Powerful Geography




 Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Places and Regions 

Overview: Librarians work in a variety of settings, including public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, museums, government agencies, non-profit organizations, etc. Responsibilities of the librarian include analyzing users' needs to determine what information is appropriate and searching for it, providing the information, teaching users how to find and evaluate information. Sometimes librarians write abstracts and summaries. Librarians also participate in the management and planning of libraries by negotiating contracts for services, materials, and equipment, performing fundraising and preparing budgets. Other tasks may include cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials. 

Geographic knowledge helps librarians when working with materials related to the geographic information (maps, aerial photos, geospatial data, remote sense images, etc). For example, a librarian might need to create digital map collections and geographic databases. Geographers create and implement tools that assist librarians in doing that, for example, Gazetteer, which is a geographical directory that contains information concerning the geographical makeup, social statistics and physical features of a country, region, or continent. Any geographical knowledge would be useful for this job; however, GIS concepts, skills, and data structures are the most useful. 

Although the educational requirements for becoming a map librarian may vary by employer, you typically need a master's degree in library science or library and information studies to enter this profession, with significant coursework in geography or related disciplines that make use of maps and geospatial data. Some employers may also require you to have a GIS certificate or have completed GIS related coursework or have significant GIS experience in order to qualify for a job as a map librarian. Map librarians are service-oriented professionals that are responsible for providing reference and research consultation for print and digital maps and other cartographic resources, such as aerial photos, atlases and digital geospatial data. Their core functions (identifying, collecting, organizing, and preserving resources) ensure that maps, digital geospatial resources, and other cartographic resources are available to the general public and specialized groups, such as students and academic researchers. 

Map librarians are also responsible for maintaining and expanding map and geospatial data collections and services. They often work closely with a team of colleagues from a range of disciplines for the purpose of building and promoting their library's e-research and data services. Some typical job duties include: Develop cartographic materials collectionsOversee the development and maintenance of websites and online guidesMay oversee the integration of digital library systemsDevelop or maintain organizational methods of librarySort and catalog cartographic materialsProvide research and reference consultation to students, researchers, hobbyists, businesses and other partiesPrint cartographic materials and digital geospatial data. 

Geographers at Work: Geographic Information System Specialists, Physical Geographers  

Recommended College Courses: Physical Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Regional Geography, World Geography 

Skills: Cartography and GIS, Geospatial collections, Library science

Occupation Group: Education, Training and Library

Learn more about Librarians from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/librarians.htm

Written by Daria Andrievskikh and Christopher Hinajosa


Librarians and library media specialists help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use.
Librarians and library media specialists help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use.