Jan 28 2006, 02:08 AM
Is anyone around here a librarian at a public library or a university? If not, has anyone ever been one? Also, has anyone ever majored (perhaps minored? or even just plain taken a course on?) in Library Science? At my age, it's probably a bit early for me to be thinking too deeply into my career options, but I like books. So, while it would be nice to be an author, I'm not sure if I have the followthrough to write novels or the skill to write good ones that could get published and make enough money for me to live off of in such a competitive market. Therefore, while I can still dream and try to achieve that goal, I thought librarian might be a nice profession to have if that doesn't work out. I've done some research and their average pay seems okay. I found it a little odd that it would require a Master's Degree, but then again, I know very little of what the job and training is like. Now, that brings me to my questions. First of all, what is being a full-time librarian like? Moreover, what are your responsibilities? What skills are helpful? How difficult is it? Are the benefits all right? I hear librarians sometimes must work weekends and holidays, has this ever been excessive and is it all the time, most of the time, or just sometimes? Is there anything particularly good or bad about the career? Is it necessary or just helpful to get a Master's Degree? Next, what is a Library Science class like? I hear one must write a thesis to attain a Master's Degree, is this the same kind of thesis one must write for a Ph.D.? Oh, and overall, what kind of person would you recommend this career path to? I've, as I've said, done a bit of research, but I figure that in cases like this, there's nothing quite like input from people with experience. So, with that, thank y'all for y'all's (double contraction!) answers, everyone.
Also, I wasn't quite sure if this belongs in Personal Concerns or Daily Life. So, please, mods, feel free to move it should I have chosen unwisely.
Thank y'all again, and sorry for being so very long winded.
Jan 28 2006, 08:10 AM
i am not a librarian-hence i unfortunately can not answer your question. however, i recommend you go to the library and ask them! librarians love being asked questions!
Jan 28 2006, 07:54 PM
I'm not a librarian, but I've taken two library courses...and probably would have majored in it if my university offered more than two courses on it.
It's one career I've considered quite seriously before, but decided not to pursue it in the end.
It's definitely not for everyone. There's a lot of memorizing Dewey Decimal stuff, learning the best ways to research things so you can be of assistance to people using the reference section, etc. A master's degree is necessary...which a lot of people are surprised by. But you have to know a lot about a wide variety of topics: fiction, nonfiction, etc, in order to assist people. So it really does make sense.
I'm pretty sure you get medical and dental insurance and all that...but I'm not certain. The pay isn't great or anything when you consider how much people at other jobs with a master's degree make...but you can certainly live off of it comfortably.
I'm pretty sure that university libraries are generally the most secure jobs, as far as librarian jobs go. Some of the public libraries are in danger of being shut down because citizens in those communities have decided they no longer need them and are voting to remove them (!!!!!!!).
It's a good job if you love books, knowledge, and helping people. There are some drawbacks, like with any job (lower salary, people leaving their kids there as if you're a babysitter, etc).
One suggestion I have is to read Unshelved
. It's a webcomic about a library, written by librarians. It's a humorous look at some of the drawbacks of being a librarian.
Jan 30 2006, 11:57 PM
On the topic of the difference beween a Masters Degree and a Ph.D.: to get an MA you need to complete a number of essays on various topics (usually around four-to-six of them, each about 3k words each) and a thesis of around 15-20k words, to get a Ph.D. you (basically) need to write one thesis of 60-70k words. Naturally, both courses have various hoops that you need to jump through, but that's the essence of the difference in terms of submissions.
To put things in another light, if you took the third chapter of my thesis, around 18k words long, you could submit it as the main portion of an MA. MAs look easy when you are doing a Ph.D., but they seem very hard at the time. These days I have trouble with the idea of expressing any sinlge concept fully in anything less than a few thousand words. It's only self-control that stops me from constantly boring people senseless!
Jan 31 2006, 01:41 AM
QUOTE (Mata @ Jan 30 2006, 03:57 PM)
These days I have trouble with the idea of expressing any sinlge concept fully in anything less than a few thousand words. It's only self-control that stops me from constantly boring people senseless!
I have a similar problem, though I'm only an undergrad in my senior year. A lot of my undergrad courses have had 20 page papers for topics I could probably adequately cover in 10 when I first started uni. Now, however, I often have trouble staying under the maximum page requirement because I am so long winded in comparison to my freshman year.
Anyway, if I'm not mistaken, Fluffy is from America. Master's degrees have some little differences here. Usually it's a combination of coursework and a final dissertation, and I think the required lengths generally vary according to the area of study and the specific university. I'm pretty sure that for a lot of fields they're three years in length, though sometimes they can be two years. The Master's program for Library Science is two years, according to Wikipedia.
Jan 31 2006, 03:40 AM
Yup, I'm from America. I hadn't thought to use Wikipedia, though it turned out to be a good idea since it pointed me here
. Also, apparently librarians don't require any specific baccalaureate, merely a Master's in Library Science. I was worried for a while, though, I could only locate one American university that offered a BLIS, but the number that offer MLIS are quite sufficient.
Memorization and research? Sounds like the thing for me; those are some of my more developed skills (otherwise I would probably find language more frustrating than fascinating).
I think I'll be able to handle long papers. I have pretty much no training for them as of yet (the longest I've ever had to write was 1,000 words; the longest paper I've actually written was only 2,000 words in the end), but I'm sure that will change in the years between now and then.
Also, thanks for the link to Unshelved
, candice. I've been looking for that; I remembered Penny Arcade
linking to it once and couldn't remember the title.
Anyway, thank y'all all again for all y'all's help.
Jan 31 2006, 11:42 AM
At university most of my essays had to be around 2k words, and only the final dissertation was supposed to be longer. In my case it was supposed to be between 8-10k words. I think this was where I started to get issues with length versus clarity, because I wrote 12k. It was lucky that they didn't include footnotes and the appendix in the word count because with those added in I hit around 19k words. The funniest thing was that my tutor, after reading the final draft, said 'it's very good, but it seems a bit short'!
Writing is like physics. Initially you see an object and that seems like all there is, then you see the elements that compose the object, then you learn about the atoms composing the elements, then sub-atomtic forces acting on them... You might start with an approach to writing that says 'let's look at the use of imagery relating to eyes in King Lear', but you soon learn that you can also discuss why eyes were interesting then and now, what a modern interpretation of the text does with that imagery, how psychoanalysis or feminism would view it and which of these gives the most interesting reading. You're still writing about the same thing, but eveything becomes so much more detailed as your understanding of your subject deepens.
Jan 31 2006, 01:34 PM
QUOTE (Mata @ Jan 31 2006, 12:57 AM)
These days I have trouble with the idea of expressing any sinlge concept fully in anything less than a few thousand words. It's only self-control that stops me from constantly boring people senseless!
I've got that but primarilly as I waffle extensively
The best place to ask would be the Library and the people themselves, they may even have a careers section which may be useful being seperate from schools.
I've had friends that have worked in local libraries on a casual basis which didn't require as much of an academic background. They were mainly employed as weekend staff at about your age re-filling shelves, adding members checking out books etc. You could always ask if the local library has any weekend vacancies in a year or so and in the mean time make yourself known to them by becomming a regular. I dont know about US working age limits, in the UK 16+ is when you get full, full protection etc and the possiblility to work full time although at a lesser rate than 18+ normally. If its not to far, a library may be an ideal place to work. Generally safe, peace & quite, no burger flipping, access to the books ya love and with an aire of mystery and sophistication.
Out of interest, have you considered book stores?
Jan 31 2006, 01:59 PM
If you work in a local library then they usually provide you with the uniform baggy cardigan to wear too.
Or is that just where I live?
Jan 31 2006, 07:09 PM
QUOTE (Smiler @ Jan 31 2006, 05:34 AM)
You could always ask if the local library has any weekend vacancies in a year or so and in the mean time make yourself known to them by becomming a regular. I dont know about US working age limits, in the UK 16+ is when you get full, full protection etc and the possiblility to work full time although at a lesser rate than 18+ normally.
If where Fluffy lives is anything like where I've lived, the best place to look for work like that would be the school library. In all the schools I've attended they've always had a few student assistants who helped out. They did it for free, mind you, but they got to be an assistant in there during one of their classes and got credit for it. I've never been to a public library in an average sized town that hired extra people to put books on the shelves.
Most of my uni papers are around 5,000 to 10,000 words (usually about 7,000, I think).
The big ones, anyway...the final papers for each course (usually around 3 or 4 of them per term...less if one of the courses doesn't have a lot of writing required). Smaller ones are usually 1,000 to 2,000...I usually have about one of those per week (two each week this term). I have to write my final project thingy soon...which I think is supposed to be around 20,000 words. I have no idea if my university is typical at all of American universities, but I suspect it probably is.
Jan 31 2006, 10:13 PM
candice: I'm in a fairly small town (maybe 20,000 people?) and the library accepts loads of student-aged persons for part-time jobs. I've got friends who shelve books, hang posters and read to little kids. Maybe this is an east coast/west coast thing?
Fluffy: I've got a cousin who's a librarian. I could give her a call to find out what's required if you'd like.
Feb 1 2006, 01:49 AM
The closest thing my school has to working in the library for credit is a creditless course available only to juniors and seniors that let's them help out around the school's main office. I hadn't thought to check if I could get a job as a page at the local library, but that is a good idea (by the way, it's 16 around here, too, the age, that is). I haven't seen any pages around, but I do tend to buy my books (I like to take my time, and I have collector tendencies), so I don't tend to frequent the library (also, admittedly, though I love books, I read a lot more comics than I do books). Also, I don't even know if I could tell a page when I saw one. I'll have to check on that.
elphaba2, if you would, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Smiler, I know that this will probably make me appear to be a fool of the utmost caliber, but what do you mean by "considered book stores"? Sorry.
I'm probably beginning to sound redundant with this, but really, thank you, everyone.
Feb 1 2006, 08:17 PM
Is anyone around here a librarian at a public library or a university? If not, has anyone ever been one? Also, has anyone ever majored (perhaps minored? or even just plain taken a course on?) in Library Science?
My favorite aunt (who happens to live in Seattle, same as me) is one of the heads of the Engineering Department of the University of Washington library. I'll try to answer your questions as best I can from what she's told me (I've considered being a librarian a time or to, so we've talked about this). What I cannot answer, I'll forward on to her.
I've done some research and their average pay seems okay.
That's not exactly a question, but yes, the pay is very good if you're working for a decent library. Most offer benefits packages as well.
First of all, what is being a full-time librarian like?
You know, I never really asked her that one. I'll have to pass this one on.
Moreover, what are your responsibilities?
I'll have to pass this on as well. I don't quite know what a beginning librarian's responsibilities are. My aunt is one of the higher-ups, I know her responsibilities are quite different.
What skills are helpful?
First off, having a working knowledge of what section of the library you are working in. My aunt works in the Engineering section of UW's library because she has an Engineering degree. Basically, you have to know what the person is talking about to help them fully find what they are looking for. If you are working for some specific type of library (IE: A medical library), you'd better have a minor in that field. Other than that, just know where things are and how to help people find them.
How difficult is it?
I've never asked this one, either. I'd tend to say "not very", but I've never had to work in a library myself. I imagine it's quite easy when you know what you're doing.
Are the benefits all right?
As far as I know, benefits are all right right now. By the time you are qualified to become a librarian, they very well might not be. The way the economy is going right now and how the leadership is....I wouldn't bet on fantastic benefits. I'll bump this one up and see if she has any other insights into this that I don't.
I hear librarians sometimes must work weekends and holidays, has this ever been excessive and is it all the time, most of the time, or just sometimes?
It's only a problem if the library is open weekends or holidays. University libraries generally aren't open holidays because they shut down when a majority of the students aren't there. My guess would be that you'd rotate with the other librarians as to who stays when. I'll bump this one up as well, but I don't think there will be any different answer.
Is there anything particularly good or bad about the career?
Heh, I'll bump this up and see what Aunt Mary-Lila hates. I know she hates trying to get unqualified people that are hired fired because firing people these days is just so hard (and that's part of her job), but I'm sure she has other things.
Is it necessary or just helpful to get a Master's Degree?
If you want to advance, it's absolutely necessary. I know this for a fact. My aunt regrets to this day that her degree isn't in library science. She does the job of the head librarian but only gets paid 1/3 of a head librarian's salary and doesn't get benefits that are as good. (She's been working for the UW library since college, she got up as high as she did because she advanced before the time that the requirement was made, and grandfathered in after.)
Next, what is a Library Science class like?
I have no clue, I've never been in one. I can't imagine it would be a thrill a minute, but if you like books I can't imagine it being intolerable, either. Probably a lot of memorization. I'll ask my aunt.
I hear one must write a thesis to attain a Master's Degree, is this the same kind of thesis one must write for a Ph.D.?
Mata already went over this quite well, I don't think there's anything else that needs to be said on the subject.
Oh, and overall, what kind of person would you recommend this career path to?
My aunt tells me that I'd be a perfect librarian regularly, but other than saying someone like me, I have absolutely no clue. I'll ask. In fact, I'll send her the entire list of questions. I doubt I've been very helpful, but she'll be able to answer everything in depth.
Feb 2 2006, 12:32 AM
Tada! I am 1337. (At least, my aunt is. ) Hopefully this helps you out. (Oh, and I did copy and paste it directly from email, so the format might be a bit wonky.)
"A good place to look at career info is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The librarian page can be found at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm and has the answer to a lot of the
questions. I've interspersed my personal answers in the message below. I
hope this helps.
> How is the average pay?
$40-50,000. But it ranges from about $25000 -$150000.
> What is being a full-time librarian like?
It depends a lot on what kind of librarian you are and what kind of library you work in. There are
actually a lot more people who work behind the scenes than people who
staff the public service desks. In either case, a lot of computer skills
are required. My library has access to about 100 different subject-based
databases and thousands of electronic journals. And just about every one
of them has a different interface. So you have to keep up on all of them
plus know something about the back end design so that you don't get flaky
search results. You also have to be able to teach other people how to use
them and how to evaluate the information they get. (If you Google
something - how do you know if your answer is any good?) The behind the
scenes people are authoring web pages, investigating software & equipment,
cataloging books, repairing books, filling interlibrary loan requests,
processing course reserves.
> Moreover, what are your responsibilities?
My responsibilities are pretty varied. I supervise the course reserves
processing department in the UW Health Sciences Library and chair the
Reserves Operations Group for the UW Libraries system. A lot of our
course reserves are available electronically so I have to be up on
scanning technology, courseware software, and copyright law. I spend a
lot of time teaching faculty about copyright. I also work at our public
service desks and do a lot of miscellaneous projects. Most recently I
purchased 8 copy machines for the library. I serve on the Biosciences
Task Force, a group looking at the services we provide to students/faculty
in the biosciences departments. I'm the project manager for implementing
ILLiad (interlibrary loan tracking software) and EFTS (an interlibrary
loan electronic funds tracking system). And I do some space planning.
I'm never bored.
(My bad, I forgot she got a promotion a couple years back and isn't in the Engineering library anymore. )
> What skills are helpful?
The skills I look for when I hire people are: good communication skills,
good customer service skills, and basic computing skills.
> How difficult is it?
The former dean of the UW library school used to say "Librarianship is not
rocket science, it's harder." That's because you have to be good enough
to help people who are rocket scientists plus people who are in other
fields. That said, most intelligent people should be able to handle it.
> Are the benefits all right?
The benefits depend on where you work.
> I hear librarians sometimes must work weekends and holidays, has this ever
> been excessive and is it all the time, most of the time, or just sometimes?
Libraries are like retail stores, they're open a lot of hours. So, yes,
librarians have to work evenings and weekends. Sometimes specific people
are hired for the evening, weekend and holiday hours and sometimes
> Is there anything particularly good or bad about the career?
The best thing about the career is that it's interesting. But it doesn't
pay as well as a lot of careers that require similar skills.
> Is it necessary or just helpful to get a Master's Degree?
To be a "librarian" you have to have a Master's Degree. Though you can
work in a library without one. The top of the pay scale without a
Master's Degree is about $40,000.
> Next, what is a Library Science class like?
These days, Library Sciences classes are a lot like computer classes.
There is a lot of emphasis on relational database design and on metadata.
> Oh, and overall, what kind of person would you recommend this career path to?
Most library workers have a genuine desire to help other people and a
thirst for knowledge."
Feb 2 2006, 11:35 PM
Oh yes, this most definitely sounds like a career that will be a major consideration of mine when it comes to planning this stuff out. Thank you for the excellent information Feyliya, and please tell your aunt that I said thank you very much.
Erm, well, I guess that's about all I have to say. Yet again, thank y'all all.
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