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I want to be a librarian. What will my salary be?

Job: Librarian

Salary: Starts at about $40,000 to $60,000 annually and can increase to as much as $200,000 for a senior academic librarian at a large Canadian university or the head of a large public library.

Education: Librarians typically have a master's degree in library science or information science. More of today's librarians also have a second master's degree in another subject, as well as a PhD, said Marie DeYoung, president of the Canadian Library Association and university librarian at Halifax-based Saint Mary's University.

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The role: It's not just about finding and sorting books. Librarians work with children to develop literacy programs, in large corporations managing data and compiling information, and within communities, helping seniors, students and low-income people find information. "It's about research, it's about project management, policy development and financial management," Ms. DeYoung said. "The work can be very broad."

By the numbers: There are about 13,000 librarians across Canada, according to Statistics Canada's National Household Survey. About 82 per cent are women.

Job prospects: Despite the growing use of Google and e-books, Ms. DeYoung said she has noticed a small increase in the number of librarian jobs lately. That's in part because of all the baby boom-generation workers retiring from the field, but also because of the increased amount of information that is becoming available, and the need for it to be analyzed and understood. "There is a sense that so much is available electronically; surely we don't need these bricks-and-mortar places called libraries any more. … In fact, the need is greater because there is such a proliferation of content," she said.

Challenges: The technology used to gather and analyze information is constantly changing, and Ms. DeYoung said librarians need to stay up to date, especially since they're often relied upon to help others manage and decipher content.

Why they do it: Librarians are "very curious," people, Ms. DeYoung said. "They like finding things, getting answers and they also enjoy working with people."

Misconceptions: Librarians aren't prim, stern-looking women with glasses who wear their hair pulled back in tight buns. "The bun is gone, for sure," Ms. DeYoung said with a laugh. She said people also assume that everyone working in a library is a librarian. Some are library clerks and library technicians, whose roles are different.

Give us the scoop: Are you a librarian in Canada? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in this career.

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About the Author
Contributor

Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, the Financial Post and was executive producer at BNN (formerly ROBTv). Brenda was also part of the Globe and Mail reporting team that won the 2010 National Newspaper Award for business journalism. More

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