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Becoming a Librarian: Library Types

Library Types

There are several basic types of libraries as well as a large number of specialty libraries. Many of the different types of libraries have different educational requirements. Types of libraries include....

  • Academic

       This refers to universities, colleges, community colleges, and tech schools. Many programs include an optional focus in academic libraries.

  • School

      This refers to primary educational facilities. Every state has different requirements for school librarians. Many require a teaching degree as well as a MLS. Some accept other state's accreditations, some don't. Be sure to research the rules for your state before you start on this path. School librarian concentrations are available. Here is a link to help.

  • Public

      This refers to the library open to the public. Many programs include an optional focus in public libraries.

  • Law

       This refers to libraries in law firms, law schools, etc. A J.D. degree (Juris Doctor) is a helpful degree to have in this field, it is only required for certain positions in a law library at a law school (positions like director or reference librarian). In order to get a job in this field you need some sort of law education or experience in the field (a previous internship at a law library). Law librarian concentrations are available.

  • Medical

       This refers to libraries in doctor's offices, hospitals, medical schools, etc. A background in science is recommended. Health library concentrations are available.

  • Business

       This refers to libraries in a company in the corporate world. Many business librarian positions prefer someone with experience.

  • Lab

       This is a library in a science atmosphere, from a university lab to a corporate one. The requirements vary from position to position but often a science background is prefered. Science librarian concentrations are available.

  • Archive

      This a special section in a library or museum that is dedicated to the preservation of historical documents and photographs. There are many programs that offer degrees or concentrations in this. Getting certified is prefered as is previous experience through volunteering and internships. For more information please check out this website.

Library Departments

   There are quite a few different departments and positions within any given library. Some are in every library while others are more common in specific types. Certain departments have separate training requirements. Some of the departments and positions are...


  • Children's

      This typically refers to someone within the public library whose focus is on the children's activites and collections. A position like this often requires experience with children. Requirements vary from state to state and library to library but often times there is an additional examination or certificate required. Many programs offer a focus in children's services.

  • Reference

        This department of the library focuses on helping patrons. There is a reference section of books full of basic information and sometimes a reference desk. The librarian at the desks help people find the information they need while educating them about library resources. Concentrations within this field are available.

  • Instructional

        This involves teaching classes about how to utilize the library and its resources. It is designed to help the patrons with their needs. This is often a part of the job but not the sole focus. 

  • Circulation

         This department of the library is the actual checking in and out of materials to patrons, including the reshelving. It holds the reserved materials, things that professors have requested be kept in the library and available to their students.

  • Media

      This department of the library has a focus on electronic and digital material. Often, especially in the academic setting, this includes lending out equipment like computers and video cameras. There are library media programs as well as concentrations like digital libraries. Computer skills prefered. 

  • Inter-Library Loan

        This department focuses on the contact between libraries. If a patron wants a book that their library does not offer they can request that it be loaned to them. A library will let them borrow the book, and then it is returned when the material is checked back in. This department handles the lending and receiving.

  • Cataloging and Acquisitions

       This department handles the obtaining of new materials, through requests, donations, and ordering. When the materials are obtained they are cataloged within the system and placed on the shelves. The materials include books, online resources, journals, periodicals, etc.

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