Academic librarian: job description

Academic librarians acquire, organise and manage library resources, while ensuring that library provision meets the needs of all its users.

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What does an academic librarian do? | Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Academic librarians work with students and academics as well as other library staff. Much of the role involves making sure people can access the resources they need for their studies or research. Librarians with qualifications in information management can move into specialist roles involving advising organisations on managing and protecting data.

Typical duties include:

  • ordering books, journals and other resources
  • cataloguing and keeping track of library materials
  • advising academics on materials for their courses
  • making sure all users can access library resources
  • responding to requests from students, staff and other library users
  • managing library staff
  • managing budgets and projects
  • promoting the library’s resources.

Working hours are generally nine to five from Monday to Friday; however, some services are open during evenings, weekends and sometimes even on a 24-hour basis.

Graduate salaries

Salaries for assistant librarians in academia are likely to start from £22,000 and may reach as high as £35,000, according to Sue Hill Recruitment & TFPL. Deputy librarian salaries typically start from £38,000 and could reach as high as £81,000.

Typical employers of academic librarians

  • Universities and their academic departments.
  • Research institutes.
  • Higher and further education colleges.
  • Professional and learned societies.
  • Specialist departments within government, hospitals and large professional firms.

Qualifications and training required

Graduates will need a qualification accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). This could be an information-management related undergraduate degree or a degree in another subject plus a postgraduate qualification.

Some postgraduate courses ask for applicants to have a certain amount of relevant work experience in library or information management. Many people study part-time while gaining this experience in a junior library role or on a graduate training scheme. Traineeships and postgraduate course places attract strong competition, so it’s a good idea to apply as soon as they open.

Key skills for academic librarians

  • Strong IT skills and familiarity with the use of databases and the internet.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work with people from a range of backgrounds and with a range of needs.
  • Administration and organisational skills.

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