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Libraries - Feature Article

Library Professionals

by Samantha Bise, Library Resources Intern for
NOTE:  At the end of this article, read the
interview with Librarian Kerri Sullivan

Neil Gaiman, an English author, made an excellent comparison between original librarians and 21st century librarians. Past librarians had to go out into a desert of knowledge and bring back the only rock out there. Now, there is a forest of knowledge and librarians are trained to go into that jungle and bring back the one correct leaf. Librarians are an underrated and misunderstood occupation.

Types of LibrariansLibrarians are no longer solely responsible for books. Recent advancements in information technology have forced librarians to adapt accordingly. They purchase and collect items for their library collections—both physical and digital; organize and maintain their collections; offer programs, classes, and training for patrons and the community; maintain patron records and item records; create websites and resources for patrons; and help patrons find information in any format they desire.

Librarians have evolved into information professionals. A master’s degree is required to become a librarian, because their responsibilities have become more complex. Depending on the type of librarian someone wants to be, additional education or training may be needed.

There are different types of libraries—school, public, academic, and special. Special libraries include law, medical, business, music, and countless other types of area-specific libraries. Within these various types of libraries, there are different types of librarians. Some librarians can fall under more than one of these categories, but here are some (not all) of the types of librarians:

Public Librarian
Public librarians select materials and Internet databases that they believe will be the best resources for their patrons, and they help patrons access these resources. This requires an understanding of the needs and wants of their patrons and community. Public librarians also have other duties, like planning library events, helping with the library budget, and more.

School Librarian
School librarians work with students and teachers to help them use the available resources and technology in the best ways possible. It is the duty of a school librarian to help teachers use resources to teach and to help students acquire the skills to be lifelong users of the information and technology available to them.

Reference Librarian
The main duty of a reference librarian is to help patrons find answers to specific questions by using both library resources and external resources available to the public. Reference librarians also acquire and catalog new materials, keep reference collections up-to-date, and perform other general duties throughout the library.

Youth Services Librarian

A youth services librarian, or children’s librarian, is responsible for areas and resources in library pertaining to toddlers, children, and young adults. They work with the youth, parents, caregivers, and educators. A youth service librarian plans events, maintains youth service collections, and performs other library tasks.


Many libraries have archivists. Archivists preserve valuable and important material. They organize, classify, and authenticate these materials, and often digitize the documents and records. They also spend a lot of their time working with other professionals and  helping patrons access these materials.

Instruction Librarian

An instruction librarian’s specific responsibility is to teach patrons how to access specific materials in different formats.

Subject Specialist Librarian

Subject specialist librarians help select the necessary materials for library collections that will best serve specific communities and patrons.

Acquisitions Librarian

Acquisition librarians work with various vendors to obtain materials for their collections.

Collection Development Librarian

Collection development librarians work with subject specialist librarians and acquisitions librarians to develop complete collections.

Catalog Librarian
Catalog librarians process the materials and make them available to the public.

Systems Librarian
Systems librarians manage network operations within a library.

Area-specific Librarian
There are countless area-specific librarians who work in various types of libraries—law, medicine, humanities, history, science, etc. Area-specific librarians are often required to earn an additional degree in their desired area. For example, a law librarian must earn their law degree.

Corporate Librarian
Corporate librarians work anywhere information is needed; i.e. government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, hospital libraries, etc.

There are many specific types of librarians, but there are also other professionals who work in libraries and are necessary to keep the library up and running. Some of these positions include:

Pages put returned items back on the shelves and help keep the library organized.

Library Assistants
Library assistants perform clerical duties, work at the circulation desk checking books in and out, issue library cards, and collect fines and fees from patrons.

Library Managers
Library managers are responsible for daily activities in the library. They make work schedules; help with employee hiring, training, and evaluations; help with library budgeting; and help with any projects within the library.

Library Directors
Library directors are the main leaders in the library. They are in charge of the library’s budget, developing service policies, public and governmental relations, and fundraising.

Other Library Professionals
Some other library professionals include: public relations, accounting, human resources, network administration, facilities management, transportation services, security, and more.

A lot of people only see the front-line workers stamping due dates, but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Keeping a library operating smoothly is a team effort. The main goal of librarians is to help patrons become lifelong learners and users of the resources libraries have to offer.


Works Consulted

Library Professionals - Interview
by Samantha Bise, Library Resources Intern -

This is an interview with Kerri Sullivan, a librarian who graduated from college and immediately started working at her local library

Kerri Sullivan graduated from Kutztown University in December of 2012, with a major in library science and a concentration in public libraries.

“Most people are surprised that being a librarian requires school,” says Kerri.

How Libraries are Evolving - Feature Article on

She feels that her college's library science undergraduate program offers a lot of helpful courses.  Some of the classes that prepared her for her professional life in librarianship include collection development, research development, library administration, and cataloging and classification; these classes taught Kerri how to run a successful library and how to correctly catalog library books. The two most helpful classes Kutztown University provided her with are resources for children and resources for young adults. “In my experience working in a library so far, these two classes really gave me the tools to research good books for patrons.”

Kerri now works for the Bucks County Free Library System, which is made up of seven libraries in Bucks County, PA. Doylestown is the main branch; there is also Yardley, Bensalem, Langhorne, Quakertown, Perkasie, and Levittown. There are 22 other libraries in Buck’s County; they are considered “community libraries.” These libraries have their own board members and get funding through their own means. Since the Bucks County Libraries are a consortium, all of the branches share their books with each other. Kerri works at the Levittown branch.

Kerri currently works at the circulation desk at the Levittown branch, making her a “Circulation Clerk.” Although this position does not typically require a college degree, the seven Bucks County Free Libraries will only hire new employees with a college degree, unless they have worked their way up from a "shelver," to a library aide, to a circulation clerk.

“I absolutely love my job and I feel so blessed to have gotten into such a successful branch of libraries,” she says.

Kerris is planning on going back to school to earn to master’s degree in library science in fall of 2013. She plans to focus on youth services, and says that “this is really where the need is in public libraries nowadays.” Once Kerri earns her master’s degree, she knows she will be able to move up within the system and do what she wants to do with her life—be a youth services librarian.

We encourage you to walk into your local library, take advantage of their free services, talk to your librarians, and share your experience here on

Share your library experience on

Literacy Partnership - Libraries

Library Resources

Library Resources on

As a free educational literacy initiative, features information, recommendations, and resources about libraries below.  From blogs about libraries to the challenges and opportunities facing libraries today, you'll want to explore the below information, but more importantly, visit your local library and share your experience here on

We encourage you to walk into your local library, take advantage of their free services, and share your experience here on

Share your library experience on


Educational Resources and Free Lesson Plans

Free Writing Resources for Students

The below Stage of Life teen writing contests, teen trend reports, etiquette Q&A, and teacher resources have been mentioned by...

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With over half a million teachers, professors, teens, college students, and parents visiting each school year, we make it a priority to create the best free writing resources for students and teachers.  We are a grassroots writing initiative founded with a mission to get people of all ages writing, and in particular encouraging students to write outside of the classroom...

Teen Writing Contest

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Interviews - Students Use Blogging as Form of New Journalism

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Example of Blog Interview -

How Would Teens Improve Education


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  • Lancaster Museum of Art - Stage of Life CEO, Eric Thiegs, was invited by the LMAPA to present a seminar to teens on the power of writing and artistic collaboration.
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