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Librarian

Kaitiaki Pātaka Pukapuka

Alternative titles for this job

Librarians develop, organise and manage library services such as collections of information, recreational resources and reader information services.

Pay

Graduate librarians and librarians usually earn

$50K-$75K per year

Senior librarians and managers usually earn

$60K-$125K per year

Source: Auckland Council and Wellington City Council, 2020.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a librarian are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.

Pay

Pay for librarians varies depending on experience and level of responsibility.

  • Graduate librarians usually earn between $50,000 and $55,000 a year. 
  • Librarians usually earn $50,000 to $75,000.
  • Senior librarians usually earn $60,000 to $89,000.
  • Community library managers can earn from $60,000 to $125,000.

Sources: Auckland Council and Wellington City Council, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Librarians may do some or all of the following:

  • help customers or students to find items they need
  • plan and manage library services
  • select and buy books and other materials for libraries
  • classify library materials
  • update and maintain electronic resources and databases
  • research information for customers or students
  • support customers to access information on their own devices
  • organise or run training courses for customers 
  • manage a library's websites and social media channels.

Skills and knowledge

Librarians need to have knowledge of:

  • different methods for organising and finding information
  • the range of material kept in their library
  • library software and subscription databases
  • information resources available in specialist subjects
  • how to protect library materials from damage
  • research skills
  • event management skills
  • how to use computerised information systems
  • how to teach a wide range of learners, including children, migrants and older people.

Working conditions

Librarians:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work evenings and weekends and do shift work
  • work in libraries, offices and information centres
  • may travel locally and nationally to community meetings, library conferences and seminars.

What's the job really like?

Rebecca Hastie

Rebecca Hastie

Subject Librarian

An opportunity to start in a library

Rebecca got a part-time job as a library assistant while studying towards her Bachelor’s degree in English literature.

“I realised how many roles there were within a library, and how much happened behind the scenes."

Connecting the university library with subject faculties, academics and students

“I help people with their research needs. You need to understand topics enough to be able to identify which resources are going to best help people.

“A huge part of my job is being a liaison between the library and the faculty, and building and strengthening that relationship as well.

“I also help academic and PhD researchers by providing analytic and strategic advice that allows them to enhance their profiles and increase the visibility of their work.”

Upskilling through postgraduate study

“When I realised I wanted to become a professional librarian I enrolled in a postgraduate information studies degree specialising in library science.

“My undergraduate degree was to see what I wanted to do, but now my study is more career orientated.”

Start small and then do more

 “Try to find a job as a library assistant before you commit to a full postgraduate degree because it’s good to know that it’s the right environment for you if you want to take that leap.

“My role is only a tiny part of what you can do in a library. There’s so much out there, with different types of work to suit different personality types.”

Entry requirements

To become a librarian you usually need to have one of the following qualifications:

  • a Diploma in Library and Information Studies (Level 5)
  • an undergraduate library qualification
  • an undergraduate degree in any subject, and a postgraduate degree in library and information studies.

Some librarian positions require particular subject knowledge. For example:

  • law studies are useful for law librarians
  • New Zealand or Māori history courses are useful for librarians working with specialised collections in these areas
  • expertise in information technology is needed to be a systems librarian.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, social studies, digital technologies and te reo Māori.

Personal requirements

Librarians need to be:

  • good at listening and understanding customers' requests
  • analytical and good problem solvers
  • good communicators
  • patient when dealing with people
  • accurate, quick, efficient and logical
  • able to work on their own or as part of a team
  • good at project management and planning.

Useful experience

Useful experience for librarians includes:

  • volunteer or paid work in libraries
  • research or computer work
  • work in archives or records management
  • customer service jobs such as working in restaurants, hotels or retail shops
  • teaching experience in early childhood and adult literacy.

Find out more about training

Open Polytechnic
(04) 560 0712 - Pam.Bidwell@openpolytechnic.ac.nz - www.openpolytechnic.ac.nz
Library and Information Association of NZ Aotearoa (LIANZA)
027 347 5326 - officeadmin@lianza.org.nz - www.lianza.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Competition for entry-level roles

The number of librarians remains steady and it can be difficult to get entry-level roles. You can increase your chances by starting as a part-time librarian and gaining tertiary qualifications.

Opportunities are better in public libraries than in the private sector where there are fewer libraries and librarians.

Retirements provide opportunities 

Libraries in New Zealand have an ageing workforce. Many librarians are over 60, so vacancies are likely to increase as they retire.

According to the Census, 4,038 librarians worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Better job opportunities with digital and educational skills and knowledge

Chances of getting a job as a librarian are best if you have strong information technology and educational skills, as well as a wide knowledge of books.

You can further increase your job chances if you:

  • have knowledge and understanding of tikanga Māori
  • are qualified and willing to work in rural areas
  • have work experience or have volunteered in libraries.

Most librarians work in public libraries

Most librarians in New Zealand work for public libraries and about a quarter work for tertiary libraries.

Librarians can also work for:

  • the National Library of New Zealand (the largest single employer of librarians)
  • libraries or information services that serve government departments, organisations or companies (special libraries)
  • school libraries
  • law libraries
  • prison libraries
  • museum and heritage libraries.

Sources

  • Barton-Chapple, B, senior media specialist, Wellington City Council, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2020.
  • Chang, A, remuneration specialist, Auckland City Council, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2020.
  • LIANZA website, accessed February 2020, (www.lianza.org.nz).
  • Pickering, A, executive director, LIANZA, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2020.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Librarians with two to three years' experience may move into more specialised senior roles, such as acquisitions, cataloguing, collection development or reference services.

After about five years' experience, some librarians may become team leaders and manage staff, or they may become sole-charge librarians, running school or special libraries (government, organisational or corporate libraries).

With five to 10 years' library experience, as well as management and leadership skills, librarians may manage the operations, policy and planning of library services.

A male librarian helping a female student to find library resources online

Librarians help customers access online information

Last updated 1 April 2020