What does a librarian do & Responsibilities



What is a librarian?

Librarians oversee the proper functioning of various types of public libraries, school libraries, or law libraries.

What does a librarian do?

Librarians organize the library database and help people find materials and resources. Their responsibilities may vary based on the library they work for. For example, in large libraries, librarians usually specialize in a specific domain, such as administration, IT management, or the children's library.

Overall, general librarian duties include: 

·         Developing and updating library inventory

·         Handling requests by patrons 

·         Researching and implementing new information management techniques

When crafting your own librarian job description, it’s important to clearly define librarian job requirements and responsibilities based on the needs of the specific position you want to fill.

Job brief

We are looking for an experienced librarian with a passion for learning and books to join our team.

You’ll ensure that the library runs smoothly on a daily basis, and all patrons are happy with our services. Also, some important librarian tasks you’ll undertake include developing, organizing, and updating library records.

To do this job, you’ll need to be a people person, since you’ll regularly interact with patrons and other library employees. Endurance and patience is also a must, as you’ll often handle multiple duties at the same time, for instance, showing people how to use the resources database or updating the information system.

If you fit this description and you’re also adept in shushing noisy patrons, we’d like to hear from you.


·         Oversee the library to ensure cleanliness, order, and protection of the library’s resources 

·         Develop and organize library inventory (e.g. with books, collections, periodicals, multimedia, etc.)

·         Conduct regular checks and updates on database information

·         Help patrons research reading materials and references

·         Answer patrons’ questions via phone or email

·         Publish and update content on the library’s website (e.g. book summaries, reviews, blog, etc.)

·         Research and implement new information system techniques

·         Organize activities and promotional events (e.g. children’s storytelling, author readings, book sales, etc.)

·         Manage library budgeting and billing for new equipment

·         Supervise library assistants and other staff

Requirements and skills

·         Previous experience as a librarian

·         Experience using computers and working with electronic databases

·         Familiarity with information management systems

·         Strong organizational skills

·         Effective communication 

·         Ability to multitask

·         A patient and friendly personality

·         A degree in Library Science; a Master’s in Library Science or Information Management is a plus

Frequently asked questions

What does a Librarian do?

Librarians are the backbone of any library. They engage with members to teach them about their cataloguing system and direct them towards particular genres to find what is needed for entertainment, education, or research purposes - all while maintaining an organized facility, and being responsible for late fees payment processing.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a Librarian?

A Librarian’s responsibilities include hiring employees, ordering books from publishers, processing late fees if necessary, and organizing book displays. Librarians also coordinate community programs that increase library awareness while evaluating inventory needs for new technologies within their local system.

What makes a good Librarian?

A good Librarian has excellent organization skills, knows how to manage projects, and gives presentations effectively, so they don't distract from the information that needs to be presented but instead enhance it.

Who does a Librarian work with?

Librarians serve their local community in their libraries. They also often work within schools to support children’s education. Because of this, they connect with the School Administrator, who helps them with administrative tasks.


The Assistant Librarian will assist the Librarian and others with the daily tasks of the library.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • None.


  • Assists with daily tasks of the library such as issuing new library cards, checking out library materials, receiving returns, collecting late charges, and determining outstanding materials.
  • Returns, or oversees and trains volunteers to return, books and materials to stacks.
  • Locates books or other reference materials to assist patrons; refers requests requiring professional assistance to reference librarian.
  • Explains computer systems, card files, and other reference sources and how to use such systems to patrons.
  • Prepares purchase requests, orders supplies, and, upon delivery, processes and distributes supplies and materials throughout the library.
  • Completes routine descriptive cataloguing.
  • Examines books for damage; repairs or facilitates repairs when needed.
  • Assists in preparing exhibits, seasonal displays, and bulletin boards throughout the library.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned.

Required Skills/Abilities:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite or related software.
  • Working knowledge of Dewey decimal system.
  • Working knowledge of office equipment and accurate keyboarding skills necessary to manage clerical and cataloguing duties.
  • Ability to remain professional and courteous while interacting with library patrons.

Education and Experience:

  • High school diploma or equivalent required.
  • At least two years of relevant library experience or training.

Physical Requirements:

  • Prolonged periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer.
  • Must be able to lift up to 15 pounds at times.
  • Must be able to climb ladders or steps tools, push and pull book carts, and lift and carry books.
  • Must be able to read and discern computer screens and book labels.


Core Competencies Of Librarianship

Librarianship refers to the field of working in a library in various ways. Whether in a basic librarian position or as an administrator, there are numerous positions within the field and numerous types of libraries that one may find employment in. However, while anyone can earn a degree and enter this field, there are certain people who are more well-suited to the job based on their overall personality and their natural skillset. There are also numerous core competencies that make up the knowledge base of a good librarian. These are usually taught within classes that lead to library science degrees. In all cases, understanding the core competencies of librarianship is a good first step towards success in the field.

Personal Qualities for a Librarian

Before one ever sits in a library science related classroom, there are numerous skills and abilities that help highlight someone as being right for a position in this field. These natural talents and personality traits help one stand out as a good candidate for a position as a librarian. Basic personal traits and skills that are important to have include:

·         A love of knowledge and learning

·         A desire to work around people

·         Love of books

·         Broad overall knowledge of life and the world

·         Strong organizational skills

·         Good with numbers

·         Friendly

·         Ethical

·         Personable

·         Basic affinity for working with large volumes of information

·         Computer skills

Note that these skills and traits aren’t necessarily required to become a professional librarian, but they are important components of thriving in the position and as such it’s important to consider the presence of one or more of them in one’s own personality to determine if librarianship is a good career choice to make.

Basic Librarian Skills and Competencies

While those personal qualities are all important aspects of a career in this field, they only make up the foundation on which to build. Learning various skills through classwork is a must for entering a position as a librarian and there are numerous core competencies worth taking a look at. These basic competencies include:

·         Ability to use technology and to use it to enhance the overall effectiveness of a library, including web based methods of improving technological access to information.

·         Good overall knowledge of archiving and filing information as well as maintaining databases and reference information.

·         Capable of evaluating resources and finding the best ones for addressing different questions or issues.

·         Ability to quickly and professionally search databases, internet resources, and catalogs to find needed information.

·         Ability to communicate well with library staff as well as with all patrons and guests

·         Deep knowledge of books. Good librarians usually read a variety of genres and types of books so that they can help to advise readers as to good books for their reading level and their interests.

·         Ability to promote reading

·         Ability to present information clearly and in an interesting manner

·         Some public speaking skills may be required as well

·         Strong level of customer service skills

·         Ability to adapt to new tools, systems, and situations as they arise – library and information technology is constantly evolving and shifting and librarians must be able to evolve along with it

·         Good overall knowledge of pop culture and current events may not be needed but can help with facilitating patrons’ needs

·         Team player

·         Ability to help overcome issues by focusing on solutions instead of on the problems

·         Organizational skills that are enhanced through regular additional efforts

·         Must maintain a solid overall understanding of different issues that confront libraries of all sizes

Obviously some of these competencies are taught while others are gradually learned and mastered during an education and on the job experience. For example, while classes can help teach one the finer points of organization or statistics, one will have to gradually learn how to hone their communication skills.

Additionally, some of these skills may not be as important as others. The place of employment will have a large impact on exactly what is needed to thrive in a particular position in a particular job and the specific competencies most important in that occupation.


The field of librarianship is a rewarding one to enter, particular for those who love knowledge, learning, and reading. However, while several personal traits and skills will help one be better suited overall for a position in the field, there are also numerous skills and competencies that must be studied and advanced in order to succeed in this field. It takes much more to thrive as a librarian than many people realize, and the above lists should help give you an idea of just what it takes to succeed in this important and constantly evolving field.

What is a Librarian?  Key Roles and Duties

Librarians can provide organization and many other benefits to an institution. Read further to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of a librarian, areas of specialty, qualifications and other important information to help you hire your own librarian.

What is a librarian?

A librarian is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of a library at the public or private level. They can work within schools, religious institutions or as part of government-owned libraries and research facilities.

Roles and responsibilities of a librarian

Librarians can have diverse responsibilities. Here are some examples of potential roles and responsibilities a librarian might have, as mentioned by

  • Provide customer service for library users
  • Provide suggestions to library users about new books to try
  • Help library users check out books
  • Keep a budget to repair, replace or get new reading materials
  • Oversee a team of assistant librarians and library aids
  • Delegate tasks among staff to maintain a productive work environment
  • Create an online database for easy access to members and staff
  • Catalog new inventory and update the database accordingly
  • Develop fun and education programs for youths and adults
  • Research new reading trends and popular genres to add to the library
  • Order new inventory from book supply companies

Types of librarians

 Public librarians

Public librarians work at public libraries located within a town, city or state. Here, they interact with members of the public of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. Public librarians help organize their library, catalog new reading material and enter new book details into their library database. In addition, public librarians can create community programs that take place in the library. These could include library-run book clubs, puppet shows and even fun events where local authors read from their books.

School librarians

School librarians can work in public or private schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. At the school level, a large part of a librarian’s job might be to educate students on how to use a library effectively and help instill a love for reading in them. As part of classes, they might teach children how to use the library database and other research tools like an encyclopaedia, dictionary or thesaurus.

Academic librarians

Academic librarians are those who work within colleges and universities. Here, they help students learn how to use the library database to find online scholarly articles or hardcopy materials for research papers and projects. They also help professors find and access research material and sometimes hold materials for them to use in their classes. Depending on the age of the college or university, librarians might also be tasked with storing and preserving artifacts and books. They might be responsible for scanning pages of old books to add to their online database so as to provide access to library users while ensuring its preservation.

Specialty-focused librarians

Specialty-focused librarians work within specialty libraries. A specialty library is one that contains books and reading material of the same genre or pertaining to the same industry. These libraries are typically located within colleges or universities or at the public level in places like zoos and even museums. In addition, government agencies can also have libraries that include research tools and historical records. For example, specialty librarians who work in law school libraries are responsible for maintaining books and other reading material pertaining specifically to law.

Librarian qualifications/requirements

Librarians can have varying requirements depending on where they work. Here are some basic qualifications a librarian should have, according to

1. A bachelor’s degree

Librarians usually complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in library science or another area such as English, history or sociology. Librarians can also have degrees in an area they hope to specialize in. For example, a pre-law degree could translate to working in a law library after completing their master’s degree.

2. Relevant work experience

As students complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, many gain work experience within a library or research facility. Some might get positions working in their college or university library as an aid or obtain a position as a research assistant.

3. A master’s degree

After completing a bachelor’s degree, prospective librarians typically complete a two-year master’s degree program in library science or library and information studies. This is especially helpful if they did not get a bachelor’s degree in library science.

4. Licensure or certification

Licensure and certification may depend on the type of librarian career being pursued. For example, school librarians are required to apply for and receive state licensure.

Frequently asked questions about librarians

What kinds of skills do librarians need?

According to the American Library Association, librarians need a variety of skills. Here are some examples of potential skills to help you identify qualified candidates when reviewing resumes:

  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Task delegation
  • Creativity
  • Library software competency
  • Verbal communication
  • Record-keeping
  • Research
  • Analytical-thinking
  • Foreign language competency

How do I find a good librarian?

You can potentially find a good librarian by understanding the personable and professional qualities that good librarians typically have. As mentioned by Masters in Library Science, good librarians have an avid love for reading across genres. They keep up-to-date on the latest reading trends and have a desire to share their love of reading with others. A librarian is a friendly and personable role, a person who can assist adults and children alike and find and check out reading material.

How do I interview a librarian?

To conduct a successful interview, you should review each candidate’s resume and cover letter before the interview. This can help you develop questions and talking points to discuss during the interview. You should also create a list of questions that apply to a librarian at your institution. For example, if you work for a college or university, ask a librarian candidate to talk about their experience helping college students find reading material and use the database system.

What Makes a Good Librarian? 5 Qualities You Might Want to Have

Currently a researcher and project manager, I create time to share with you my ideas about books, college, business, minimalism & everything that crosses my mind in between.  

As some of you may know, I have been a librarian for 6 months, I now work in the tourism industry and I might go back to the library in the Fall. Thus, I have gained a (very) tiny experience in the field of library science and I think that I now have an idea of the top qualities of what I would call a “good” librarian. As I know that most of you love reading and that some have a lot of questions about becoming a librarian, I thought that a post on that topic might be useful. Here are, for me, the top qualities of a “good” librarian, enjoy!

Know how to listen

If you become a librarian, chances are that you will need to make book recommendations. To do so, you will need to put your own tastes aside and to focus on what the person in front of you is saying. You will also need to remember what this person told you the previous times in order to be able to create a curated list of recommendations. The best way to be able to remember, quite obviously, is to listen carefully. Thus, each time a reader talks to you, make sure you are focused on what they have to say in order to be able, later on, to recommend the best books possible for them.

Public speaking is key

Usually, we think that librarian is a perfect job for shy people. However, sorry to burst your bubble, but it is certainly not. You will likely need to make conferences about a wide variety of topics and, at the very least, to do public readings. Thus, I would advise you to do a work on yourself if you feel that you are not confident enough when it comes to public speaking. I know, it is a very hard task but, believe me, this will definitely help you in the long run.

Be patient

Chances are that you will get to work with children at some point in your career. Thus, patience will definitely be key for you as sometimes, children can get quite complicated to deal with. However, it is part of the job and working with them can be so rejuvenating: it is all worth it in my opinion. Moreover, children aren’t the only ones to potentially have an impact of your level of patience; adults can too! I do not count the number of times I have been asked the “book with the red cover” or “that book I do not remember the author of but in which there is a murder”. Sometimes, you can just lose patience, but it is so important to really keep looking for that particular book with the reader. Thus, I do think that patience is really key in that job, and to be honest, I am sure it is key in so many areas of life and necessary to a happy life.

Be creative

Being a librarian does not only mean lending books. It is obviously a big part of the job, but you also need to think about what comes before and after lending that particular book. Before, you need to think about what type of book you will actually buy for your library. Thus, you need to be curious and stay up to date with new releases, and you need to be creative in your choices in order to make your library stand out. After, you need to show readers how interesting that book is. Thus, you will probably think about creative ways to display it on the shelves or about a little exhibition around that book. In my library, we love creating selections of books around specific topics and display them gracefully on dedicated tables. Thus, the book comes to the reader and not the other way around. Once more, I really do think being creative is one of the most important qualities in that job as it will dictate what you buy and how you present it to readers. Thus, your creativity basically dictates the life of the library.

Be joyful

Last but not least, you need to be joyful. Of course, we can’t be happy all the time (it would be beyond unhealthy to try) but as in every job that puts you in contact with people, being joyful and smiling is absolutely necessary. Moreover, people usually come in libraries to live a moment out of time and forget about their everyday struggles. Thus, you want (in the limit of what is possible) to help that process by being joyful. Libraries tend to calm me and to be honest, even after my recent breakup, going to work in my beautiful library was one of the most therapeutic things in the world. Being joyful in libraries tends to be natural for me, and thus I hope that I am able to share that feeling with readers.

As you understood, being a librarian means a lot to me and I have quite a clear image of the librarian I personally want to be. However, please keep in mind that these ideas are only mine and that not every librarian has to be this way. I have colleagues who differ a lot from some of the points mentioned today, and it does not prevent them from being perfect librarians. We all have different ideas and ideals, which is fine. I only want this post to give you a global idea of the qualities you might want to look for in yourself in you are considering that job. However, as always to land a job, my top advice would be the cliché one: be yourself. If you are true to yourself, then you will naturally be attracted to what is really meant for you (which applies to jobs too).

library, a few move to the other side of town, and some just can’t keep up with the fast pace of an exploring-making-learning-inventing-collaborating-coding-reading-celebrating school library.

No matter why your former clerk resigned, you’ll definitely want to be involved in naming the next successful candidate. One way to do that is by articulating to your principal the specific skills and attributes you need in a successful candidate. Let’s be honest: sometimes they know, and sometimes they don’t.

What characteristics can extend the outreach, and ultimately, the impact of the library? Here’s what we prioritize on our list!

  1. Organized: This is a no-brainer. If you’re organized, you want to work with someone else who is. If you’re not, then you need all the help you can get! As long as we do the Dewey, we are going to need our staff to help us reserve materials or train students and volunteers to do it. People want and expect to be able to find materials on our shelves; when our staff is organized, our materials have a better chance of being organized. From shelving to seating areas to makerspaces to workrooms, we need support in keeping our busy libraries organized. In addition to being able to keep on top of managing stuff, clerks need to be organized in terms of workflow and knowing how to prioritize tasks. Clerks who can prioritize tasks and check them off the library to-do list are gems!
  2. Flexible and a “yes” mentality: There are days when teachers ask us to do things that compare to back flips; students need us to do things that feel like a roller coaster; and school leaders urge us to risk-taking journeys similar to hiking alone in bear country. On the days when we lack pep in our step, it helps to have a partner in the work who delivers an enthusiastic “yes!” and understands that our work is service to people, not projects. Although we all like some degree of predictability, sometimes we can’t imagine what a day in the library will look like. There are limits to what we should ask clerks to do, but they should be willing to step away from the circulation desk and shelving cart and spot us as we attempt back flips; sit next to us on the roller coaster; and ring the bell so that the bears know we are coming. Do students need help finding a book? Does the hallway need an additional adult to supervise? Would s/he even be comfortable leading story time every once in a while? Someone who is confident taking on different responsibilities and being comfortable with unpredictability is the clerk you’re looking for.
  3. Life-long learnerIf library work can be summarized in any one word, it may be evolution. We need someone who is not only open-to-change, but also someone who asks us why we do the things we do and challenges us to explore innovative solutions and ideas. All library employees should model the behavior of curiosity and risk-taking that we want to see in our students.
  4. Professional and discreetIt’s so important that librarians are able to work with every single teacher and every single student in the building. When our staff is unaffiliated with cliques, they are less likely to come in with stereotypes, gossip, or grudges. They are also less likely to share what “they” think is appropriate for children based on what they allow in their house. It’s a library, folks, not a time to share personal inclinations to censor. The library is often the place where teachers and staff come to vent their frustrations, and the clerk might end up on the receiving end of this. They need to be able to listen to teachers without spreading gossip and starting drama. It’s important that everyone (including teachers) feel that the library is a safe space, which means that all the library staff members are professional and maintain confidentiality.
  5. Respects privacyWe have an obligation to patrons to not publicize who the period book is checked out to, who is reading our LGBTQ+ books, or what fifth-grade teacher checked out the DVD that the sixth-grade teachers swear “belongs” to their unit. According to the ALA, “rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship.”
  6. Understands the roleNothing will ruin a professional relationship faster than a power struggle! One way to avoid this is to hire a clerk who genuinely wants to be in a support position. Some people are happy to not have to make big decisions, take on weighty responsibilities, and work weekends . . . and these are the people who will make successful clerks.
  7. Reflective: Schön argues that reflection IN action and reflection ON action are the most important factors in top performers. When our staff engage with us in reflective practices, our programs mature and grow strong roots in the school culture.
  8. Has (or can acquire) marketing, social media, and technology skills: When our staff understands that we are “selling” literacy skills and “pushing” resources, our program is more successful. Look for a candidate who can design and implement marketing strategies (displays, bulletin boards, Twitter, etc.) that wow teachers and convince students to try a new resource. There will be days when you have news/videos/content you want to feature, but you just don’t have time to log in and post. When your staff have these skills, your message gets delivered faster. Our interaction with technology goes far beyond our circulation systems. We need clerical support who can troubleshoot GarageBand and delete frames on iMovie and even mentor students on analog technologies like cutting saws.
  9. Complementary skillsWe’ve heard people say that they want to hire staff that feels like “family,” but finding folks like us doesn’t necessarily grow our programs. When you find a candidate with complementary skills, they help build the breadth of what the library can offer to your school community.
  10. Loves working with students: You still occasionally meet people who want to work in a library because they love to read. Sure, a love of literature is vital, but educating students is why we’re here and that should be the potential clerk’s first priority. They also need to believe that every student has the right to read, the right to privacy, and the right to access information. We’re here in the service of people, not stuff.


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