Careers in Libraries and Information Science

Who we are

Librarians and information specialists

Librarians and information specialists have a strong focus on assisting people and organisations and possess unique technical skills to manage and retrieve information. They thrive on change and seek challenges that require creative solutions.

Typical tasks of a professional librarian or information specialist may include:

  • managing and resourcing a branch library, a section of a large library, a small special library, or a research program
  • designing, directing, formulating policy and applying services to meet the information needs of clients
  • providing expert advice or consultancy services on strategic information management, access, organisation and retrieval 
  • managing major projects, including information technology systems and applications in a resource environment
  • providing leadership, managerial and commercial skills and judgement
  • marketing and promoting a library or information management service.

ALIA accredits courses for Librarians and information specialists (undergraduate and postgraduate university courses)

Teacher librarians

A teacher librarian is uniquely qualified within the broad fields of education and librarianship with curriculum knowledge and pedagogy combined with library and information management knowledge and skills.

Teacher librarians have three major roles.

1. Teacher librarians as curriculum leaders:

  • work with Principals and senior staff to ensure high information literacy outcomes
  • are involved in curriculum planning and school curriculum committees
  • plan, teach and evaluate collaboratively with teachers
  • maintain literacy as a high priority, engaging students in reading, viewing and listening for understanding and enjoyment
  • provide additional assistance to students with particular learning needs or abilities
  • promote lifelong learning and reading.

2. Teacher librarians as information specialists:

  • create efficient and well-guided systems for organising, retrieving and circulating resources
  • provide training and assistance to students and staff in the effective use of these systems
  • interpret information systems and technologies for students and teachers in the context of curriculum programs

3. Teacher librarians as information service managers:

  • develop policies, procedures and criteria for selecting  and evaluating resources which meet curriculum, informational and student recreational needs
  • develop information systems and services responsive to student and teacher needs
  • setup efficient administration processes and ensure systems, resources and equipment are well maintained
  • provide a stimulating, helpful environment and showcase students' learning achievements
  • promote the effective use of resources and information sources, systems and services both within and beyond the school.

(Learning for the future: developing information services in schools, second edition, p. 60–62)

ALIA accredits courses for Teacher librarians (postgraduate university courses; prospective students must be teacher-qualified to be eligible to enrol)

Library technicians

Technicians usually work under the supervision of a librarian and have a strong focus and vital role in customer service. Their focus is on operational and technical aspects of library and information, typical tasks and responsibilities may include:
  • assisting with loan and reference queries online, at the counter and by phone
  • maintaining library resources, records and systems
  • entering and editing data into computerised databases
  • develop and present promotional programs, including displays and library tours
  • undertake copy cataloguing and classification
  • at a senior level – supervise other library or clerical staff; manage a small library or information service or head a section in a large library or information.

ALIA accredits courses for Library technicians (diploma courses)

Library assistants

Library assistants work as part of a service team assisting librarians and library technicians with library and office tasks and procedures.

Typical tasks may include:

  • responding to enquiries and providing advice and assistance to library users
  • working as part of a team in a library or information service environment
  • identifying and correcting minor faults with multimedia equipment
  • reshelving returned library resources
  • assisting clients with how to use information services e.g. electronic catalogues
  • using electronic information management and cataloguing tools for data entry. 

No formal qualification is required for library assistant roles, however many TAFEs and private vocational education providers offer Certificate II, III and IV in library and information services that would enhance an individual's skills and employment prospects for this type of position.

Where we work

Library and information management trained employees work in regional or remote areas, in cities around Australia and overseas. The opportunities are endless. You could work in a public library, academic library, school library or special library (law, health, parliamentary).  Even the United Nations, a recruitment agency that specialises in the sector, as an information consultant or a museum, archive or cultural service.

Your job may vary according to the size and type of library. In a large library you may become a specialist in areas such as acquisitions, cataloguing, reference work, online services or children's services to name a few.

For further advice

Email the Education team at: education@alia.org.au