Librarian at work

Why Do People Become Librarians?

If you’re considering becoming a librarian, you most likely have your own reasons for doing so. Many people think that the only reason a person would want to become a librarian is because they love books. Those who are already in college library science degree programs know, from the various skills and competencies that they are learning, that this is far from the only reason. Librarians deal with so much more than books these days, however, that “liking books” as a motivation to become a librarian has become passe. As you explore the possibility of becoming a librarian, you will begin to realize that there are many other reasons for working in this exciting field, which we will discuss here.

Commitment to Service, Learning and Community Engagement

One of the reasons people become librarians is to serve others in the community through imparting knowledge and facilitating learning. Customer service is a large part of what a librarian does. They deal with the public on a daily basis. Because the position of librarian involves both leadership and service, there are ample opportunities for librarians to help the community and those who live within in it through meeting their knowledge and information needs. This helps to explain why having a curious, inquisitive mind is one of the best traits for those wishing to become librarians.

Curiosity About the World

Another reason people pursue librarianship is because they do have an inquisitive mind, as mentioned above, and want to explore the infinite possibilities of the world. If you possess an innate curiosity about the world, you will find becoming a librarian to be a satisfying profession. You will spend your workdays helping others fulfill their curiosity and find answers to their questions, which, in turn, will help you to satisfy some of your own curiosities.

Preservation of Information for Generations to Come

Some students get into the library and information science major with the desire to preserve information of all types for posterity. Information science has become a vital part of the library science major, and the proper preservation of media of all kinds is taught in these programs. Whether it’s documents, audio materials, visual materials, artifacts of other kinds, or digital materials, information must be preserved so that future generations can learn from and enjoy it as much as past and present generations have already done and are currently doing.

Endless Job Possibilities

Becoming a librarian does not necessarily mean that you will work in a brick-and-mortar library. With the various specializations available within library and information science degree programs, the possibilities for jobs outside of traditional library settings are almost endless. Library science graduates work in historic sites, law libraries, music libraries, technology, publishing, data curation, knowledge organization, public schools, universities and colleges, archiving, records management, corporate librarianship, and more. One position can also involve many of these functions, making work for library science graduates less repetitive and quite interesting on a daily basis. The wide variety of careers available to library and information science graduates is ever-growing with the expansion and explosion of information.

Favorable Salaries

Another important reason to become a librarian that should not be overlooked is the high salary range. Graduates of a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program can find high-paying entry level librarian positions nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of librarians and media collections specialists in the United States as of May 2021 is $64,180. Those earning in the 75th percentile average $77,400 per year; and those in the 90th percentile make $97,870 annually. Corporate information officers for high-tech companies can easily make six-figure salaries. So even though you do need to stay in school for about six years to get your undergraduate and graduate degrees, your hard work and dedication can pay off in a big way. This lucrative salary range is often quite attractive to those considering becoming librarians. 

An Ever-Changing Job

Being a librarian is different from day to day, according to some who work in the profession. Because the MLS and MLIS degrees are applicable to many different positions, the possibilities for employment are almost endless. When you do land a job, the duties involved within that job will also differ from one day to the next. As one library media specialist in Michigan put it, “I’ve booked psychics, mountain climbers, rock musicians, and landlords for programs. I teach, catalog, book talk, advise, troubleshoot, demonstrate, connect s-video cables, and shelve….in a single day….if the new books don’t excite me, the new technologies do. Most importantly, I learn something new every day.”