Education and Training > Librarians > Overview

Librarians - Overview

Librarians organize materials in libraries and help people locate them.

Librarians select, order, and classify library items. This includes books, magazines, documents, recordings, and films. They also maintain items and make sure they are listed in the library's catalogs.

In large libraries, librarians may specialize in one of the three areas listed below. In smaller libraries, they do all three types of work.

User services

Librarians working in user services help library users find information and conduct a search. This may involve teaching users how to use computers to search for items in the library or on the Internet. Librarians also may develop tools such as indexes, web pages, and online tutorials that help users find materials or learn how to use the library. Librarians also check out items to customers and notify users when items are due.

Librarians explain library activities, rules, and services to users. If a library patron makes a complaint, they respond and try to resolve the problem.

Technical services

Technical services librarians order and receive materials. When materials arrive, they classify them by subject matter. They enter information about books into the computer catalog system. Technical services librarians check the condition of books and repair those that are worn.

Administrative services

Librarians in administrative services supervise other employees and plan activities. They order supplies and equipment and prepare budgets. They also negotiate contracts for services. Librarians educate the public about libraries and organize fundraising events. They may also develop the library's particular policies and procedures.

Librarians who work in settings other than public libraries sometimes have different job duties.

School librarians

School librarians help teachers develop courses and find materials. Librarians may teach classes. School librarians often are called media specialists. Many librarians work at university libraries, where they assist students and professors and also maintain complex collections.

Special librarians

Special librarians work in settings other than school or public libraries. They are associated with businesses, government agencies, law firms, and other specialized groups. Librarians at private libraries conduct in-depth information searches for library users in addition to running the library.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.