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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Librarianship as a Career: Home

What you will need to become a librarian

Tangibles: undergraduate degree (in anything!), a Master’s Degree from an ALA accredited institution: 


Skills: Requirements vary depending on specific type of librarianship, but all librarians must be adept with ever-changing technology and the evolving information landscape.

Intangibles: intellectual curiosity, ability to embrace change, ability to work well with people, excellent communication skills, strong service ethic, some serious technology and critical thinking skills.

Types of Librarianship

Academic (often these roles are combined, especially in smaller libraries)

  • Public Services--Reference/Research, Instruction/Information Literacy, Circulation/Access Services, Interlibrary Loan
    • Subject Liaisons--Academic Libraries often have a subject area for which they collect resources and provide research assistance to faculty and students
  • Technical Services--(Access, Organize, and Manage Information): Cataloging, Systems (IT), Electronic Resources, Serials, Collection Development, Metadata, Website development/design
  • Special Collections/Archives/Digital Collections
  • Administration: Director/Dean, Associate Director, Human Resources

A lot of academic librarians have faculty (professor) status, which means they are required to meet scholarship (usually publishing) and service expectations in addition to regular librarianship duties.

Public (often these roles are combined, especially in smaller libraries)

  • Children’s Librarian
  • Youth/Teen Services
  • Reference (and Adult Services)
  • Cataloging and Metadata
  • Collection development


School Library/Media Specialist (most states require teaching certification in addition to MLS)

Special Libraries

Corporations, museums, hospitals, government organizations, media networks

Important Topics in Libraries

  • Access and availability of information to all
  • Literacy and information literacy (ability to find, critically evaluate, and use information effectively—for example, spotting fake news)
  • E-resources
  • Copyright and intellectual property
  • Intellectual freedom
  • Information technology
  • Scholarly communication