Think you want to become a librarian?
It's hardly a secret that different personality types and personal traits are best suited for different jobs and professional career paths. For instance, an incurable pathological fear at the first sight of blood precludes virtually all medical career paths. Likewise, extremely introverted people will probably not make very good sales reps.
Following is a brief discussion of specific personality types and individualized traits that are best suited to professional librarianship.
Half-dozen "must-have" personal qualities for professional librarians
The personal characteristics listed below should be considered as threshold qualification criteria for professional librarian careers:
- Genuine commitment to helping, teaching and serving others
- Strong personal belief in 1st Amendment free press and speech protections
- Respect for others' right to privacy and freedom to read any subject they may choose
- An interest in information research
- Interest in a wide variety of subjects, materials and resources
- Advanced computer skills and agile adaptability to ever-emergent technology
A trifurcated occupational sector
Generally speaking, all professional librarian positions consist of three basic service components that encompass: 1) users; 2) IT resources, and 3) administrative tasks. Librarians employed by larger entities often specialize in one of these fields, while their colleagues who work for smaller employers typically have responsibility for all three service-oriented activities.
Librarians must help patrons locate desired materials that may be research, educational or fictional book and media publications. Assisting visitors with locating online public data collections or providing instructions for proper card catalogue usage are also frequently performed job duties.
Technical Service librarians specialize in new collection acquisitions and cataloguing. Their main job duties are library materials preparation and classification in a manner that makes it easy for patrons to locate desired materials expeditiously. Preparing written summaries and abstracts are two other tasks that tech services librarian specialists commonly perform. For the most part, these librarian specialists have no little or direct interaction with the public, but work behind the scenes to facilitate smooth library operations.
Admin Service librarians specialize in library operational management. Their most common work responsibilities are contract negotiations, employee management, preparing budgetary proposals and overseeing all internal library operations.
Besides the above-described trio of specializations, there are many different types of librarian work settings. They include public, school, media center and academic libraries, as well as information centers, corporations, law firms, advertising agencies, medical facilities, research labs, museums and government libraries. Each type of work environment takes a unique personality makeup for best fit.
For instance, User Services librarians must be outgoing and upbeat to encourage patrons during what are often lengthy, tedious searches for highly specific information. On the other hand, Technical Services librarians should be very detail-oriented and meticulous. Admin Service librarians should be creative and analytical to oversee multiple operations and mange library personnel effectively.
Wide variety of various work settings
In addition to the personal traits mentioned above, prospective librarians must hold a master's degree in Library Science from a program accredited by the American Library Association. Many states also require additional certification for some librarian positions. Such graduate degree and certification training programs are designed to impart specialized knowledge and skill.
However, the most valuable types of personality traits essential to professional librarian competence and job satisfaction cannot be instilled by any external source. Rather, "you've either got it, or you don't. " Prudent aspiring professional librarians must consider that inescapable fact when deciding which career path is ideal for them.