If you’re not sure whether you want to be a librarian (in Australia) then hopefully the following information will help you decide whether it’s the right career for you.
I compiled the following information:
- doing lots of google searches
- talking to people I know who work in libraries
- reading news/articles at the ALIA website
- cutting out newspaper job ads, and saving copies of job ads on Seek, My Career, Zenith & One Umbrella
- chatting with staff while doing 1 month’s work experience at the local council library
This resource is by no means exhaustive and and is largely based on internet research and anecdotal evidence so feel free to correct me or contribute further information via the comments form below.
The professional organisation for Librarians in Australia is the Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA]
Staff in Australian libaries are split into roughly 3 groups (by qualification):
- Library Assistant (High school graduate/Relevent Experience)
- Library Technician (must be ALIA qualified)
- Librarian/Teacher Librarian (must be ALIA qualified)
They are employed at many different organisations including Council/University/Corporate/Law/State libraries and in many roles including:
- Tradional library roles (assistant, technician, librarian, teacher etc)
- Records Managers/Archivists
- Information content developers/designers/architects/managers/consultants
- Research officers, Media researchers, Network/Knowledge managers
www.myfuture.edu.au Occupation Information
ALIA Occupation Information
Job Market Information
(Statistics sourced from http://www.alia.org.au/employment/labour.market/)
- Librarians are paid relatively well when compared with the workforce as a whole. They earn 119 per cent of the Australian average wage. Library technicians earn 75 per cent.
- Librarians have a higher than average proportion of part-time workers among their ranks. 37 per cent have part-time jobs with 63 per cent working full time.
- Librarians are markedly older than the average for Australian occupations. 60 per cent are 45 or older, compared to 35 per cent in the total workforce. 86 per cent are 35 or more [55 per cent]. Only 14 per cent are under 35 [42 per cent]. The median age is 46.
- Library work is highly feminised. 89 per cent of employed librarians and more than 97 per cent of library technicians are women. Among all librarians, about 52 per cent are women working fulltime; 37 per cent are women working part time; fulltime men account for nearly 11 per cent. There are very few part time males.
- Unemployment among librarians is low at two per cent compared to the Australian average of five per cent.
- Overall job growth has been positive over the past five years [two per cent per year], especially in the past two years.
Job Outlook – Rumours & Speculation
- Library Assistant – I have consistently been told by people working in different types of libraries that there are often ~100 applicants for every Library Assistant role.
I’ve also been told that it’s very difficult to gain a position without previous experience as a Shelver while at high school, a track record of previous paid/voluntary work in a library or plenty of face to face customer service experience.
- Library Technicians - (Need more information)
- Librarians/Teacher Librarians – Have the widest range of possible jobs available to them. May have problems in getting work as Assistants/Technicians when the job market is tight because they are seen as being over qualified. Anecdotally libraries seem to have very hierarchical organisational structures where it’s hard for people to successfully apply for positions that they are over qualified for even if they need the job to pay the bills and are willing to stay in the job long term.
According to ALIA, there will soon be a worldwide shortage of librarians … “Librarians in their traditional form are an endangered species. The library and information profession faces a potential crisis over the next decade as a large percentage of library workers retire. Currently 60 per cent of librarians are aged 45 and over, compared with the national figure of 35 per cent for all occupations, and only 14 per cent are under 35, compared with the national figure of 42 per cent.”
On the flip side many older librarians are not replaced when they resign (their work is shared amongst remaining employees) or they stay on and change from a full-time job to a part-time or casual job and do less hours.
ALIA has set out recommended salary standards for Australian library workers at http://www.alia.org.au/employment/salary.scales/. Obviously actual salaries/pay rates vary wildly depending on qualifications, experience and where you live.
- Library Assistant – Most positions are casual/part time shift work (Shifts may be as short as 3 hours and as long as 8 hours+) and pay rates are around $AUS 18-22/hour. Ads for fulltime work have quoted salaries of $32K-$42K/yr. Some organisations pay penalty rates for weekend work.
- Library Technician – Casuals may be paid $AUS 22-28/hour. Fulltime ads have been seen which pay $900-$1000/wk and $40K-$45K/yr.
- Librarian – Example pay rates gathered from job ads are: $850-$1000/wk or yearly salary amounts: $42/46K(graduate) – $55K (Childrens librarian) – $72K (Branch librarian)
- Teacher Librarian – ALIA recommended Teacher-librarian salaries: October 2005
Library Job Ads
- Seek – Australia & NZ Library positions
- My Career – all positions matching “librar* in Australia
- Zenith – Agency
- One Umbrella – Agency
- ALIA job vacancies board
If you’re an overseas librarian and want to know how you can become a librarian in Australia, contact ALIA the professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector to see if your qualifications are valid in Australia and what the current job outlook is like.
How Do I Become a Qualified Librarian?
Read the list of the current ALIA-recognised undergraduate and postgraduate librarian courses in which you may enrol to become qualified. Some universities offer courses in online/distance learning mode which may suit your working hours or if you’re not located near a university.
I chose to do an in person on campus UTS Information Management Post Graduate Degree but many people chose to do their qualifications via online study at other universities like CSU.
- ALIA Recognised TAFE and University Courses
- ALIA – Trends in Graduate Employment
- ALIA New Librarians’ Symposium: 2004, 2006 and 2008
- Librarian Job Hunting Tips
- US Dept of Labor: Librarians – Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Personally I’m 2/3rds of the way through the postgraduate Graduate Diploma in Information Management at UTS and am working at UTS Library as a casual Information Services Librarian