Karen works in a busy Melbourne public library as a Librarian and Customer Services Manager. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in a number of libraries and has witnessed a lot of changes in the profession.
What's a typical work day like?
Karen enjoys the enormous variety in her day to day work. "Some times you get people coming in who just want to locate something simple like an Agatha Christie novel. Other times there are requests for hard to find or complex information. You may also have to answer technical questions about using the internet, handle complaints, settle staff issues, organise branch planning, alter displays, perform administrative duties... the list goes on," says Karen.
What sort of skills do you need?
From a young age, Karen loved going to libraries and reading, so a career as a librarian seemed a natural choice. She believes that the job would most suit somebody with good organisational skills, an ability to interpret information and embrace change, an outgoing personality, and an inquiring mind.
"These days computer skills are a must because a lot of the work is IT based. There is always a lot to keep up with. You have to be on top of the advances in technology."
What are some of the pros?
Karen adds, "The job is quite challenging. You must constantly find new ways to maintain a high level of customer service because the library isn't only about checking out books. In fact the whole technological revolution is making information more accessible. Part of my role is to contribute to making the information available to everyone, and to maintain the traditional roles of a librarian at the same time."
And the cons?
Although dealing with difficult and demanding patrons is not an every day occurrence in the library, Karen says that when it does occur, it is one of the biggest downsides to the job. "On the other hand, it can be a real thrill when you find the exact thing that somebody has been looking for. And, it's really satisfying on Sunday afternoons, for instance, when you see families reading different books and enjoying themselves."
Any tips for new players?
Karen advises, "When you have decided that you do want to be a librarian, make sure you get a feel for what type of library you want to work in, whether it's one at a school, a university, TAFE, a hospital or a specialised library, or a community library. And if you can, get some work experience first, as that will give you a good idea of the type of work involved."
Find out more about a career as a librarian
Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a librarian.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).