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Working in Libraries

Roles in Libraries 

WorkBC’s Career Profiles provides a general overview of the roles found in libraries, including a description of duties, average earnings, education requirements, etc.  

Roles in libraries can be a bit confusing, especially as different libraries sometimes use different titles for the same position, or use the same job title in different ways. For example: 

  • Page, Shelver, Library Clerk, Circulation Assistant: These are library jobs that usually don’t require special training and/or training is provided on the job. They are the lowest-paid positions. 
  • Library Technician, Library Assistant, Programmer/Program Assistant: These are library jobs that usually require a library technician diploma.
  • Librarian: These roles usually require a Master’s degree in library studies/library science. Correspondingly, these are the highest paid positions. 

There are also roles in various library departments, including IT, administration, marketing, human resources, etc. 

It’s sometimes a good idea to talk to people who work in the local library to get an idea of what the work is like and what the job prospects are in the area. While it’s possible to do at least some of the training online, it is still fairly rare to have a library job that allows remote work.

Education and Training 

The kind of library you would like to work in (e.g. public, academic, school, specialized) and the kind of work you would like to do will help inform what type of training to pursue. Some online training options are available, so location isn’t necessarily a limitation.  

Library Technician Programs  

To be a library technician, you’ll typically need a diploma in library information/library technology from a Canadian institution. Programs in BC include:  

Langara College 

University of the Fraser Valley

Librarian Programs  

To be a librarian, you’ll need a Master’s degree in library studies/library science from an ALA-accredited program.

British Columbia

UBC iSchool   

Additional accredited programs in Canada include: 

Finding a Job 

The Partnership Job Board is where most Canadian library jobs are posted (jobs that don’t require formal training are more likely to be posted on the local library website). The Partnership Job Board is free to job seekers. 

The Vancouver Public Library’s Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre provides resources and services for newcomers to Canada, free of charge. See also their guide on working as Librarians & Library Technicians. 

The BC Academic Libraries Section (BCALS) on occasion offers a Resume clinic specific to potential library workers, advertised here on the BCLA forum. As well, they have provided their Job Hunt presentation full of helpful advice, with particular attention to the academic library field.

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If you are applying from outside of Canada, you may wish to visit the Government of Canada website: Work in Canada for further information and to determine your eligibility.