The Instructional Role of Academic Librarians

Academic librarians have complex and essential roles within a campus community.

If you’ve ever attended college or visited an academic library, you’ll notice many differences between local public libraries. Academic libraries still provide reading materials that appeal to all patrons, but it is more catered toward research and information literacy. There may be more nonfiction books for specific majors and areas of study. Here’s what you need to know about academic librarians and what they do for patrons of higher education.

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What are Academic Libraries?

Academic librarians are specialized professionals who perform research and other job responsibilities in higher education institutions. Universities, colleges, and archives are considered academic libraries. They help students, faculty, and staff with research. Academic librarians can also be faculty members depending on their degree and institution.

Job Responsibilities

The responsibilities of academic librarians go far beyond housing books for higher education institutions. Academic librarians are information specialists, meaning they’re responsible for helping university personnel understand how to research and analyze information. Academic librarians may also teach information literacy classes, manage computer databases, and collaborate with other faculty members.

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Required Qualifications

Most academic librarians need to hold a master’s degree to have a position at a college or university. Most academic librarians hold a master’s degree in library science (MLS) from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited school. However, some institutions employ librarians to work for their libraries if they have a specialization in a subject related to academic librarianship or research in other fields.

Faculty Status

Faculty status varies by institution and isn’t usually required to work as an academic librarian. However, a librarian with faculty status generally works alongside other university staff members as professors and research specialists. Some of these include information literacy classes or courses about managing computer databases. Faculty academic librarians are researchers, consistently learning new information and showcasing their discoveries to other university personnel.