I’ve often wondered if I was meant to be a librarian. I love, love books and ironically, my maternal Grandmother was a school librarian. But I also know that this job is not as simple as it may appear in movies and those who possess the desire to become a librarian need a deep commitment to literacy, communities, and kids.
Bottom line; here’s more to being a librarian than simply sitting behind a desk. Today’s librarians are highly-educated professionals who are expected to hold advanced degrees and utilize all kinds of multimedia equipment. They also have to possess great people skills and a genuine love of learning. If you think Becoming a Librarian might be the career for you, here’s how to get started!
1. Understand the Job
The popular image of a library is a quiet, mausoleum-like building where all loud noises are immediately shushed. However, it’s much more common for 21st century libraries to be hubs of activity. Between all of the computers, study groups, job training classes and children’s read-alongs, there’s always something happening or someone needing help, and librarians have to be capable of handling it all!
2. Get Your Degree
Most librarian jobs will ask for a master’s degree in library and information science. On top of that, your school will need to be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) to be officially recognized by employers. This means that finding the right library science program is imperative to your career goals, so don’t just pick a college at random. Do your research and figure out if it will provide the credentials that you need to succeed.
What does their average day look like? How many hours do they work per week? Do they receive any bonuses? What’s the hardest thing about the job? What’s something that they would change about the job if they could? These are all questions that your local librarian should be happy to answer, especially if you explain that you’re considering a career in the field. Librarians always love to welcome fresh faces to the ranks, so don’t be shy about expressing your interest in their job!
4. Consider Becoming a Paraprofessional
You don’t have to be a librarian to work in a library. There are all kinds of paraprofessionals who act as aides and administrative assistants to the fully-qualified librarians, and this isn’t a bad way to get your foot in the door. As a bonus, spending a year or two as a paraprofessional can help you determine if you really want to become a librarian. You’ll get familiar with its procedures, routines, and challenges, and you can decide for yourself if it’s the right fit for you.
5. Teach Yourself the Technology
Many libraries act as a community resource when it comes to things like computers, printers and fax machines. If you don’t know how to use them yourself, you won’t be able to help visitors when they come in needing a tax document scanned or a resume emailed to a recruitment agency. You’ll also need to be familiar with technology to handle your own administrative tasks, so unless you plan on cataloging all of those books by hand, teach yourself how to use a database. You don’t have to be a technological genius; you just have to understand basic computer functions and programs.
These are just a few tips for getting Becoming a Librarian. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college freshman thinking about a major or a graduate student already working on your library science degree; the foundations of becoming a good librarian are all the same. Good luck!