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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A librarian is an information professional trained in library and information science, which is the organization and management of information services or materials for those with information needs. Typically, librarians work in a public or college library, an elementary or secondary school media center, a library within a business or company, or another information-provision agency like a hospital or law firm. Some librarians are independent entrepreneurs working as information specialists, catalogers, indexers and other professional, specialized capacities. Librarians may be categorized as a public, school, correctional, special, independent or academic librarian.

The Librarian, a 1556 painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo


Outline, requirements and positions

Traditionally, librarians have been associated with collections of books, as demonstrated by the etymology of the word "librarian" (< Latin liber, 'book'). However, modern librarians deal with information in many formats, including books, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings (both musical and spoken-word), video recordings, maps, manuscripts, photographs and other graphic material, bibliographic databases, web searching, and digital resources. Librarians often provide other information services, including computer provision and training, coordination of public programs, basic literacy education, assistive equipment for people with disabilities, and help with finding and using community resources.

Librarian roles and duties

Specific duties vary depending on the size and type of library. Olivia Crosby described librarians as "Information experts in the information age".[1] Most librarians spend their time working in one of the following areas of a library:

  • Public service librarians work with the public, frequently at the reference desk of lending libraries. Some specialize in serving adults or children. Children's librarians provide appropriate material for children at all age levels, include pre-readers, conduct specialized programs and work with the children (and often their parents) to help foster interest and competence in the young reader. (In larger libraries, some specialize in teen services, periodicals, or other special collections.)
  • Reference or research librarians help people doing research to find the information they need, through a structured conversation called a reference interview. The help may take the form of research on a specific question, providing direction on the use of databases and other electronic information resources; obtaining specialized materials from other sources; or providing access to and care of delicate or expensive materials. These services are sometimes provided by other library staff that have been given a certain amount of special training; some have criticized this trend.[2]
  • Technical service librarians work "behind the scenes" ordering library materials and database subscriptions, computers and other equipment, and supervise the cataloging and physical processing of new materials.
  • Collections development librarians monitor the selection of books and electronic resources. Large libraries often use approval plans, which involve the librarian for a specific subject creating a profile that allows publishers to send relevant books to the library without any additional vetting. Librarians can then see those books when they arrive and decide if they will become part of the collection or not. All collections librarians also have a certain amount of funding to allow them to purchase books and materials that don't arrive via approval.
  • Archivists can be specialized librarians who deal with archival materials, such as manuscripts, documents and records, though this varies from country to country, and there are other routes to the archival profession.
  • Systems Librarians develop, troubleshoot and maintain library systems, including the library catalog and related systems.
  • Electronic Resources Librarians manage the databases that libraries license from third-party vendors.
  • School Librarians work in school libraries and perform duties as teachers, information technology specialists, and advocates for literacy.
  • Outreach Librarians are charged with providing library and information services for underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities, low income neighborhoods, homebound adults and seniors, incarcerated and ex-offenders, and homeless and rural communities. In academic libraries, outreach librarians might focus on high school students, transfer students, first-generation college students, and minorities.
  • Instruction Librarians teach information literacy skills in face-to-face classes and/or through the creation of online learning objects. They instruct library users on how to find, evaluate and use information effectively. They are most common in academic libraries.

Experienced librarians may take administrative positions such as library or information center director. Similar to the management of any other organization, they are concerned with the long-term planning of the library, and its relationship with its parent organization (the city or county for a public library, the college/university for an academic library, or the organization served by a special library). In smaller or specialized libraries, librarians typically perform a wide range of the different duties.

Salaries and benefits have improved somewhat in recent years, even in an era of budget tightening and reductions in operating expenses at many libraries. They can vary considerably depending upon the geographic region, the level of funding and support (it is usually better in major academic libraries and government facilities than it is in inner-city school or public libraries), the type of library (a small public or school library versus a large government or academic library), and the position (a beginning librarian versus a department head). Starting salaries at small public libraries can range from $20,000-$25,000; high profile positions like director or department head can approach or exceed $100,000 at major academic and large government libraries and some public libraries. Librarians who are paid faculty salaries at a major university (especially if they have a second academic degree), who have an education degree at a school library, who are in administration at a library, or who are in a government library post tend to have higher incomes, especially with experience and better language and technical skills. Despite this, librarians are still wrongly perceived as low-level pink collar professionals. In reality, the technical competencies and information-seeking skills needed for the job are becoming increasingly important and are relevant to the contemporary economy, and such positions are thus becoming more prominent.

Representative examples of librarian responsibilities:

  • Researching topics of interest for their constituencies.
  • Referring patrons to other community organizations and government offices.
  • Suggesting appropriate books ("readers' advisory") for children of different reading levels, and recommending novels for recreational reading.
  • Facilitating and promoting reading clubs.
  • Developing programs for library users of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Managing access to electronic information resources.
  • Building collections to respond to changing community needs or demands
  • Writing grants to gain funding for expanded program or collections
  • Digitizing collections for online access
  • Answering incoming reference questions via telephone, postal mail, email, fax, and chat
  • Making and enforcing computer appointments on the public access Internet computers.[3]


Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library at Texas Tech, a university in the United States

Basic categories of workplace settings for librarians are routinely classified around the world as: public, academic, school, and special. Some librarians will start and operate their own business. They often call themselves information brokers, research specialists, knowledge management, competitive intelligence or independent information professionals. Below are the basic differences between the types of libraries.

Public library: These institutions are created through legislation within the jurisdiction they serve. Accordingly, they are given certain benefits, such as taxpayer funding, but must adhere to service standards and meet a wide group of client needs. They are usually overseen by a board of directors or library commission from the community. Mission statements, service and collection policies are the fundamental administrative features of public libraries. Occasionally private lending libraries serve the public in the manner of public libraries. In the United States, public librarians and public libraries are represented by the Public Library Association.[4]

Academic library: Libraries that serve a post-secondary institution. Depending upon the institution, the library may serve a particular faculty or the entire institution. Many different types, sizes, and collections are found in academic libraries and some academic librarians are specialists in these collections and archives. A university librarian, or chief librarian, is responsible for the library within the college structure, and may also be called the Dean of Libraries. Some post-secondary institutions treat librarians as faculty, and they may be called professor or other academic ranks, which may or may not increase their salary and benefits. Some universities make similar demands of academic librarians for research and professional service as are required of faculty. Academic librarians administer various levels of service and privilege to faculty, students, alumni and the public.

School library media center: Libraries which exclusively serve the needs of a public or private school. The primary purpose is to support the students, teachers, and curriculum of the school or school district. In addition to library administration, certificated teacher-librarians instruct individual students, groups and classes, and faculty in effective research methods, often referred to as information literacy skills. Audio-visual equipment service and/or textbook circulation may also be included in a school librarian's responsibilities. Often, teacher-librarians are qualified teachers who take academic courses for school library certification and/or earn a Master's degree in Library Science.

The Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford University

Special library: News, law, medical, government, nongovernmental organization, prison, corporate, museum or any other type of library owned and operated by an organization are considered as special library. They can be highly specialized, serving a discrete user group with a restricted collection area. In an increasingly global and virtual workplace, many special librarians may not even work in a library at all but instead manage and facilitate the use of electronic collections. Funding for special libraries varies widely. Librarians in some types of special libraries may be required to have additional training, such as a law degree for a librarian in an academic law library or appropriate subject degrees for subject specialties such as chemistry, engineering, etc. Many belong to the Special Libraries Association.[5] There are also more specific associations such as the American Association of Law Libraries,[6] Art Libraries Society of North America,[7] the Medical Library Association,[8] or the Visual Resources Association.[9]



The US and Canada

In the United States and Canada, a librarian might have a one or two-year (more common) master's degree in library and information science, library science or information science (called an MLS, MALIS, MSLS, MIS, MSIS, MS-LIS, MISt, MLIS, or MILS) from an accredited university.[1] These degrees are accredited by the American Library Association and can have specializations within fields such as archiving, records management, information architecture, public librarianship, medical librarianship, law librarianship, special librarianship, academic librarianship, or school (K-12) librarianship. School librarians often are required to have a teaching credential, as well as a library science degree. Many, if not most, academic librarians also have a second, subject-based master's degree. This is especially true of four year colleges.


In the UK and some other countries, a librarian can have a three- or four-year bachelor's degree in library and information studies or information science; separate master's degrees in librarianship, archive management, and records management are also available. In the United Kingdom, these degrees are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the Society of Archivists.[10] In Germany and some other countries, the first step for an academic librarian is a PhD in a subject field, followed by additional training in librarianship.


In Australia, a professional librarian must meet the requirements set out by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). There are three ways in which these requirements can be met: the individual must obtain an ALIA-recognized bachelor degree in library and information studies, complete a first degree in any discipline followed by an ALIA-recognized postgraduate diploma or masters course, or gain an ALIA-recognized library technician qualifications (undertaken at TAFE) followed by an ALIA-recognized bachelor degree in library and information studies.[11] ALIA is responsible for accreditation of library specific qualifications for both librarians and library technicians. Professional Australian teacher-librarians require slightly different qualifications. In addition to having a degree that meets ALIA's accreditation process, teacher librarians must also hold recognized teaching qualifications.[12]

Advanced degrees

It is also possible to earn a doctorate in library and information science. Graduates with PhDs usually become teaching faculty in schools of library and information science, or sometimes occupy the directorship or deanship of university libraries. Those undertaking research at the doctoral level can pursue a very wide range of interests including information technology, government information policy, social research into information use among particular segments of society, information in organizations and corporate settings, and the history of books and printing.

It is common in academic and other research libraries to require the librarians to obtain Master's degrees in some academic subject, sometimes but not necessarily related to their professional responsibilities; in major research libraries, some of the librarians will hold Ph. D degrees in subject fields.

Other advanced degrees often taken in conjunction with a degree in librarianship are law, management, health administration or public administration.

Library related positions

Library associates, library technicians, and library assistants often have college diplomas but usually do not hold library-related degrees. Occasionally they also hold undergraduate or graduate degrees in other disciplines. These workers, sometimes referred to as para-professionals, perform duties such as database management, cataloging, ready reference, and serials and monograph processing.

Professional organizations and activities

Presenters and recipients of the New York Times-Carnegie Corporation of New York I Love My Librarian awards, presented in association with the American Library Association

The two largest library associations in the United States are the American Library Association (ALA) and the Special Libraries Association.[5] Many U.S. states have their own library association as well. Librarians may also join such organizations as the Association of College and Research Libraries[13] and the Public Library Association[14] and the Art Libraries Society.[15] The Canadian Library Association serves Canada and there are provincial associations as well, such as the Ontario Library Association. In the United Kingdom, the professional body for Librarians is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals[16] (formerly known as the Library Association). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)[17] represents the interests of libraries and librarians internationally. (See also the List of Library Associations.)

Recent issues of concern for U.S. libraries include implementation of the Patriot Act and the Children's Internet Protection Act. Many librarians around the world share American librarians' concern over ethical issues surrounding censorship and privacy. Some librarians join activist organizations like the UK-based Information for Social Change[18] and the North American-based Progressive Librarians Guild.[19] Within the American Library Association (ALA), some also join the Social Responsibilities Round Table.[20] SRRT came into being amid the social ferment of the 1960s and is often critical of the American Library Association for not living up to its professed ideals. Another important activist organization is the Social Responsibilities Special Interest Section[21] of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).[22] These activist organizations are viewed as controversial by some librarians, while others view them as a natural extension and outgrowth of their own deeply-held library ethics.

Technology in libraries

The increasing role of technology in libraries has a significant impact on the changing roles of librarians. New technologies are dramatically increasing the accessibility of information, and librarians are adapting to the evolving needs of users that emerge from the adoption of these new technologies.

The most significant example of how technology has changed the role of librarians in the last 50 years has been the move from traditional card catalogs to online public access catalogs (OPACs).[citation needed] Librarians had to develop software and the MARC standards for cataloguing records electronically. They had to purchase and run the computers necessary to use the software. They had to teach the public how to use the new technologies and move to more virtual working environments.

The same could be said of other technology developments, from electronic databases (including the Internet), to logistical functions such as bar codes (or in the near future RFID). Many librarians provide virtual reference services (via web-based chat, instant messaging, text messaging, and e-mail), work in digitizing initiatives for works in the public domain, teach information literacy and technology classes to their users, and work on the development of information architectures for improving access and search functionality. These examples illustrate some of the ways in which librarians are using technology to fulfill and expand upon their historical roles.

Librarians must continually adapt to new formats for information, such as electronic journals and e-books, which present both challenges and opportunities in providing access and promoting them to library patrons.

Increasing technological advance has presented the possibility of automating some aspects of traditional libraries. In 2004 a group of researchers in Spain developed the UJI Online Robot. This robot is able to navigate the library, look for the specified book, and upon its discovery, carefully take it from the shelf and deliver it to the user.[citation needed] Because of the robot's extremely limited function, its introduction into libraries poses little risk of the employment of librarians, whose duties are not defined by menial tasks such as the retrieval of books.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Become a Librarian!". Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  2. ^ McKinzie, Steve (October 2002). "For Ethical Reference, Pare the Paraprofessionals". American Libraries 33 (9): 42. 
  3. ^ "The librarian's Internet survival guide: strategies for the high-tech reference desk", Irene E. McDermott, Barbara E. Quint, p. 1-2, Information Today, ISBN157387129
  4. ^ "Public Library Association". American Library Association. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  5. ^ a b "Special Libraries Association". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  6. ^ "The American Association of Law Libraries". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  7. ^ "Art Libraries Society of North America". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  8. ^ "Medical Library Association". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  9. ^ "Visual Resources Association - The International Association of Image Media Professionals". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  10. ^ "Society of Archivists". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  11. ^ "Librarian". Australian Library and Information Association. 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  12. ^ "Teacher-Librarian". Australian Library and Information Association. 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  13. ^ ACRL
  14. ^ Ala | Pla
  15. ^ Art Libraries Society of North America
  16. ^ CILIP | The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
  17. ^ IFLA - The official website of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
  18. ^ Information for Social Change Journal (ISC)
  19. ^ Progressive Librarians Guild
  20. ^ Srrt - Ala
  21. ^ AALL, Social Responsibilities SIS Home Page
  22. ^ The American Association of Law Libraries

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Libraries article)

From Wikiquote

A library is a collection of information resources and services, organized for use, and maintained by a public body, institution, or private individual. In the more traditional sense, it means a collection of books. This collection and services are used by people who choose not to — or cannot afford to — purchase an extensive collection themselves, who need material no individual can reasonably be expected to have, or who require professional assistance with their research.



  • And the smell of the library was always the same - the musty odour of old clothes mixed with the keener scent of unwashed bodies, creating what the chief librarian had once described as 'the steam of the social soup.'
  • You receive this writing that you may know how to preserve the books which I shall deliver to you; and you shall set these in order and anoint them with oil of cedar and put them away in earthen vessels…
    • Apocrypha 1:17-18, "The Assumption of Moses", Aliyat Moshe
  • As regards anything besides these, my son, take a warning: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.
  • A good library at home is a giant empire inside the house.
  • What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists.
  • While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
    So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
  • A great public library, in its catalogue and its physical disposition of its books on shelves, is the monument of literary genres.
    • Robert Melancon, quoted in World Literature Today, Spring 1982, p.231.


  • But although technology is vastly changing their roles, librarians are still seen as "trusted agents" and their role as navigators of the Internet will be critical to everyday life and the future economy.
    • Stephen Abram
  • I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking something up and finding something else on the way.
    • Franklin P. Adams
  • There are times when I think that the ideal library is composed solely of reference books. They are like understanding friends; always ready to meet your mood, always ready to change the subject when you have had enough of this or that.
    • J. Donald Adams, New York Times, 1 April 1956
  • Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.
  • To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence.
  • You go into the restaurants of a town and you see people with hungry stomachs, but you go into the library of the same town and you will see hungry brains feasting upon their favorites. There are all too few libraries, and far too many restaurants. People should eat less and think more.
    • Matthew Adams
  • The richest minds need not large libraries.
    • Amos Bronson Alcott, Table Talk, Book I
  • Libraries are the key to ensuring that the divide between information rich and poor is kept as narrow as possible.
    • Senator Lyn Allison
  • The computer is only a fast idiot, it has no imagination; it cannot originate action. It is, and will remain, only a tool to man.
    • American Library Association on Univac computer exhibited at the 1964 New York World's Fair
  • ...A library is also a place where love begins.
    • Rudolfo Anaya
  • All men by nature desire to know.
  • Library
    Here is where people,
    One frequently finds,
    Lower their voices
    And raise their minds.
    • Richard Armour Light Armour, McGraw-Hill, 1954
  • Throughout my formal education I spent many, many hours in public and school libraries. Libraries became courts of last resort, as it were. The current definitive answer to almost any question can be found within the four walls of most libraries.
  • I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the over door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
  • Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
  • A library is but the soul's burial-ground. It is the land of shadows.
  • People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.
  • If your library is not unsafe, it probably isn't doing its job.
    • John Berry, III
  • There's no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.
  • Being a writer in a library is rather like being a eunuch in a harem.
  • The closest we will ever come to an orderly universe is a good library.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant
  • There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank nor office, nor weight receives the slightest consideration.
  • If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
    • Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
  • Whatever the costs of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.
  • The great consulting-room of a wise man is a library.
    • Rev. George Dawson
  • A great library contains the diary of the human race.
    • Rev. George Dawson
  • Th' first thing to have in a libry is a shelf. Fr'm time to time this can be decorated with lithrachure. But th' shelf is th' main thing.
  • Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.
  • An intelligent person is not necessarily one who knows the answers but rather knows where to find them.
    • John Ellison
  • A university is a group of buildings gathered around a library.
    • Shelby Foote
    • Variant: A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.
  • The richest person in the world – in fact all the riches in the world – couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.
  • The challenge now is for public libraries – particularly in low-income communities – to stay connected. Libraries need support to maintain quality technology services so they can effectively serve the millions who count on them for their only access to computers and the internet.
  • A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.
    • Jo Godwin
  • He that revels in a well-chosen library has innumerable dishes, and all of admirable flavor.
  • I have always believed that libraries are the most civilized places in our world, the most generous and democratic, the least judgmental, belonging to no one and everyone, doing the noble work of at once preserving and circulating the ideas and expressions of mankind.
    • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • No possession can surpass, or even equal, a good library to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures which never cloy.
    • John Alfred Langford
  • He has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world, and the glories of a modern one.
  • A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books.... Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
    • Heinrich Mann
  • Libraries are one of the only face-to-face services left where kids can come with no appointment and get professional services from someone with a master's degree who assigns no grades, makes no judgments. It's the greatest democratic institution ever created.
    • Patrick O'Brien
  • The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
  • Librarians have always been among the most thoughtful and helpful people. They are teachers without a classroom. No libraries, no progress.
    • Willard Scott
  • The prestige of the library of the future will not be the size of the collection, but the number of clicks to its website.
    • Thornton Tibbals
  • A keeper of books:
    I've traveled the world twice over,
    Met the famous; saints and sinners,
    Poets and artists, kings and queens,
    Old stars and hopeful beginners,
    I've been where no-one's been before,
    Learned secrets from writers and cooks.
  • To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.
  • He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot.

Unidentified author

  • Steal not this book, for fear or shame, For it is in the owner's name; And when you are dead, the Lord will say, "Where is that book you stole away?"
    • Book inscription
  • I feed your body, while you feed your mind.
    • Found in library cafe
  • I was the pride of the public library... until I discovered Smirnoff.
    • 1965 advertising slogan
  • A new library is like finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk.
    • Anonymous library patron. as quoted in PUBLIB message, 11 September 2000
  • All with one library ticket
    To the wonderful world of books.
  • When you absolutely positively have to know, ask a librarian.
  • Nobody graduated from a library
    Nobody graduated without one.
  • Libraries keep the records on behalf of all humanity....the unique and the absurd, the wise and [the] fragments of stupidity.
  • Don't write in a book unless it is your check book!
  • To maintain a public library intact, the librarian should buy three copies of each book: the first to show, the second to loan, and the third to read.
  • A person's library consists of all the books he has that no one wants to borrow.
  • The road to success is always under construction.
  • A library is a hospital for the mind.
  • By the time a man can read a woman like a book, he is too old to collect a library.
  • The worst level of service that Internet users will accept is the best level of service they have ever seen.
  • Information that cannot be found is not information, it is landfill.
  • Knowledge is free at the library. Just bring your own container.
  • Book lovers never go to bed alone.
  • On how many people's libraries, as on bottles from the drugstore, one might write: "For external use only."
  • A library is an arsenal of liberty.

Library inscriptions

  • The medicine chest of the soul.
    • Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes
  • Books Set the Spirit Free.
    • Carved over the door of the Lockport Public Library, Lockport, New York
  • Nutrimentum spiritus.
    • Translation: Food for the soul.
    • Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up librarianship in Wiktionary, the free dictionary


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