The Pros and Cons of Working in a Library

At some point in life everyone comes into contact with a library. It could be the local branch in your home town, the library you use for your first book reports at school, the research library you visit for an all night study session at college or the city library you enjoy for its gorgeous architecture and commitment to learning. The library is the one place on the planet that always puts knowledge first, and is dedicated to housing all of the wisdom that mankind has compiled. Many people become enamored with this romantic endeavor, study library or information sciences and head into the world looking to work in a library. It’s a career that takes a significant amount of education, and a dedication to a life’s work that centers on patience. And like all careers it comes with its positives and negatives. Here are just a couple of the pros and cons of working in a library.

What are the pros and cons of being a librarian?

On the positive side, you’ll have incredible conversations each and every day on the job. A library is a quiet place, but everyone who walks through those doors is passionate about books and interested in either learning or sharing knowledge. You’ll help those folks get to where they need to go, and since each person is there for a different purpose you will get to discuss vastly different pieces. One day it could be the romantic poets, the next it could be modern thriller fiction. One person might be there to research medical breakthroughs, while another is there to introduce her little girl to classics of children’s literature. Every time you help someone get to where they need to go you’ll enjoy thinking about those topics and authors as well.

What are your librarian skills for the job?

The only problem with this rosy view is that people don’t respect libraries and their employees as they used to. Just a couple of decades ago the library was a key cog in the system of information sharing. Today, people would much rather go online than head to the library. People that end up at the library are often unenthusiastic about being there, and are looking for shortcuts. They could be impatient, and won’t understand why it is important to maintain the old traditions as you do.

Advantages of Being a Librarian

Another negative of this work is that your prospects for advancement are limited. Most people start off as a librarian’s assistant, and basically the only way to step up to a higher pay grade and more responsibility is to become a librarian. However, those positions are very limited, and once someone steps into that role they usually hang on to it until they retire. That means you could work in the same library for years and years without moving positions. Compared to most other careers that’s incredibly stifling.

Disadvantages of Being a Librarian

That’s not the end of the story, however. You can distinguish yourself in certain environments, especially by working in a research library or a national library. There will be more opportunities there, and higher pay as well. But if you can expand your education beyond an online library science degree by earning a masters degree, and then finding a way to move up in your community you could find work as a researcher for a corporation or an institution. That will eventually take you out of the library environment as your full-time place of employment, but you’ll be back often to manage the research that informs major private and governmental projects.

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