Welcome to the world of library science, where librarians take on a multitude of responsibilities to ensure the smooth functioning and effective delivery of library services. Librarianship is far more than just organizing books; it encompasses a diverse array of roles and duties essential in meeting library patrons’ information needs. From collection development and cataloguing to reference assistance and community engagement, librarians are the driving force behind the knowledge ecosystem. In this article, we will delve into the responsibilities of a librarian, exploring the wide-ranging tasks they undertake to support research, foster literacy, and create vibrant learning environments. Join us as we uncover librarians’ vital contributions in connecting people with information and empowering individuals and communities through their expertise and dedication.
A librarian is a trained professional who works in a library, responsible for managing and providing access to information resources. Librarians are vital in facilitating knowledge discovery, promoting literacy, and supporting library users’ educational and research needs. They possess expertise in various aspects of library science, including cataloguing, classification, reference services, collection development, and information literacy. Librarians assist patrons in finding and retrieving information through physical materials or digital resources. They are skilled in conducting research, evaluating the quality and relevance of information, and guiding users in their information-seeking endeavors. Librarians also contribute to developing and maintaining library collections, ensuring that materials are organized, catalogued, and readily available for users. In addition to their traditional roles, librarians in the digital age often work with technology, managing electronic resources, implementing information systems, and supporting digital initiatives.
Responsibilities of a Librarian
A librarian does three main kinds of work: selecting materials for the library, organizing them so that they will be easy to find and use, and helping people get the materials or information they need. To select materials, a librarian finds out what the library’s users and potential users need. Rarely, if ever, can a library afford to buy all materials needed. So the librarian must be an expert not only on what materials are available but on which are more dependable and more useful to the library than others. The librarian regularly reviews the library collection to make room for new materials, removing materials that are no longer useful. A good collection offers many points of view on any given subject. An important part of the librarian’s job is to resist pressure from special groups who want to get rid of or add materials because of the point of view.
1. The Librarian as a Generalist: If it were not arranged and did not have a catalogue, a library would attract less jungle of information. That is where the organizer of materials comes in. This librarian examines every new book, record, film, or other item to determine what it is about. After the librarian decides what the subject is and how the item is related to other materials in the library, the item is catalogued, or described. Most libraries use Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), but some small and traditional libraries use the card catalogue.
Helping people get materials or information they need is circulation and reference work. The librarian in charge of circulation supervises the use of all materials. In many large libraries, this librarian works behind the scenes in a private office. Clerks usually issue library cards, lend and receive materials, keep records of materials borrowed, collect fines for overdue materials, and even help people find materials they want. The way in which each such job is done is determined by the librarian in charge. Much circulation work is automated in libraries today-there are computerized systems to record materials lent and returned, for instance.
Nobody knows all the answers. The librarian in reference pursues a more profound wisdom to understand all the questions. A reference librarian must be an expert interviewer to learn what the questioner is trying to discover. The whole point of reference work is personal assistance, either finding the answer or guiding someone to it. The same question may call for different types of help-for people of different ages and backgrounds, for example.
2. The librarian as a Specialist: The three main kinds of library work are part of every librarian’s education. But, as in other professions, many librarians become specialists. An acquisitions librarian specializes in locating and ordering materials; a cataloger organizes materials; and a reference librarian in helping people get information. Many schools and public libraries have media specialists and readers’ advisers. A media specialist is an expert in using all materials, both print and non-print. A readers’ adviser helps choose materials or prepares a special reading list for a particular person. Readers’ advisers in hospital and prison libraries practice bibliotherapy, helping treat the sick, the disturbed, and the downhearted with books and other materials.
Public librarians may specialize by age group of users. A children’s librarian must know about such things as child behavior, what children study in school, non-print materials and their uses, the teaching of reading, children’s literature, and how to tell a story. Guiding children in their reading is an integral part of the work. So are selecting materials, holding story hours, working with parents and Parent-Teacher Associations, visiting nearby classrooms, teaching the use of the library, and planning such notable projects as Book Week.
A young adult librarian works with roughly the teenage group. Such a librarian must know what young adults are like, what they study in school, what they read and, listen to, and look at in their free time. It is especially important for a librarian working with this age group to be outgoing, unflappable, imaginative, and socially aware.
The young adult librarian selects materials, keeping up with ever-changing teenage interests; acts as a readers’ adviser; visits schools to discuss books and other materials; and explains how to use a library. An important part of working with young adults is planning programmes for them.
Many academic and research librarians are subject or language specialists. Such librarians usually have special training in music, African materials, Spanish and Portuguese literature, the sciences, etc. Subject specialists are also found in government libraries-archivists specializing in historical papers and librarians specializing in law.
There are many subject specialists in special libraries. The special librarian makes searches for information-helping an engineer, gathering materials for a report, and preparing a reading list on water pollution for a steel company executive. Because engineers, doctors, and other specialists do not have time to read everything published in their field, the special librarian may review and summarize new articles and reports. Such summaries, or abstracts, keep busy people updated and help them decide what to read for more information.
Another part of special library work is having important articles and reports translated. Information searches are done more and more with the help of computers. Some translation, too, is done by machine, but there are serious problems involved. Because special librarians often make much use of other libraries, they must know not only their own but other library collections in their subjects. Special librarians often have advanced training in the field of concentration of their library. They should also have a background in library technology, automation being common in special libraries.
Many librarians do not specialize. They are generalists, working with a variety of groups and subjects. Included among generalists are most school librarians. School librarians work closely with teachers to help students get the reading habit, learn study skills, and understand how to use a library. Besides understanding children or young adults, school librarians need a background in print and non-print materials. In many places, a school librarian must also be qualified as a teacher. This is especially important as the school library becomes more and more of a learning laboratory, an extension of the classroom.
3. The Librarian as an Information Scientist: A librarian is a mover of ideas of information from one mind to another. So it is not enough to know library science. A librarian must understand the bigger picture called information science, of which library science is only a part. To teach the use of a library, a librarian must understand how people think when they attack look-it-up problems. That is part of information science. To index a vertical file, a librarian must understand how language works. That, too, is part of information science.
A librarian often has to know something about computers to work with them. In addition, he or she may need some mathematics to use computer language. Both mathematics and computer technology are part of information science. To run a library, the librarian must learn techniques for analyzing and improving a system. Information science includes systems management, too. Many librarians who work in automated libraries are called information scientists. But the term is not used by all such librarians. Basically, every librarian must be an information scientist.
4. The Librarian as a Person: The libraries of the world have room enough- and work enough for many types of people. There are reference jobs for the I-want-to-work-with-people type, jobs with the underprivileged for the I-want-to-improve-the-world type, and jobs as cataloguers and bibliographers for the I-want-to-do-research type. There are jobs for close-to-home and away-from-home types, for small-library and large-library types, for specialists and generalists, book addicts and non-book addicts, teacher types, and leader types. While librarians do not run into one type, though, they do have some things in common, some of which include:
- A librarian serves the people of a community-a college, a school, or a plastics company-either directly or indirectly.
- A librarian is a matchmaker, bringing people and knowledge together.
- A librarian is sometimes uninvited. Not everyone who needs help asks for it, so a librarian must be able to take the initiative.
- A librarian is a voracious reader. Ideas come in many kinds of packages; most books and a librarian must be broadly knowledgeable.
- A librarian is curious. He or she has not only an appetite for knowledge but an open mind that does not fear new ideas.
- A librarian has a sense of order. Everybody in a library must know where things are and how to find them quickly.
Librarians hold a critical role in society as the guardians of knowledge and facilitators of information access. They undertake a wide range of responsibilities, working diligently to ensure the smooth operation of libraries and meet the diverse needs of their patrons. Here, we explore some of the key responsibilities that librarians shoulder:
- Collection Development: One of the primary responsibilities of a librarian is to curate and develop the library’s collection. This involves selecting and acquiring a diverse range of materials, including books, journals, multimedia resources, and digital content. Librarians must assess their community’s informational and educational needs and make informed decisions to expand and maintain a relevant and balanced collection.
- Cataloguing and Classification: Librarians play a pivotal role in organizing and cataloguing library materials. They employ standardized systems such as MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) and classification schemes like Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress Classification to create accurate and comprehensive bibliographic records. This enables users to locate and access resources efficiently.
- Reference and Research Assistance: Librarians serve as a valuable resource for patrons seeking information. They provide reference services, answer queries, provide research assistance, and guide users in accessing relevant resources. Librarians are skilled in using various databases, search techniques, and information sources to help individuals find the information they need.
- Information Literacy Instruction: Librarians are dedicated to promoting information literacy, teaching users how to locate, evaluate, and effectively use information. They conduct workshops, training sessions, and instructional programs to enhance users’ research skills, critical thinking abilities, and digital literacy.
- Reader Advisory Services: Librarians recommend and guide patrons in selecting reading materials. By understanding readers’ preferences, interests, and needs, they provide personalized suggestions, helping individuals discover new authors, genres, or subjects to explore.
- Community Engagement: Librarians actively engage with their communities, fostering connections and promoting the library as a hub for cultural and educational activities. They organize events, workshops, book clubs, and exhibitions that cater to the diverse interests of community members, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.
- Collection Maintenance: Librarians ensure the preservation and maintenance of library materials, employing strategies to extend the lifespan of resources. They perform regular inventory checks, monitor circulation, and implement conservation measures to protect books, documents, and other items for future generations.
- Technology Integration: With the advancement of digital technologies, librarians embrace the use of technology to enhance library services. They manage electronic resources, implement library management systems, and explore innovative tools and platforms to improve access to information and streamline administrative tasks.
- Professional Development: Librarians are committed to continuous learning and professional development. They stay abreast of emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices in the field through participation in workshops, conferences, and professional associations. This allows them to remain at the forefront of their profession and provide high-quality services to library users.
- Collaboration and Outreach: Librarians actively collaborate with other professionals, organizations, and institutions to expand the reach and impact of library services. They establish partnerships with schools, universities, community centers, and local businesses to develop joint initiatives, shared resources, and outreach programs.
The responsibilities of a librarian extend far beyond the stereotypical image of someone shelving books. Librarians are dynamic professionals who actively contribute to the dissemination of knowledge, the enrichment of communities, and the fostering of lifelong learning. Through their dedication, expertise, and commitment to service, librarians play a vital role in promoting literacy, facilitating information access, and empowering individuals to explore, learn, and grow.
- ISSA, A. O. (2009). FUNDAMENTALS OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE. Abdul Wahab O. Issalorin Publisher,.