What does a Special Librarian do?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2019
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A special librarian is a specific kind of head librarian or library science leader who works in a complex library system. Some of these more complicated library systems are called special libraries, and the head librarian at these offices may be referred to as a special librarian. In general, these professionals provide some of the highest level implementation for archival systems for both corporate and business offices, or nonprofit organizations.

In general, the special librarian will be engaged in working with different kinds of data and information. Most of this will be relevant to the archival process, but some may be in peripheral areas like business research or coordinating modern research efforts in various fields such as medicine. The special librarian will use current technology, including the Internet and innovative archival systems, to complete and implement high-level projects for employers.

The creation and presentation of high-level research reports is another typical activity in which a special librarian may be engaged. This individual may also gather “competitive intelligence,” a business term for a specific kind of research related to competition and industry. The special librarian may also train others to do many of these tasks, provide quality assurance, or effectively manage a larger staff.


Another thing that high-level library science professionals may do is to engage in specific research around copyrights and intellectual property laws. As part of an archiving system, special librarians will be familiar with regulations worldwide around the kinds of data and information that they help to archive or handle on a daily basis. With this in mind, it makes sense for the special librarian to be involved in figuring out liabilities for their employer or another party, based on today’s complex regulation of data copyrights and patenting for various ideas or concepts, or “works.”

Understanding the role of a special librarian goes along with knowing about the particular role of library science in the modern workplace. Not everyone understands that the role of a librarian may go well beyond someone who works in a public library, university library or similar system helping visitors to utilize free services. Library science incorporates this as well as many other kinds of work. An analysis of the role of special librarians presents the various skills and values that an archiving professional may build for a long career in the research, archiving, or library science field.



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