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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A career in librarianship
Graphic Credit: Justin Saephan / [email protected]

Librarianship may not be the most popular profession, but thanks to a recent virtual event for Los Rios Community College students, this career track was explored specifically for people of color.

The American River College library and HomeBase Pathway Communities (a program for students to get the academic support they need while feeling welcomed) hosted the event in honor of Black History Month. 

The career panelists highlighted people who identify as Black, Indigeneous or people of color (also known as BIPOC) and work as librarians. 

The members spoke about their experiences in their profession, or being a student pursuing a degree in library and information science, each covering their own inspirations, achievements and contributions. 

During the event, Antonio Lopez, one of the librarians at City College, emphasized what a librarian does.

“The type of library is determined by the community served, and the type of librarian is determined by what is needed to best serve that community,” Lopez later told the Express via email. “Some librarians are involved in technical aspects of creating online access to the community served, and some librarians are involved more in directly collaborating with members of the community and some do both.”

There are several types of librarians, he said through an email, including school, government, archives, medical, academic and others

Lopez’s journey as a librarian

Lopez didn’t know he would be a librarian. In 1987, he dropped out of high school and enrolled at Glendale Community College at the age of 17. Eventually, he taught English in Los Angeles and Chiapas, Mexico. At the age of 30, he finished graduate school at UCLA’s Department of Information Studies. 

“If you like libraries, working in one will mean that you get to go to the library every day. I wanted to try working in different types of libraries, so I moved around a lot, Lopez said via email. “Over the last 20 years, I worked as a full-time librarian.”

“Ultimately, what provides me with personal and professional gratification is a life invested in what matters to me,” he said. “Along the way there are many obstacles, and not every endeavor results in a victory.”

One takeaway that Lopez said is “for all SCC students, whatever their assets are, I hope that they will make space in their professional lives to work on what matters to them.”

Jordan Jue, another librarian who shared his experience as a librarian at City College, said in an email to the Express: “They help library visitors with all kinds of different information needs and design programs and services based on the community’s needs.”

To become a librarian, it takes training and a college education. “You need a master’s in library and information science, often a 2-3 year graduate program,” said Jue, who obtained his MLIS at the University of Washington in 2018. 

Another career path in the field is a library technician. “To be a library technician, you need experience in libraries, and receiving a library technician certificate can help you stand out and gain experience while in the program,” Jue said. 

City College offers an excellent program for an associates degree in library and information technology, he said.

Jue didn’t know being a librarian would become a career to him. “I got involved with becoming a librarian as I always knew I wanted to be involved in teaching and education. Since I was very young, I’ve also had a passion for working with technology and computers,” he said. “‘In undergraduate, my history professor introduced me to a librarian for a research paper and told us, ‘the librarian can help guide you to any information you are looking for.’”

A librarian has many opportunities

In Sacramento, many different employers and workplaces exist for aspiring librarians. Those workplaces include the Sacramento Public Library system and the Los Rios Community College District libraries (Sacramento City College, Cosumnes River College, American River College, Folsom Lake College). Four-year colleges also offer librarian positions. 

Being a librarian has many opportunities. “If you like a mix of helping all different kinds of people with finding information for all types of different reasons, you will enjoy this job,” Jue said. “Being a librarian involves working on a lot of different tasks and environments; if you enjoy working with the public on all kinds of different queries, this may be a career for you.”

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