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Giuseppe Arcimboldo , The Librarian , ca.1570

Librarians are the custodians and administrators of libraries . They are responsible for the technical development of areas of knowledge and stocks of the library as well as library management tasks. When it comes to brokerage, the librarian's knowledge is not limited to knowing the location of the media in his or her library, but also provides the user with other sources, e.g. B. Databases or websites to which he otherwise has no access. Librarians also often take care of the necessary press work , organize readings and support reading promotion .

Fields of work

Librarians work in public and academic libraries , companies, universities and research institutions. Librarians are mostly employed in the public service , but also in companies or in the churches.

The field of work of librarians is very diverse and ranges from the promotion of reading to the acquisition and licensing of media, imparting information and media skills or event management to research-related services. The fields of work can vary according to the type of library. In public libraries that offer media and services for broad sections of the population, for example, offers for children and young people play a major role, so that librarians who are qualified in media education are employed here. Librarians in public libraries are not only responsible for the media supply, but also organize events or creative workshops. There are also offers for various target groups, such as the elderly or migrants. These offers are often developed in cooperation with other municipal institutions, e.g. B. with day care centers, schools or adult education centers. In academic libraries, the focus of work is on supplying research and teaching. Librarians acquire and license media and curate information that is made available free of charge (if necessary open access ) and make it accessible for research in library catalogs, discovery systems and search engines. You administer library IT systems, take care of metadata management and work on the retro-digitization of old holdings or long-term archiving. Other areas of application are in the area of ​​library use, e.g. B. interlibrary loan or room management. Scientific librarians with an academic degree are in the mediation of information literacy as well as the creation of research-related services - e. B. Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, publication support and research data management - integrated.

Education and professional groups

Training in Germany

Specialist for media and information services (specializing in library)

Specialized employees for media and information services (FaMI) complete vocational training in the dual system on the basis of the Vocational Training Act after graduating from school with good results. The majority of the apprentices receive practical professional training in federal, state or municipal institutions; theoretical training usually takes place nationwide in specialist classes in vocational school centers. This training enables you to perform tasks, especially in the acquisition, development, technical processing of media and the conveyance of media and information in any form. Depending on the size and specialization of the library, activities such as promoting reading and imparting information and media skills are also included.

Bachelor degree

At nine state universities there are undergraduate bachelor's degree programs that provide training for the library and information sector and that last six or seven semesters. These include the Humboldt University of Berlin (HU Berlin), the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (HS Darmstadt), the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg), the Cologne University of Technology (TH Köln), the University of Technology, Business and Culture ( HTWK) in Leipzig, the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences (FH Potsdam), the University of Applied Sciences in Bavaria (HföD), the Media University (HdM) Stuttgart, the Hanover University (HS Hannover). The universities with library and / or information science courses have come together in the Conference of Information and Library Science Training and Study Courses (KIBA) as a section of the German Library Association (dbv) and the training commission of the German Society for Information and Knowledge (DGI).

The university education is based on the understanding of an action science that is geared to the needs of professional practice. Due to the versatility of the fields of activity in the library and information profession and the challenges of digitization, it is hardly possible today to present a consistent specialist discipline that results in a fixed training canon. In essence, however, library training relates to the curation, structuring, provision and communication of information and media. The specific framework conditions that appear on the information market, in society, politics, law and ethics are included in the course. Theories, methods and concepts from other scientific disciplines are discussed and applied under questions of information management, information logistics and information behavior (e.g. business administration, information and media economics, computer science, law, pedagogy, psychology, ethics). The bachelor's degree programs have different priorities and profiles, e.g. B. in the area of ​​open science, research data management, learning space, digital literacy, digital humanities, etc. At some universities there is a specialization with regard to certain media forms and user groups of libraries, e. B. in the field of children's and youth libraries and children's media (HdM Stuttgart, HTWK Leipzig) as well as music libraries and library information technology (HTWK Leipzig). Due to its internal administrative organization, the bachelor's degree in "Library and Information Management" at the Department of Archives and Libraries at the University for Public Service in Munich is a specialty.

Master's degree

Consecutive master’s courses require an undergraduate degree with a library and / or information science focus. The Bologna reform also enables the combination of a library or information science bachelor's degree with a master's degree in a different subject and vice versa. The first variant is implemented in consecutive master’s courses, which are either more library science or information science oriented. They are offered by the HU Berlin, the HS Darmstadt, the HAW Hamburg, the HS Hannover, the TH Köln and the HTWK in Leipzig. The combination of any non-librarian specialist course with a library or information science qualification usually takes the form of a mostly part-time further education course. As a special variant, there is also, and earlier, the internal administration training within the framework of a legal clerkship and a free traineeship.

Postgraduate qualification as a scientific librarian

In addition to continuing education studies (see below), training as part of a legal clerkship or traineeship also leads to the profession of academic librarian . Often, the internal administration training is linked to a master’s degree as part of a legal clerkship. As a rule, the prerequisite for this is a completed academic university degree at Master’s level. The civil service training in the preparatory service as a civil servant on revocation is offered by the federal government and eight federal states (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein) and lasts two years. A total of around 30–40 people per year are trained.

Saxony and Thuringia offer a content-related training in private law as a traineeship. Common features of the legal clerkship and the traineeship are a pronounced institutional reference to professional practice through the training located in the library as a place of later professional activity.

The preparatory service includes on the one hand practical training in the teaching library. Components of practical training are often the transfer of independent areas of responsibility (e.g. specialist presentations) and involvement in project implementation or management. On the other hand, there is theoretical training, either in the form of a distance learning course at the Institute for Library and Information Science (IBI) at the Humboldt University in Berlin or as a one-year block at the Bavarian Library Academy in Munich.

Professional training in Germany

Specialist for (media and) information services

The specialist in (media and) information services is advanced training in accordance with Section 54 of the Vocational Training Act. The aim of these courses is to enable participants who have generally completed a FaMI training or who, as lateral entrants, have had long professional experience in the field of FaMIs, to independently carry out complex and responsible tasks in archives, libraries and information and documentation facilities enable. Important providers are the Center for Library and Information Science Further Education at the TH Köln and the Hessian Administrative School Association.

Part-time bachelor's degree

In addition to the mostly full-time bachelor’s degree programs, the Faculty of Media Information and Design at the HS Hannover also offers a part-time bachelor’s degree program. A comparable opportunity to acquire a bachelor's degree is provided by the distance learning course in library science from the information science department at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences.

Part-time master’s course as a further education course

Part-time master’s courses in the library and information sector are available as further education courses at the HS Hannover, the Technical University Cologne , the TH Wildau and the HU in Berlin. Continuing education courses are fee-based courses. In accordance with the requirements of the Standing Conference, a minimum of one year of relevant professional experience is required for admission.

The 4-semester advanced training course library and information science (MALIS) offered by the Institute for Information Science at the TH Köln qualifies for managerial and managerial tasks in the library and information sector. Modules of this course can also be booked individually - and, if necessary, later recognized as a course achievement as part of the course.

The TH Wildau offers a part-time master's degree in library informatics.

The Hochschule der Medien (HdM) in Stuttgart offers as part of its contact studies the opportunity to attend individually bookable advanced training modules at the master’s level, which can be included in an accredited master’s course if you are interested.

Certificate courses

Certificate courses, which offer scientifically sound and application-oriented further education in thematically and organizationally completed modules, are internationally recognized under a certificate as proof of performance and are offered at the HdM in Stuttgart as contact studies and at the Center for Library and Information Science Further Education (ZBIW) of the TH Köln .


In the area of ​​library science, a doctorate is only possible at the Institute for Library and Information Science (IBI) at the Humboldt University of Berlin and in information science in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hildesheim and Regensburg. In addition, there has been a joint doctoral center for applied computer science at the universities of Darmstadt, Fulda, RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Rüsselsheim) and Frankfurt, based in Darmstadt, since 2017. As part of the promotion of doctorates, some universities also cooperate with universities, some of which are not related to the subject.

Training in Austria

Training courses in Austria

  • Apprenticeship as archive, library and information assistant
  • Course library, information and documentation
  • Bachelor Information, Media & Communication
  • University course in Library and Information Studies: Basic course
  • University course in Library and Information Studies: advanced course

The uniform training for library staff with a focus on academic libraries is regulated in Austria in a statutory ordinance ( Federal Law Gazette II No. 377/2014 ). The Austrian Library Association (BVÖ) is the umbrella organization of Austrian libraries based in Vienna. Together with the Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIfEB) St. Wolfgang, the Austrian Library, the ÖGB-Büchereiservice and the Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, the BVÖ offers training courses for librarians in public libraries.

Training in Switzerland

The training opportunities in Switzerland to the so-called I + D professions which, among other things, the traditional job titles librarian / librarian, archivist / archivist and documentalist / Documentalist includes are diverse in multilingual Switzerland. The professional associations of the individual sectors work closely together.

Historical aspects

In Germany around 1900 women were given access to library work. The first German librarian was Bona Peiser . In the period after the Second World War, the professional field of librarians was v. a. dominated by women.

At least until the Second World War, the job description in Austria was predominantly a male domain . Similar to the " celibacy of teachers ", according to legal provisions until the beginning of the First Republic, female librarians in the Austrian public service had to give up their position if they were financially secure through marriage. This regulation was re-established by the “Double Winner Ordinance” of 1933.

Well-known librarians

Numerous historical figures were active as librarians, including B. Ricarda Huch , Belle da Costa Greene , Theresa Elmendorf (1855–1932), Helene Nathan , Ilona Hubay , Bona Peiser , Angela Daneu Lattanzi , Ada Adler , Golda Meir , Immanuel Kant , Giacomo Casanova , Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Friedrich Hölderlin , Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm , Johann Andreas Schmeller , August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben , Adolf von Harnack , Pius XI. , Alfred Wotquenne , Johann Joachim Winckelmann , Alfred de Bougy and Jorge Luis Borges .

SR Ranganathan , Melvil Dewey , Ernest Wickersheimer (1880–1965) and Martin Schrettinger were important for the development of librarianship and library science .

Wolfgang Herrmann was the German librarian and National Socialist whose "black lists" provided the template for the book burnings of the "Action Against the Un-German Spirit" in 1933 in Germany.

Well-known fictional members of the profession are the second Batgirl Barbara Gordon and Malachias von Hildesheim , the librarian in the novel "The Name of the Rose".

See also


  • Gottfried Rost: The librarian. Treasurer or fodder? (Historical job profiles). Edition Leipzig, Leipzig 1990, ISBN 3-361-00265-6 .
  • Rainer Strzolka: The librarian. Information speci or bookworm. Manager or poor poet ?. Simon Verlag für Bibliothekswissen, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-940862-08-2 .
  • Ina Kießling: Image and status of librarians and archivists. Analysis, causes and ways to improve. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2008, ISBN 978-3-8364-6786-5 , (Also: Potsdam, University of Applied Sciences, Diploma thesis, 2007).
  • Katharina Perlbach: The Image of Librarians as Reflected in German and Dutch Fiction. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2009, ISBN 978-3-639-21765-0 .
  • Seefeldt, Jürgen; Syre, Ludger, ed. from BID: portals to the past and future. Libraries in Germany. 5. revised u. exp. Edition Hildesheim u. a .; Olms, 2017.
  • Irmgard Siebert, Thorsten Lemanski (eds.): Librarians between administration and science - 200 years of professional debate. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-465-04208-2 .
  • Gantert, Klaus: Basic librarianship. 9. completely rework. u.erw. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Saur, 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-032145-6
  • Georgy, Ursula (2013): Professionalization in Information Work. In: Kuhlen, Rainer; Semar, Wolfgang; Strauch, Dietmar (Hrsg.): Basics of practical information and documentation. Berlin, Munich: De Gruyter Saur, 25–38, ISBN 978-3-11-025822-6
  • Söllner, Konstanze: Qualification paths and occupational fields in libraries. In: Praxishandbuch Bibliotheksmanagement, de Gruyter: Berlin 2014. Vol. 2, pp. 875 - 897, ISBN 978-3-11-030293-6
  • Ulrich Hohoff: Scientific librarians as victims of the Nazi dictatorship. A lexicon of persons (=  contributions to books and libraries (BBB) . Volume 62 ). Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2017, ISBN 978-3-447-10842-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Librarian  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Librarians  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Information on training and starting a career as a scientific librarian . Association of German Librarians e. V. 2018, accessed March 2, 2018.
  2. Helga Lüdtke: Do you work out of love for the matter? On the beginnings of the profession of librarian in Germany, 1895–1920. History and Social Studies Association, accessed March 25, 2009 . Published in: Contributions to historical social studies , No. 4/95, 25th year. Pp. 120-125.
  3. Graduate librarian | Video | ARD media library. Retrieved October 30, 2019 .
  4. Ilse Korotin (ed.): Austrian librarians on the run. Persecuted, suppressed, forgotten? Vienna: Praesens Verlag 2007 (biografiA, New Results of Women's Biography Research, 4). 214 p. Quoted from Christine Kanzler's book review, In: DÖW Mitteilungen 184, p. 8f. ( Online, PDF , accessed March 21, 2013)
  5. ^ Gundolf Keil : Wickersheimer, Ernest. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1486.