Librarian

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"The Librarian", a 1556 painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo


A librarian is an information professional trained in library science and information science: the organization and management of information and service to people with information needs. The word is also used for those in charge of collections in general. Librarians work typically in one of the many types of library or school media centers, and increasingly in other information-provision settings; the term is also used sometimes in a popular sense to refer to anyone who works in a library. Although librarians have been traditionally associated with collections of books, as seen by the etymology of the word "librarian," modern librarians deal with information in many formats, including books, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings in various formats (both music recordings and audiobooks), video recordings in various formats, maps, photographs and other graphic material, bibliographic databases, and Internet resources in general. They often provide other information services, including computer provision and training, coordination of public programs, basic literacy education, and help with finding and using community resources.

In most western nations the librarian is a professional with a Masters degree in library science who is educated to analyze information needs and provide patrons in a variety of settings with information resources appropriate to meet those needs.

In a library, there are many positions other than that of librarian; such positions include library associate, library technician, library assistant, clerk, page, shelver, and volunteer. There are also professional positions such as managers.

Librarian roles and duties

Olivia Crosby described librarians as "Information experts in the information age".[1] Specific duties vary depending on the size and type of library. Most librarians spend their time working in one of the following areas of a library:
  • Public service librarians work with the public, frequently at the reference desk of lending libraries. Some specialize in serving adults or children. Children's librarians provide appropriate material for children at all age levels, include pre-readers, conduct specialized programs and work with the children (and often their parents) to help foster interest and competence in the young reader. (In larger libraries, some specialize in teen services, periodicals, or other special collections.)
  • Reference or research librarians help people doing research to find the information they need, through a structured conversation called a reference interview. The help may take the form of research on a specific question, providing direction on the use of databases and other electronic information resources; obtaining specialized materials from other sources; or providing access to and care of delicate or expensive materials. These services are sometimes provided by other library staff that have been given a certain amount of special training; some have criticized this trend. [2]
  • Technical service librarians work "behind the scenes" ordering library materials and database subscriptions, computers and other equipment, and supervise the cataloging and physical processing of new materials.
  • Collections development librarians monitor the selection of books and electronic resources. Large libraries often use approval plans, which involve the librarian for a specific subject creating a profile that allows publishers to send relevant books to the library without any additional vetting. Librarians can then see those books when they arrive and decide if they will become part of the collection or not. All collections librarians also have a certain amount of funding to allow them to purchase books and materials that don't arrive via approval.
  • Archivists can be specialized librarians who deal with archival materials, such as manuscripts, documents and records, though this varies from country to country, and there are other routes to the archival profession.
  • Systems Librarians develop, troubleshoot and maintain library systems, including the library catalog and related systems.
  • Electronic Resources Librarians manage the databases that libraries license from third-party vendors.
  • School Library Media Specialists work in school libraries and perform duties as teachers, information technology specialists, and advocates for literacy.
Experienced librarians may take administrative positions such as library or information center director. Similar to the management of any other organization, they are concerned with the long-term planning of the library, and its relationship with its parent organization (the city or county for a public library, the college/university for an academic library, or the organization served by a special library). In smaller or specialized libraries, librarians typically perform a wide range of the different duties.

Representative examples of specific tasks:
  • Researching topics of interest for their constituencies.
  • Referrals to other community organizations and government offices.
  • Suggesting appropriate books ("readers' advisory") for children of different reading levels, and recommending novels for recreational reading.
  • Supervising and promoting reading clubs.
  • Developing programs for library users of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Managing access to electronic information resources.

Workplaces

Basic categories of workplace settings for librarians are routinely classified around the world as: public, academic, school, and special. Some librarians will start and operate their own business. They often call themselves information brokers, research specialists, knowledge management, competitive intelligence or independent information professionals. Below are the basic differences between the types of libraries.

Public library: These institutions are created through legislation within the jurisdiction they serve. Accordingly, they are given certain benefits, such as taxpayer funding, but must adhere to service standards and meet a wide group of client needs. They are usually overseen by a board of directors or library commission from the community. Mission statements, service and collection policies are the fundamental administrative features of public libraries. Occasionally private lending libraries serve the public in the manner of public libraries. In the United States, public librarians and public libraries are represented by the Public Library Association.

Academic library: Libraries that serve a post-secondary institution. Depending upon the institution, the library may serve a particular faculty or the entire institution. Many different types, sizes, and collections are found in academic libraries and some academic librarians are specialists in these collections and archives. A University librarian, or Chief librarian, is responsible for the library within the college structure, and may also be called the Dean of Libraries. Some post-secondary institutions treat librarians as faculty, and they may be called professor or other academic ranks. Some universities make similar demands of academic librarians for research and professional service as are required of faculty. Academic librarians administer various levels of service and privilege to faculty, students, alumni and the public.

School library media center: Libraries which exclusively serve the needs of a public or private school. The primary purpose is to support the students, teachers, and curriculum of the school or school district. In addition to library administration, certificated teacher-librarians instruct individual students, groups and classes, and faculty in effective research methods, often referred to as information literacy skills. Audio-visual equipment service and/or textbook circulation may also be included in a school librarian's responsibilities. Often, teacher-librarians are qualified teachers who take academic courses for school library certification and/or earn a Master's degree in Library Science.

Special library: News, law, medical, government, nongovernmental organization, prison, corporate, museum or any other type of library owned and operated by an organization are considered as special library. They can be highly specialized, serving a discrete user group with a restricted collection area. In an increasingly global and virtual workplace, many special librarians may not even work in a library at all but instead manage and facilitate the use of electronic collections. Funding for special libraries varies widely. Librarians in some types of special libraries may be required to have additional training, such as a law degree for a librarian in an academic law library or appropriate subject degrees for subject specialties such as chemistry, engineering, etc. Many belong to the Special Libraries Association. There are also more specific associations such as the American Association of Law Libraries, Art Libraries Society of North America, the Medical Library Association, or the Visual Resources Association.

Education

In the United States and Canada, a librarian normally has a one or two-year master's degree in library and information science, library science or information science (called an MLS, MALIS, MSLS, MIS, MS-LIS, MISt, MLIS, or MILS) from an accredited university.[1] These degrees are accredited by the American Library Association and can have specializations within fields such as archiving, records management, information architecture, public librarianship, medical librarianship, law librarianship, special librarianship, academic librarianship, or school (K-12) librarianship. School librarians often are required to have a teaching credential, as well as a library science degree. Many, if not most, academic librarians also have a second, subject-based master's degree.

In the UK and some other countries, a librarian can have a three- or four-year bachelor's degree in library and information studies or information science; separate master's degrees in librarianship, archive management, and records management are also available. In the United Kingdom, these degrees are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the Society of Archivists. In Germany and some other countries, the first step for an academic librarian is a PhD in a subject field, followed by additional training in librarianship.

Librarians in Australia can take one of two routes; an undergraduate degree in Library and Information Studies or a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies after the completion of a Bachelor's Degree in another discipline. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)is responsible for accreditation of library specific qualifications for both librarians and library technicians.

It is also possible to earn a doctorate in library and information science. Graduates with PhDs usually become teaching faculty in schools of library and information science, or sometimes occupy the directorship or deanship of university libraries. Those undertaking research at the doctoral level can pursue a very wide range of interests including information technology, government information policy, social research into information use among particular segments of society, information in organizations and corporate settings, and the history of books and printing.

It is common in academic and other research libraries to require the librarians to obtain Master's degrees in some academic subject, sometimes but not necessarily related to their professional responsibilities; in major research libraries, some of the librarians will hold Ph. D degrees in subject fields.

Other advanced degrees often taken in conjunction with a degree in librarianship are law, management, or public administration.

Library associates, library technicians, and library assistants often have college diplomas but usually do not hold library-related degrees. Occasionally they also hold undergraduate or graduate degrees in other disciplines. These workers, sometimes referred to as para-professionals, perform duties such as database management, cataloging, ready reference, and serials and monograph processing.

Professional organizations and activities

The two largest library associations in the United States are the American Library Association (ALA) and the Special Libraries Association. Many U.S. states have their own library association as well. Librarians may also join such organizations as the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Public Library Association and the Art Libraries Society. The Canadian Library Association serves Canada and there are provincial associations as well, such as the Ontario Library Association. In the United Kingdom, the professional body for Librarians is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (formerly known as the Library Association). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) represents the interests of libraries and librarians internationally. (See also the List of Library Associations.)

Recent issues of concern for U.S. libraries include implementation of the Patriot Act and the Children's Internet Protection Act. Many librarians around the world share American librarians' concern over ethical issues surrounding censorship and privacy. Some librarians join activist organizations like the UK-based Information for Social Change and the North American-based Progressive Librarians Guild. Within the American Library Association (ALA), some also join the Social Responsibilities Round Table. SRRT came into being amid the social ferment of the 1960s and is often critical of the American Library Association for not living up to its professed ideals. Another important activist organization is the Social Responsibilities Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries(AALL). These activist organizations are viewed as controversial by some librarians, while others view them as a natural extension and outgrowth of their own deeply-held library ethics.

Technology in libraries

The increasing role of technology in libraries has a significant impact on the changing roles of librarians. New technologies are dramatically increasing the accessibility of information, and librarians are adapting to the evolving needs of users that emerge from the adoption of these new technologies.

The most significant example of how technology has changed the role of librarians in the last 50 years has been the move from traditional card catalogs to online public access catalogs (OPACs). Librarians had to develop software and the MARC standards for cataloguing records electronically. They had to purchase and run the computers necessary to use the software. They had to teach the public how to use the new technologies and move to more virtual working environments.

The same could be said of other technology developments, from electronic databases (including the Internet), to logistical functions such as barcodes (or in the near future RFID). Many librarians provide virtual reference services (via web-based chat, instant messaging, text messaging, and e-mail), work in digitalization initiatives for works in the public domain, teach technology classes to their users, and work on the development of information architectures for improving access and search functionality. These examples illustrate some of the ways in which librarians are using technology to fulfill and expand upon their historical roles.

Increasing technological advance has presented the possibility of automating some aspects of traditional libraries. In 2004 a group of researchers in Spain developed the UJI Online Robot. This robot is able to navigate the library, look for the specified book, and upon its discovery, carefully take it from the shelf and deliver it to the user. Because of the robot's extremely limited function, its introduction into libraries poses little risk of the employment of librarians, whose duties are not defined by menial tasks such as the retrieval of books.

References

1. ^ [2]
2. ^ McKinzie, Steve. "For Ethical Reference, Pare the Paraprofessionals." American Libraries, Oct2002, Vol. 33 Issue 9, p42

See also

External links

Library science is an interdisciplinary science incorporating the humanities, law and applied science to study topics related to libraries, the collection, organization, and dissemination of information resources, and the political economy of information.
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library is a collection of information, sources, resources, and services: it is organized for use and maintained by a public body, an institution, or a private individual. In the more traditional sense, a library is a collection of books.
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A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of paper, parchment, or other material, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf, and each side of a sheet is called a page.
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bibliographic or library database is a database of bibliographic information. It may be a database containing information about books and other materials held in a library (e.g.
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professional can be either a person in a profession (certain types of skilled work requiring formal training/education) or in sports (a sportsman/sportwoman doing sports for payment).
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master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded after the completion of a program of one to four years in duration.

In the recently standardized European system of higher education diplomas, it corresponds to a two years postgraduate program undertaken after at
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Library science is an interdisciplinary science incorporating the humanities, law and applied science to study topics related to libraries, the collection, organization, and dissemination of information resources, and the political economy of information.
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library is a collection of information, sources, resources, and services: it is organized for use and maintained by a public body, an institution, or a private individual. In the more traditional sense, a library is a collection of books.
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reference desk or information desk of a library is a public service desk where professional librarians offer help to library users.

Explanation

Just as the employees of retail stores know where everything is shelved in their store, librarians are experts in
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Children's literature is a literary genre whose primary audience is children, although many books within the genre are also enjoyed by adults.

Basic characteristics

There are some debate as to what constitutes children's literature.
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Young adult fiction (often abbreviated as YA fiction) is fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents, roughly ages 12 to 18.

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Topics in journalism
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A reference interview is a structured conversation between a librarian and a library user, usually at a reference desk, in which the librarian responds to the user's initial explanation of his or her information need by first attempting to clarify that need and then by directing
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library catalog (or library catalogue) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a particular library or group of libraries, such as those belonging to a university system spread out over several geographic locations.
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archivist is a professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to information determined to have long-term value. The information maintained by an archivist can be any form of media (photographs, video or sound recordings,
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archive refers to a collection of historical records, and also refers to the location in which these records are kept.[1]

Archives are made up of records (AKA primary source documents) which have been accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's
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A special library is a term for a library that is neither an academic or school library, or a public library. Special libraries may include law libraries, news libraries, corporate libraries, museum libraries, and medical libraries.
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Community organizations are nonprofits that operate within a single local community. They are essentially a subset of the wider group of nonprofits.
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government is a body that has the power to make and the authority to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group.[1]
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novel (from, Italian novella, Spanish novela, French nouvelle for "new", "news", or "short story of something new") is today a long prose narrative set out in writing.
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An information broker is a person or business that researches information for clients. Common uses for information brokers include market research and patent searches, but can include practically any type of information research.
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Knowledge Management ('KM') comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning.
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"Competitive Intelligence (CI) is both a process and a product. The process of Competitive Intelligence is the action of gathering, analyzing, and applying information about products, domain constituents, customers, and competitors for the short term
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A public library is a library which is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources (such as tax monies) and may be operated by civil
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An academic library is a library in a higher educational institution, such as a college or a university — libraries in secondary and primary schools are called school libraries.
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An academic administration is a branch of university or college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty or academics, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities.
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A school library is a library that serves the students, faculty, staff and parents of a public or private school. These libraries are sometimes referred to as library media centers.
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A teacher-librarian, or library media specialist, is a certified teacher who also has training in librarianship. In the United States, a teacher-librarian must have a baccalaureate degree and a certificate in secondary or elementary education, and must also complete a
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A special library is a term for a library that is neither an academic or school library, or a public library. Special libraries may include law libraries, news libraries, corporate libraries, museum libraries, and medical libraries.
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master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded after the completion of a program of one to four years in duration.

In the recently standardized European system of higher education diplomas, it corresponds to a two years postgraduate program undertaken after at
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