What Are the Duties of Chief Librarians?


Employed by academic institutions, municipalities and private companies, a chief librarian oversees all operations within a library branch or a system of libraries. Employers require chief librarians to have at least a bachelor's degree in library science, but many employers prefer to hire those with graduate degrees. Some states also require librarians to obtain licensing or teaching certification.

Patron Services

  • Depending on the size of the library branch or system, a chief librarian may interact directly with patrons. He may direct them to specific services offered, help them locate resources such as books, magazines and audio-visual material. In addition, he may represent the library at public functions by speaking at fund-raising events and networking with potential donors.

    A chief librarian also develops programs aimed at meeting the library community's needs. For example, he could create a storytelling hour for children or offer a class in resume writing for job-seekers.

Resource Acquisition

  • A chief librarian directs the library in obtaining new books and periodicals. Doing so requires her to be plugged into the literary community through keeping up with book reviews, trade publications and other publishing industry resources. She might also attend industry-related conferences, where she can network with authors, publishers and others in the literary community.

    A chief librarian also may oversee acquisition of electronic resources such as computer systems and audio-visual equipment. Working within the organization's mission and budget, she may consult with experts in such technology in the purchasing process.

Staff Management

  • The chief librarian is typically responsible for managing junior librarians and library support staff. He makes hiring decisions and communicates the organization's mission to the employees. He also develops staff members through delegation of duties and evaluation of their work.

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