Many think that the job of a Librarian is boring and without money; that there is no scope for improvement and all you do is arrange and catalog books. Well, we cannot help with such parochial mindset which people have towards the profession of a Librarian, but we can tell them this that one of the most competitive environments of all time—the freelance industry—offers amazing opportunities to these stereotypically boring professionals.
The freelance community, as you already know, is a huge one indeed, which has expanded to great lengths and breadths in recent times, particularly due to the domination of the Internet. There are greater flexibility and easier access in finding short-time or long-time employees for projects. Since there are many websites, all it is needed is a profile account and you are connected to the professional community at large.
Freelance Librarians have increased in number lately and the rise is attributed to increased demand and better-paying opportunities. However, despite the rise in numbers, one should not assume that becoming a freelance librarian is a no-brainer. You need to take care of a number of things before you actually start out as a freelancer, and in this article, we are going to talk about precisely that.
So, here is what is needed to become a freelance librarian:
1. Educational qualifications for becoming a freelance librarian
It is to be noted that educational requirements for a librarian differ from one country to another. Some countries are okay with a Bachelor’s degree, but there are many which require Master’s degree as a pre-requisite. In America, for instance, you are required to have a Master’s degree in the area of library and information studies from a university accredited by American Library Association (known by its abbreviated form ALA).
Language requirements are often imposed. In many countries, English is a mandatory requirement for librarians; however, in countries where English is not as prevalent as in others, the requirement is usually waived off.
While Librarians need not specialize in any particular area, universities across the world offer specialized courses to librarians. These courses are dedicated to social sciences, Economics, History, Law, etc. In case you are applying to a Law university, Law-related major may be incorporated as a requirement.
An internship helps a great deal too. Get yourself enrolled in an internship program in a Library; this will greatly help you understand various aspects of maintaining a library and being a librarian. The certificate you earn at the end of the programme will be a star addition to your resume and will highlight your accomplishments greatly.
2. Skills needed from a freelance librarian
Without skills, librarians are no good. Many people undermine librarians as people having no real skills. This is absolute nonsense as it takes more than just knowledge of books to become a successful librarian.
In this freelance community, people are willing to hire librarians possessing certain skills. These skills are really important in determining the success of a librarian in his profession; so here is a look at some of those skills.
- Information Curation: The primary task of any librarian is information curation. Since content creation is becoming ubiquitously available, the ability to effectively evaluate and categorize content under appropriate titles is all the more important. The way a librarian curates information shows his organizational skills, and thus, this skill is highly regarded in the freelance community.
- Good research skills: While curating information, librarians should make themselves aware of the content, the relevance of the book, and other essential information. Your knowledge should be on-point, and thus whenever someone seeks assistance in respect of a book, you should know all important details about it. Google should be your mind.
Naturally, to become a good researcher, librarians must have a knack for reading. They must read stuff from all genres to improve their knowledge.
- Digital preservation: Gone are the days when librarians would maintain bulky files on books, magazines and every other thing available in the library. We no longer need to sign those paper sheets called issue slips. Instead, everything has gone online. Also, there are many journals which are available only on the Internet. All of this has changed the dynamics of a library.
Obviously, it is expected from a modern-day librarian to be good with technology. Computer skills, therefore, are imperative to carry out modern-day library functions such as maintenance of records on old journals, number of books issued and what not. It is due to this reason many establishments functioning a library impose certain pre-requisites for applying for the job of a librarian, and one of them being computer savvy.
It is recommended that you undergo a certified computer training course in case your skills are not smooth enough, to begin with. Such course will introduce you to basics and certain advanced aspects of computer science.
- Leadership: This may sound a bit strange, but librarians must possess certain kind of leadership skills. These skills involve leading the task of introducing new and relevant content in the library record.It is not always easy to convince the management to get books introduced in the library; they will cite many issues. But, a determined and capable librarian would not give in and does his best to ensure that the educative quality of the library does not decay. He must lead—well, I get you understand the point.
- Enforcing discipline: Library is a place of learning, and nuisance can never be tolerated. Unless the personality of the librarian is robust and stern, it will be difficult to enforce discipline. A librarian must be friendly, but, at the same, he must not be lenient towards any misconduct within the premises.
- Friendliness: We just noted that a librarian must be friendly—well, yes he must be. A librarian should be approachable to the attendants of the library; they should be able to convey their feedback and suggestions comfortably. In fact, a librarian should go out and personally approach visitors and address their issues periodically.
3. Work opportunities for a freelance librarian
There are many opportunities available for freelance librarians. In order to ensure greater and better access to work opportunities, it is highly recommended you create a profile on popular freelance websites functioning in the virtual space.
The online freelance community is the biggest professional community and offers amazing work opportunities. There are a few websites that allow qualitative exchange between clients and freelancers: there are options for customised profiling, background checks, secure payment portal and what not. Examples of these websites include freelance.com, worknhire.com, upwork.com, LinkedIn.com and others.
All you need to do is to create an informative and formal profile account on these websites, carefully identify your skills and apply to positions. Regular follow-up is mandatory. While submitting applications, make sure you pay attention to proposals.
A proposal is a statement of purpose you send along with the application. The content of the proposal covers why you wish to work with and what you can offer to the organization you are applying. A well-written proposal may land you with a job.
Another way to increase work opportunities is by undergoing training. In case you are starting fresh, we recommend you to undergo an internship under the guidance of a well-established librarian. Gather work experience and add the same to your portfolio.
Now that we have talked about portfolios, we strongly ask you to pay the best of your attention to it. Tailor your portfolio according to the profile of the organization you are applying to; highlight the most relevant skills you have adopt-out from adding achievements which have no connection whatsoever with the job applied for.
With the rise in the number of librarians, there are many opportunities available. You can work as a full-time librarian and also work as a freelancer. The main concern is you should continue looking for opportunities and not wait for them to come to you on their own—the world does not work that way.
If you wish to increase your chances, you should take an active part in various forums and meet-ups organized regularly for freelancers. Go there, talk to people, build up connections and you will notice marked increased in available opportunities.
4. Pay scale of a freelance librarian
The pay scale varies depends upon many factors: experience, educational qualifications, connections, and what not. If you are starting afresh, you will have a hard time finding a well-paying job; but with strong connections or good experience, you will be able to work in a well-paying organization.