Ten Reasons You Should Become a Librarian

the librarian

Painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

1. The Hours

Most libraries do not offer services past 9pm. In fact, many do not go past 5pm!  Obviously there will be exceptions, but by and large, librarians do not work the crazy hours that doctors and lawyers do. And that’s awesome!

2. The Money

Contrary to what Forbes would have you believe, librarians make decent money. Granted, it is a large spectrum and where you fall on it could colour your opinion, but if you are working at a high-ranked university, or a public library in a rich location, you could be making some serious coin!

3. The People

Libraries tend to attract people that love or need books. If those are your kind of people, then this is the place for you! The patrons are pretty fantastic on the whole, and job satisfaction is well within reach if you delight in answering simple and disarmingly difficult questions. But let’s not forget about your colleagues! Working with librarians is a joy because they love to share. I’m going to generalize here and say that it’s in our nature to help people, to answer questions, and to want to. Entering the field of librarianship is nice because your coworkers are very willing to help you get your bearings.

4. The Conferences

Librarians are always attending conferences! Often they are using them as an opportunity for networking, and sometimes they are even presenting at them. Conferences are such an exciting way to feel engaged with the profession. It always spurs my enthusiasm when I’m confronted with new ideas, and conferences are the perfect place for that. Not to mention the opportunity to turn it into a working holiday! Yes, there are conferences everywhere from Canada to Singapore! (Go here for a full list). If you are lucky enough to work at a library that gives you a budget for professional development, attending your next conference might even be free! Yay!

5. The Variety

My current job at an academic library involves so many different things: I teach classes, select books, help students one-on-one, answer emails and phone calls, attend meetings/conferences/workshops, and do research. Public libraries would likely add programming and supervising to the list. A job needs to be appropriately challenging in order to be enjoyable, and in my opinion a healthy level of variety keeps things from getting boring (check out 10 Psychological Keys to Job Satisfaction, #5 in particular).

I am constantly trying and learning new things! This really is a career for polymaths.

6. The Skills

I can Google better than all of my friends (ok – except the ones who are librarians), because I know the tips and tricks. Ok, that was a very banal example of what I can do, but it’s true! Librarians are great at finding information, and that’s a skill that is highly transferrable. They also get to practice managing a budget, multiple priorities, and sometimes even an entire staff! Depending on specific interests, librarians can have a whole host of marketable skills (tech skills, for example) which makes our MLIS degree a lot more valuable that one might think.

7. It’s a Great Second Career

To become a librarian, you need to have an undergraduate degree in something. Anything! I studied with engineers, businessmen, lawyers, and yes of course – arts majors. Many people in my program were on their second career path, and librarianship is a solid choice because it means using your previous knowledge (if you want to) rather than abandoning it. An MLIS-holder with an engineering background is going to be a very competitive applicatant for engineering libraries. Many librarians that work in law firm libraries are going to have law degrees. Individuals with a background in business or management are going to have a mind already geared towards running a library. My boyfriend is a doctor who wistfully considers working in a hospital library. If you’re looking for a change in life, but don’t want your previous education to feel wasted, consider librarianship as the perfect bridge to a new career.

8. Sex Appeal

Ok, this is half-joking. But c’mon: cat-eye glasses, pencil skirts, and the key to all the world’s knowledge? Sweater vests, spectacles, and bow ties? There is something very attractive about that! Not to mention the power dynamics, as this satirical video displays. It can’t be denied that the “Hot Librarian” trope exists, so why not celebrate it?

9. The Feel-Good Factor

I see academic libraries as atmospheres for learning, engagement, and creation; public libraries as places for discovery, entertainment, and knowledge; and special libraries as direct conduits for specific information. It is AMAZING to work in places like these! I don’t care if you are jaded or burnt out – I think you have to admit that libraries make pretty fantastic places to work. It is so easy to feel satisfied when helping a patron, even if all you did was point out the bathroom. More often you will find them that perfect book for some summer reading or for their 10-page term paper. It feels really good to help patrons, and because of your specialized training it will feel very easy or delightfully challenging. (Ahem… the easy questions are definitely an ego boost!)

10. The Field of Information

As for the field of information, it’s not going anywhere. Naysayers that fortell the extinction of libraries are ignorant or misinformed. One need only look at the rate at which information is expanding to feel certain that libraries, houses of information (not necessarily books), are a mainstay that society depends upon. And by extension, more information means that librarians are going to become increasingly necessary. Information literacy is a very real need, and it’s great to be a guru in a field that is transforming, evolving, and showing no signs of slowing down.

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