Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Overview: Today’s modern librarian is highly-educated, passionate about technology, and an expert at connecting people with relevant information. They are unafraid of technological advances, are adaptable, and what seems like a love of books on the surface is actually a thirst for knowledge. They are well-organized, good with people, enjoy being facilitators of education and can manage tight budgets, resources, and staff.
Necessary Training: Most librarians must obtain a degree in library science, often a master’s. If they work in a facility which is specialized, they often will have a special focus or additional accreditation in that area (such as a law librarian). However, a librarian in a small town or school may not have the same education, say, as a librarian at a reference library tasked with curating specialized academic research. Schooling may be obtained in person (attending a campus), or mostly through online college programs (virtual learning).
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, good listening skills, hospitality, mechanically inclined, multitasking, photographic memory, reading people, strategic thinking, writing
Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, alert, ambitious, analytical, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, efficient, focused, friendly, hospitable, imaginative, independent, industrious, intelligent, nurturing, observant, organized, passionate, patient, pensive, perceptive, persuasive, protective, resourceful, responsible, socially aware, studious, thrifty, wise
Sources of Friction: Patrons who are disruptive, people who are careless with books, tight budgets, having to let someone go because of a conflict or budget need, working with uppity authors or experts who are holding events in the library, book theft, people writing in books, damage to property or resources (books, the copy machine, carving into tables, etc.), having patrons fight over popular books, late fees that are difficult to collect
People They Might Interact With: other librarians, interns, volunteers, teachers, students, parents, patrons, book groups, authors, handymen, computer techs, booksellers, delivery people, professors
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Characters who greatly prize knowledge would be drawn to this position, so any threat to the librarian’s ability to access information could cause them stress and grief. Living during a time when propaganda caused poisoned viewpoints and led to book burning or censorship would be very difficult, for example, because it not only restricts access to unbiased information, it also disrespects books by presenting biased, incorrect information as fact.
- Esteem and Recognition: A character who loves books may view her library as an extension of herself (or himself). If this was the case and budgets cut running costs to the bone, the character may become desperate to do something that will allow a ramshackle library to regain glory days, bringing back that lost pride.
- Love and Belonging: A character who views their library as home will be devastated if cutback cause their job to be eliminated or force the library to close. The character would be desperate to do whatever it took to turn things around to retain employment and keep the doors open.
Common Work-Related Settings: the stacks, storage rooms, a lamination or printing room, a staff break room, bathrooms, reading corners, special sections and restricted-access rooms for special editions
Twisting the Stereotype:
Most librarians are women, so flip the script to a male.
The “dowdy and strict” matronly librarian is played out, so make your librarian young and enthusiastic. And don’t forget, he or she is in a job where they deal with the public and love being facilitators of knowledge. The stuffy, angry librarian who hates everyone under 50 is not a logical choice for this profession, anyway.