Libraries are quickly becoming a repository of digital information, with the Internet and remote access providing increased access to fresh information. Librarians will frequently help individuals locate information that can be used for personal and business purposes, and they will have a wide range of knowledge about information sources.
Most librarians will focus on a particular area of work whether that be user services, administrator services, or technical services, with user services referring to the reference desk, helping patrons find materials and providing them with information on written and digital resources.
Technical services librarians will frequently work in cataloging and acquiring new circulation materials, while administrative librarians will perform the management operations and day to day operations of a library, conducting such activities as negotiating contracts and preparing budgets.
In smaller libraries, a librarian will typically handle all areas of work, including purchasing materials, shelving materials, and helping patrons check out. It is common for these professionals to recommend materials which can include books, articles, periodicals, and internet resources.
Librarians can work in a wide range of environments which can include public libraries, usually run by counties, school libraries, which are usually run by universities, and special libraries, which are usually run by corporations such as law firms and medical centers. Those working in a legal or medical capacity will often require advanced training in order to provide specialized services to doctors and lawyers.
Librarians will spend most of their day at a desk staring at a computer monitor, and most will work full time with a 40 hour work week schedule. About a fifth of all library professionals will work part time, and those working in colleges will often have to work evenings and weekends in order to satisfy their patrons.
A masters of library science is usually required in order to obtain a position in a library, although those working in schools may not require such advanced education. In 2006, librarians had about 158,000 jobs in America, with most working in schools and about a quarter working in public libraries. Employment growth is expected to be slow over the next ten years, as electronic resources eliminate some of the traditional needs for printed materials.
In 2006, the middle 50th percentile of these professionals made between $39,250 and $60,800, with twenty five percent of all librarians being members of a union.