With over 16,000 public libraries in the United States, public libraries are embedded in communities of all types and sizes and are often described as serving community members for a lifetime. Public librarians are staunch defenders of the rights of citizens to have free access to information, and they are committed to making libraries the great equalizers in their communities.

As technology and the ways in which we access information continue to evolve, public libraries are helping bridge the digital divide by providing instruction and tech support in addition to access to the latest digital technologies. Public librarians continuously strive to meet the information needs of the communities they serve, whether that is by providing extensive programming for teens and children that promotes learning and literacy, or by helping senior citizens catch up on quickly changing technology, and everything in between.

According to a report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, in 2013 there were 1.5 billion in-person visits to our nation’s public libraries, equivalent to over 4.0 million visits each day, and attendance at public library programs has increased steadily since 2006 to include 96.5 million people attending 4.3 million programs held at public libraries across the nation. Public libraries provide access to information in all of its forms and their librarians act as guides and champions of equal access for all.

The following pages present an overview of public libraries – what is unique about them, the various roles that you can fill, sample job postings and salary information, and tips to help you land your dream job.

Next: Types of Public Libraries