Academic Librarian Job Description [Updated for 2024]

academic librarian job description

In the realm of academia, the role of academic librarians has never been more crucial.

As the world of knowledge continues to expand, the demand for skilled professionals who can curate, manage, and provide access to a wealth of information grows exponentially.

But let’s delve deeper: What’s truly expected from an academic librarian?

Whether you are:

  • A job seeker attempting to understand the nuances of this role,
  • A hiring manager outlining the perfect candidate,
  • Or simply intrigued by the intricacies of academic librarianship,

You’re in the right place.

Today, we present a tailor-made academic librarian job description template, designed for easy posting on job boards or academic career portals.

Let’s dive right in.

Academic Librarian Duties and Responsibilities

Academic Librarians are integral to the functioning of academic institutions, where they manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate information to support teaching, learning and research activities.

They have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Manage and organize the library resources, which includes books, periodicals, digital media and electronic resources
  • Assist students, faculty, and staff in locating and using resources
  • Develop and maintain a collection of resources relevant to the academic community
  • Teach classes and workshops on research methods and proper citation of resources
  • Coordinate with faculty to develop course-related library instructions
  • Provide one-on-one research assistance to students and faculty
  • Manage library databases and information systems
  • Stay current with emerging trends in library and information science
  • Participate in budget management and planning
  • Perform cataloguing and classification of print, audio-visual and electronic resources
  • Manage interlibrary loans and document delivery services


Academic Librarian Job Description Template

Job Brief

We are seeking a knowledgeable Academic Librarian to join our educational institution.

The Academic Librarian will be responsible for managing, organizing, and disseminating information within our library.

The successful candidate will perform a variety of tasks such as acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials.

They will also provide specialized assistance to students, faculty, and other library users.



  • Acquire, organize, and maintain library resources and ensure they are readily accessible to users
  • Create and manage databases to catalogue library resources
  • Assist students and faculty in locating and using library resources
  • Conduct information literacy sessions to educate users on how to use library resources effectively
  • Monitor and manage library budgets and expenditures
  • Keep up-to-date with current trends in library services
  • Collaborate with faculty to integrate library resources into course materials
  • Provide reference services and assist with research enquiries
  • Establish and enforce library policies and procedures
  • Participate in relevant professional organizations and professional development activities



  • Master’s Degree in Library Science or related field
  • Previous experience in an academic library setting
  • Knowledge of library operations, systems, and resources
  • Excellent IT skills and familiarity with the use of databases and other library software
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Detail-oriented with excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • A strong commitment to customer service and the ability to interact effectively with diverse user groups



  • Health, dental and vision insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Paid time off
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Employee Assistance Program


Additional Information

  • Job Title: Academic Librarian
  • Work Environment: Academic library setting. Some evening and weekend hours may be required.
  • Reporting Structure: Reports to the Library Director or designated supervisor.
  • Salary: Commensurate with experience and qualifications.
  • Location: [City, State] (specify the location or indicate if remote)
  • Employment Type: Full-time
  • Equal Opportunity Statement: We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our institution. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
  • Application Instructions: Please submit your resume, a list of references, and a cover letter detailing your qualifications and experience to [email address or application portal].


What Does an Academic Librarian Do?

Academic Librarians work primarily in colleges and universities, but they can also be found in research institutions and governmental libraries.

They are responsible for managing, cataloguing, and organizing educational resources, both physical (books, journals, etc.) and digital (online databases, e-books, etc.).

Academic Librarians assist students, faculty, and staff in finding and using these resources effectively.

They often conduct information literacy training and workshops to teach users how to use the library’s databases and other resources.

They also collaborate with faculty to develop collections that support the curriculum and the research needs of the institution.

Furthermore, they may be involved in strategic planning, budget management, and staff supervision within the library.

Academic Librarians may also have a role in publishing and scholarly communication, helping researchers navigate copyright laws, open access mandates, and other issues related to disseminating their work.

They play a crucial role in supporting the academic mission of their institutions by providing access to information and promoting its effective use.


Academic Librarian Qualifications and Skills

An Academic Librarian should have a variety of skills and qualifications to effectively manage and operate within a library, including:

  • Knowledge of library systems and databases to assist students, faculty, and visitors in finding resources
  • Excellent organizational skills to categorize, shelve and retrieve library materials efficiently
  • Interpersonal skills to engage with a diverse group of patrons, including students, faculty, and community members
  • Strong communication skills to provide clear information and assistance to library users
  • Attention to detail to maintain accurate records and ensure that library materials are in good condition and properly cataloged
  • Problem-solving skills to handle issues such as misfiled materials, overdue books, and user access to resources
  • Technological skills to manage digital resources, online databases, and utilize computer systems
  • Ability to multitask and manage time effectively, balancing multiple responsibilities like administrative tasks, user assistance and special projects
  • Professional ethics to ensure privacy and confidentiality of library users


Academic Librarian Experience Requirements

Academic Librarians are generally required to have a Master’s Degree in Library Science, Information Science or a closely related field from an ALA (American Library Association) accredited institution.

This provides the foundational knowledge and professional training necessary for the role.

Entry-level Academic Librarians may have 1 to 2 years of experience, often through internships, part-time roles, or graduate assistantships in libraries or similar information environments.

This initial experience often involves tasks like cataloging, reference assistance, collection development, or research support.

Candidates with more than 3 years of experience will have likely developed specialized skills in areas like digital librarianship, scholarly communications, instruction, or subject-specific expertise.

They may also have experience in project management, grants, or library technology systems.

Those with more than 5 years of experience often have substantial experience in leadership and management.

They may have overseen key strategic initiatives, supervised staff, managed budgets, and contributed to the broader professional community through research, service, or advocacy.

At this level, they may be ready for director-level positions or other high-level roles in academic libraries.

Many employers also value candidates who demonstrate a commitment to professional development and staying current with trends in librarianship and higher education.

This can be demonstrated through a range of experiences including conference presentations, professional memberships, trainings, or certifications.


Academic Librarian Education and Training Requirements

Academic Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science (MLS), often from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

In addition to a degree, academic librarians may also need to specialize in a particular field of study, such as social sciences, humanities, or physical sciences, depending on their area of focus in the library.

Some roles may require a doctoral degree, or a second master’s degree in a subject-specific field, particularly for higher-level positions in research libraries.

Librarians need to have a good understanding of technology, as they often use and instruct others in the use of library databases and other resources.

Work experience in a library setting or a related field may also be beneficial, as practical experience often complements the theoretical knowledge gained in formal education.

Certifications may not be required but can supplement a librarian’s credentials, depending on the specific role.

These can include areas like information systems, digital libraries, or archival studies.

Continuing education is crucial for academic librarians, as they need to stay current with new literature, information technologies, and research methods.

This demonstrates their commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.


Academic Librarian Salary Expectations

An Academic Librarian earns an average salary of $54,500 (USD) per year.

The actual salary may fluctuate depending on the level of experience, educational qualifications, and the location of the institution.


Academic Librarian Job Description FAQs

What skills does an academic librarian need?

Academic librarians need excellent organizational and research skills, as they often have to catalogue, classify and index materials.

They need strong communication skills to interact effectively with students, faculty and staff.

A good academic librarian also has technical skills, including familiarity with digital databases, e-books and online resources.


Do academic librarians need a degree?

Yes, academic librarians typically need a Master’s degree in Library Science (MLS) or a similar field.

Some institutions also prefer a second Master’s or a Doctoral degree in a specific academic field.

All academic librarians should have a strong understanding of academic research and writing.


What should you look for in an academic librarian resume?

Look for a MLS degree at the minimum, and a strong understanding of research methods.

Prior experience in an academic library setting is a plus.

Additional skills to look for include experience with library databases and digital libraries, knowledge of information technology, and experience in providing information literacy instruction.


What qualities make a good academic librarian?

A good academic librarian is service-oriented, with a strong commitment to helping students and faculty find the resources they need.

They need to be patient and good listeners, as they often assist with complex research queries.

Good academic librarians also keep abreast of new developments in the field, including new research tools and resources.


What is the main role of an academic librarian?

The main role of an academic librarian is to support students, faculty, and researchers by providing access to information in all formats.

This includes purchasing and cataloguing new materials, managing subscriptions to academic databases, teaching information literacy skills, and assisting with research queries.

Some academic librarians also manage special collections or archives.



So there we have it.

Today, we’ve unveiled the true essence of being an academic librarian.

And guess what?

It’s not just about managing books.

It’s about shaping the intellectual future, one resource at a time.

With our ready-to-use academic librarian job description template and practical examples, you’re fully equipped to venture ahead.

But why halt your progress here?

Immerse yourself further with our job description generator. It’s your perfect companion for crafting precise job listings or refining your resume to brilliance.

Bear in mind:

Every resource is a part of the larger academic landscape.

Let’s shape that future. Together.

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