How to become a librarian

Interested in becoming a librarian? Here you’ll find a step-by-step guide as well as the benefits, qualifications, and career path you can take to become a librarian.

A career as a librarian can be rewarding and allows you to explore your passion and help your local community.

There are many different types of roles when working as a librarian. There are opportunities to work in public libraries, university, college, school, or special (archive) libraries.

Read our guide on how to become a librarian:

Why become a librarian?

Working as a librarian can be an incredibly rewarding career. You’ll have the opportunity to work in literacy, whilst also helping others discover their love for books.

If you work in a public library, you’ll be able to work in your local community and support reading literacy by holding events, ordering stock, creating displays, and speaking to customers.

Working in a specialist or archival library means supporting the preservation of books for future generations and organising special collections.

"Most people think being a librarian is about having a love for books. Don’t get me wrong, it’s essential to the job, but it’s so much more! When I became a librarian, I realised that most customers want a safe, welcoming, and fun place to visit. Working in a library is about sharing your love of books and learning, but also creating a space where people feel comfortable to be themselves."

Working in a library involves a lot more than books.
Working in a library involves a lot more than books.

What skills do you need to become a librarian?

It’s important to do your research before you decide which type of library you would like to work in, but all librarians will need the following skills and experience. 

How to become a librarian

1. Gain experience

In many roles, you will need experience of working in a library or a similar customer facing role. Many libraries offer apprenticeships, internships, or volunteering opportunities to gain first-hand experience. This will also support your application or interview for a librarian role.

Volunteering at a can be done around your current work or study commitments and many libraries will be flexible.

2. Higher education

Librarian qualifications are a great way to help you pursue a career as a librarian. A degree in a relevant area, such as English or Librarianship, can make your application stand out to employers. In your studies, you’ll learn about the effects literature has on readers and communities, but also how it effects culture. In interviews, you will be able to use your degree in examples when answering questions and demonstrate your enthusiasm for literature. 

3. Volunteer

Many libraries offer volunteering positions which are a fantastic way to learn more about libraries and what the role of a librarian entails. You’ll also be able to use this experience in job applications and interviews. Most volunteering positions are part time, and you can volunteer during your studies or other part time work. 

Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience.
Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience.

Top tips for becoming a librarian

If you’re interested in becoming a librarian, here are some top tips on how to get started: 

 1. Do your research 

There are a variety of different librarian roles, so it’s important to do your research into which area you’d like to work in. You may also find it useful to look for current librarian jobs that are being advertised and compare your skills and experience against the job description. This will help you to identify any areas that you need to improve.

It’s also a good idea to visit your local library to understand what they offer and the type of service they provide. This knowledge will help you in interviews by demonstrating your understanding of libraries as a customer.

2. Speak to a librarian

If you’re interested in becoming a librarian, speak to your local librarian. They will be able to provide you with information on what the role entrails and answer any other questions you may have about the role. 

3. Learn

There are fantastic courses that you can take to help improve your understanding and knowledge. These courses can help you with areas you may need to improve on such as communication or organisational skills. Consider becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. They offer courses in librarianship which will stand you in great stead when applying for a librarian position. 

We hope this guide on how to become a librarian has helped. Check out some of our English courses that can help you on your journey to become a librarian.