How Do I Become an Acquisitions Librarian?

Lainie Petersen

To become an acquisitions librarian, you will first need to complete a library science educational program. After graduation, you will typically take an entry-level job in a library environment, which will allow you to gain experience in your profession. As you develop professionally, you should indicate to your supervisor that you are interested in learning more about acquisitions and working with existing acquisitions staff. If you work in an academic library, you may also need to obtain an additional degree in a specific subject matter before you can become an acquisitions librarian. You may also need to develop strong negotiation skills, as you will likely be working with library vendors in order to obtain the resources your library needs at a reasonable cost.

An acquisitions librarian is responsible for acquiring new materials for a library.
An acquisitions librarian is responsible for acquiring new materials for a library.

In many countries, including the United States, librarians are generally expected to hold a degree in library science. In the United States and the United Kingdom, this is typically a master's degree. Before enrolling in a degree program, you should ensure that it has been accredited or approved by the primary professional organization for librarians in your country. In the United States, this organization is the American Library Association (ALA). If your library school is not accredited by a recognized professional organization, you may find it difficult to become an acquisitions librarian or obtain any type of library employment after graduation. While you are in school, you may wish to take advanced courses in acquisitions as well as reference sources.

An acquisitions librarian typically has several years of library experience.
An acquisitions librarian typically has several years of library experience.

Many libraries will want you to have several years of experience in library work before you can become an acquisitions librarian. This is because it is important that you understand the needs of library patrons, the principles of collections development, and library management before you can make good choices about the items and online services for your library. While you are becoming acclimated to your new profession, it is a good idea to regularly read professional journals and publications that can acquaint you with publications and resources that are available for purchase. You should also attend trade shows and promotional conventions so as to learn about different acquisition strategies and to work firsthand with new technologies and materials.

In some libraries, the acquisitions librarian may also be responsible for evaluating new additions to the collection and sending them to technical services for various types of repair or reinforcement. It is a good idea, therefore, to also become familiar with the technical service department at your library and learn how to identify books that should be rebound or reinforced. If possible, work in the technical services department of a library while you are in library school in order to develop an understanding of its operations and the possibilities for protecting new acquisitions.

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