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Librarians are responsible for the day-to-day running of the school’s library or resource centre. They acquire, organise and maintain resources that support the learning needs of pupils and the needs of the wider school community.

What’s involved

School library staff manage all library resources in a school, including print, audio-visual, online and e-learning material. They help pupils and teachers to access all the materials they need to help them learn and teach. They play a central role in supporting literacy initiatives in schools and make an important contribution to schools achieving their overall learning targets. The emphasis of a librarian's work depends on their particular job but in general, they are responsible for:

  • Ensuring adequate stock selection. Budgets are limited, and within their constraints librarians must choose materials which reflect the demands not only of the curriculum but also of teaching plans, various ages of pupils, staff and special-interest groups
  • Ensuring that the stock is presented in an accessible way
  • Dealing with enquiries from pupils and staff. These can be anything from finding reference materials for school coursework, providing information to staff on legal issues e.g. copyright, helping with research, or careers and reference materials
  • Organising social and educational activities for the wider community

Skills and experience you will need

  • Be highly organised
  • Have good information technology skills, particularly in using databases and the internet
  • Possess good communication skills
  • Possess good customer service skills
  • Excellent research skills
  • Legal knowledge – for example copyright law
  • The ability to supervise others.

Entry requirements

Librarians require a degree in librarianship or information management that is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP); or a degree in any subject, followed by a postgraduate qualification in information management. Courses can be full-time and part-time, and there are some offered by distance learning. If you want to apply for a postgraduate course, most universities would expect you to have gained some experience of working in a library or information service.

Alternatively, if you have a minimum of two year’s work experience as a library assistant, you may be able to apply for Certified Affiliate status with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. After a further two years, you can then apply to go through the Chartership process, which leads to full qualification. See the CILIP website for more details.

Training and development

Librarians can apply to join CILIP which gives access to support and advice, and opportunities for professional development training. The Association for Information Management (ASLIB) also organize short courses. Relevant postgraduate degrees could be an option, which can be undertaken part-time or through distance learning.

To gain professional status recognised by public and academic libraries, you will usually work towards Chartered status with CILIP. To apply for Chartered status, you will need one of the following:

  • a library and information studies degree or postgraduate qualification recognised by CILIP
  • A CILIP Certification plus evidence of further professional development.

You will need to submit a portfolio of evidence to show that you have taken part in further professional training and development after qualifying. See CILIP’s website for details of membership and training.

If you need more help speak to the person at work responsible for your career development or your union learning representative.

Useful links

Have a look at the library/resource centre role profiles under the specialist and technical job family to find out more about the different levels you could work at.

The School Library Association has a host of information and resources

Find out more about the role of librarians on the National Careers Service website

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

For more information in Scotland, contact Skills Development Scotland

In Northern Ireland contact Careers Service Northern Ireland

In Wales / Cymru contact Careers Wales