What does a Library Director do?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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A library director holds the highest administrative position in a library. While the tasks of a library director will vary according to the type of library in which a person works, in many cases the director will be responsible for both setting and implementing library policy and upholding the library's mission statement. Library directors frequently also directly supervise library management; develop and implement hiring policies; and liaise with the organization, institution, or government that sponsors the library.

The tasks of the library director may vary according to the type of library in which a person works. For example, the director of a public library often answers directly to a community's library board of directors and may be expected to take on a significant public relations role. Public library directors are often very concerned about issues of community standards and censorship and may have to take an active role in setting standards for collection development. The library director of a small public library may have limited staff and be expected to create and implement much of a library's programming. The director of a large public library, on the other hand, may have little hands-on involvement with library programming but may spend more time supervising other librarians who take on specialized roles within the library.


The director of an academic library has other considerations, including a commitment to provide adequate resources for both faculty and students. Since academics rely on the library for their research, an academic library director must ensure that the library actively supports collection development. The director of the library or libraries at a large public university may spend a great deal of time managing his or her staff, which consists of other academic librarians with specialized areas of interest. At a small college, the library director may have limited staff consisting mainly of students. As it is with public libraries, the small-school library director may be far more involved with the day-to-day operations of the library.

Directors of special libraries, including corporate, law, and medical libraries, can have even more varied duties. In some cases, the director of a special library may be its only employee or its only credentialed librarian. The director of a special library is often charged with developing processes for helping employees get the information they need, which can be a significant challenge. The library director may have to spend a great deal of time working with employees, department heads, and executives to develop ways to efficiently and accurately supply needed information while working within the organization's budget.

Library directors typically hold, at minimum, a master's degree in library science. Some librarians may hold additional master's degrees, either in an academic specialty or in a complementary discipline such as business or public administration. Academic librarians may hold doctoral degrees as well. Directors of libraries in small towns or school librarians may not always hold a master's degree, but may have significant experience working in libraries.


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