Photo courtesy of  Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

By Daniel Bailey

What do you think of when you envision the work of a librarian? Shelving books, assisting visitors, locating resources and checking in borrowed items are probably a few of the responsibilities that come to mind. Even in todays society with the internet being a commodity, things like ebooks, apps and online blogs make it easy but it's not the same as finding and picking up a physical book at the library. Are librarians still needed today? With the internet being such a big part of our lives, readers can get ebooks so easily. Books can even be read in a fraction of the time with all the book reviews around. The main purpose of a librarian is to help visitors find whatever they are looking for when they walk into the library. There are a few personal qualities necessary for success as a librarian. Look at five examples.

A Varied Knowledge of Books

A librarian must have a varied knowledge of books from all genres. So, if a visitor comes into the library asking for recommendations for a western, romance, young adult or horror novel, the librarian will be able to help. This sort of knowledge comes from reading all types of books and happily exploring different subjects. A well-informed librarian can be of great help to a visitor who wants to read something fresh and new.


Librarians spend a large part of their work day helping visitors. One visitor may ask for assistance using the copy machine while another asks for assistance finding the section containing books on airplanes. Of course, putting returned books back on the shelves, ordering new items for the collection and examining returned books for damage are all important tasks in a library. But, being a friendly, courteous representative of the library is even more important.  A successful librarian is always willing to guide visitors on how to use library equipment or find materials within the collection.

A Sense of Organization

A library must be organized in order to be useful to the public. Novels are organized by the first letter of the author’s last name. The non-fiction books are organized and sorted by call numbers. If a book is put on the wrong shelf or in the wrong section, it can’t be used by the next visitor who needs it. So, a big part of a librarian’s job is to make sure the books, DVDs, CDs, video games and other materials are on the shelves in the proper place. A library’s collection must be organized in order to be complete.

A Love of Reading

Successful librarians are very fond of reading. They read on their lunch break, in the evenings, on the weekends and at other free moments. A love of reading contributes to a librarian’s success because it lends to the person’s knowledge. Plus, a librarian is able to give an honest opinion of a novel, autobiography or non-fiction book if he or she has read it.


Sometimes a librarian undertakes a task that is especially challenging. For instance, a librarian may be asked to help a visitor find an article printed in a newspaper from 50 years ago. This requires looking through microfiche that contains the pages of old newspapers. The librarian must be persistent in order to track down that particular article.  

If you decide you want to earn a library science degree at a school such as the University of Southern California, consider whether you have these five qualities. Remember that libraries throughout our country welcome ambitious librarians with a love of all books and a dedication to helping the public.