Public Libraries

Another sector to have suffered a lot due to the recent financial crisis, public libraries have cut many of their professional staff, in some cases now being staffed entirely by volunteers. According to this article in the Guardian, branch closures in 2012 saw the UK loose more than 200 libraries. This is deeply sad and regrettable, as is the reduction in professional staff, as the role of public libraries is traditionally far broader than just the loan of books. Under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964, public libraries are a statutory service. It requires local authorities to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service. Many in the sector are of the view that this is not currently being upheld by the local authorities responsible for the provision of these services.

CILIP’s Public Libraries Group is one network of public librarians, although they deal with public libraries on a devolved basis so you will also need to explore the websites for various nations. However, many current and ex-public librarians are also members of various groups which you can find out more about on The Library Campaign website. There is also campaign work done by UNISON, the public sector union. Lots of activity takes place on social media, so joining Facebook and Twitter is a good way to get involved and become familiar with the issues.

Law Librarianship

There are many different types of librarian and information professional roles based in the legal sector, to be found not just in large legal firms, or the Inns of Court, but also within industry, academic libraries and within government. For more information on careers working with legal information, check out the website of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. 

Government Libraries

This section covers those librarians/ information roles in government departments and agencies, parliamentary and national libraries. Roles have been fairly hard-hit in the financial crisis.

London is still the main centre for this kind of role, but with increased regionalisation of departments and NGOs, this is less the case than in the past. If you are interested in roles in this sector, you might also find it interesting to look at the Network of Government Library and Information Specialists.

Academic- FE, HE

One of the most commonly encountered Librarian/Information roles, Librarians in Further or Higher Education have varied roles with many varying responsibilities. It is still fairly common to have subject specialist librarians, who are responsible for  supporting specific disciplines (eg. Politics, Economics etc…) Sometimes these librarians will have to take on a range of departments. These Librarians are sometimes called liaison librarians, subject librarians or something along these lines.

Their role varies, but usually includes providing training and advice to students, checking reading lists and ordering materials for the library (including online resources), exploring new resources (especially new databases) representing the library at departmental meetings and involvement in stock management decisions.

Other roles in academic libraries include cataloguing new acquisitions (sometimes also done by the subject librarians), ordering and processing stock (some Acquisitions staff have responsibility for multi-million pound budgets), being responsible for services provided to the user (eg. circulation duties- such as checking items in, and dealing with those who owe large amounts of fines).

Why not check out our page to keep up to date with the issues in this sector? Access is free: Higher Education News for Libraries and Librarians