Utilise specialised applications and software to collect and preserve digital information.
  • Develop classification systems: Organise archive or business records; develop classification systems to facilitate access to all information.
  • Confer with library colleagues: Communicate with colleagues and collaborators; make collection decisions and determine present and future library services to offer.
  • Apply social media marketing: Employ website traffic of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to generate attention and participation of existing and potential customers through discussion forums, weblogs, microblogging and social communities for gaining a quick overview or insight into topics and opinions in the social web and handle inbound leads or inquiries.
  • Develop library educational programs: Plan, work out and deliver client-centered library educational programs, e.g. storytelling sessions for children, or programs for special groups.
  • Apply for library funding: Compose proposals for new research or project grants.
  • Assist in library facility planning: Provide input into the future planning of library facilities.
  • Hire new personnel: Hire new personnel for a company or organisation payroll via a prepared set of procedures. Make staffing decisions and direct selection co-workers.
  • Coordinate educational programmes: Plan and coordinate educational and public outreach programs such as workshops, tours, lectures and classes.
  • Perform playground surveillance: Observe students’ recreational activities to ensure student safety and well-being and intervene when necessary.
  • Manage fundraising activities: Initiate fundraising activities managing the place, teams involved, causes and budgets.
  • Organise information: Arrange information according to a specified set of rules. Catalogue and classify information based on the characteristics of that information.
  • Create semantic trees: Create coherent lists and hierarchies of concepts and terms to ensure consistent indexing in knowledge organisation systems.
  • Secondary school procedures: The inner workings of a secondary school, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, the policies, and the regulations.
  • Supervise daily library operations: Supervise daily library processes and operations, including budgeting, planning, and personnel activities such as hiring, training, scheduling, and performance evaluations.
  • Draw up professional texts: Compose and publish professional articles, internal documents, and instructional texts.
  • Oversee extra-curricular activities: Supervise and potentially organise educational or recreational activities for the students outside of mandatory classes.
  • Manage digital archives: Create and maintain computer archives and databases, incorporating latest developments in electronic information storage technology.

ISCO group and title

2622 – Librarians and related information professionals

  1. Librarian – ESCO
  2. Librarians and Library Media Specialists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Featured image: Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz
Last updated on January 8, 2024