Special Librarians

Some Common Roles:

Has Focused, Technical Kowledge of the Subject

Special Libraries require a librarian who can think beyond OCLC and can come up with in-house classification systems for information. This can require working with specialized thesauri, such as U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Provides Special Services

Unlike the public library, special libraries do not have a high focus on teaching the user to find their own information. Instead, special librarians are expected to provide deliverables, such as bibliographies, to the people they service. They must be both current in their information and speedy.

Manages Internal Information

A public librarian primarily manages information that comes from outside the librarian. A special librarian must manage information that comes from within their organization. Field journals, radiographs, and lab reports are all examples of internal information.

Conducts Special Programming

Special librarians may offer classes to help their users become more efficient in searching. Some topics could include database awareness, teaching about new technologies, and improving intranet skills.

Just for Fun:

Here is a video of a corporate librarian from 1964.
The Adventures of the Special Librarian


Aspnes, Grieg. (2010, December 21). The Adventures of the Special Librarian [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fND46AVuNiY.

Hirsh, Sandra. (2015). Information Services Today (pp. 82-91). New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Special Libraries Association. (June 2003). Competencies for Information Professionals of the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://www.sla.org/about-sla/competencies/.