Job opportunity: How to become a librarian


About the job:

As the name implies, librarians oversee the daily operations of libraries. The responsibilities include providing reference services to visitors, technical instruction, community outreach, organizing, and cataloging materials, helping to select and purchase materials, and helping library users locate and check out books and other materials. Librarians also help patrons with computer-related questions, printers, and more.

Administrative librarians are involved with additional tasks, such as supervision and scheduling, developing library policies, and long-term planning.

There are different kinds of libraries and librarians – the most recognizable perhaps being public libraries. Others include school libraries, higher education/academic libraries, and specialty libraries, such as those within museums and the like.

Qualities needed:

Patience, organization skills, being a good listener, and curiosity, said Keith C. Suhr, (CQ), a librarian and assistant director of the Greece Public Library. (Suhr also is the town historian.) Also important, he said, is the ability to work well with the public and, because so much information now is digitized, having technical skills.

Trachelle Bivins and her 5-year-old son, Ondrae Florence, complete his school work together at Central Library of Rochester on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Ondrae and his mom have internet at home, but choose to come to the library because it creates a better learning environment for him.

Education/training needed:

Candidates need an undergraduate degree along with a master’s degree in library science or library and information science. Many candidates work in a library or research facility while pursuing their education. Upon graduation, librarians must be certified (in New York state, by the state Education Department). To be hired, they must pass a Civil Service exam, Suhr added.

What the job pays:

According to state Labor Department statistics, the median salary for “librarians and media collection specialists” is $55,300 (CQ) in the Finger Lakes region. (The statistics also list the median salary for “library technicians” – those who work at libraries but are not librarians – at $25,350.) (CQ) Suhr estimated the salary at about $60,000. (CQ)

The job picture:

The outlook is good, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimates job growth for librarians at 5 percent (“faster than average”) through the end of the decade.

The Coronavirus, of course, has disrupted pretty much everything, including public libraries. Many closed for months at the outset; most are now open, but with limited services. Some are offering only curbside pickup of materials. Others, like the Greece Public Library, allow the public to enter the building, browse, and even hang out. Suhr said that with the ongoing pandemic, “it’s hard to say” about the job picture, but added, “There’s always a need for librarians.”

The Greece Public Library opened earlier this week with limited services and days and hours of operation.  A few people were seen browsing books and audio books to check out, Friday, May 29, 2020.  Librarian Stephanie Cervantes answers a question from Marie Kraft who was returning a book.


Suhr said being a librarian helps him to satisfy his “appetite for curiosity.” He and others have been involved, for instance, with the ongoing expansion project at the Greece Public Library.

“You can make this job as interesting as you like,” he said. “You have to have a willingness to try new things. That’s very exciting…The day is full. You’re helping people find out things that they want to know. You’re that bridge.”

Where to learn more:

For a general overview, check the American Librarian Association website at (which has a dropdown option for “education & careers”). For more information about requirements and such, check the state Labor Department website at and search for “librarian.” For information about local public libraries within the Monroe County Library System, go to

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