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Libraries have been around for 4, 000 years, and are an integral part of most human societies. They gather and organise the records of human knowledge and experience. This can be in the form of books, periodicals, newspapers as well as audio-visual and electronic items. These records are generally available to the public.

A librarian’s work can include dealing with collections of books, old, rare, and beautiful books and manuscripts, or electronic formats. Modern libraries use computers, online databases, and the internet to locate, record and store, as well as disseminate information.


Information Studies can be taken as a subject in UCD as a part of an Arts, Social Science or Computer Science degree. First year students do Information Studies as one of their subjects. As you progress you can get a professional qualification in librarianship or information science by selecting specific units.

Core subjects in the first year include information literacy, information design and information and society. Specialisations include Finding Information in Everyday Contexts, Human Information Behaviour, Web Publishing, Information Architecture, and Book History.

If you do Information and Library Studies as part of your BA or BSocSc you will get professional accreditation from the Library Association of Ireland. You will also do work experience in a library or other information environment.

Options After Qualification

Graduates of the Information Studies course automatically qualify as librarians. People from other courses must take a postgraduate course in library and information studies to gain recognition.

Librarians can work for a number of organisations. These include the public library service of the local authorities and academic libraries, as well as in government departments and semi-state bodies. They can also work in various specialised libraries where information needs to be stored and accessed. Examples include television and radio companies, professional associations, hospitals, solicitors’ practices and so on.

Graduates begin as assistant librarians. Afterwards, you can up the ranks to become a librarian, and then county/city or borough librarians. Librarians constantly learn and update their qualifications, particularly in the area of information technology.

The Work

The main duties of a librarian are storing and cataloguing information and helping people to access that information. Traditionally, this information was only in books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, periodicals, and other printed material. However, technological advances mean that information is now available in a variety of formats.

Technology, along with new ways of storing and accessing information has therefore radically changed the librarian’s role. In recent years, many librarians have moved into web content and management. They help organisations and companies devise new strategies for storing and accessing information.

A large part of a librarian’s job involves aiding students, researchers, lecturers, managers, and members of the public in their research. This can involve advising people of a document’s whereabouts, liaising with other libraries to find rare books, interpreting questions and preparing reading lists.

Some libraries house special collections focusing on one subject or author, therefore librarians there would become experts in the subject. Public libraries often stock a wide range of material covering community events, public information and educational resources, which librarians must collect as well as distribute to the public. Other tasks can include providing training to library users, purchasing new stock and materials, leading staff, shelving books and managing IT resources.

Personal Qualities & Work Environment

Key skills for a librarian include excellent organisation and communication skills, a helpful attitude and an enquiring mind. The work environment for a librarian is obviously most often a library. Working hours tend to be regular and routine.

The Jargon

Dewey Decimal Classification: The most widely used system of library classification in the world incorporates ten major subject divisions (for example, Religion) which are broken down into a thousand subdivisions (e. g. Moral Theology).

Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC): A computerised catalogue of the materials held in a library (or network of libraries) that can be viewed by members of the public.

Archive: A place or collection containing records, documents, or other materials of (usually) historical interest.

Further Resources

Library Association of Ireland

National Library of Ireland is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
Career Profile: Working as a Psychologist


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