What Does a University Librarian Do? (with pictures)

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox
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.

A university librarian is a highly trained professional who manages many different aspects of a university's library. Librarians are responsible for keeping track of the books, periodicals, and other print materials in the library and for selecting new materials to add to the library's wealth of information. They also help university students by teaching classes and giving lectures on the use of the library and in locating materials that students need. Certain university librarian positions may also include clerical work and the management of other library staff.

In a university setting, a library director may staff the facility with students of the university.
In a university setting, a library director may staff the facility with students of the university.

One of the main duties of a university librarian is management of the library's resources. These professionals decide what hard copy materials to add to the library and what Internet collections to subscribe to. They determine where to place books and periodicals in the library so that they can be easily located and enter information about these materials into a database. They also keep track of materials that are lent out to students and may follow up with students who have not returned borrowed items in a timely fashion.

Students or faculty who visit the library may also seek the help of a university librarian to locate certain materials. In this role, the librarian will help find certain texts in the library and may also suggest related materials, either in hard copy or digital form, that may be of further use. If materials are unavailable at the library, the university librarian will help locate and borrow the materials from other libraries.

In the university setting, students in certain classes may also receive education about the use of the library. A university librarian may give tours or lectures to various groups of students so that they can become more familiar with how to use the resources that the library has to offer. A librarian may also teach courses in library studies in order to train future librarians in the intricacies of the job.

A high-level university librarian may manage library staff and set library policies as well. Chief librarians are in charge of the personnel who work in the library and may hire and fire other librarians or staff members. They may also set the library's budget, determining how to spend the money that the university allocates to library use. A university librarian may also work with professionals who manage the school's media centers to ensure that there are plenty of working computers for students to use.

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    • 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.
    • In a university setting, a library director may staff the facility with students of the university.
      In a university setting, a library director may staff the facility with students of the university.