Affirmations for Librarians, Job Duties and More

by Kate Williams

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use.

Work Environment

Librarians work for local governments, companies, and elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. Most work full time.

How to Become a Librarian

Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science. Some positions have additional requirements, such as a teaching certificate or a degree in another field.


The median annual wage for librarians was $59,500 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of librarians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Communities are increasingly turning to libraries for a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information.

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, or medical libraries.


Librarians typically do the following:

  • Create and use databases of library materials
  • Organize library materials so they are easy to find
  • Help library patrons to conduct research to evaluate search results and reference materials
  • Research new books and materials by reading book reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogs
  • Maintain existing collections and choose new books, videos, and other materials for purchase
  • Plan programs for different audiences, such as story time for children
  • Teach classes about information resources
  • Research computers and other equipment for purchase, as needed
  • Train and supervise library technicians, assistants, other support staff, and volunteers
  • Prepare library budgets

In small libraries, librarians are often responsible for many or all aspects of library operations. In large libraries, they usually focus on one aspect of the library, such as user services, technical services, or administrative services.

The following are examples of types of librarians:

Academic librarians assist students, faculty, and staff in postsecondary institutions. They help students research topics related to their coursework and teach students how to access information. They also assist faculty and staff in locating resources related to their research projects or studies. Some campuses have multiple libraries, and librarians may specialize in a particular subject.

Administrative services librarians manage libraries, prepare budgets, and negotiate contracts for library materials and equipment. Some conduct public relations or fundraising activities for the library.

Public librarians work in their communities to serve all members of the public. They help patrons find books to read for pleasure; conduct research for schoolwork, business, or personal interest; and learn how to access the library’s resources. Many public librarians plan programs for patrons, such as story time for children, book clubs, or educational activities.

School librarians, sometimes called school media specialists, work in elementary, middle, and high school libraries and teach students how to use library resources. They also help teachers develop lesson plans and find materials for classroom instruction.

Special librarians work in settings other than school or public libraries. They are sometimes called information professionals. Businesses, museums, government agencies, and many other groups have their own libraries that use special librarians. The main purpose of these libraries and information centers is to serve the information needs of the organization that houses the library. Therefore, special librarians collect and organize materials focused on those subjects. Special librarians may need an additional degree in the subject that they specialize in. The following are examples of special librarians:

  • Corporate librarians assist employees of private businesses in conducting research and finding information. They work for a wide range of organizations, including insurance companies, consulting firms, and publishers.
  • Law librarians conduct research or help lawyers, judges, law clerks, and law students locate and analyze legal resources. They often work in law firms and law school libraries.
  • Medical librarians, also called health science librarians, help health professionals, patients, and researchers find health and science information. They may provide information about new clinical trials and medical treatments and procedures, teach medical students how to locate medical information, or answer consumers’ health questions.

Technical services librarians obtain, prepare, and organize print and electronic library materials. They arrange materials for patrons’ ease in finding information. They are also responsible for ordering new library materials and archiving to preserve older items.

User services librarians help patrons conduct research using both electronic and print resources. They teach patrons how to use library resources to find information on their own. This may include familiarizing patrons with catalogs of print materials, helping them access and search digital libraries, or educating them on Internet search techniques. Some user services librarians work with a particular audience, such as children or young adults.

Librarians held about 146,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of librarians were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private34%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals29
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private17

Most librarians typically work on the floor with patrons, behind the circulation desk, or in offices. Some librarians have private offices, but those in small libraries usually share work space with others.

Work Schedules

Most librarians work full time. Public and academic librarians often work on weekends and evenings and may work holidays. School librarians usually have the same work and vacation schedules as teachers, including summers off. Special librarians, such as corporate librarians, typically work normal business hours but may need to work more than 40 hours per week to help meet deadlines.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of librarians.

 OccupationJob DutiesEntry-Level EducationMedian Annual Pay, May 2019



Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma.

Bachelor’s degree$54,350


Curators and museum technicians


Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Archivists and curators oversee institutions’ collections, such as of historical items or of artwork. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore items in those collections.

See How to Become One$49,850



High School Teachers

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor’s degree$61,660



Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor’s degree$59,420



Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library.

See How to Become One$30,560



Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor’s degree$59,660



Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One$79,540

For more information about librarians, including accredited library education programs, visit

American Library Association

For information about medical librarians, visit

Medical Library Association

For information about law librarians, visit

American Association of Law Libraries

For information about many different types of special librarians, visit

Special Libraries Association

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians,
at (visited ).


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