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As a librarian, how many hours per day can you spend reading on the job?

What is a Librarian?

A librarian is a professional trained in information science. Working at a school, a local library, or even for the government, a librarian aides those in need of informational articles and services while managing and organizing those materials as well.

Librarians are responsible for a vast amount of information, from the classic management of books and periodicals to more modern responsibilities involving audio and video recordings, as well as digital resources.


Librarian education and training requirements

A minimum of a master’s degree in library science is often required to work as a Librarian. Many Librarians complete an internship working for a local library. Librarians who work in a specialized setting, such as at a law school or in a medical research building, may require additional education and training. Librarians who want to work in a school library may be required to complete a bachelor’s degree in education and meet all state requirements for becoming a teacher.

Finding your personal sweet spot and maximum

So how do you find your personal sweet spot?

The only way to know is to get tracking.

Seriously, if you want to set better time goals or are curious about how much you can work per day right now, get yourself a time tracking app or software like RescueTime.

Track your time for a few weeks and reflect each day on how you feel at the end of the day. Look for a trend. How many hours can you seem to hit consistently without feeling overly exhausted?

If you are hitting low numbers, no worries — you can always work on improving your productivity. But you need to know where you are starting so you can track improvements and see what strategies are working for you.

Or perhaps you are just doing very strenuous work. Make sure to factor that in. If you are new at something it will always feel harder and you will be able to do it for less time before feeling exhausted.

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Job Description of a Librarian

Librarians typically help people in search of information and conducting research. Depending on the size and type of library one is employed at would determine the various duties performed. On average, librarians are responsible for the organization of materials and the use and development of databases of library materials. Librarians would research new materials and books by reading catalogs, publisher’s announcements, and book reviews. Some may train library technicians, volunteer workers, and personal assistants. They may be responsible for preparing library budgets.

A librarian’s duties would become more specialized if one worked as a corporate librarian, for example as their work may include helping insurance companies or publishers and consulting firms by conducting research. This would apply as well to a medical, law, government, or academic librarian, in that each area would have particular requirements and duties of its own. A librarian should be skilled in communication, problem-solving, reading, and technology. They should have interpersonal skills as well. A librarian should have initiative because with the changes in technology and resources they would need to motivate themselves to remain current in their knowledge.

Should you aim for the maximum each day?

No. What is more important is that we find a number that we can consistently hit. This is our personal sweet spot.

Personal sweet spots vary from person to person because we all have different types of work and different amounts of mental energy available or tasks.

It is entirely possible that you will have days where even with your regular sorts of tasks you will shoot above your sweet spot, perhaps even hitting 9-10 hours of productive work in a day. But that usually comes at the cost of productivity debt.

Job description samples for similar positions

If you are looking to hire for a similar role, but not a Librarian, then you might find this related job description sample to be useful:

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How to Become a Librarian: A Step-by-Step Guide

The exact steps you’ll need to take to become a librarian vary slightly depending on what kind of librarian you want to be. Do you want to be a school librarian, working with young students in public schools? Or would you rather work at a university or research institute? Ultimately, you will need to earn degrees and, potentially, some other endorsements. 

Before you become overwhelmed, take a deep breath and keep doing your research like you’re doing right now. The more you learn about library and information science, the better sense you will get of what it takes to become a librarian. 

So, let’s jump into discussing exactly how to become a librarian.

Step 1: Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, you must earn one so you can pursue the master’s degree that librarian positions require. You can even get an online degree. Bachelor’s degree programs in library and information sciences exist, but earning one does not qualify you to work as a librarian. 

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For this reason, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree in a subject that you’re interested in. Then you can move on to a master’s degree program in library and information sciences. Librarians commonly hold bachelor’s degrees in English, education, history, anthropology, and other social sciences. 

Step 2: Get a Master’s Degree in a Library Science Program

This is the most crucial step you need to take to become a librarian. Librarians must have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science accredited by the American Library Association, or ALA. These programs cover the foundations of library science: information studies, collection management, and library operations. 

Some programs might offer an opportunity to pursue certain concentrations or endorsements. Such endorsements will be invaluable depending on whether you want to become a school librarian, a public librarian, or an archivist. 

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Step 3: Get a Part-Time Job at a Local Library 

This isn’t required, but it’s helpful to get to where you want to be when learning how to become a librarian. Working part-time at a library while you pursue your degrees will give you relevant experience and an edge in the job market. You can also volunteer at a public or local school library. As with pursuing any other occupations, you should seek out every opportunity to get more experience and insight into your desired profession.

Step 4: Specialize With Certifications or Licenses

First, decide what type of librarian you want to become. Then, do your research and find out what other licenses or certifications you need, if any. To become a school librarian, for example, you’ll need state certifications.

What about alternative work schedules?

If you’re new to this idea, some examples of alternative work schedules include: 

  • 4 x 10-hour days (40 hours)
  • 4 x 8-hour days (32 hours)
  • 5 x 6-hour days (30 hours) 

Each of these options has the benefit of giving you extra time for personal matters where you didn’t have it before – either by condensing a traditional workweek into four days, or by simply putting in fewer hours. As to which format might suit you best, it’s really a matter of your personal responsibilities, your job responsibilities, and your employer’s willingness to be flexible. 

Parents with school-aged children, for example, might be thrilled with a schedule that has them working five days a week with slightly reduced hours each day. That way, they essentially work while the kids are at school. Or, busy human resources professional might need 40 hours each week to get all their work done, but would benefit from compressing those hours into a 4-day schedule that affords them an extra day off (and keeps burnout at bay). 

Non-traditional schedules are gaining traction in places like Spain and Scandinavia. So watch this space. And speaking of Scandinavia…

Librarian Salary and Job Outlook

As a librarian, you can be surrounded by books all
As a librarian, you can be surrounded by books all day.

A librarian’s salary can vary depending on the kind of library, archive, or institute the librarian works in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for librarians is $59,500

School librarians, especially those at public school libraries, typically earn less than the national average for the job. Librarians who work at colleges and universities or who hold a doctoral degree in library science may earn significantly more. 

Beyond salary, librarians usually enjoy competitive benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits often offered to those in public service occupations.

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Research specialists and students will continue to need librarians to help them access the materials they need. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that librarian jobs will increase by 5% by 2029. This is faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations. 

In the past decade, libraries have started to offer services that go far beyond book-borrowing and research. Many public libraries host public and private events, offer continuing education classes for adults, have youth services programs, host book clubs, and more. Librarians are also needed to help manage these programs.

What is the workplace of a Librarian like?

A librarian can be found working in many places, including college and university campuses, law offices, court houses, local library buildings, public schools, and even in museums. The duties of each position often vary, with a recurring educational theme in their work.

Advantages of Being a Librarian

  1. Librarians can make decent money
  2. You can work indoors
  3. Working as a librarian is not that stressful
  4. You have lots of freedom during your workday
  5. You can help many different clients
  6. Librarians don’t have to work many extra hours
  7. You will come home early quite often
  8. Librarians don’t frequently have to work on weekends
  9. Librarians have a pretty good work-life balance
  10. You don’t have to work in a physical manner as a librarian
  11. You can expand your knowledge in many different fields
  12. Decent job security right now
  13. You will have lots of energy to do things apart from work

Librarians can make decent money

One advantage of being a librarian is that you can make decent money from what you are doing.

Sure, you will not get rich and will not be able to afford that much luxury.

Nevertheless, you will make more than many other people and will not have to worry about money that much as long as you are a humble person and don’t need much to be happy.

Hence, becoming a librarian can make quite a lot of sense for you if you search for a job you are really passionate about but still want to be able to make enough money to pay your bills.

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You can work indoors

You will also have the privilege of working indoors as a librarian. While you may take this for granted, there are still many people out there who have to work under extreme climatic conditions outdoors.

For instance, there are groups of people who always have to be ready to work during heavy rain, snow or heat.

For example, firefighters, construction workers and many other people work under those extreme conditions on a regular basis and you will be the lucky guy who can sit in a cozy library and enjoy a nice atmosphere instead as a librarian.

Thus, working indoors can be a real plus that you should valuable quite a lot since many people out there don’t enjoy the privilege to do so.

Working as a librarian is not that stressful

Another upside to working as a librarian is that your job will just not be that stressful.

Even though you sometimes have to deal with difficult clients, most of your workday will be pretty relaxed since you will have no time pressure and will also have more than enough time to help out your clients.

In fact, the entire atmosphere in libraries is pretty relaxed and the tension that will often be present in office jobs where you have to do many things at the same time will just not be there if you work in a library.

Consequently, a career as a librarian can also make quite a lot of sense for you in case you search for a rather relaxed job and don’t want to have all the stress that comes along with a career in the corporate world.

You have lots of freedom during your workday

As a librarian, you will also have lots of freedom regarding how you want to structure your workday.

Sure, you will sometimes have clients that you have to prioritize.

However, quite often, you just have to find or return books to the right places.

You will also not have a boss who will look you over the shoulder all day long like in many other jobs.

Instead, you will be able to do what you want to do almost every workday and can do the things that motivate you first and leave things that you don’t want to do right now for the next days or weeks.

You can help many different clients

Another benefit of becoming a librarian is that you can also help out many different people.

In fact, you will have to deal with new people who search for information all day long and can exchange ideas with them.

Moreover, you can also talk about latest political developments or other things you are interested in.

In turn, you can make many new friends in the long run. As you can see, working as a librarian is more than just a job.

It also gives you the opportunity to socialize and to make many new contacts over time.

Librarians don’t have to work many extra hours

Many librarians also don’t have to work many extra hours.

In fact, while some librarians have to work exotic hours, most of them only work 40 hours and some librarians work even less.

You may also be able to work as a librarian part-time if you search for a job that leaves you enough time for leisure and if you don’t really need as much money from your job.

You will come home early quite often

Librarians also come home early quite often since most libraries close pretty early in the afternoon, even though this is not true for all libraries and there are always exceptions to this rule.

Consequently, you will also be able to spend plenty of quality time with your family and with your friends during the week.

You will also be able to meet up with your favorite people after work and enjoy a nice drink every day if you want to.

Librarians don’t frequently have to work on weekends

Another advantage of a career as a librarian is that you also don’t have to work on weekends in most cases, even though there are exceptions to this rule depending on the country and the institution you work for and some librarians also sometimes have to work on Saturdays or even Sundays.

Instead of working all of your weekends, you can just enjoy your weekends in your garden and relax a little bit.

Alternatively, you will also be free to make some nice weekend trips with your family or your friends.

Hence, while many other people like waiters or train drivers often have to work during those times, you will be able to spend more quality time with the people and on the things you like most.

Librarians have a pretty good work-life balance

Librarians also report a pretty good work-life balance in general.

Since they don’t have to work many extra hours and also have free weekends, most librarians are pretty happy with their mix between work and leisure and some of them would even be willing to work more.

Consequently, working as a librarian can make quite a lot of sense for you if you don’t just want to work long hours every day like in many other jobs but want to have lots of time for the things you enjoy even more than work.

You don’t have to work in a physical manner as a librarian

Librarians also enjoy the privilege of working with their brains instead of having to do heavy physical work.

Sure, you will have to carry books from A to B quite often and this can be exhausting, especially in your first weeks when you are not used to it yet.

However, this will just not be the same physical burden that construction workers and many other craftsmen experience every workday and you will therefore also be able to avoid the long-term health issues that may come along with those other jobs sooner or later.

You can expand your knowledge in many different fields

You will also get the chance to expand your knowledge in many different fields.

In fact, librarians often have to read many different books so that they are able to help out their clients in a proper manner.

Over time, you can build really broad knowledge and this can be quite interesting.

You may even be able to participate in a game show and win really serious money if you are willing to work hard and expand your knowledge on a continuous basis.

Decent job security right now

Once you start working as a librarian, you will also enjoy pretty decent job security.

Sure, nothing is 100% secure but you will be one of the last people who get fired and compared to the corporate world where you could lose your job from one day to the other without prior notice, you will be relatively safe as a librarian.

Hence, becoming a librarian can also make quite a lot of sense for you in case job security is really important to you and you don’t want to have to worry about losing your job on a regular basis.

You will have lots of energy to do things apart from work

Since you will not have to work in a hard physical manner and also your workday will be pretty relaxed, you will also have lots of energy left that you can spend on the things you like even more than work after you finish your workday.

Consequently, while many other people just come home tired from work and don’t want to do anything but to lie on their couches, you will often be full of energy and will be able to really make your leisure as productive and joyful as possible.

Now that you know all the upsides to a career as a librarian, we also have to talk about all the issues that come along with it so that you get a more comprehensive picture of what working as a librarian really looks like.

Top 10 Being a Librarian Pros  Cons – Summary List

Top 10 Being a Librarian Pros Cons – Summary List

Being a Librarian ProsBeing a Librarian Cons
Librarians don’t work on weekendsYou will not get rich as a librarian
Librarians can make decent moneyRather low social standing
You have a good work-life balanceQuestionable future job prospects
Working as a librarian is rather relaxedYou may get bored in the long run
You can avoid physical workPeople may not take you seriously
Librarians can work indoorsLibrarians don’t create real products
You have a high level of freedomYou may feel obsolete
Librarians can help many different peopleYou will not learn many hard skills
You can gather knowledge in many fieldsHard to get out of this industry
You will have energy left after workOverweight may become an issue