Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Am I Suited for the Library and Information Management Sector?

We think you are...

Before deciding whether ot not librarianship is the right fit for you, take the time to understand what it means to be a modern librarian. Stereotypes are rampant, especially online, so if you've come across sites professing that the profession is great if you love to read, think again.

The modern library is a community hub. Here, you'll find people of all ages and from all backgrounds, demographics, and socio-economic situations in your public libraries in particular.

If you're not fond of human interaction and noise, then this probably isn't the job for you!

However, if you're fond of research, collaboration, community, and making a difference in the lives of everyday people, then this just might be your dream job. Read on...

Modern librarians need the following skills to do their job effectively:

  • technologically informed
  • confident communicators
  • adaptable
  • dedicated to professionalism
  • committed to lifelong learning

If you possess these skills you're on the right track! But the best thing for you to do is to approach working librarians, from all of the different kinds of libraries.

They'll be able to tell you why they were attracted to the profession in the first place, and whether or not the reality of library work matches their initial perceptions. As an avid reader, go to your local library and read up on the profession!

In 2009, Lauren Pressley wrote an ebook called 'So You Want to be a Librarian' that's informative, clever and best of all, FREE. The web is heaving with blogs by librarians from all over the world who are very honest about what it's like to work in libraries, so don't be afraid to Google.

To Study or Not to Study...

If you want to commit to librarianship then you've got to get a degree. Period.

Professional librarians have Bachelor's and Master's degrees in library and information science from New Zealand institutions such as Open Polytechnic and Victoria University.

Some librarians don't have a degree, but have worked in the sector a long time and are very knowledgable. The risk of not having a degree or an accreditation is lower pay. Many librarians who work in the sector often return to studies to upgrade their skills, so that's always an option if you're already working in one.


The Many Branches of Librarianship

The library sector is bigger than you may think. Here are the four main types of librarians:

  • School librarians
  • Academic librarians
  • Public librarians
  • Special librarians

Visit our sectors page for more detail on the range of libraries in New Zealand, and the communities they serve.

It's also worth noting that library staff do various jobs at different levels, depending on which kind of library they work at. 

If you know that you want to work in the industry but you're not sure in what capacity, take the time to look at the following job descriptions we've created for a range of library roles - downloadable at the bottom of this page!  

Library assistants in tertiary (polytech, university and wananga) and public libraries have daily interactions with library members. 

They are essentially frontline staff, as they are the first point of contact for people when they come through the doors. It may not sound like much, but it's a very important role: having the right people in this role helps to establish the tone of a library, which can then a member's experience.

The best people for this role are positive, friendly and outgoing individuals who make members feel welcome and valued.

If you're not particularly outgoing, then you should know that not all library staff have direct contact with their members.
Cataloguing and other backroom staff such as accounts, web and electronic resources management, and library systems maintenance staff work behind the scenes. 
Most library staff in customer service roles work on a roster system in larger libraries, so they may do one or two public facing shifts a week and then spend the rest of their time on other duties.
Due to the limited amount of staff in small rural libraries, school libraries, and specials, the librarians who hold positions in this part of the sector will have more public interaction than others, and are often in sole-charge positions.

For more information take a look at our Skills Map for the range of skills required for the various roles in the library and information profession.

Our remuneration project page will give you an insight into the kinds of salaries and hourly wages you can expect in the library and information sector.



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