Public Health Librarian

Many individuals entering the job force are finding it difficult to follow a career path that is truly beneficial to their quality of living.  Low employment rates are plaguing many industries, but public health employment is still on the rise.  This can be a great opportunity for graduates in nearly any specialty, as public health concerns extend beyond just medical practice.

The position of public health librarian is a great example of a career track that offers a good salary and a steady job position.  This job also fulfills vital needs for community health and welfare.  If you are interested in getting hired on in a job that will let you grow while you are helping others, then the position of public health librarian can be a great entry into public health employment.

What Is A Public Health Librarian?

Public health librarians help patrons and medical professionals to locate information in the archives.  They also help to organize data and information and update the referencing systems to facilitate organization.  As many documents are switching over to a digital format, public health librarians will also help to convert these to the proper format and catalogue the information accordingly.

Public health librarians would have the following expectations as a part of their tasks:

  •   Helping the public to access documents and records.
  •   Educate patrons and student about accessing information.
  •   Assist in researching texts and archived materials.
  •   Help to develop more comprehensive databases that are easier to navigate.
  •   Research new technologies that will make the public health library more efficient and productive.
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These professional skills can also help public health librarians perform their job:

  •   Communication:  You will need to be able to educate patrons and researchers on how to locate information and operate the databases.
  •   Interpersonal skills:  You will be interacting with a number of people in the community.  This will require that you adjust your approach to build good relationships with your patrons.
  •   Motivation:  You will need to be able to manage your time and set goals.  You will also need to be able to hold yourself accountable to these goals.

Nature Of The Work

Public health librarians may work in the library at the public health department, colleges, and even hospitals.  This career is centered around the archives and there is little need to travel for this position.  Electronic document transfers have made accessing materials from other facilities much easier, and you will just need to send out proper authorization for requests.  Administrative work is often performed at the check in terminal and you may need to assist patrons with locating documents, either digitally or in the stacks.

Education And Training

Public health librarians will require a Master’s degree in library science in order to gain employment.  Undergraduate studies should also include healthcare administration, medical sciences, and research technologies.  The MLS takes between one to two years to complete and may require some practical training which is generally included in the course work. 

All librarians, public health or otherwise, are required to be certified.  Before obtaining work as a public health librarian you will need to pass the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist exam.  Your credentials are maintained by engaging in continuing education courses for credit hours.

Public health librarians can gain a solid income even at an entry level.  Starting salaries are around $34,000, and the average for this occupation can be between $49,000 and $51,000, depending upon whether you are employed municipally or by the state.  The higher end of this pay scale has some public health librarians making as much as $86,000 per year.  This makes for an attractive career path that also offers many chances to move up.

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Employment opportunities for public health librarians are steadily increasing, even with the prevalence of digital media.  Many records and archiving systems are switching over to an electronic format, and public health librarians who are trained in and familiar with the new technology are in high demand.  The growth rate for this field is higher than the national average with a projected 11% rise between 2012 and 2022.  This makes the chances of getting a job as a public health librarian and moving up through the ranks quite accessible.

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