Librarian and Information Worker

Library science is a challenging career, which is concerned with information in every form, including books, libraries, the Internet and other forms of database management.

Librarians administer libraries and perform related library services.  They work in  a variety of settings, including public libraries, educational institutions, museums, corporations, government agencies, law firms, non-profit organisations and healthcare providers.  Their tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating and maintaining library materials, and furnishing reference, bibliographical and readers' advisory services.   It involves the collection, organisation or arrangement and supplying of sources in various formats for education, information, cultural development, recreation, and the supplying of information services to various communities and specialists.

Librarian and information workers select and identify information sources that will satisfy the needs of users. They organise and manage the information sources and facilities for easy accessibility.

Librarian and information workers can work in public libraries, where they attempt to satisfy the educational, recreational and information needs of local communities. They also work in school media centres providing for the information needs of pupils and teachers. At universities, universities of technology and college libraries they fulfil the information needs of students, lecturers and researchers.

In specialised libraries and information centres, they offer specialised and personal service to users, for example, that are attached to research institutions, industries, financial institutions, professional career practices or cultural organisations.

At national libraries, they are responsible for the compilation, upkeep and supply of a complete collection of material published in and on specific countries. They may also work in related areas where library training and skills are applicable, for example freelancing and lecturing.  Some librarians perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesise, analyse, edit and filter information.  They may set up or work with databases and  information systems to catalogue and access information.  They direct and train library staff in duties such as receiving, shelving, researching, cataloguing and equipment use.

Librarianship thus offers a variety of career possibilities that range from the use of a computer and telecommunication technology to the utilisation of information for the advancement of the social and economic development of the South African community. The work of a librarian and information worker is becoming more complex with the improvement in information technology and therefore there is a need for qualified persons to work especially at research at university and university of technology libraries.

Personal Requirements

  • ability to have a good relationship with people
  • enjoy working with machines and data
  • fond of books and enjoy reading
  • aptitude for organisation and management
  • systematic, accurate and responsible
  • creative and imaginative
  • computer aptitude
  • wide range of interests and good general knowledge
  • inquiring mind
  • tidy and neat

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate (matric), or equivalent with a Bachelor's Degree pass

Compulsory Subjects: None 
Recommended Subjects: Languages, History

In addition, check the university admission requirements to see if you qualify for the programme you want to do.

What to Study

Degree: Degree courses, for example BBibl or Library and Information Science - UNISA, UWC, UV, UZ, Information Science - US, UP, Information Studies - UKZN, Information Systems - RU, UFH, UCT, UZ. A Bachelor of Library and Information Science -BLIS is offered at some universities, namely UWC and UZ.

Diploma: N.Dip.: Library and Information Studies- DUT, TUT. Course takes 3 years.

Postgraduate: Information Science Honours, Masters and doctorate can be followed at UNISA and UJ

It is expected that students at both universities and universities of technology will gain practical experience in a library for a specified period.


  • public libraries
  • university, university of technology and college
  • special libraries such as those in hospitals, private industry and correctional institutions
  • government departmental libraries
  • private organisations
  • schools (librarian teacher)
  • research bodies, such as: HSRC and CSI

Further Information

Ground Floor, Building B
Westend Office Park
254 Hall Street
Die Hoewes, Centurion
0157, South Africa
Tel: (012) 643-9500

Library and Information Association of South Africa
228 Johannes Ramokhoase Street (Previously Proes Street)
Tel: (012) 328-2010

Getting Started

  • volunteer for part-time work at a local library
  • experience in information management or working in a government department may be helpful, and any work that involves dealing with people such as customer service or teaching
  • speak to librarians and information workers about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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