Digital Archives

Salaries of librarians with an ALA certified education are nearly $5,000 more than librarians without certified degrees.

There are more than 200,000 librarians employed in the USA and approximately 80% of them are women. Roughly two thirds of them work at a public library and the rest work at private institutions or non-profit organizations.

Surveys consistently show that librarians report lower stress levels from work than many other professions. No job is stress-free, but librarians do have a more pleasant work environment than many other jobs.

Developmental history of librarianship

Conventional stereotypical mental imagery evoked by any mention of or reference to librarians typically depicts middle-aged women wearing spectacles with attached chains around their necks sitting behind huge mahogany counters near the front door of their "personal domains." However, such widespread collective stereotypes belie a long convoluted history of librarian careers. Despite outward directly contrary appearances, librarianship has evolved to its present-day posture via a long, convoluted history of longer than 400 years.

17th century

The earliest known text about library operations was titled "Advice on Establishing a Library." Published in 1627 by French librarian and esteemed scholar Gabriel Naude, the now-famous volume featured numerous ideas to build and maintain collections. As a professional author, Naude's preferred topics were political, religious, historical and paranormal events or phenomena. Nonetheless, he practiced what he preached so vociferously in "Advice" during subsequent expansion and managing operations of Cardinal Jules Mazarin's personal library. Naude's librarian advisory publication was translated to English in 1661.

19th century

German author Martin Schrettinger wrote a "sequel" to Naude's much earlier release entirely in his native German language during a work that remained in progress for longer than two decades, from 1808 to 1829. Content of each serial release addressed identical subtopics and issues as those covered in Naude's predecessor work.

Confederate President Thomas Jefferson maintained his own private library on-site at his opulent Monticello mansion. The collection consisted of several thousand books that Jefferson organized with his own personalized classification system. That ad hoc proprietary model was fashioned after the Baconian method that essentially lumped books into groups by subject, versus previously prevailing alphabetical order methods. Over time, Jefferson's collection grew by such quantum leaps and bounds that it eventually provided "seed" resources to establish what is now the Library of Congress.

On January 5, 1887, the first U.S. academy for aspiring librarians commenced formal classroom lessons at Columbia University, with guidance by Melvil Dewey, best known for having invented a decimal classification system in 1876 that bore his surname. Dewey's then novel academic program was formally known as the School of Library Economy. The last inclusive two-word phrase "library economy" was commonly used across America until the early 1940s, when "library science" began predominating for most of the 20th century's balance.

20th century

Shivali Ramamrita Ranganthan integrated the then popular "library science" moniker into the name of his famous volume's full title, "The Five Laws of Library Science," published in 1931. S. R. Ranganthan is widely credited as the original conceiver of five universal library science laws. A significant corollary accomplishment was having originally developed the first comprehensive analytico-synthetic classification system, better known as the "colon classification." Back home in his native land of India, Ranganthan is regarded as the "father of library science, documentation, and information science. Likewise, he is world-renowned for extensive fundamental thought within the library science field. Esteemed author Lee Pierce Butler incorporated the same label into the title of his subsequent work, "An Introduction to Library Science," published by the University of Chicago Press in 1933 - just two years after Ranganthan initial release.

During the same timeframe of colleague Ranganthan heyday, Lee Pierce Butler's then revolutionary approach to research endorsed quantitative methodology and social sciences precepts. Such hybridized conceptual theories were geared toward exploiting the latent potential of librarianship to meet pressing informational needs of society-at-large. Butler was also among the first University of Chicago Graduate Library School faculty members who witness their institution affect major, lasting changes in focuses and curricular structure of librarianship education throughout the 20th Century.

However, that research agenda flew square in the face of then countervailing procedure-based approaches to "library economy," which were limited to practical library administration problem solving.

From 1914 to 1939, William Stetson Merrill published several editions of "A Code for Classifiers," which took a more pragmatic approach to library science by advocating propositions that stemmed directly from in-depth knowledge bases about every field of study when recommending specific classification system(s).

Although Ranganthan had taken a primarily philosophical tack, it touched upon more aspects of everyday library operations management. In 1995, Michael Gorman published a remake of Ranganthan's theories and hypotheses with redacted constant references to books, which was titled, "Our Enduring Values: Librarianship in the 21st Century." That work set forth Gorman's Eight Pprinciples of librarian-integrated knowledge and information in all forms, thus enabling digital data consideration.

During more recent expoential rapidity in digital technolgy growth and developments, the library science discipline has been subjected to highly influential information science theoretical concepts. The English translated phrase "library science" apparently first appeared in a book by Asa Don Dickinson titled, "Punjab Library Primer," published by India's University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. Punjab was the first institution of its kind in the entire Asian world that taught library science. Dickinson's "Primer" was also the first English language library science textbook released anywhere in the world.

21st century

Today's Digital Age has irrevocably transformed information storage, access and retrieval. Indeed, mutant variants bear such virtually nonexistent resemblance to prompt one expert commentator's posit, "The library is now part of a complex and dynamic educational, informational and recreational IT infrastructure". There are even public libraries that are entirely digital.

That metamorphic paradigm shift was fueled by aggregate cumulative impact of wireless networking mobile devices, high-speed data networks and PCs and the Cloud. Those and other highly influential forces have further served to spark innovative developments in both information services and sciences. Amid such frentic activities, library science evolution maintains its main mission to ensure equal access, communal space and novel retrieval modes collectively known as "Information Literacy Skills."

One prestigious source defined Information Literacy as "[T]he ability to determine extent of information required, efficient and effective access thereto, post-retrieval critical analyses of primary and secondary source(s), selective assimilation and effective information usage to achieve specific goal(s), comprehend surrounding socioeconomic and legal issues, with strict adherence to ethical and legal access and usage."

While the foregoing redacted verbatim recited verbose definition may seem like a very tall order that's virtually impossible to fill, nothing is further from the truth. In reality, its several dependent and independent clauses are quite manageable properly ordered priority, sustained persistent efforts and competent expert assistance to provide accurate guidance.

Conclusory commentary with concise words of parting advice

A long-revered Biblical quote roughly paraphrased reads, "With enough determination to succeed, even the very gates of Hell will not prevail against us." Likewise, another Biblical passage advises readers to, "Train up a child in the way in which he sould go, and when he's old, he will not depart from it." Still another similar old secular saying goes, "Winners never quit - and quitters never win."

The common themes that underlie all three above quip quotes should be self-evident and reducible to simplest terms, expressed somewhat as thusly: 1) Consistent sustained efforts avail much for persistent souls who keep on pushing, come what may; and, 2) youth must not be used to excuse ignorance. Instead, tender years are the ideal historical moment to instill wholesome values and highly valuable practical skills most relevant to whatever signs that current times may portend.

By heeding the preceding advisories in all life aspects, parents and adult role models like even many librarians play, can help secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity into perpetuity.

Do you have a real interest in working with the community, improving the education of our future generations and being part of an institution that maintains the history, stories and experiences of our past? If so, then a career as a librarian might be right for you. This resource is designed to provide information on librarian careers, educational requirements, and job specializations to help you decide if becoming a librarian is something you want to pursue.

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