Careers in Librarianship

Libraries are repositories of knowledge, information and entertainment. The basic aim of library is to disseminate knowledge. With the upsurge in the number of institutes in the field of learning and the intensification of research activities, the importance of libraries is also growing. This has made the librarianship attain the status of a separate discipline in the universe of knowledge. Librarianship is the profession which concerns with organising, maintenance and storage of books in a library. Librarians are the custodians of library. Librarians assist people in finding information and using it effectively in their personal and professional lives. (They help people to navigate the increasingly far-flung and voluminous world of data.)

Libraries contain books, periodicals, micro-films, videos, cassettes and slides - for education, research, reference and pleasure. Those who systematically catalogue, store and display these items are librarians. The traditional concept of a library is being redefined, from a place to access paper records or books, to one which also houses the most advanced media, including CD-ROM, the Internet, virtual libraries, and remote access to a wide range of resources.

There are different kinds of libraries depending upon the individuals to which it is catering. Various kinds of libraries are public, reference, children’s libraries and those attached to offices and institutions of both private and public. These could include a mobile lending library. There are also specialist libraries attached to the research and academic institutions that cater to specific readers in specific subjects such as medicine, engineering, art, music, or types of books such as Braille or collections for children.

Related Informations


Educational: Minimum qualification required to take up a course in Library Science is graduation. One with graduation can go for Bachelors degree in library science. Duration of this bachelors course is one year. Those with Bachelor degree in library science can go for Masters degree in library science which is of one year duration. One can also go for M.Phil and Ph.D in this field. There are also diploma and certificate courses.

Various universities, colleges, polytechnics, as well as distance learning institutions around the country offer courses in Library Science. In most of the institutes selection is through an entrance test.

Course areas include library and information systems management, classification/cataloguing systems, bibliography, documentation, preservation and conservation of manuscript, library management, research methodology, computer applications, information processing, archives management, indexing, library planning etc.

Personal attributes:

One can become a librarian if he/she has a basic interest in books as well as a variety of topics, good communication skills, customer service attitude, methodical approach, organising ability, ability to anticipate user's needs, a wide general knowledge and ability to cope with frequent interruptions when doing jobs requiring concentration.

They must have knowledge of a wide variety of scholarly and public information sources, and follow trends related to publishing, computers, and the media to effectively oversee the selection and organization of library materials.

Job Prospects

Trained personnel in this field can find employment opportunities in areas like:

  • Public/Government libraries
  • Universities and other academic institutions
  • News agencies and organisations
  • Private organisations and special libraries
  • Foreign embassies
  • Photo/film libraries
  • Information centres/documentation centers
  • Companies and organisations with large information handling requirements
  • Museums and galleries, which have reading rooms and research facilities

Some library technicians are self-employed as researchers, consultants, cataloguers etc. on short term contracts.

Career Options

Librarians are information managers. Librarians assist people in finding information and using it effectively. A librarian's work would involve acquiring, organising and dissemination of information. Besides these, the planning and coordination of the library's financial operations are also important and essential tasks to be performed. Specific duties depends on the type of library and position held.

Acquisition of knowledge/information involves selection, ordering and purchasing materials within the budget limits. For this one must have to take into consideration users interest and latest developments in various subjects to be able to maintain a balanced collection.

Organising information involves classification, cataloguing, storage, record keeping, shelving and maintenance of books and materials in a manner so as to make it easily accessible to readers and users.

Dissemination of information is the most important work of the librarian, one that is very much directly related to users. A librarian thus disseminates information by answering queries, issuing and receiving books as well as planning and organising activities to encourage use of the library, like sending out a newsletter informing readers of the latest acquisitions, or inviting a children's author to read his/her book or sign autographs.

The career for a librarian may begin at the level of library attendant and though the promotions may differ from organization to organization, in general the levels followed thereafter are of library assistant, junior librarian, assistant librarian, deputy librarian, and librarian. One may reach up to the level of Director and head an information centre.

Library Attendant: Takes care of inter-library loans shelving books, processing bills, subscription renewals and new memberships.

Library Assistant: Main duties involve accession, shelf arrangements, levying of fines, maintenance and binding of books and other materials, location of missing books, and related technical work.

Junior Librarian/Semi-Professional Assistant: Works at the counter to receive and issue books, sends out reminders on overdue loans, looks after accessioning.

Junior Librarian/Professional Assistant: Is responsible for accessioning, classification, cataloguing, ordering books, as well as handling computer data.

Junior Librarian/Assistant Librarian: Selects and acquires books and material, takes care of reference services and computer programming, as well as supervision of semi-professional assistants.

Deputy Librarian: Oversees administration, supervision, and computer programming.

Librarian: Is overall in charge of technical, administrative, and financial matters. Responsibilities include delegation of duties, library supervision and management, personnel administration, budgeting, classification and cataloguing, and recommendation of new acquisitions.

Director/Head Of Information Centre: Works at the policy and planning level, and is responsible for the center's organization, coordination, control, leadership, external relations, supervision and administration.
In information services, designations could be:

Senior Information Analyst: Activities include processing of information, indexing, documentation etc.

Junior Information Analyst: Assists senior analyst in all aspects of work.

Information Assistant: Information transfers, processing, storage and dissemination of information under supervision of senior staff are the main tasks in this position.


Salaries of librarians vary according to the individual's qualifications, experience, type, size and the nature of the hiring institutions. Librarians with primarily administrative duties often have greater earnings. Government of India scales are higher than those of the University Grants Commission. In terms of grades- Assistant Librarians are of equal position to lecturers; Deputy Librarians to Readers; and the Librarian's position is equivalent to that of a Professor's. Average annual earnings of librarians is around Rs 100000 - 150000.