How Do I Become a University Librarian? (with pictures)

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.
In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.

A university librarian is responsible for a wide range of tasks within a college or university library. Aside from maintaining the books and ensuring the library contains the most up-to-date references, job duties include assisting students in finding appropriate material, maintaining the database, and managing other library staff. Some even work as instructors, teaching students in a classroom setting. In order to become a university librarian, you will most likely need an advanced education in library science. You also must be good at multitasking and dealing with people.

Hoover Tower at Stanford University,home to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Hoover Tower at Stanford University,home to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives.

At the very least, to become a university librarian, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in library science, although most universities and state regulations require you to have a master’s degree or higher. If you will be teaching classes, some schools also require a second degree in education. In many places, computers are replacing traditional card catalog systems, so look for a program that offers a number of computer classes as well as classes in older filing systems.

Help-wanted ads may be an ideal place to find university librarian jobs.
Help-wanted ads may be an ideal place to find university librarian jobs.

In addition to completing your basic education, you’ll also need to check with your state board of education to determine if there are other certification requirements involved to become a university librarian. It is best to check these requirements before you finish school so you can ensure that you complete all necessary education requirements and are ready to start looking for a position once you graduate. These requirements usually pertain to public universities. Rules at private universities may be different.

When you’re ready become a university librarian, start searching the help-wanted ads, especially those posted on university bulletin boards.
When you’re ready become a university librarian, start searching the help-wanted ads, especially those posted on university bulletin boards.

Most library science degree programs will require you to intern in a library for a certain amount of time before obtaining your degree. If possible, start gaining experience early by applying to work in your university library as an assistant, or even taking on a volunteer position. This will give you a better idea of what to expect in the career field and give you an advantage over other applicants when you look for positions to become a university librarian.

Good people skills and a patient attitude are essential in order to become a university librarian. You will often be required to assist a number of students at one time, many of which are harried and nervous because they have a major exam or paper coming up. Organizational skills are also important, as you’ll often be required to perform several duties at once.

When you’re ready become a university librarian, start searching the help-wanted ads, especially those posted on university bulletin boards or Internet sites. You may need to take a lower-ranking position and work your way up, or even work at the school’s book store just to get on university payroll. Many universities hire existing staff for new positions, so just working on campus in some book-related field can be helpful if there are no other options.

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    • In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.
      In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.
    • Hoover Tower at Stanford University,home to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
      Hoover Tower at Stanford University,home to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
    • Help-wanted ads may be an ideal place to find university librarian jobs.
      Help-wanted ads may be an ideal place to find university librarian jobs.
    • When you’re ready become a university librarian, start searching the help-wanted ads, especially those posted on university bulletin boards.
      When you’re ready become a university librarian, start searching the help-wanted ads, especially those posted on university bulletin boards.