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Bibliographer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 27, 2019

Bibliographers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this career is right for you.

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Bibliographers are required to have a master's degree in library science and often hold a second master's degree in a specialized area. They often work in college or university libraries, and must have strong reading and language skills.

Essential Information

Bibliographers are librarians who are specialists in certain subjects, such as a scientific discipline or the literature and history of an area of the world. Multiple degrees are required for bibliographic work: aspiring bibliographers will need to earn a master's degree in library science, as well as a second master's degree in their specialization.

Required Education Dual master's degrees
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all librarians
Median Salary (2018)* $59,050 for all librarians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of Bibliographers

At the libraries in which they work, bibliographers are the librarians who are the most familiar with the specific literature in their collection and area of expertise. They are responsible for ensuring that their libraries have the necessary print, multimedia, and electronic resources about their area of expertise. They maintain a good balance of texts necessary for study and academic research in their field.

Most bibliographers work in academic libraries, often at colleges and universities, and they may also compile comprehensive bibliographies on their field for publication. Like their library colleagues, bibliographers may be involved in assisting patrons of the library to find material for their research. Nevertheless, their primary job is to keep the library's repository current and useful.

Duties of Bibliographers

Bibliographers are responsible for understanding the literature and areas of study in the field in which they work. Often this involves reading in multiple languages. Much of their work consists of reading the most recent texts in their field, and deciding if purchasing them is both a wise and a fiscally-sound choice, based on the library's budget and library patrons' anticipated needs. Bibliographers at university libraries may liaise with the department chair or faculty in their discipline to ensure that the library has material for upcoming courses or planned research projects.

Once the works have been ordered, bibliographers catalog them. In doing so, they must understand the content of these works and how this content relates to other works that the library already possesses. Bibliographers can also review and index works for academic or literary journals.

Requirements of Bibliographers

Like other librarians, bibliographers are required to have a master's degree in library science (MLS). In addition, they often need a second master's degree in their area of expertise, such as British history or Latin American studies. This qualification generally ensures a deeper knowledge of the field in which they work. Those whose expertise is in a particular geographic area often work with books in English and the native language of that place or country, so they need to possess reading knowledge of other languages.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to bibliographers, it does publish data pertinent to librarians. The BLS predicts that the employment of librarians will likely grow by about 6% between 2018 and 2028. Librarians were reported to have earned a median salary of $59,050 in May 2018 by the BLS; those employed by the federal government made the most money, averaging $88,730 per year in 2018. Individuals working for colleges, universities, and other professional schools earned an average salary of $68,070 per year, according to the BLS.

Bibliographers are librarians that maintain a specialized area of a library, often on a college or university campus. In addition to a master's in library science they often hold a second master's degree in their area of specialization, and they may need to read in multiple languages. Job opportunities for librarians are predicted to grow at an average rate through the year 2028.

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