What Are Necessary Librarian Skills?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
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.

Necessary librarian skills include a willingness and ability to listen to and work with library patrons, keep one's technology skills up to date, and monitor available sources of information. In addition, a good librarian should be willing to take precautions so that he or she does not unwittingly steer patrons to inaccurate or inappropriate sources. Ideally, a librarian should be someone who is naturally curious and is able to make connections between different types of information. In many cases, it is to the benefit of a librarian to obtain additional formal education outside of that which is necessary to enter the library profession.

A public librarian may assist patrons with locating specific books.
A public librarian may assist patrons with locating specific books.

A librarian is in the business of identifying, selecting, and managing media and information sources and assisting library patrons in getting the information and media that they need. Necessary librarian skills may differ somewhat, depending on the type of library in which a librarian works, but a librarian is almost always required to develop strong reference skills. This typically involves learning how to identify good and appropriate reference sources and to validate information prior to providing it to reference patrons. Good librarians make it a point to become very familiar with their library's reference collection and also attempt to verify information even from quality reference sources, as some sources may be outdated or may contain information that is inaccurate or controversial.

Another aspect of good librarianship is a willingness and ability to tactfully work with patrons. In many cases, this involves being able to listen to and identify a patron's needs, even if he is unsure of what type of information he requires or has difficulty explaining his needs. The librarian should also be able to work with distressed, angry, or frustrated patrons in a way that meets their needs while not aggravating their mood or contributing to a disturbance in the library.

Librarian skills should also include the development and maintenance of technology skills as well as an awareness of online reference sources and social media. Many libraries have transferred their card catalogs to computer databases and rely on technology for the management of their collections. In addition, many databases and reference collections are now available online, and it often behooves a librarian to be aware of these sources.

Other important librarian skills involve those needed to develop a good materials collection at a library. This includes developing a strong understanding of common areas of patron interest and being able to choose appropriate materials to satisfy these needs. In addition, a librarian should develop his ability to set and understand budgets and the ability to work with suppliers to engage in sound fiscal management while continuing to expand and improve his library's services.

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    • In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.
      By: Andrey Kuzmin
      In most libraries, old fashioned card catalogs have been replaced with computer systems.
    • A public librarian may assist patrons with locating specific books.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      A public librarian may assist patrons with locating specific books.