Research Librarian

Explore archives and databases to help people find what they need.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$34,000 – $84,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Research Librarians do?

A Research Librarian is as close as it gets to a modern-day oracle. They can’t see the future, but they nonetheless answer people’s questions, whether it’s about a fact, a book, or an online resource. If you’ve heard of the Oracle of Delphi, you know she was a famous prophet in Ancient Greece. People came from all over to ask her questions about the future, and she always had an answer.

In fact, her prophecies determined everything from when Farmers planted their seeds to when empires declared war. As a Research Librarian, you do the same thing: helping people acquire knowledge — using research, not psychic powers, of course.

Also known as a Reference Librarian, you help people find the proverbial needle in a haystack. A Research Librarian isn’t just a fact-finder, however. As your title suggests, “research” is your number one priority, which means you also help library patrons with in-depth searches.

If someone’s researching their family history, for instance, you don’t just show them where the genealogy books are. You also help them locate historic newspaper clippings that mention their family members, search online databases for mentions of their family name, and suggest other resources, such as the state or city archives, where they can continue their research.

Of course, you’re also in charge of library administration, which means maintaining the library’s collection, ordering new materials, supervising staff, and managing budgets, as well as cataloging, checking out, and re-shelving books. Ultimately, though, you’re not there just to run the library; you’re also there to help people use it.

Should I be a Research Librarian?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • Also known as: Coordinator of Learning Resources, Electronic Resources Librarian, Readers'-Advisory-Service Librarian

    How to become a Research Librarian

    Most Research Librarians have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aabj9a&chl=||associate%27s+%282%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2813%25%29|master%27s+%2884%25%29|doctorate+%281%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,84
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