The staff who work in a library range from student volunteers who place books on the shelves to professional librarians who have multiple master's degrees and who oversee a specialized collection. Since you are a beginner-level job seeker, your best bet will be to volunteer or apply for assistant librarian positions at small libraries. Competition for these positions is often high, so read on to find out more about these jobs and how to increase your chances of success.
Part 1 of 3: Understanding the Entry Level Librarian Positions
Step 1. Ask about volunteer jobs at your local public library
The staff at the reference desk will be able to give you more information about volunteer work or will send you to someone who can inform you. Public libraries often have volunteer opportunities for people who have no library experience or who have not studied. Volunteer work could consist of placing books on shelves, fixing damaged books, assisting patrons at the circulation desk, or assisting the children's librarian.
Step 2. Consider being a librarian assistant
Library assistants normally receive a salary; however, they can be temporary or part-time employees. The work is similar to what a volunteer would do, typically placing books on shelves. This option may be your best bet in a paid job at a library if you are not a college student or do not have a college degree.
The librarian at the reference desk should also be able to tell you about this program
Step 3. Ask about other jobs in the library
It is important to note that not all library jobs involve being a librarian or require a degree in library science. Almost all libraries need a custodian, and the larger libraries also need security guards.
Step 4. Look for opportunities at your college or university
If you are a college or high school student, visit your school library. They could hire students as library assistants. These positions can often be scheduled during the student's school hours and may or may not be tied to a student financial aid package.
Step 5. Compare the job requirements to be a librarian assistant
A librarian assistant position is an entry-level job that manages the day-to-day work in a library. Requirements between libraries vary quite a bit. Small libraries are more likely to have lower requirements and may even train high school students. Most often you will need a high school diploma and sometimes college-level study in library science.
Some libraries use the term "library technician" interchangeably with "assistant librarian." In other libraries, technicians rank higher and have higher educational requirements
Part 2 of 3: Get a job
Step 1. Check the bulletin board or website
Most libraries have a bulletin board where they display notices of special events and, from time to time, open jobs. Review them occasionally so that you can apply for the jobs you qualify for or so that you know the requirements you can work on. The library may also post job postings on its website or on local government websites.
Most libraries are non-profit institutions that are overseen by a committee. Compared to most employers, this gives them less scope for discretionary hiring. It is unlikely that you will be hired based on your personal connections and it is usually mandatory that you know the established requirements
Step 2. Visit the library before applying
Visit the library in person when you see a job offer that matches your level of experience. Evaluate the service you receive and the experience of visiting the library. Ask questions of the staff there. Check out program calendars, available technology, and other library resources. All of these things will give you material that you can talk about in your interview. In this way, you can show that you have done your homework and also offer suggestions of things to which you could contribute.
- For example, if you visited a library program, bring ideas to improve it. If the children's gardening program is popular, suggest starting a library with seed topics.
- Collect as much information as possible about the library to which you are applying for a job:
- Topics covered by the library
- Classification system they use
- Database they use
- Digitized versions of books that the library has
Step 3. Submit your resume
In many public library jobs, especially in large cities, there is a computer that scans resumes instead of a person. These resumes must include keywords from the job description or the applicant will not be considered for an interview.
In your cover letter and during the interview, highlight the qualities that would make you a good librarian (organizational skills, attention to detail, social skills). Also, highlight your interest in the library and the topics it covers
Step 4. Research local policies
Find out as much as you can about the policies that could affect the library before you are interviewed. Is funding in jeopardy or have hours or services been reduced? Consider a role as an advocate or supporter of the library. Look at the group “friends from the library” that could be playing this role.
Step 5. Connect
If possible, become familiar not only with the librarians, but also with the committee members who are in charge of hiring. If, after applying, the library invites you to meet the committee, library friends, or another group of citizens, treat it as an extension of the interview. Be professional and committed.
Part 3 of 3: Training Yourself for a Librarian Career
Step 1. Look for jobs that require a college degree
Some librarian positions in public libraries only require a bachelor's or associate's degree. These types of positions are often for children's and youth librarians.
Step 2. Study a master's degree in library science
Almost all intermediate and advanced library jobs require a master's degree in library science. These professional librarians have more advanced duties, such as keeping watch on assistants or updating library collections.
Step 3. Specialize
Librarians serve many roles, including reference librarian, corporate librarian, cataloger, library manager, collections manager (deciding which books to add and check out), children's librarian, teen librarian, school librarian (elementary and secondary), academic librarian, systems librarian (which implies work with information technology) or managing the circulation desk. Find the roles that sound interesting to you and focus your education on those positions.
Many library science programs also offer archives specialization. Archivists manage historical texts, thus physically preserving them and granting access to them so that people can search
Step 4. Train yourself to be an academic librarian
Many academic librarians also have an additional master's degree in a specific subject. If you are passionate about an academic subject, such as arts, law, music, business, or psychology, then you can combine this path with your interest in libraries.
Step 5. Consider working in a special library
Special libraries are usually private libraries of companies that manage collections that focus on government, medical, commercial, or legal resources. Most positions as a librarian in special libraries require a minimum of a master's degree in library science. A librarian might also need a degree or experience in a specific subject from a certain special library. Some examples are government, legal, business, or scientific issues.
- Public and academic libraries will often need staff working flexible hours to cover night and weekend shifts.
- Librarians must have strong customer service skills in order to help them.
- If you are a novice librarian who just earned a master's degree in library science and have little or no library experience, consider relocating to less urban areas or applying for positions in small libraries.
- Find librarian jobs through the public and private libraries website and at library associations such as the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association.