Workplace Any Librarians?

Sep 13, 2006
Hi all,

So I've been thinking about going back to school to get my MLS but am not sure if I should take the plunge. I currently have a Bachelors in English but not doing anything with it. I thought I would come on here and see if there were any librarians who could possibly give me some insight into this line of work? I know it differs on what type of library it is, but any information would be helpful. I have never worked in a library before and as much as I *wish* you just sat there all day and read, I know that's definitely not the case :smile:

So like I said I'm not sure exactly what "question" I'm asking, but more just wanted to see if I could get any insight as to what being a librarian is all about and who would be best suited for this line of work(of course I have researched!)

Thank you! :biggrin:
Oct 25, 2008
I was a former Secondary English Teacher (10 years), when I choose Sam Houston State to get my librarian certification in (I have now been an Elementary Librarian for 13 years).

I didn't realize till about a year into the program, that had I wanted to work in a public library, I would have needed an accreditation program that was ALA (American Library Association) certified.

The following are ALA Certified in Texas (and are mostly all online progrms, even if you live in the area of Austin or Denton).

The librarians I work with either went to Sam Houston like me, TWU or North Texas...have yet to know any that went to UT.

Here is an article with lots of information, including the job description for both kinds, since I can't comment on working in a public library; working as a school librarian is much more like being a teacher.

Another with interesting commentary:
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Feb 27, 2015
I earned my MLISc 9 yrs ago. Yes, if you want to work in any library, even as a Librarian I (entry level), you would need a MLIS from an accredited program. ALA has a list of all the accredited programs. I strongly recommend an on-site program though. Many of my assignments required me to shadow librarians in our university library. I got to see how they handled reference interviews. Another assignment required me to sit in weekly staff meetings of the cataloging department. And don't forget, hands-on experiences are very important. Some of my classmates didn't have the time to take up student jobs at the library and they ended up having a hard time finding jobs after graduation.

You don't need to choose the first semester but it's good to know that there are different tracks you can choose from depending on the program you are entering:

School library (to grade 12)
Academic library (college & university; tenure and non-tenure track; requires to publish and teach)
Public library (general, Children and YA)
Technical (cataloging, preservation etc)
Special library (rare books, film libraries, music libraries, medical libraries, archives etc)
Law library (usually requires a JD)

There are some required classes you need to take such as Introduction to Reference, Collection Management and Introduction to Cataloging and Classification.

A typical day as an Instruction Librarian in a local, private university (non-tenure track):

- 3-4 hrs at the Desk (answering in-person and email/IM reference questions, troubleshooting equipments such as computer workstations and Xerox machines, provide directional assistance to library users, prepare for classes when there's less traffic)
2+ hours of instruction (library orientation for new students/faculty, in-class information literacy instructions etc)
2 hrs (answering emails of students and faculty members from the several departments I'm in charge of, managing the collections of my specialized areas, prepare instruction materials, maintain websites and research guides, faculty outreach, follow current research trends and interests of my faculty members, attend seminars held by publishers and vendors of electronic databases, evaluate databases and academic publications, preparing collection development budget, ...)

Vintage Leather

Bag Lady
Jan 30, 2007
Welcome to the wild and crazy world of Libraries!
I'm currently working as a cataloging librarian in a small-town public library. Most of my advice is from a public library perspective.

My first suggestion to you is to check out the blog, "I Need a Library Job" It has a lot of detail about the job market, about what is expected in different fields, and some of the possible jobs out there.

As a heads up, the pay is awful. The job market is incredibly competitive - a lot of libraries are cutting staff, while MLIS programs (or MIS) are churning out thousands of new candidates a year. Most employers demand a minimum of an MLIS degree and three years of job experience. If you are looking for an Academic, Law, Medical or Children's Librarian position, it generally helps to have two degrees - another Masters degree, a JD, an MD or related field, and Education respectively.
If you aren't currently working in the field, you probably want to look for Page or Associate Librarian openings in your area in addition to going to school. Another alternate route is to accept a position as IT or administration, because sometimes it's easier to transition when you are in the system.
If you do know what kind of librarian you want to be, be prepared to be mobile. With libraries cutting staff, if you want to advance, you might have to go to another district or even state. Be strategic with the jobs you take, and the jobs you look for.
Because public libraries depend on taxpayer funding (as well as grant writing, friends groups, begging from community partners, ect) when the economy is bad in your town, there can be days when you wonder what staff will be cut, and who is going to be the last person there to turn out the lights. For example, we are part of a fairly large county district; one of the major mines closed 70 miles away from us. Because of that, we lost 30K out of our budget this year. It's an uncertain field.

Unless you are a cataloging or academic/special interest librarian, people skills are critical. You will be working with a very wide range of people: seniors, young families, teens, mentally ill adults, new immigrants and the members of DAR. Some will be demanding and frustrating. Many are lonely and looking for a safe place. Most of the people who come to the library come for the movies and the public access computers. Most of the have problems with the computers. You will never really have time to read (some days, it's an accomplishment to read Publishers Weekly reviews) but you will be expected to keep up with what is new in at least one major genre of literature.

Working for a large public library system, you will find yourself as a cog. Working for a small public library system, you will find yourself as the whole darn clockworks!

I don't mean to discourage you, but it isn't an easy career shift, and it isn't anything like the stereotype. Before you spend out 60k-100k on a masters degree, make sure you actually know what you are getting into. I had a coworker who got an MLIS degree before she started working at a public library - she frequently said, "I paid $100,000 to be educated enough to clean bathrooms?!?" Before she left, she had become quite bitter about the system.

Good luck with whatever you decide!


Jan 8, 2007
I used to volunteer in a children's library. I did some library work and tasks, but was not a librarian. I love to read. I have extremely fast typing skills and devour most of the books that I get within a day. But honestly, I thought that working in the library was boring. I helped out with tasks. A lot of the other workers would be on the computer, managing people that were coming in (and what books/videos were checked in and out), or alphabetizing all the books in the library based on what letter they began or ended with. I did a ton of alphabetizing, cleaning, and printed out flyers, cut papers, tasks that like that for promotions. I saw a lot of the workers sign people up for the first library card.
It is a super quiet working environment at all times, and this is coming from even a children's library, so you have to be able to become accustomed to that. I am a person who likes noise. My workplace now is a bit noisy, I am a person who prefers to leave the TV in the bedroom on when they go to sleep at night, just so that I have some background noise :biggrin: Working in a library, for me, was super quiet and maybe a bit more boring than I would have liked. Again, I've always loved English (always did well in it. It was my subject), got a lot of reading awards, wrote stories on my own time, etc. it just wasn't for me I guess! :smile:


Male Member
Sep 7, 2013
I am a PhD candidate in Library and Information Science (LIS). I do research in human-information interactions and personal information management. My career path more so the research and development of information technologies side of LIS rather than the professional practice as a librarian or archivist.

In terms of career paths post-MLIS many of our school's graduates are getting work in private settings as corporate librarians and knowledge managers. We also train archivists so if that is something that interests you, it is also an option.

Personally, I like the archival field a lot better than librarianship. I spent a few years volunteering in a community archive in order to better understand the area and I fell in love with it.

Overall, I think the LIS is a great field.