Research Librarian Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More (2023)

Table Of Contents

  • Research Librarian Job Duties
  • Research Librarian Job Requirements
  • Research Librarian Skills
  • Research Librarian Work Environment
  • Research Librarian Trends
  • How to Become a Research Librarian
  • Advancement Prospects
  • Job Description Example

A research librarian is a specialized type of librarian who works with researchers to help them find information and resources. They may also work with researchers to ensure that they are using the most effective methods for finding this information.

Research librarians commonly specialize in one or more subject areas, such as business, history, science, technology, etc. This allows them to build up extensive knowledge about the best resources for their area of expertise.

Research Librarian Job Duties

Research librarians have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Creating and maintaining an inventory of resources available in the library, including physical materials such as books and journals as well as electronic resources such as databases and ebooks
  • Organizing and conducting research or other studies to gather information on topics relevant to the organization’s activities
  • Training patrons in the use of library resources, including how to locate materials using the library catalog or online databases
  • Interacting with other staff members to discuss research needs and make recommendations on new materials that might be appropriate for purchase or acquisition
  • Coordinating with faculty members to create course syllabi and teaching materials such as PowerPoint presentations or handouts that can be printed and distributed to students
  • Coordinating with faculty members to create course syllabi and teaching materials such as PowerPoint presentations or handouts that can be printed and distributed to students
  • Establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with faculty members in their department or school
  • Identifying new areas of research within their field of study and suggesting research projects that could be undertaken by faculty members
  • Participating in professional development activities to keep abreast of technological advances in their field and teaching methods used in higher education

Research Librarian Salary & Outlook

Research librarians’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of organization they work for. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $82,500 ($39.66/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of research librarians is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Research librarians will be needed to help researchers navigate and evaluate the large amount of information available online and in digital formats. In addition, demand for research librarians will stem from the need to provide information services to a growing number of users, including non-academic researchers and users outside of traditional library settings.

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Research Librarian Job Requirements

A research librarian typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require research librarians to have a master’s degree in library science. These programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework in research methods, information technology, library management and collection development.

Training & Experience: Research librarians typically receive on-the-job training in the form of an orientation period after they are hired. During this time, they learn about the organization’s policies and procedures, the databases and other resources they will be using and the best practices for conducting research. They may also learn about the organization’s preferred methods for organizing and presenting research results.

Some research librarians choose to pursue additional training in the form of continuing education courses. These courses can help librarians keep up with the latest developments in their field and learn about new resources and tools they can use in their work.

Certifications & Licenses: Research librarians do not need certifications to obtain a position, but there are certifications available for librarians who wish to increase their earning potential or make themselves more competitive candidates for positions.

Research Librarian Skills

Research librarians need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the abilities to use software, manage databases and conduct research. Research librarians often need to know how to use a variety of software, including those for data management, research analysis and digital resources. They also need to know how to use databases to find information for patrons. Technical skills are also important for troubleshooting technical issues and maintaining the library’s digital resources.

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Communication skills: Communication skills are essential for research librarians, as they often work with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions. They must be able to communicate effectively with patrons and colleagues to help them find the information they need. They also must be able to communicate complex information in a way that is easy to understand.

Information organization: Librarians often use organizational skills to create and maintain databases, catalogs and other information systems. Research librarians may use these skills to create and maintain research databases for their organizations. They may also use these skills to organize and maintain research collections and other materials.

Research methods: Research methods are the processes by which research is conducted. This includes the tools and techniques used to gather information, the methods by which information is organized and the ways in which information is presented. Research methods are an important skill for research librarians to have because they are responsible for ensuring that their patrons have access to the most up-to-date information.

Database management: Database management is the ability to create, update and maintain databases. This is an important skill for research librarians because they often manage large collections of information. They may also need to create new databases or update existing ones.

Research Librarian Work Environment

Research librarians typically work in libraries, although some may work in archives or other information centers. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work evenings or weekends to accommodate the schedules of library patrons. They may also work overtime to meet deadlines for reports or other projects. Research librarians typically have a great deal of contact with the public and must be able to deal tactfully and patiently with people who have a wide range of backgrounds and levels of understanding. They must also be able to work independently and be self-motivated, as they often have to find information on their own without the benefit of direct supervision.

Research Librarian Trends

Here are three trends influencing how research librarians work. Research librarians will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for Data Science Skills

As data becomes more and more important, the need for data science skills will continue to grow. This is because data can be used to make better decisions and understand trends that would otherwise be difficult to see.

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Research librarians can take advantage of this trend by becoming familiar with data science tools and techniques. This will allow them to help their organizations make better use of data and get the most out of it.

The Emergence of Digital Libraries

The emergence of digital libraries is a trend that research librarians should be aware of. As more and more information is stored digitally, research librarians will need to learn how to search and retrieve information from these sources.

This trend will require research librarians to become proficient in using digital tools such as databases and search engines. In addition, they will need to be able to evaluate the quality of the information found in these sources.

Data-Driven Decision Making

As data becomes an increasingly important part of business decision making, research librarians will need to develop new skills to stay competitive.

Research librarians will need to be able to gather, organize, and analyze data in order to provide insights into customer behavior and market trends. They will also need to be able to communicate these findings to other members of the team in a way that is easy to understand.

How to Become a Research Librarian

A career as a research librarian can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider your personal goals and interests when planning your career path. Do you want to work in a large academic library or a small special library? Would you prefer to work with print materials or electronic resources?

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No matter where you end up working, it’s important to stay current on the latest trends in information technology and continue learning new skills. You should also build relationships with other professionals in the field and participate in professional organizations.

Advancement Prospects

Research librarians typically advance by taking on more responsibility within their library. They may be promoted to a supervisory position, such as head of reference or head of acquisitions. They may also move into a specialized area of librarianship, such as working with rare books or electronic resources. Some research librarians may eventually become directors of libraries.

Research Librarian Job Description Example

Are you passionate about research and eager to share your knowledge? Do you have experience working with library resources and providing reference services? If so, we’d like you to join our team as a research librarian.

At [CompanyX], our research librarians provide reference and research services to our clients, staff, and students. You will be responsible for responding to reference inquiries in person, by phone, and electronically. In addition, you will develop and deliver library instruction sessions, select and acquire library materials, and contribute to the development of our digital and print collections.

The ideal candidate will have a Master’s degree in library science from an accredited institution, as well as experience working in a library setting. We are looking for a team player who is flexible, adaptable, and has excellent communication and customer service skills.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop and maintain in-depth knowledge of a variety of research resources, both digital and print
  • Stay up to date on new research resources and developments in order to best serve patrons
  • Assist patrons with finding information using a variety of research tools
  • Teach patrons how to use research tools effectively
  • Develop and deliver presentations on research topics
  • Select and purchase materials for the library collection
  • Process and catalog new materials
  • Maintain the organization of the library collection
  • Create and update research guides
  • Manage interlibrary loan requests
  • Conduct reference interviews
  • Participate in professional development activities

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in library science or related field from an ALA-accredited institution
  • 3-5 years professional experience working in a library
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong organizational, time management, and multitasking skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and standard library software programs
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

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  • Experience with research databases, such as EBSCOhost, ProQuest, and LexisNexis
  • Experience with integrated library systems, such as Sierra, Millennium, and Voyager
  • Familiarity with HTML, CSS, and other web programming languages
  • Knowledge of copyright law and fair use guidelines


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