Job Descriptions for Librarian and Support Staff Positions in Academic Law Libraries

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A Project of the ALL-SIS Task Force on Job Titles


| Director / Associate (Assistant) Dean / Chief Librarian || Associate / Deputy / Assistant Director / Chief of Branch | Supervisory Librarian / Department Head || Computer / Automation Librarian || Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian || Government Documents / Legislative Librarian || Acquisitions/Collection Development Librarian || Catalog Librarian || Serials Librarian || Technical Services Librarian || Circulation / Interlibrary Loan Librarian || Reference / Research Librarian || Public Services Librarian || Generalist || Library Assistant/Paraprofessional || Library Clerk || Computer Technician || Computer Clerk |

JD = Juris Doctor
MLS = Masters in Library Science


Director / Associate (Assistant) Dean / Chief Librarian

This person is the senior manager who generally reports directly to the Dean of the School of Law and has responsibility for all aspects of library operations, including: budgeting, hiring and supervision of library staff, strategic planning with respect to the future growth and development of the law library, and initiating and monitoring library programs and services. This person ensures that the Law Library's collection and resources are sufficient to meet the primary goal of supporting the teaching and research needs of the School of Law's faculty, staff and students, and ensures that the Law Library is in compliance with accreditation standards of the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, and supports the Library's relations with the law school, the University, library consortia, and professional organizations. This person may also have certain teaching, law school service, scholarship, and/or other administrative responsibilities.

Minimum requirements: JD and MLS degrees from accredited schools; minimum of 3-5 years of upper management experience; possess a sound knowledge of and experience in library administration, demonstrate outstanding knowledge of the research, teaching, and educational needs of highly productive faculty and diverse student body, and possess strong supervisory, communication and leadership skills; possess a reputation among peers for professional achievement, scholarship and leadership in academic law librarianship, and a commitment to the mission of the school of law.


Associate / Deputy / Assistant Director / Chief of Branch

This person is a senior manager who reports to the director / associate (assistant) dean / chief librarian. The position may have a wide variety of duties, including all or some of the following: oversees, supervises, and/or coordinates the functions of the Public Services and/or Technical Services departments[1]; supervises technology initiatives; assists with budgeting, hiring and supervision of library staff, strategic planning with respect to the future growth and development of the law library, and initiating and monitoring library programs and services; and supports the Library's relations with the law school, the University, library consortia, and professional organizations. This person may also have certain teaching, law school service, scholarship, and/or other administrative responsibilities.

Minimum requirements: MLS, with most preferring JD (Public Services); or MLS (Technical Services) from accredited schools. Minimum of 3-5 years of professional experience in academic law libraries with a history of increasing responsibilities; strong supervisory and managerial skills, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and a solid record of teamwork and service; must be able to coordinate complex activities, develop new services, relate well to faculty, and should expect to participate in and promote teaching and instructional support.


Supervisory Librarian / Department Head

This person is a middle manager, supervising both professional and support staff employees. Provides leadership as a coordinator for all of the department's activities and services. Duties include planning, developing and evaluating departmental activities and initiatives, supervising, evaluating and developing staff performance, and participating in the professional level activities of the department. Works in close cooperation with other department heads and senior management to ensure the coordination of programs and services to the Library's community, including physical and intellectual access to collections. This person may also have teaching, service, scholarship, and/or other administrative responsibilities.

Minimum requirements: MLS, with JD sometimes preferred from accredited school(s); minimum of 2-3 years of professional experience; strong supervisory and managerial skills; excellent communication and interpersonal skills; commitment to high-quality service and team-orientation; ability to coordinate activities, develop new services, and relate well to patrons/peers.


Computer / Automation Librarian

This position is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the online library catalog and integrated library system. Documents and updates procedures, and trains others to use those procedures. May supervise a computer lab, and may be responsible for computer security within the library and the law school. May also be responsible for licensing and providing access to online library database subscriptions. In a consortial environment, this position may work closely with a central systems office and with peers at sister institutions to ensure the smooth functioning of a shared online system. Supervises computer technicians, computer clerks or student assistants.

Minimum requirements: MLS. JD or degree in a computer or technical field preferred. Some experience with library and computer systems. Excellent written and verbal communications skills; strong supervisory skills preferred.


Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian

The Foreign, Comparative, and International Law (FCIL) Librarian generally serves as a reference librarian, but focuses on providing reference assistance, research guides, bibliographies, and instructional materials related specifically to foreign, comparative, and international law. S/he usually assists with collection development in FCIL materials, regardless of format, and works with faculty and students connected to FCIL through coursework, research interests, or journal or moot court participation. Often this person will be required to offer a general introductory course in FCIL research skills and/or several minicourses devoted specifically to particular types of specialized research in these areas. The position usually requires facility with at least one foreign language and a working knowledge of or willingness to learn the rudiments of one or two other languages; a fundamental knowledge of Anglo-American legal research tools and strategies, as well as both civil law and common law legal systems, and international organizations.

Minimum requirements: MLS or foreign equivalent and/or JD or foreign equivalent; reading/speaking knowledge of French, German, Spanish [other relevant language, as appropriate]; ability to communicate well with colleagues and patrons; ability to teach in a classroom setting, as well as in less formal settings; and a commitment to high-quality public service.


Government Documents / Legislative Librarian

This position is responsible for the acquisition and organization of federal [and state] government documents. If the library is a designated government depository library, this person will likely coordinate the library's depository program. Some specialized reference expertise, especially relating to government documents and legislative history, will be expected. May include staff supervision in a large department.

Minimum requirements: MLS, familiarity with government documents and legislative / administrative process. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Prefer library experience in a law school or academic environment.


Acquisitions/Collection Development Librarian

This position is responsible for the supervision and management of all aspects of acquisitions operations including: manages the materials budget, monitors expenditures, ensures the ordering and receipt of library materials in all formats and media, reviews and implements collection management policies, and oversees vendor relations and purchasing agreements. Maintains accurate acquisitions data, statistics, reports, and policies.

Minimum requirements: MLS, familiarity with one or more integrated library systems, strong supervisory skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills. Preferred: library experience in a law school or academic environment, knowledge of legal publishing trends.


Catalog Librarian

This position is responsible for the cataloging, classifying, and organizing of all materials in the library collection regardless of language or format. Ensures accuracy and compliance with national and local standards for bibliographic control. May include staff supervision depending on the size of the library staff.

Minimum requirements: MLS, knowledge of cataloging and classification practices and tools, familiarity with one or more integrated library systems, excellent written and verbal communication skills. Preferred: library experience in a law school or academic environment.


Serials Librarian

This position is responsible for the control and management of continuing resources regardless of language or format, including staff supervision, quality control, and the implementation of policies and procedures that support the timely and persistent availability of continuing resources to library users.

Minimum requirements: MLS, familiarity with one or more integrated library systems, strong supervisory skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills. Preferred: library experience in a law school or academic environment.


Technical Services Librarian

This position frequently has the same title and responsibilities of Associate/Assistant Director reporting to the Director/Associate (Assistant) Dean/Chief Librarian. The essential responsibility is to plan, develop, and direct the technical services functions of cataloging, acquisitions, serials, and physical processing of the collections. It may also include oversight of the integrated library system. This position is also responsible for coordinating technical services functions with public service functions, and implementing changes as necessary to support the mission of the library.

Minimum requirements: MLS, experience working in a law school environment, familiarity with one or more integrated library systems, ability to lead and communicate effectively with all levels of colleagues, strong supervisory skills, ability to coordinate complex activities and projects.


Circulation / Interlibrary Loan Librarian

This position is responsible for the operation of the law library circulation department. This may include reserves and interlibrary loans, and routine retrieval of locally held items for law faculty, staff and students. May be responsible for shelving and shelf-reading. Compiles library use statistics, and may be responsible for handling money (fines, copy charges, etc.) Will usually supervise several students and may also supervise some staff.

Minimum requirements: MLS; prefer some prior circulation or interlibrary loan library experience in a law school or academic environment. If the position includes interlibrary loan duties, prefer some familiarity with OCLC, ILLiad, WorldCat and related systems. Excellent written and verbal communications skills; strong supervisory skills.


Reference / Research Librarian

This position provides reference and specialized research services to law school faculty, staff, students, the practicing bar and the community, and should expect to spend significant time providing research assistance and instruction directly to these groups, often at a reference desk, but also via phone or email, and in individual consultations by appointment. If the library has a liaison program, the reference librarian will proactively support the research and teaching interests of several professors. May have significant teaching responsibilities in the legal research and writing curriculum, and may be expected to provide research instruction in upper level courses with significant writing requirements. Develops and maintains web-based instructional materials, tutorials, and/or guides to legal research. May participate in selecting books and other materials for the Library's collections. May supervise one or more student research assistants. May specialize in certain areas such as electronic resources, research instruction, faculty services, and/or subject areas.

Minimum requirements: MLS; JD preferred. JD may be sufficient in exceptional circumstances with significant library experience or concurrent with coursework toward the MLS. Requires familiarity with legal bibliography, legal research methods and online legal and interdisciplinary research systems and sources. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Prefer: some academic law library experience.


Public Services Librarian

Depending on the individual library and its staffing model, this position may be a combination of various aspects of the circulation/interlibrary loan and reference/research positions, and may supervise one or more staff and students. In some libraries, this position may also be a department head or middle manager.

Minimum requirements: MLS. JD may be preferred, along with some prior library experience. Requires familiarity with legal bibliography, legal research methods and online legal and interdisciplinary research systems and sources. Excellent written and verbal communication skills.


Generalist

The Generalist is a position that combines many tasks. The person in this position may spend time divided between several areas of library activity, depending on the particular needs of the institution. The generalist should possess the following: knowledge of basic and advanced legal research sources and techniques using print and electronic sources; knowledge of and comfort with educational technologies, such as PowerPoint, html, and web course management software; ability to quickly teach oneself new technologies, create necessary documentation and other training tools, and be prepared to teach the technologies to a wide range of constituents; comfort with legal research instruction, including curriculum development, teaching in large- and small-group settings, and using a wide range of educational technologies inside and outside of the classroom; strong writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills.

Minimum requirements: MLS. JD may be preferred, along with some prior library experience. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; commitment to high-quality service and team-orientation; ability to relate well to patrons/peers. Prefer: some academic law library experience.


Library Assistant/Paraprofessional

This position provides support to the basic functions of the library, including the training and supervision of Library Clerks. Responsibilities may include any combination of the following: provide guidance to library users on library policies and procedures, order and process invoices for new materials, maintain subscriptions, communicate with outside suppliers (e.g., publishers, vendors, commercial bindery, other libraries).

Minimum requirements: High School degree; ability to sustain attention to detail; strong written and verbal communication skills; ability to simultaneously manage multiple tasks; basic computer skills.


Library Clerk

This position provides support to the basic functioning of the library. Duties may include update looseleaf services, shelve books, photocopy and/or digitally scan articles, circulate library materials, handle mail, inventory and label new receipts to the library collections, prepare materials for binding or other preservation work, create and/or update online records in library systems.

Minimum requirements: High School degree; ability to sustain attention to detail; strong written and verbal communication skills; ability to simultaneously manage multiple tasks; basic computer skills.


Computer Technician

Under the direction of a computer /automation librarian or a middle manager, the computer technician maintains and troubleshoots library computer hardware and software. May staff a computer help desk. Supervises computer clerks or student assistants. May train library users in use of hardware and software. Rapid responder in case of computer emergency.

Minimum requirements: BA, BS, or associate's degree in a computer or technical field. Relevant experience may substitute for the college degree. Excellent written and verbal communications skills; ability to effectively convey technical information to users with a wide spectrum of computer knowledge and experience.


Computer Clerk

Under the direction of a librarian or a computer technician, performs routine computer-related tasks: troubleshooting, maintenance and support of library or law school hardware and software. First responder for computer problems, and may staff a help desk.

Minimum requirements: High school degree and relevant experience. College degree may be preferred. Excellent written and verbal communication skills; ability to sustain attention to detail; ability to effectively convey technical information to users with a wide spectrum of computer knowledge and experience.


Not Presently Included as a Job Title

[Reference / Public Services / Circulation] / Electronic Services / Webmaster

Librarian

[The duties of this person are often combined with other job titles.] The duties include: knowledge of and comfort with educational technologies, such as PowerPoint, html, xml, and web course management software; ability to quickly teach oneself new technologies, create necessary documentation and other training tools, and be prepared to teach the technologies to a wide range of constituents. Familiarity and skills with html/xml syntax, and with creating and updating of web pages.

Minimum requirements: MLS and relevant experience. JD may be preferred, along with some prior library experience. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; ability to relate well to patrons/peers. Prefer: computer science degree or significant experience with web page development and management.

[1] See the job description for the "Technical Services Librarian" infra.