Librarian Careers Information: Resources for Prospective Librarians (Australia)

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.

General Background

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 Occupation Information
  • Library Assistant
  • Library Technician
  • Librarian
ALIA Occupation Information


Job Market Information

(Statistics sourced from

  • 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.

Salary/Pay Rates

ALIA has set out recommended salary standards for Australian library workers at Obviously actual salaries/pay rates vary wildly depending on qualifications, experience and where you live.

The following salary/pay rates apply to Sydney only and were collected from Seek, My Career, Zenith & One Umbrella.

  • 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
Overseas Librarians

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.

Additional Reading

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


66 responses to “Librarian Careers Information: Resources for Prospective Librarians (Australia)”

  1. Thank you for writing this informative overview. I just wanted to present a viewpoint which wasn’t really covered in your post – that many newer librarians believe that the worldwide librarian shortage is actually an over-hyped myth. Firstly, many baby boomer librarians are delaying their retirement. Secondly, it is quite possible that when baby boomer librarians start retiring, that their jobs may be eliminated or de-professionalized due to the changes which have been happening in this sector. Thirdly, encouraging more entry-level librarians is not going to fix the alleged shortage which may develop in the senior levels of the profession – there is already an oversupply of entry level librarians who have difficulty finding full-time permanent employment.

    EDITOR: Morgan’s points are based on on an article he wrote for the InterALIA, June 2005 newsletter titled Are we there yet? Waiting and waiting for the librarian shortage

    I think some of his points in the article are especially pertinent to anyone thinking of training as a librarian:

    It is abundantly clear that the actual degree is not the key to obtaining a professional librarian position. Yes, it is an essential qualification that will allow you to knock on an employer’s door. But to actually have the door open for you, it is vital to have actual library experience

    A common thread was not having sufficient library experience to be considered for a librarian position, trying to gain some library experience in a library assistant positions and being considered over-qualified for those …

    If you are a library student or prospective student, have realistic expectations of your own employment prospects with a library qualification. The decision to go to library school is an important one and you owe it to yourself to do your own research about this. When you are in library school, the most important thing to do is to obtain some practical work experience in a library

  2. Information about a day in the life of a librarian can be found at: Victorian public librarian information and the NSW High School Careers – Librarian fact sheet

    Also any one considering studying Information & Knowledge Management at UTS should read the IM studentlink blog

    The CROWN EMPLOYEES (LIBRARIANS, LIBRARY ASSISTANTS, LIBRARY TECHNICIANS AND ARCHIVISTS) AWARD 2005 (dated 03/31/2006) provides a good idea of how pay rates have increased during the last few years

    Deakin library has a great online training section with pictures and videos covering the best ways to do manual handling: Checking items in, Trolleys, Shelving, Checking items out, Moving collections, Moving furniture and other objects, Odds and Ends (Dust, Lighting etc)

  3. PS a tip for anyone applying for a job at a council library .. be prepared to wait several weeks if not a month or two to see if you progress to the interview stage.

    I was speaking to a librarian friend today and they said they applied for a council library job in April and it was August before they actually started work!

  4. I’m just curious if there are many other recent graduates out there (over the past two-three years) who are frustrated with trying to find permanent
    work within librarianship or Information Management? I completed a Grad. Dip. in Information Management at RMIT in late 2003, and have since then been lucky enough to have regular contract work within a handful of different organisations, and have recently left a permanent (and extremely monotonous) position I was in for 11 months at a special needs library in the SE suburbs to travel overseas for a month.

    Since returning, upon applying for quite a few library and business research positions and being reminded of my skills shortcomings, I’m questioning what I’m actually qualified to do? The majority of libraries don’t seem to want to recruit any employees who don’t have practical experience in any of the following skills: reference work, acquisitions, web-page editing skills (not simply basic html, but Flash and Dreamweaver, skills that were never covered by the Grad. Dip.), advanced database or Internet searching (I’ve been told by recruiters for business libraries that having studied a subject on ‘advanced database searching’ at RMIT is irrelevant because it’s experience that hasn’t actually been applied or gained within the workplace), among others.

    It seems that the majority of libraries expect you to bring these skills into their organisation, having learned them somewhere else, and very few are willing to take on new graduates or bring them up to speed on knowledge they gained during their studies. Not to mention the possibility of being pigeon-holed into a particular library category: if you’ve gained contract experience within law libraries or public libraries, through there being no other work available at the time, you then stand very little chance of being selected for interview for a position within medical or media libraries, for example, even though you’re still a recent graduate and constantly learning on the job.

    Do a web search under ‘librarian shortages retirement’, and you’ll find quite a few pages that mention the upcoming retirement of middle-aged librarians and the related comfort of thousands of jobs becoming available for recent grads, but you’ll also find a LOT of sites that think that this won’t necessarily lead to gaps becoming available for the newer generation.

    What may very well happen is that (a) current middle-aged librarians will continue to work for longer, and not retire automatically when they hit 65, keeping up with the trends in today’s workforce, (b) the positions may be made redundant, down-sized, or filled with staff from non-library backgrounds, or (c) that the large influx of students into library schools at the present will ensure that there will be just as much competition in the future, with a large number of new graduates in the present being forced to find work in different industries due to lack of ‘information’ jobs.

    According to a past lecturer at RMIT, who is currently employed as a university librarian, librarian positions within academic libaries are mainly filled by internal applicants who have been employed in the circulation areas, and are very rarely provided as entry level positions for new graduates. Does this mean that I have to become a library assistant on a circulation desk within a university in order to gain the experience enabling me to become an academic librarian? I’ve applied for graduate librarian roles where I’ve learned from interview feedback afterwards that the position has gone to librarians with up to five years experience – does this seem odd that graduates are being deemed too ‘inexperienced’ for graduate roles, and being forced to compete with librarians who can practically manage a library business?

    I’ve been lucky enough to gain constant work over the past couple of years, but this hasn’t been without plenty of stress, including worrying about saving finances for the out-of-work rainy days ahead (due to the nature of contract work), and submitting my resume for almost any library job that I’m qualified to do. I felt lucky to gain a permanent position at a special needs library in the SE suburbs of Melbourne, but found myself spending a quarter of my time being in charge of managing overdues, involving sending out overdue notices (i.e, entering numbers into a spreadsheet, followed by folding a literal average of 500 sheets of paper to send out in envelopes to the clients – not much fun!). At the moment I’m based in Melbourne, but am willing and prepared to travel to another state if the right opportunity were available.

    I wish that RMIT in particular had been more open with students about what they should realistically expect when they complete their studies, and not focus on the perceived shortage that may occur in ten to fifteen years, which cynically could be viewed as broadcasted hype towards guaranteeing the lecturer’s salaries. I agree that it should be up to students to research the industry they want to study in for job growth and opportunities, but it makes it difficult when librarianship is being promoted as a wonderful occupation to enter into at the moment, when this utopian future with jobs-a-plenty may not in fact come about.

    Hi David I saw your post on this topic on the [aliaNEWGRAD] mailing list.

    From my viewpoint I would have chosen to stay in the extremely monotonous permanent job while actively networking and looking for more exciting opportunities elsewhere, but I guess it’s too late for you to do that now.

    I think that anyone who is thinking of joining a university/tafe course to qualify as a librarian should know that the education providers are bound to claim there are lots of skills shortages because they are trying to sell a product (their course) and the more alluring they can make it, the more people will sign up for the course and earn them much needed revenue.

    Furthermore after reading lots of mailing list posts and talking to current librarians I have learnt that you shouldn’t be too picky in your first few years after gaining librarian qualifications. Take any position you can whether it’s a library assistant job or short term contract work. It may not be as exciting or powerful as a higher ranking role but will give you valuable experience.

    Furthermore I think participating in local ALIA events and mailing lists will also boost your chance of getting a good job in libraries as it shows you are keen to learn about what is happening in the industry and improving your skills

    Good luck in your endeavours 🙂

  5. Thanks for your comments. I guess one of the main issues I have with librarianship is the question of how long graduates should consider working as library assistants in order to gain experience? After I graduated and gained experience in the difficulties of trying to find permanent work, a year later I was advised to give it 2 years, and then make a decision on whether I wanted to stick with this career. It seems that the experience I’ve gained between then and now doesn’t count for much when trying to apply for a job in a library outside of law, charity, or special needs.

    It’s frustrating that there’s an oversupply of graduates at the moment, and I know that it’s very much an industry that evolves around ‘putting yourself out there’, but I find that I’m questioning whether staying with this career is really worth the trouble, as much as I’d love to gain a job in information research.


    EDITOR: David, you bring up several good points which are backed up by an article from Dec. 2005 in ALIA’s inCite magazine titled: Librarians in the job market: a strange dichotomy, of which I have excerpted some comments below:

    Right now there is a surge of apprehension about the ageing library workforce which the profession’s statistical profile suggests may be valid.

    Well, seemingly not. Recently qualified professionals still report great difficulty in finding work. There is a huge gulf between the experience of hirers and the would-be hired in today’s library world. A number of members have very lucidly described to me their frustration when they read that there is a severe shortage of qualified people. As job seekers their experience suggests, in fact, a serious glut. They are not getting jobs. ‘Is it unreasonable to expect to get a graduate job within a year or two of graduating?’, asks one. It is a fair question.

    And this is not just an Australian problem. Writing persuasively in the Library Journal (May 2005), two young Americans mirror the concerns of many Australian contemporaries in reporting on their investigation of ‘the job landscape’ from their perspective as new librarians … The authors say their evidence strongly suggests new librarians are neither sought nor considered for what once would have been entry-level positions

    In a tight job market, they find 20-something candidates being asked to have the same qualifications as a 35 or 40-year-old in order to compete. ‘But’, they say, ‘new blood is so vital to the profession’. They believe new professionals have a lot to offer: ‘we are eager, full of new ideas, have yet to be poisoned by burnout, and – through our newly-earned education – are up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends’. Who would sensibly dispute their contention that ‘the profession needs us as much as we need it’?

  6. I thought that new library school graduates and students might be interested in the chats I’ve recently had with HR people recruiting for different libraries in Sydney regarding advertised Library Assistant positions

    1. A public library – had over 100 applicants for 1 position and took a month from applications closing to short-list.

    2. Another public library – had over 100 applicants, 2 months after the applications have closed the HR staff said there had been delays and the applications haven’t been looked at yet!

    3. An educational institution library – had the best response of all 3, the contact person for the position and the HR staff kept me up to date with the application and took 4 weeks to short-list even though they had over 200 applicants!

    When I asked what kind of people had been short-listed the HR people said (note that I’m paraphrasing them):

    “Although most intelligent hard working people could do well in a library assistant role, because there were so many candidates we were able to short-list only very experienced people with 5-10+ years experience and who had specific experience in our type of library”

  7. I just found an interesting resource on the UTS graduate destinations survey that shows where some people who have completed the UTS Information Management course are working now:

    A list of employers and job positions can be viewed for Undergraduates and Postgraduates

    Note that what the survey doesn’t show is whether the people who are working in various libraries after graduating etc were already working in the same field before they got their qualifications or whether their new qualifications enabled them to get the job without prior industry experience

  8. The following is an excerpt from a post titled Skills for the 21st Century Librarian:

    A few weeks ago, I finished a chapter I was writing (not for my book another one) on the topic of technology in LIS Education. I think Rachel asked me to write it because I had complained about my own library school education in the past and the fact that many schools create this false dichotomy between library work and information science work. I see so many schools that seem to promote the view that learning about technology is not necessary in library schools if you plan to go into traditional librarian roles such as reference, instruction and other public service areas.

    At my school, you could easily go through the whole program without ever having taken a technology class and our traditional classes certainly didnt have tech subjects integrated into them at all. What I realized once I started looking for jobs was that a large number of public service jobs these days require tech skills. Whether the ads ask for HTML skills, knowledge of scripting languages, the ability to deal with the back-end of the OPAC, the ability to translate library services into the online medium, the ability to troubleshoot basic computer and printer problems, or just a good healthy knowledge of emerging technologies, it has become increasingly important that librarians keep up with technology and have certain basic skills.

  9. Hi,

    I finished an external Grad Dip in Library and Information Management last year and have fortunately picked up permanent fulltime work as a Librarian.

    My suggestion would be to get contract experience as a Librarian through Zenith or One Umbrella, especially if you want to work in an educational setting. This way you can pick up practical skills in giving classes (the first ones scared the bejesus out of me!) and using databases. Use being a new grad to your advantage, be peachy keen about using databases and promoting information literacy. New grads are at an advantage in ways they don’t even realise. Quite a few places I did work at were having difficulties getting older staff to give classes, use databases and promote information literacy.

    One other tip, I have over the years watched the library world become a very competitive place. It is true there are often hundreds of applicants for every position. For one of my casual positions at a public library last year there were over 300, yes 300 applicants! Don’t be under prepared for interviews and job applications. I have taken freaking hours learning how to do proper applications and answer interview questions, so don’t let your skills be overshadowed by somebody who has spent time preparing perfect answers like me!

    The customer service focus is also massive. Lots of places also figure we would rather hire someone with the right ‘attitude’ that they can teach skills to than somebody with skills but the wrong attitude. That ‘would you like fries with that?’ perky attitude has even infiltrated libraries!

    Good luck!

    EDITOR: thanks for the tips Lyn 🙂

    Just curious to know, did you have previous paid work experience in the library sector before getting your Grad Dip qualifications?

  10. FYI The other day while I was shelving at the Australian museum library I noticed an interesting American journal that I wasn’t aware of

    Journal Title: Information Technology & Libraries
    ISSN: 0730-9295
    Publisher Information: American Library Association

    Browsing through the articles I noticed one that seemed relevant to anyone in a library or similar organisation:

    Abstract: The fast and continuous technological change that is characteristic of the information society we find ourselves in has demonstrable impact on the way librarians go about their business. This paper offers a scenario of technological changes already in the pipeline and yet to come, and how those changes will impact the role of librarians in the future. One of the main concerns of this paper is the continued relevance of information professionals as infomediaries in our future society.

    Source: I, Librarian by Hilda Kruger. Information Technology & Libraries, Sep2005, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p123-129, 7p; (AN 18196087)

  11. The following are some useful librarian related websites I found recently: – Affectionately known as lint, it is a collaborative blog for Australian libraryland. You do not have to be Australian, a librarian or a blogger to contribute, but your posts do need to be non-commercial and relevant to the scope of the blog.

    New Librarian’s Resource Page – by ALIA member Lynette Reville. A directory of web sites that might be useful to librarians, particularly new librarians.

    The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Learning 2.0 project – set-up as part of PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 project to encourage staff to experiment and learn about the new and emerging technologies that are reshaping the context of information on the Internet today. Topics include: Set up your own blog, Flikr, RSS feeds, wikis, podcasts and much more.

  12. Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005) summarizes findings of an international study on information-seeking habits and preferences.

    With extensive input from hundreds of librarians and OCLC staff, the OCLC Market Research team developed a project and commissioned Harris Interactive Inc. to survey a representative sample of information consumers. In June of 2005, they collected over 3,300 responses from information consumers in Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    The Perceptions report provides the findings and responses from the online survey in an effort to learn more about:

    * Library use
    * Awareness and use of library electronic resources
    * The Internet search engine, the library and the librarian
    * Free vs. for-fee information
    * The “Library” brand

    The findings indicate that information consumers view libraries as places to borrow print books, but they are unaware of the rich electronic content they can access through libraries. Even though information consumers make limited use of these resources, they continue to trust libraries as reliable sources of information.

    Read the report online

  13. The following tips are for people attending their first conference, with a focus on library related conferences like NLS 2006:

    1. Since NLS 2006 has many concurrent sessions, read the abstract for each session and plan which ones you’ll attend well beforehand

    2. Take business cards or if you don’t have any make your own using a service like Click business Cards

    Even if you’re an unemployed student it’s worth spending $50-$60 for some quality business cards. I exchanged plenty of cards with people at the first IT conference I went to and several months later was given a call by one of those people and offered a project paying $5000 🙂

    It’s much easier to give someone a card than to find a pen, write down your contact details and give them to someone

    3. The most important tip, even more important than listening to the speakers [sorry speakers 🙂 ] is to make a good impression with the people you meet. This is your chance to mingle and make contacts with junior and senior people from many different organisations.

    Don’t blow your chances by:

    – wearing casual clothes like you wear on the weekend or to TAFE/university

    – eating food at lunch or morning/afternoon tea that is messy, gives you bad breath or might splash onto your clothes. Make sure you especially avoid pasta with tomato sauce! Trust me it doesn’t look good on a white business shirt

    – carrying too much with you (huge handbags, backpacks, briefcases) thus not leaving your hands free and taking up space when you’re seated.

    – being careless when conversing with people, especially about other people like your boss or fellow workers. Remember “Loose Lips Sink Ships”

    – staying out or working late the night before and turning up to the conference really tired

    – not participating in the Cocktail Party or Conference dinner. Some of the most useful information you’ll learn will be gained from informal settings like these where everyone’s loosened up a bit

    Some other tips from our American counterparts can be found at “Tips and Tricks for Conference Attendance”

  14. The Feel-good Librarian works at the reference desk of a mid-western American library and gives a great insight into the day to day events which occur at their library.

  15. Thanks for all the info. I am currently studying for a Library Tech qualification at TAFE before going to uni to become qualified as a Librarian. I found this webpage interesting and helpful. 🙂

    EDITOR: thanks 🙂 Will you be at NLS 2006 ?

  16. It can be a little disappointing to find yourself newly graduated, qualification in hand, only to find there aren’t too many job opportunities out there as you thought there were going to be. And to add insult to injury the ones that are being advertis ed, are for qualified professionals with a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience.

    With an endless round of mergers and acquisitions in the private sector and beyond, new graduates are finding themselves competing against seasoned professionals for the few jobs that are available. Even the higher education sector, often seen as the professionals starting platform have not been exempt from re-organisation, down sizing, right sizing, re-structuring or whatever else management have decided to call the current round of head cutting.

    Read more of the October 2006 issue of the Information Overload newsletter which covers the topic: What constitutes “relevant experience”? And where can you find work as an information professional?

    Previous issues can be read in the newsletter archive

  17. Hi everyone,

    As others, I am finding it very difficult to secure a Librarian position, I have been ‘lucky’ to have worked as a technician for a number of libraries on a contract basis and have 2 and a half years of experience now, I am losing hope in trying. I feel overqualified and over experienced in my current position and I have also started wondering like David, if it really is ‘worth the trouble to stay’.. I have performed senior librarian duties in all my previous positions and managed the library on my own in many occasions, so I seriously have no idea what exactly is missing

    I still cannot understand why it is so difficult to secure a Librarian position having completed a Graduate Diploma in IM at RMIT, industrial placement, 2 years experience. My previous employment history proves that I have the ‘desired’ skills as well. I agree with you David. What is even more ambivalent is I have often found myself performing duties of senior librarians and have managed libraries in the absence of the team. I have witnessed that in most cases, the young graduate is more valuable with new knowledge of the systems and databases and as such. What is missing? Looking too young perhaps? Philosophy is failing me..

  18. I have to say Happy New Year! 🙂

  19. I graduated from QUT with a grad dip in Library and information services and I too have found that there aren’t too many positions out there for recent graduates – I have found that alot of jobs are internally advertised and thus are usually filled by those who are already working in the organisation.

    I had to start right at the bottom – first as a casual library assistant then as a flexible part-time library assistant and then I was able to transfer into a permenant part-time position in a large public library service. Although I am not considered a ‘librarian’ I am based in a library where all staff get to participate in all duties – eg reference, computer training, inter-library loans etc. I think this is partly because some of the staff are lazy and some are busy so are glad when someone else picks up the slack. And it has helped me that I am qualified – becuase of this other staff will ask me to do things they might not ask others.

    Also, in the organisation I work for you can work your way up (without interviews and applying for other positions or moving around libraries!) from lowly band 1.1 to band 3.5 just by putting in the time – I have been in my position for two years now and I have just become a band 2. I do know that if I had a different kind of personality I probably would have been in a band 3 or 4 position by now – but the competition is tough for the internal roles and I am terrible at interviews. Basically if you are great at interviews you can win the role of more suitable applicants – I worked with a woman who was great on the job – everyone went to her for advice and she would run the library when the team leader wasn’t there, she had years of experience – but because she got nervous in interviews she never succeeded.

    I would recommend to anyone who wants to study librarianship to try to first gain employment in the area – such as a casual shelving/assistant position. This way not only do you get first hand experience but you also get to see whether you like the job or not – because I have found that I don’t really like it – I hate customers, shelving, middle aged female library workers (they can really be bitchy!), management and their policies (you must sell the library – you must get people to borrow more – you must get more people to join – you must get people pay there overdues – you must get abused by customers and take it with a smile – you must enforce policy with customers while management can then turn around and do the opposite – you must work with old and outdated technology that breaks down).

    I get abused daily by young people, senior citizens, crazy people, middle class people, people who just want to use the internet but when told they need to join don’t have proper identification, people who have late fees because THEY brought the books back late, people trying to access porn on the internet, one old partially blind man who thinks the world revolves around him, ex-council employees who worked in a completely different section but were fired years ago so now hold a grudge and old men whose jobs were made redundant by new technology so they refuse to touch the self-checkout machine. I don’t know about other libraries but the one I work in seems to be the centre of some strong gravitational force that brings the weird, the crazy and psychotic people to it.

    I also get laughed at on a regular basis when I say to people that the job is manually intensive and that there is an increase in repetitive strain injuries in our workers. Working in a library is like any other organisation – they raise the bar all the time for how well the service needs to perform so they can justify the funds allocated to them. This means more for less is always expected of you. I have just decided that I am only going to stay in this position for as long as it takes me to do some more study and develop a career in a different field.

  20. I’ve been considering studying to become a librarian but am quite concerned after reading some of the above posts. It sounds like it’s nearly impossible to get a good job and that the pay and working conditions are terrible. Has anyone had a positive experience? Also, how difficult is it to find a job in related fields such as archives, records management, information management, registrar (museums, art galleries etc), collections management, legal libraries and similar?

    EDITOR: It’s not impossible to get a job and many librarian positions have good pay and conditions, however people’s experience on this page shows that at the moment there are several problems including an oversupply of people applying for entry level positions and few opportunities at more senior levels because if people like the job than they stay for ages. For example It’s not uncommon for librarians at council or university libraries to have worked there for 10-20 years+ and this obviously means there’s less staff turnover.

  21. Joane,
    You have made me laugh sadly, i agree you have the have the experience first to see if you like it, unfortunately you can hardly get anywhere without shelving and as such, it has to be done!

    Librarian positions are categorised under many titles which makes it all the more frustrating, from searching to understanding the nature of jobs, after working in a variety of libraries I have come to a conclusion that the job descriptions are not much more other than a language salad. I have not found a particular task to be of challenge to push the limits apart from the usual madness of the environment especially if it is open to public.

    I’m brave enough to suggest you truly do not need qualifications to become a librarian. Although your studies will support you, i rarely meet qualified librarians. You would be shocked to find out the most respected librarians working across different sectors do not necessarily hold qualifications for their librarian posts.

    It is good to be aware of what you are going to face before jumping into one industry in librarianship, if you are disciplined and cannot stand an open to public workplace with crazy people, then think about a corporate library. Most people are not even aware there are finance libraries for example.

    Unfortunately the problem is yes, most positions are advertised internally. It’s not easy but try moving across different sectors. you will be surprised how different duties can be.

    The only positive thing I can say is keep your chin up, once you get your foot through the door, you’re almost there. 🙂

  22. finding jobs in related fields? I am appalled at “employers” for their lack of awareness, understanding and knowledge of varying titles of information professionals, you would be surprised to hear a librarian agency question you if your postgraduate study in IM qualifies you for a library technician position. Do not allow your career to be directed in the wrong direction, it is very important to be aware of what you’re qualified to do, although my studies did not necessarily prepare me for the unknown madness of librarianship! :)I do enjoy it at times, will have opportunities but I wonder do I actually want a more senior position? or am I simply looking for the quickest exit? It is very hard to control where you’re going in this profession (debatable if it is), you end up swept away with a current. *Sighs..I spent a number of years just scratching my head thinking’ aha..if only I knew!

  23. I have to say that I felt exactly the same as Lisa when I got to the bottom of this forum. I have long been considering studying post grad quals in order to one day become a librarian (the only thing that had thus far been putting me off was going back to paying off a HECS debt…) After reading all this info I have to say that it has almost put me off completely (at the same time I’m very grateful for the practical advice/comments).

    First of all I wonder now after reading Mia’s comments whether my own work experience to date might stand me in better stead than another degree (my first degree was commerce and work experience since is in HR and more recently campaign management (search). I work for a good company – that is I very rarely ever hear anyone complain about their job, work conditions or pay and I’m certainly not unhappy at all. Becoming a librarian was a dream. My issue with HR was that the reason I wanted to get into it in the first place was to help people. Being a librarian sounds like you are helping people all the time which I would find gratifying despite some of the aforementioned issues.

    Sorry Joanne but as you say sounds like working in a library is like any other organisation – they raise the bar all the time… this means more for less is always expected of you. Absolutely! The company I work for (and have worked for for happily for 5 years), turns over hundreds of millions of dollars a year and the competition is growing. So we all have to work harder. Regardless of which career you choose to change to this will always be the case (I think or am I in the wrong country or just sector?) the key is to enjoy your job or believe in the product/s and people enough to keep resentment at bay for all of those unpaid hours… Any thoughts anyone?

    EDITOR: I don’t believe that “we all have to work harder” for less pay & conditions, that’s just a con job.

    The best organisations (and I’ve encountered several) get higher productivity from their employees by paying them a fair amount for a hard day’s work and recognising they are human beings who need to have time for a life, to be with friends & families etc and don’t treat them like “lemons” who can be squeezed to work longer hours to increase company profits profits without any benefit to them.

    Also how is it possible to say you enjoy your job at the same time as saying you “resent all of those unpaid hours”? Both statements can’t be true.

  24. Finding the right workplace for you will change everything, apologies for sounding rather gloomy, it is only a temporary plight.

  25. ive given up, im changing careers, all the best to you all! 🙂

  26. That’s a coincidence Mia, I was thinking exactly the same thing! Following my post above, my approach to librarianship has taken a ‘take it or leave it’ angle. I can’t help but notice the abundance of administration jobs advertised out there with starting salaries of 40K. If the right admin job comes up and I’m offered it, I’ll take it. Although I’ve been in continuing employment up until seven months ago, and again until just recently, after three years of not finding the right role in libraries I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel. Our lecturers used to tell us at RMIT that it was ‘very important’ that we decide what kind of library we want to focus on and to specialise in, so that we would know which libraries to apply for work in – health, business, research, government, etc, it sounded as though we could pick and choose anything we wanted.

    Absolute rubbish. I found that the luxury of picking and choosing work in different library environments doesn’t exist in the world outside of lecturer’s notions in la-la-academia, you have to pretty much take any job you’re offered, unless you want to continue work in your old field while waiting for the right library job to appear, but that could easily take 1-3 years, if not longer, and kind of defeats the purpose of paying twelve thousand dollars to study a post grad in librarianship. I’ve been passionate to gain work in reference or research within libraries for the three years that I’ve been working in this field, but the same routine ‘due to the high calibre of applicants, it has been difficult to…’ rejection letters have been invariably received each time I’ve applied for such positions.

    I’ve worked in identical roles to library technicians who have paid $10,000 less for their education. Where is the sense in paying an extra $10,000 only to gain the same job as the person next to you who only paid $2K? Some employers and traditional library environments draw a distinction between the two, and will refuse to interchange the roles, but others show no distinction in hiring one or the other for the same position.

    My advice to others thinking of studying librarianship is to do it if you feel passionate that this is the area you want to work in, but be ‘very’ aware of the shortage of jobs for graduates and experienced librarians alike – Sydney and the ACT are the two best areas in Australia for library jobs if relocation is something you would consider for the right position. Best of luck.

    EDITOR: Hope you have better luck soon

    I’m told that regional unis and councils have a lot fewer applicants for library jobs than in the big cities so that might be an option if you’d like a stint in Central Queensland or NT etc

  27. My first job was as a library assistant, there were 500 applicants, and it was an entry level job, decided by leaving certificate results. I was dux of my school with lots of younger brothers and sisters and needed a job – so that blew the competition out of the water.

    I spent 12 months being told to “sshh…” and pasting labels on books, stamping and numbering books and covering books with plastic … bored stiff and left.

    After that, I did a number of admin type jobs with Government departments, some interesting, some not. Lately I’ve been drawn to teaching – the thought of the long holidays might have something to do with it, plus the fact that there are schools in every town, so I could pick a town I like, rather than have to live in a city…

    I have an arts degree – mainly literature, but also social science major thrown in. There seem to be lots of jobs requiring psychology specialities. The new buzz word. I am currently working in an admin role, cataloguing a library for a statutory government body, hence I was looking up the web for formal qualifications, and came across this blog site.

    My other choice in after hours study was in web page cultivation. I have a qualification in that already, using html, but it’s little used, it seems. The other vacancy in the statutory agency I am working for is a communications officer. I recently read her new website and found she couldn’t spell, and had grammar weaknesses. It’s quite unprofessional in appearance.

    Maybe there’s an opening for me in the agency, doing other than library work? Before that, I had a great job working for close to five years typing Court transcripts and police tapes. Talk about a breeze. Once you learn how to do it, you can switch off and let your fingers do the walking. It’s rarely boring. The pay is okay. Only drawbacks are you wear headphones all day, so it’s not very social, and you tend to find yourself working with very crabby people who think you’re stealing their lines… there are currently lots of vacancies, because of the abysmal state of human resources in these areas. It seems as soon as you don your headphones, someone’s setting your ears burning… it’s called “audio reporter”. Suits nerdy types who like to bury themselves in the detail.
    Best of luck finding the perfect job.

    EDITOR: Because the market for library jobs is so over supplied I think that luck has a big effect on whether you get the job you want.

    However note that I believe that people make their own luck by taking chances and participating in events which “unlucky” people don’t bother going to.

    Read this Fast Company article for details: How To Make Your Own Luck, Some folks do have all the luck – and psychologist Richard Wiseman can teach you how to be one of the lucky few.

    Following this principle is exactly how I got my current casual job at UTS library 🙂

  28. Got any advice for a Canadian librarian who is moving to Brisbane next year? Will my credentials be recognized?

    EDITOR: Jenny I would suggest that you call the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) information line on +61 2 6215 8222 during business hours (9am-5pm) and ask to speak to the Education officer.

    At the moment Canada is 14 hours behind Australia, so Monday morning 09:00 here is Sunday evening 19:00 in Toronto Canada

  29. Thank you for the excellent discussion and anecdotal perspective regarding being a librarian. I have been considering a change in career to become a librarian (its always appealed, and my Myers-Briggs type is apparently ideal for it!) from being a health professional…but a lot of what I have read above has made me feel apprehensive. Especially the thought of clocking up more HECS and not being able to find work 🙁

    Can anyone recommend any more websites or other sources of information regarding entering this profession, and working as a librarian?

    Thanks again,

    EDITOR: I don’t know of any impartial websites or other sources of information in Australia which are as bluntly honest as mine

    Universities and the professional association ALIA tend to paint a rosy picture of the future.

    Your best bet for advice is to go to people on the front lines, find out people within your friendship network who are librarians or can connect you with a librarian and get 5-6 opinions from them

  30. Hi there, I’m wondering if this discussion is still going on. I’m very curious to hear news from new graduates. I’m also a qualified librarian and have not been too lucky in settling into a permanent role for a number of years. I obtained my qualification with no prior experience in librarianship which had a huge negative impact in kickstarting a new career.

  31. Having read the above comments, I would like to add myself that I have also learned there appears to be a gap in what we were taught at university and what is actually being utilised and applied in the workplace in libraries across all sectors/idnustries. I have been asked if I have knowledge of systems, software I have never heard of. I can understand it would be pretty unrealistic to keep up with the emerging technology and amend Uni courses to match reality but the big gap between what I have studied and what is used practically is so evident and real, the graduate is doomed at some point in their jobsearch. I don’t know if libraries are going under radical changes or if they always ahd an organic nature to change the way they do? 🙂

    I have also encountered many employers who were keen to employ you without prior knowledge and have not even asked for my qualifications – yet there were many question marks there – seeking the quiet conformist librarian.

    If you are considering becoming a librarian, make sure you are also aware of copyright issues and what is right and wrong to do. An unsatisfactory job is not necessarily the one you’re overqualified for or underpaid, but whereby you are expected to be dicreet about certain practises and hush. Find out if this is a possibility and avoid this.

    Be aware of the nature of the job responsibilities of a prospective role. Many Librarian or library related jobs are in fact simple admin jobs. Is this something you can endure to gain experience and then step forward later?

    As a graduate, I didnt have the luxury to pick jobs but refused the ones which appeared wrong to me for ethical reasons. I have nevertheless held very much admin oriented library positions from Admin Assistant in a library to library tech to gain the experience.

    I’ve found myself in a maze after a few roles. The different nature of roles across different sectors do assist in building up your experience however, without a specific idea of where you’re going to in your library career, it is very very confusing to simply take whatever comes your way.

    The problem is you either decide to specialise in one area as a librarian and go in that direction or manicly take what comes your way until you figure out which one you like or until you’re offered a permanent librarian role. Unfortunately, it does take a few jobs to understand what is happening in the maze of librarianship.

    I have found moving across specialised libraries very very difficult and have almost felt I did not have the knowledge of operations of other specialised libraries.
    I believe graduates should be given more information about whats out there rather than how to find jobs and an illusion of where their qualfiications ‘can’ take them. Gradutes need to know there are academic, public libraries, as well as research libraries, health libraries, finance libraries, law libraries, museum, music libraries and as such. Not that they dont btu they need to know waht is done in these libraries. They should be made aware of their operations and what they actually do. They are all very different and I would not call them all librarians. Some are strongly research oriented while working in a library in a fiance firm requries you for example to have business/marketing knowledge. This is a good area. This is where you can look into going up the ladder into a Business Analyst position for instance or perhaps get into market research and look into researcher roles. Support is there as long as you have some knowledge from your library experience and you are qualified. You can learn new software and systems. Sadly these will never have been covered in a uni qualification but you can learn these.

    So certain librarian roles have bridges to other roles. Find out if tthis is possible, if this is what you want or like. Know if you want to age in your career as a reference librarian or if you only want to stay as a cataloguing librarian all day if this is what you love. There are Archivists which is also a very specific role in librarianship. There are System librarians whose duties are more IT related. They closely work with IT but are responsible for looking after the library management systems such as DBTextworks. Some libraries with have their own systems libraries. In some libraries, IT will look after technical, system related problems of library and in most cases they wont have a clue what is wrong as they are not familiar with library management systems. Then there are training librarians whose sole duty is to train patrons in usage of library material print and electronic.

    The size of a library and team will have a huge impact on the nature of your responsibilities as well as the size of the wider workplace itself.

    The maze is still there.

    End of babbling.

  32. Thank you for your extensive contribution Lela

    I found the best way to find out the real news about the local library/information/research sector was to join Australian Library and Information Association and through the association make contact with lots of people working in the industry to chat with them and get advice

    You didn’t leave an email address in your comment so I can’t reply directly. However your IP address says you’re in Victoria

    I suggest you join all the e-lists on which mention Victoria eg: aliaCMGVIC (Victorian Career Management Group e-list), aliaRIVERINA (LIS issues in the Riverina and North-East Victoria), aliaSCHOOLS (discussing school libraries in Victoria), aliaVIC (ALIA Victoria members discussion list), aliaVICSPECIALS


    Great I found lot of information ..


  34. Well this was certainly disheartening. I am an Arts Graduate who was thinking about becoming a Librarian. I have been around Libraries all my life – with their profusion of eccentrics, geriatrics, elderly, the disenfranchised and what not. I enjoy the library as a community venue and have visited many libraries in Queensland along my journey in life.

    Putting back into a Library would be a dream come true for me. But these stories seem to indicate that the Library is a closed book – it seems practically pointless to try and get all the ‘experience’ in this field. I’m 27 now, graduate and would need at least a year of post-grad. But then what? 25k/yr doing the stickers. Sorry it doesn’t seem correct.

    I went to do a Lib-Tech Dip (or cert can’t recall) 2 years ago at Tafe in the hopes to finally work in a Library. However I thought my changes would improve, in all my studies, if I finished a half completed Arts Degree. I feel very foolish even considering doing a Lib-Science Grad Dip – how on earth will I get in to a library if it’s mate’s first?

    Upsetting – I am ready to put the hard yards in. But 29, earning 25k a year…may as well teach English in Japan, earn that money and come here with my TAA and teach at Tafe for twice as much in a government sector. How can this be right?

    I have been knocked back in double digits for library jobs, in most cases only to find a previous or current employee or junior got the position. I just find it hard to believe you have to want to be a Librarian at 15 to get to be one…That’s what it reads like.

    That American article was dead on. They don’t want wide-eyed new blood ready to take the Library into the future. They want older people with tons of experience, much of which redundant from no other fields, to run the show and keep things traditional.

    Don’t get me wrong, now I have read this information I am prepared, doggedly to beat the walls in if I must to achieve a life long dream. But to make it so difficult seems so counter-productive. Not to mention unfortunate as they will be losing many potentially amazing young employees from other fields and life experience…you know, just like their customers.


  35. Great insights and observations about the industry, this site has been one of the most accurate views of what library work can be like (see Joane’s comments).

    I too work a at council library like Joane LOL and feel my career in libraries is coming to an end .

    I have been at a public (council) library for 5 years and Tafe and Uni libraries (10 years).

    I have an arts degree but Hecs and lack of FT jobs at the end of study have thwarted me to become a librarian- I have a daughter to support, its not worth the risk.

    Most FT jobs are not RE-ADVERTISED when a librarian retires (private or public) sector. Staff are expected to take up the slack, especially younger staff at the expense of older librarians that can’t be bothered learning ‘new ‘ technology and taking a back seat.. (I’ve observed).

    New graduates I have worked with have commented that its been a hard slog from graduating to getting FT work (most up to 2 years).

    Also pay is not matching what nurses, teachers, police make etc. Overtime has been vetoed at my current workplace as with as the last place I worked with.

    older librarians are not doing much to inspire new graduates and fight- Librarian management, image and marketing needs an overhaul and older librarians seem to take a back seat and uninspire people in the under 35s. Eg my supervisor and I were told by a library manager(biggest private TAFE library in Victoria) after a cultural event, with no overtime that we were not serous enough and to vibrant and humourous to work in libraries . WHAT!! -LOOSEN UP. IRONICALLY this manager now has a teaching role at a major university in Melbourne lecturing in librarianship. Sorry to whinge but this profession does attract a lot of bitchy middleage women that shut out younger female employees and input to their detriment.

    Sadly now that I am approaching my mid 35s and after 15 years and working in 2 states, I will eventually leave this industry, and yes i’ve made some great friends and seen what a good job it can be but at the end of the day its not worth the hassle. No industry is perfect and yes we are all working more for less. When my current job as a FT library tech was advertised 90 peole applied and of those 90 ten were interviewved, yes this industry is hard to get into, but if you really love it you should give it a go.

    PS : The most popular question asked at my public library is? Where are the toilets- you have to laugh.

  36. I was as depressed about the job situation as most of you 2 years ago. However I got my foot in the door and haven’t looked back since. If you really want to be a librarian and have the motivation to do whatever it takes, then you will get there in the end.
    I guess that all of these negative comments may have helped to turn away the faint-hearted, but that leaves more opportunities for the ones who really want it.
    What I’m saying is that if it is your life-long dream, then go for it. At least you know the risk involved. Some people were just meant to be librarians, and I’m one of them (though it only dawned on me at age 27). Are you?

  37. I must be one of the type Petrina described: those who have librarian as a life-long dream. At least for now.

    Since being a library prefect/monitor in high school, I have never really done any other work. I did my work experience in a public library (for a week). During a couple of semester /summer breaks, I volunteered in a toy library part time, during my uni degree (of B of Comm.: Information). I had my internship with a public library in my final year (2004), and haven’t been out of a job for more than two months at a time. After graduating, I worked in 3 public libraries for 2 years as library assistant, before finally getting a reference librarian contract role with Dept. of Defence for a year. After that and two months of job hunting, I am now with NSW TAFE library as a Librarian grade 1 as a temp. full time.

    So with me, it took about 2.5 years after graduating before I even officially worked as a librarian. Even now, I’m still looking for a permanent librarian role, and I have graduated for 3.5 years.

    The fact that I enjoy helping people learn how to find information, how to use research databases, etc., keeps me going. There’s an unexpressible sort of satisfaction when I see someone worked out how to do something because I showed them. On the other end, I get the same feeling when I did story time with the pre-schoolers.

    Someone in previous posts (and years) mentioned about being asked for experience on research database/library systems software etc. If you have done a degree in any area (even TAFE students get taught on databases now), you must have used some sort of online databases to research information. Use that as an example. I find that what they want to know is you know how to do Boolean searching, how to apply limits (dates, author, title, etc), and peer-reviewed articles etc. If they mention an obsecure you don’t know about, say you know databases work in similar ways, and that you’re a quick learner and will pick it up quickly. Don’t let something like databases/catalogue be the barrier.

    There will be days that you will get really frustrated about things (and people), but it’s just one of those days that all employees will experience at some stage.

    There’re still a huge digital divide and as library staff we can be the bridge to the divide.

  38. Have just enrolled in Master of Education (Teacher-librarian) and am hoping that your bloggers can enlighten me about need for T-Ls in NSW and QLD?(I live on the border). Obviously I’m hoping there is a need. I’ve been teaching for 5 years. Any feedback would be welcome. Cheers, Kitty

  39. This is pretty disheartening, but there has been some good advice, thanks. I’ve actually been tossing up if I should or should not complete my Librarianship. This has given me a realistic expectation of what to expect. I already have HECS debt for first year to pay off.

    I stopped my Librarianship after one year.
    I took a leave of absence for two years and am still on leave.

    I’ve been in an administration traineeship so I can get some paid work experience. Getting that back up career, just in case.

    Unfortunately with a Diploma of Arts I couldn’t get a library traineeship.

    I spoke to someone who had done the Librarianship and she couldn’t get a job without the experience. So now she’s enrolled full-time doing the Diploma Library/ Information Services after having spent three years to get her Librarianship.

    I’ve decided to stop the Librarianship before I incur anymore HECS debt and do the Diploma to be qualified for an entry level position.

    My advice, if you are fresh out of High School go try and find a library traineeship in the type of library you want to work in. Trainee wages are crap, I know, I’ve been on award wages for a year. It’s a good experience and then you can choose if you work or go onto further studies.

    It’s all about the experience and I wish I’d taken that advice earlier on. Talk to your local TAFE about traineeships or job hunt on the net. Sometimes recruitment agencies offer traineeships. Rarely in the library field, though you can sometimes find them.

    Deffinetly volunteer where possible. I did a lot of work for my old High School Library and they taught me a lot. High Schools are good for teaching you library skills because they’ll want you to help them with their work load and thus in turn will teach you. At least, that’s what my experience was.

    One job application advice… Never put down someone as a reference without asking what they will say first. I received a not so good reference from a work experience position (I was new to libraries at the time and obviously not so confident in my work).

    I am confident in work now, but back then I was just starting my volunteer work.

    Having a reference that doesn’t glow is almost as fruitless as not applying altogether. After learning that I always ask for written references and ask what will be said if there cannot be a written reference.

    I’m possibly stopping the Librarianship and going to do the Library Technician Diploma next year. Hopefully will have a better chance of getting an entry level job with that qualification.

    If I could I’d do a Library Traineeship.

  40. Well, this is certainly a bleak forum. I’m due to start a Grad. Dip in Info. Management at RMIT in March and I was really looking forward to it along with the thought of some job security. I’ve just completed an Arts degree so acquiring skills that make me employable was the aim (along with my passion for literature and libraries. This forum certainly has made me worried since I have absolutely no experience in libraries. I did speak with a few librarians at my old university and they were all quite optimistic.

    And reading the posts above also doesn’t reassure me of RMIT’s ability to train me up well. Any thoughts on info. management courses?

  41. I totally agree with Steve’s point of view. To me, it seems like a long road with almost nil chance unless you have experience. I have an Arts degree (with High Distincitions) and 9 years experience working in administration. Like Steve said, it seems to work as a Librarian, I would have to do a certificate (which is fine) but have 100-500 applicants for an assistant position (putting stickers on and entry level pay), with overwhelming preference given to experience and pals. And then incur another $10,000 debt for a postgraduate degree which may mean absolutely nothing. I love books and learning, but maybe I am better off sticking wtih admin.

  42. Wow, I loved this blog. It provided me with a lot of information. I’m a Librarian from Brazil, I’m 25 and I have been working for 11 months now. What I liked about Australia is that the Bachelor’s in LS is enough to work, the same happening in Brazil. In the US and Canada you must hold a Master’s for an entry level position, and I find that ridiculous.

    I have the intetion to appply for a provisional visa as a skilled worker, but trhe only two states that support Librarians are SA an NT, does anyone have information about the work market in these states?

    Also, I’d like to exchange information about the profession in Australia, if anyone is interested, feel free to add me on MSN. It’s

  43. I’m glad I found this website.

    In the 2-3 years since some of the comments have been written, has anything changed? How about your situation? I assume you have finished your degree at UTS…

    I am about to start a Dip. Ed. in Library and Information Management. My previous job, which I hated, seemed to have better job security and pay. I understand that it’s great to remain positive, but if I and around 100 other applicants apply for a job, and I literally have a 1% chance of getting that job, and that it also seems quite difficult to get any kind of FT job after graduating………debating whether I made the right decision, to be honest.

    What about library work in schools? Is it a good way to get a foot in the door?

  44. Very interesting comments. Does anyone have any knowledge or can help point me in the right direction in deciding which University offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date library and information mangement course?


  45. Very interesting comments I’m a primary school teacher and I am considering doing a Masters or Grad Dip Librarianship – I am please I have found this info at the start of my decision making process!

  46. James Whittle

    Great post.
    I recently finished my masters in Teacher Librarianship and am currently doing some research work for a project looking at improving the way library courses are conducted in Australia. This info has been very helpful!
    I’d be really happy to hear from anyone considering studying librarianship. What are your expectations for your future job? What is drawing you towards or holding you back from a career in libraries. Please email me at

    james DOT whittle AT


  47. Hi everyone. I am interested to know what the job prospects are for individuals who complete a teacher-librarianship? Are there jobs in schools?

  48. I got my Masters in Information and Knowledge Management from UTS in 2008. It has been 2 years and I still have not been able to get a librarian position. I think being a young male in a mostly female profession does not help. I can not even get to a job interview for a library assistant job.

  49. I did it, I applied today to start a M.Ed Teacher/Librarianship, even if I never get to work in a library it will make me a more knowledgeable teacher and that can’t be bad. It is something I have thought about doing for a long time and I will only wonder “what if?” if I don’t give it a go.

  50. I’m currently in my first year of a Master in Information Studies and already concerned about the possibility of finding work once I graduate. I am one of the very few people in my course who isn’t already working in the field or in a related field. I have a well-paid job in an unrelated field right now and have been tossing up whether or not to be applying for library assistant roles instead, as they’re often part-time for much less money. From the looks of it, it’s vital I get any and all experience I can before I grqduate and even library assistant positions are hard to come by, so I think I’ll go for it!

  51. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the honest comments. Was considering studying but now I feel confident in making the choice not to. You have saved me upwards of $10000 and a lot of frustration.

    Good to read an genuine, honest blog

  52. Hi Anne I dont know if my reply is too late or not but the best universities for information science degree is dependent on which state you reside or willing to reside. For NSW UTS has the best degree with practical components such as HTML skills and so on for Queensland I think it has to be QUT since they offer it through their Information Technology department rather than the traditional humanities department. In the end of the day your job prospects are no different, I had credits and distinctions in my Information Management degree from UTS and I never managed to get a job in a library, that’s despite the fact I have IT qualifications as well. I loved my Librarianship (information management) studies but hate the industry. It is dominated by bunch of old women who are not willing to change with the changing demands (except for academic librarians they are good but good, luck getting a job with them).

  53. Wow, what an amazing collection of comments. I have been considering beginning studies to become a librarian, and this has been incredibly insightful! I do believe it is something that I will be passionate and content enough doing for it to be worthwhile, as I found that even after reading some of the most negative comments I was still optimistic. Not idealistic, but realising that I am willing to put in the hard yards, working in a mediocre job for a couple of years and working up the ladder slowly if at all.

    I have completed one year of a Bachelor of Education/Bachelor of Arts, planning to become a high school English and History teacher. I’ve realised this year however that it’s just not for me. I still want to be involved with teaching and learning and literature, but I don’t think I’m made for being in a classroom everyday.

    My plan now is to do a course at TAFE to become a library assistant, while hopefully doing regular work (either paid or voluntary) in a local library, to get my experience up. Then move on to studying at University while continuing to gain experience. My dream is to one day work in a museum library and/or do historical research, but I’m keeping my expectations realistic and won’t be overly downhearted if I never get there.

    I think that’s the key – realistic expectations. Even if you feel that you’re made for a certain career path, fate won’t automatically make things easy for you. Employers don’t really give a damn about childhood dreams and so feeling that life is unfair because you should have been the lucky one is just plain silly. I want to work in an industry I have an interest in. If I am able to follow my passions too, that’s a bonus. But even if it’s only tolerable, there are plenty of sources outside a job that can provide me with joy, so it shouldn’t be the central thing in my life.

  54. I wish this website allowed replies so people know I am addressing someone 🙂

    Dear Nelly

    From someone who has already finished his degree in Librarianship (info. management), I would advise you to continue studying your teaching degree and then study your librarian degree. Because that would increase your prospects of getting a job since you can become a teacher librarian in high schools and a librarian anywhere else.
    In regards to unpaid volunteering work, as of January 2010 it is illegal for anyone to hire someone unpaid, these rules would be strictly followed by libraries since they are tax funded and are more rigorous then a local fruit shop.
    Good Luck 🙂

  55. Thanks for your advice Faris, I’m a little more confused now as to what I want to do but it’s good to have extra information. I had personal reasons why I stopped doing teaching – it wasn’t just that I was sick of it or didn’t want to do it anymore. I don’t know that I want to work in a school, even in a librarian capacity. But in this day and age I guess ‘want’ doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with choosing a career sometimes = Oh well. We’ll see.

  56. I know its been six months since the last post but with regard to the volunteer issue, wouldnt it still be possible to volunteer at a Primary School?

    EDITOR: you could try if you know someone who works there but Im betting there would be administrative hurdles like whether you have to self insure for workers comp insurance

  57. Very good write-up; thanks for taking the time to put this together. I’m in the second year of my Library and Information Science degree in the US and it’s really interesting to see the similarities and differences in Australia.

  58. I am working in government archives but my real passion is librarianship. I’m studying a Masters in Library and Information Science. Should I stick with this
    job where I am learning a lot or should I be getting library experience?

  59. Hi,
    I am a fully qualified teacher (primary) who has been in full-time employment since graduating in 2008. Just wondering if anyone has any info on the likelihood of securing full-time work as a librarian (in schools). I am enrolled to begin my Masters of Info Studies (Librarianship) for two years externally whilst working. Cheers

  60. Hi,

    I’m currently completing a Diploma in Informtaion/Library studies through TAFE and I would like to continue on to University to become a librarian but Im having trouble deciding which course I should do.

    I live in sydney so as far as I can tell my options are:
    UTS full time
    Charles Sturt
    Open University

    Can anyone give me some advice as to which course is the “best”? Or what the major differences are?


  61. I too have enrolled in the Grad Dip of Information Serv through curtin. I am wondering if I should have done a Tafe course of 6 months instead of a year. I have seen so many jobs wanting Librarian Assistants and haven’t worked in any industry for almost twenty years. I’m thinking of doing some volunteer work in a local University Library since I’ve spent the last 7 years in an Arts Degree and then Masters of Teaching for a year. Can anyone offer me suggestions if I should start at Tafe or stay in my Masters Degree? I know what the answer would be, but I have no working experience for a long time and wonder if being over qualified and having no working experience will effect my job application as a Librarian.

  62. Hi Sonia,

    I don’t mean to deter you but I found it extremely hard to obtain work without previous library experience. Curtin is far too expensive for what they actually offer. This is only my experience though. The best you can hope out of the Curtin degree is a foot in the door through the prac. Make sure you get a great prac that leads to further work (albeit casual). All the best!

  63. Nikki Yates

    Hi Sonia!!
    I am currently in TAFE and my answer to you is don’t do it!! A Diploma through TAFE only qualifies you to become a Library Technician. If that’s what you want, that’s fine but why you spend 8 years studying to become a tech? With an average pay 0f $45K. I am enrolling into Charles Sturt in July, if I don’t decide to change careers altogether.
    You can do volunteer work at primary and secondary schools but you need to apply for a Bluecard (Working with children check) you do not need to pay for any insurance. You should be able to do the same at Academic libraries and consider Friends of the Library (public library volunteers) for some shelving experience. You should have no problem in obtaining a written reference from them.
    Your current qualifications should open a lot of doors for you, especially with Arts teaching etc
    Please let us know how it goes

  64. Hi all,
    I have read almost everyone’s comment about becoming a librarian or not to be… Here I really need some help, I’m a mother of two boys, my elder one just started kindergarten and my little one has turned 3yrs. When I think about my future career only this profession seems safe n convenient for me. But after reading all the comments n info, I became a bit confused.. Anyone have any more idea that how long it will take to complete the course n get the job if I will start now?

  65. HI

    My library type position has been made redundant. I graduated from RMIT in December 2011, so I am feeling a little ridiculous that my role has been made redundant so quickly. I was working in a specialised library and would ideally like to be in the public library area. I’ve been reading heaps in the past week and half on transferable skills, however I am afraid that if I take a full time admin role while waiting for a library position to happen that I will be told that my skills from leaving uni are now too old — OR — do I take temp/contract roles with no stability/no life in the near future?

    I have had a look at volunteering positions in my area / the surrounds – should I do library centric volunteering or something of the transferring of the skill set variety?

    So many decisions…

  66. Hi, these comments are all very interesting. I have graduated from a bachelor of social science in Brisbane in 2015. I am considering studying the masters of information science (library and information practice) at QUT in 2017 semester 1. I am interested in working in social research full time (somehow). I have been told that this coursework masters can lead to research positions by the qut course co-ordinator for the masters degree. I too have no library experience, though I do have 8 years of customer service experience at Coles (part time). I think even if I can’t get a library shelving job, I should look at working at the local co-op bookstore. Need experience….kinda a vicious cycle. Just wanting some advice….am I better doing the diploma of library science or doing something completely different to get into social research? Entry level positions are hard to come by. I have been volunteering as a research assistant at mental illness fellowship Queensland for 6 months. Just wondering if this masters of library science is a smart move to gain full time employment by the time I graduate if I work hard? I am 23 years old btw. Thank you!

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