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Academic Librarian Profile

Academic Librarian


Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Academic Librarian. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Academic Librarian
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Academic Librarian Work Information
  • Finding Suitable Work

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    Working Duties Expected

    Academic librarians support members of an academic community, such as students, researchers and lecturing staff, by managing, organising, evaluating and disseminating the information they need. Often they are responsible for a specific academic subject area or function, such as resource ordering, loans service, special collections or IT systems. They are increasingly involved in facilitating and supporting learning by teaching information retrieval skills to students and staff, either within a class room or sometimes within a virtual learning environment. Much of the work involves electronic resources and an increasing amount of time is spent on database and web page development. Senior roles include staff and financial management.

    What does the role encounter?

    Specialist responsibility for an academic subject or function is common even at basic level posts, so tasks will vary. Some roles have a strong focus on electronic resources and information technology. The following is a list of tasks typically undertaken within the role:-

    • selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying and exploiting information, using specialised library and information software;
    • creating, updating and managing online and networked information resources;
    • dealing with users' enquiries;
    • devising and delivering information skills courses for students and staff;
    • helping users conduct literature searches using networked databases, printed resources, CD-ROM or the internet;
    • training and updating other members of information staff;
    • keeping up to date with latest developments, particularly IT;
    • contributing to the development of library and information strategic plans;
    • taking responsibility for the information needs of staff and students within a specific subject area;
    • liaising with academic staff in departments;
    • participating in a professional or networking group;
    • contributing to academic course development;
    • managing a budget, which can involve large amounts of money and overall responsibility for maintaining a good relationship with external bodies, such as suppliers, as well as internal bodies within the institution;
    • managing staff, which can involve recruitment and selection, appraisals, disciplinary action, rotas as well as day-to-day supervision for the quantity and quality of work;
    • managing resources, which can range from buildings and furniture to websites, journals and books (paper and electronic).

    Hours and Environment

    What type of hours will I have to work?

    Working hours and conditions are generally nine to five but increasingly duties include evening, weekend and bank holiday work. There is increasing pressure on libraries to provide 24/7 services, but these are often delivered via information technology and/or with minimal staffing.

    Working Skills Required

    What type of skills will I need?

    You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

    • good interpersonal and communication skills - supporting students' learning is an increasingly important part of the job;
    • at least basic IT skills. Academic libraries are highly computerised. Expertise with databases, the internet and online searching is vital. Professional training covers this but basic IT skills will be expected;
    • experience of a variety of tasks in at least one or two library or information environments;
    • a willingness to be flexible. This type of work is changing rapidly as more information becomes available in electronic format and a greater emphasis is placed on supporting students' learning;
    • an appreciation of the pressures and demands within the academic work environment.

    Training Requirements

    What type of training will I receive?

    Professional development and further training is required to become a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Chartered membership is the first level of professional qualification and is usually awarded two or three years after graduation and leads to the postnominal letters MCLIP. There are two training routes to chartership, dependent on the level of supervision available to the candidate. The second (and highest) level of membership is chartered fellowship (FCLIP), which can first be applied for five years after becoming chartered and which is intended to demonstrate an advanced level of professional skills and expertise.
    In addition, short courses, workshops and seminars are offered by professional bodies such as CILIP, ASLIB, The Association for Information Management, and some employers.
    Career Progression:

    Career progression tends to be steady rather than rapid, with regular periods of updating skills, taking on new or more specialised roles and knowledge, and gaining higher level professional qualifications. Senior posts involve the management of staff, resources and budgets. Often there is considerable liaison with other departments and a need to champion the service to compete for limited resources within the institution.
    Geographical mobility and a willingness to change posts are often needed for promotion. It is sometimes necessary to move between jobs and institutions in order to experience more than one type of work. Competition at all levels is keen so perseverance and dedication will be needed to achieve promotion. Remaining in one institution may limit career development prospects, although much depends on the size of the institution and the range of opportunities available.

    Salary Expectations

    What level of salary and benefits are there?

    These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

    • Range of typical starting salaries: £14,000 - £19,500.
    • Range of typical salaries at senior level/with experience. £22,000 - £40,000.
    • A list of recommended salaries is published by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) along with regular surveys of members' salaries. CILIP recommends that posts requiring the employment of a chartered librarian should be graded to provide a salary of not less than £18,000.
    • Professional salaries have traditionally been set on national academic-related scales but this is currently under review as a result of wider changes within higher education.

    Salaries for the most senior posts range from £40,000 to more than £60,000 for information directors. Many universities have merged library services with information technology departments and/or learning support, which may offer further opportunities for progression at the highest levels.

    Trade Information

    What trade magazines or publications are available for this industry?

    All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

    The Guardian, Guardian Newspapers Ltd (http://www.guardian.co.uk).
    Library and Information Gazette, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
    The Times Higher Educational Supplement, TSL Education.
    Your Essential Guide to Career Success, Facet Publishing, 2004.

    Where can I find further information?

    Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB)
    Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2AE
    Tel: 0117 987 6543
    www.ahrb.ac.uk

    ASLIB, The Association for Information Management
    Temple Chambers, 3-7 Temple Avenue, London EC4Y 0HP
    Tel: 020 7583 8900
    www.aslib.co.uk

    Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
    7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE
    Tel: 020 7255 0500
    www.cilip.org.uk

    INFOmatch Recruitment Agency
    Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE
    Tel: 020 7255 0570
    www.cilip.org.uk/jobscareers/infomatch/

    Instant Library Recruitment
    104b St John Street, London EC1M 4EH
    Tel: 020 7608 1414
    www.instant-library.com

    TFPL (Task Force Pro Libra) Ltd
    17/18 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TL
    Tel: 020 7251 5522
    www.tfpl.com

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