The role of academic librarian differs from that of a public librarian in several ways. Most notably, an academic librarian has to link the university’s courses with library resources and the availability of information. University librarians are concerned with implementing new technologies in traditional library formats, which includes making resources and databases available online.
Librarians are usually put in charge of the library resources for specified academic courses or departments. So subject-specific knowledge is sometimes helpful.
Library positions are customer-focused. Contact with academic staff and research students is an everyday thing, so a thorough knowledge of the institution is required.
- Responsibility for library resources
- Maintenance and control of books, journals and other printed publications
- Development and control of library website
- Improvement of both online and on-site resources
- Responding to requests from students/staff/library users
- Ensure students have access to the best information for their course
- Work with academic staff to develop library resources
- Contacting suppliers; ordering new materials
- Controlling library finances
- Other duties involving the day-to-day running of a library, and development of the university library’s profile
The main source for training information is CILIP. Librarians are sometimes required to have a degree, preferably in a subject related to Information Management or Librarianship itself.
Subject specific librarians, those who wish to focus on library resources for a particular academic subject, should have a relevant qualification in that field.
CILIP has training courses that lead to Chartered status. Beyond that, Fellowship is the highest level of professional qualification as recognized by CILIP.
Library Assistant posts are available to non-graduates, but GCSE’s or a HND is required for even basic positions.
A number of skills are relevant to librarianship, notably communication and IT skills. You will need to be a good written and verbal communicator, and capable of negotiating with suppliers and academic staff. Presentation skills are also sometimes necessary. Part of being a librarian is training others to find information and use library resources so teaching skills are also a part of this career.
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- The ability to find and communicate information to a range of users
- Information Technology skills are essential
- The ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
- Flexibility and the ability to work in a team
Salary and Other Information:
- Newly qualified librarians should expect a salary of £18,000 – £24,000
- Chartered librarians with more experience (2-5 years) should be earning salaries between £24,000 – £32,000
- Senior positions such as Head of Service receive £40k+
- Salaries vary by institution and location
- There is a lot of variation in working hours, and weekend/evening work may be required
- Part time work is often available, and job sharing is a common thing in academic libraries
Professional Qualifications are a key part of developing your career as a librarian. Skills and knowledge need to be updated regularly in line with both university and governmental requirements.
Librarians may choose to specialize in a number of ways, such as learning the requirements of particular academic fields, or focusing on the use of technology in the library (website design, technology implementation etc.).
CILIP is the institution for professional development. It runs courses that lead to Chartered or Fellowship status. These professional qualifications are essential if you are to advance your career.
The skills of a university librarian are useful in other industries, so a career as a librarian can lead to opportunities in the public and private sector.
- Library Assistant
- Chartered Librarian
- Head of Service
UK HE institutions