Job descriptions and industry overviews


25 Jan 2023, 13:37

Evaluates, acquires, organises, manages, provides and distributes information in a variety of formats.

Blurred image of a person shelving books with the word "Librarian" in focus.

Job description

Librarians evaluate, select, purchase and organise/disseminate information in all formats including books, leaflets, videos, computer software, newspaper cuttings, microfiche and CDs/DVD, providing a reference and information service for users. Most librarians use information technology to find and organise information.

Libraries exist to serve a specific community, which could be the general public, an academic community or industry.

Work activities

  • Building collections to respond to changing community needs or demands
  • Cataloguing material and providing instruction on how to use the library and information sources including the internet
  • Promoting resources though displays, talks, publications and community events
  • Developing programmes for library users of all ages and backgrounds
  • Suggesting appropriate books for children of different reading levels
  • Lending library material Referring patrons to other resources when necessary
  • Facilitating and promoting reading clubs
  • Writing grant proposals to gain funding for expanded programme or collections
  • Digitising collections for online access
  • Answering incoming reference questions via telephone, postal mail, email, etc
  • Making and enforcing computer appointments on the public access internet computers.

Work conditions

Travel: not normally a requirement except for mobile libraries.
Working hours: Regular shift work, including evenings and weekends.
Location: opportunities mainly in towns or cities throughout the country but there are some opportunities in rural areas including on a number of populated islands.
Opportunities for self-employment: none.

Typical employers

  • Local county and city council libraries
  • Universities and other colleges of higher and further education
  • Library services in hospitals, schools, prisons, day care centres, parish halls and other community service points
  • Mobile libraries that serve neighbourhood housing, rural areas, schools and areas of small population.

Career development

Geographical mobility and a willingness to change posts may be required for promotion or career progression. Large libraries often have a clear structure for promotion to management positions with responsibility for a specific subject, service or site.


Republic of Ireland: Salaries will vary depending on employer. Public librarians, earn approximately €35,000–€63,000.

Entry requirements

Open to graduates of all disciplines.

Specific degree subjects required

Information and Library Studies can be taken as a subject within University College Dublin (UCD)’s BA or BsocSc. If taken as a major, coupled with six weeks’ full-time work experience in a library or other information environment, this leads to a professionally accredited qualification in Librarianship.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Information and library studies
  • Information science/management
  • Information studies
  • Librarianship

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification at Diploma or Masters level accredited by the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) is essential for those who do not hold a professional qualification at undergraduate level.

Distance education programmes are also available from a number of UK universities.

Specific entry requirements

Sometimes a vacancy in a specific subject area will require a degree relevant to that subject.

A minimum of six weeks’ experience is required for entry to the postgraduate training programme. Those with a year’s experience or more will have an advantage.


Most libraries have in-house training programmes. Because of the rapidly changing environment it is important to keep up to date with new technologies. The Library Council manages a training and development programme for public library staff.

Tips for applications

Gain relevant experience. There may be part-time posts in your college library eg as shelvers.

Skills and qualities

  • Good general knowledge, and in some cases specialist knowledge in one or more fields
  • Good communication skills
  • Good IT skills
  • Logical and retentive mind, and able to demonstrate initiative when handling enquiries
  • Friendly, approachable and enjoy working with people
  • Ability to scan large amounts of text and extract the relevant information
  • A thirst for knowledge and learning new things, even outside your personal realm of interests.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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