Librarians play an important role in keeping information accessible and helping people find what they need. But what qualifications do you actually need to become a librarian in Australia?
Many of us have fond memories of libraries – and the librarians who staff them. You may remember checking books out at school or discovering something new at your local public library.
Today, libraries remain important public spaces and many are evolving to include more digital resources and respond to new technology.
The librarian profession is adapting too. The skills you learn in your librarian training will be both technical and related to working with people.
So, what kind of qualifications do you need to become a librarian in Australia? And do you really need to do postgraduate library studies to find work? Let’s take a look.
What is it like to work in a library?
As well as public libraries and those within schools or universities, librarians and information management professionals are also needed in organisations like hospitals, galleries, museums, unions, and religious institutions.
As a librarian, you may find a job in a niche you don’t expect – like at a zoological library or in the library in Parliament House.
In a local public library, where most librarians are employed, your daily tasks will likely involve customer service and helping people access library resources, as well as cataloguing and returning items.
You may also be tasked with digitising resources, designing and running community programs for people of different ages and cultures.
Qualifications to be a librarian
In Australia, to qualify as a librarian, you need to complete a librarian course that is accredited by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).
This may be an undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Information Studies or a postgraduate librarian course, such as a Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies or a Master of Information Management.
If you’ve already completed undergraduate study in another area, the masters degree will likely be the best option for you. You may also choose to progress to the masters from your undergraduate librarian studies if you want to gain more specialised technical knowledge or update your skills.
In your postgraduate librarian course, you’ll deepen your knowledge of information management, advance your leadership skills, and explore new and emerging technologies in areas like digitisation and preservation of records.
It is possible to work in a library without tertiary qualifications – in the role of library assistant or library technician. To help give you the right skills for these positions, you can consider a relevant VET-level course, like a certificate or diploma.
But to find work as a fully qualified librarian in Australia, you will need to undertake tertiary study at some level.
Working as a teacher librarian
If you want to work as a librarian in a school, you’ll need dual qualifications. Firstly, you’ll need to complete an education degree which meets the eligibility for teacher registration in Australia. Then, you can continue to postgraduate library studies. Or, in some cases, you may be able to study each degree simultaneously.
As a teacher librarian, you’ll work with school children to promote literacy and foster a love of reading and learning. This could mean running activities for students and working closely with teachers and the principal to help improve literacy outcomes at your school.
How long does it take to become a librarian?
Your librarian course will most likely take between one and four years, depending on the level you choose to study at. You can study online and there are many flexible options available if you’d prefer to study part time around your other life commitments.
Is librarianship a good career for me?
If you enjoy helping people, keeping things organised, and learning new things about the world around you, then becoming a librarian could be a great career choice for you.