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Careers Service

Libraries and archives

There are over 3,500 public libraries and about 2,000 archive collections in the UK. Public libraries are based in local communities and can also be located in schools, colleges, community centres and universities. Mobile libraries are also operated in some rural areas. Archives are preserved in the national archive institutions, local authority archives services run by local government, universities, libraries and museums. Some businesses and charities maintain and provide public access to their archives. Private and specialist institutions may also allow access to their archives.

Most of the job opportunities for library and information work exist in education and public sector organisations but some opportunities exist with charities and commercial companies such as Law firms. For archives work, again, the public sector is the main recruiter, along with cultural institutions, such as museums and galleries. Charities and business organisations may also advertise positions.

In Manchester, there is Central Library and special collections such as John Rylands Deansgate, the North West Film Archive and the Manchester Archive and local studies centre. It is worth checking local newspapers and their websites for jobs as some organisations may not advertise nationally.

Getting in and getting experience

Gaining employment in libraries and archives is highly competitive, and for some roles a postgraduate diploma or MA/MSc in librarianship, information science, or information management accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) is required (unless your first degree is in librarianship or similar).

Many positions require extensive work experience. Some universities will take experienced library professionals without a degree on to their postgraduate courses after an interview or enter them on to a postgraduate diploma course. A limited number of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awards exist for funding full-time study. Very few authorities offer training posts that include course funding.

To work in archives, a postgraduate qualification is a pre-requisite. The Diploma/Masters in Archives Management is the minimum qualification required for employment as an Archivist. It is possible to enter this career with a degree in any discipline, although a demonstrable interest in history and archives is advantageous.

Vacancies are advertised on libraries on local council websites, and with larger organisations, such as the NHS and in universities, colleges and schools. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals advertise graduate traineeship posts, which exist for graduates without a postgraduate qualification who want to get experience prior to taking a course.

The following organisations feature careers information and advertise job vacancies: