Librarians
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Overview
Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, and medical libraries.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for librarians are expected to grow by 9%, and should have about 14,500 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
The likelihood of autmoation for ${title} is near the middle of all careers' likelihoods.
Workforce size
Librarians, with 138,200 workers, form a larger workforce than 72% of careers.
Education
About 66% of librarians have a graduate-level education, and 88% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by librarians
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with graduate degrees
More librarians have graduate degrees than 95% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for librarians is higher than 66% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most librarians.
This job's median $59KAll jobs' median $39K$60K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 82% of librarians -- that's a larger percentage than 93% of other jobs.
Gender of librarians
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For librarians, the median men's salary was 7% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% of librarians are minority, and 7% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of librarians
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (7%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Librarians per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 76% of librarians, and 79% have company-sponsored health insurance (17% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for librarians
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 85% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of librarians who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (49%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (48%)
  • Time Pressure (44%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do librarians earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for librarians, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for librarians compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for librarians (BLS Salary Data)
$59K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$59K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all librarians, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for librarians compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for librarians (ACS Salary Data)
$51K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$51K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where librarians work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Librarians (ACS)
Private for-profit (11.1%)
Private not-for-profit (19.9%)
Local government (46.2%)
State government (20.3%)
Federal government (2.3%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.1%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.1%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of librarians by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$51K$77K$52K$52K$51K$49K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of librarians by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$59K$87K$58K$60K$63K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for librarians

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$51K$55K$56K$53K$52K$38K$54K$45K$23K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15K20KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Librarians and gender

With 82% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 93% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
82%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Librarians
Men (18%)
Women (82%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for librarians, with the median salary for men 7% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$51K$54K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Librarians have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 80% of other jobs.

7%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of librarians

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority librarians than for 79% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of librarians
White (86% )
Black (7% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for librarians by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$36K$40K$44K$51K$51K$52K$57K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KAmerican IndianOtherHispanicMultiracialWhiteBlackAsian
Distribution: Salaries for librarians by nativity
$51K$56K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by librarians

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarians typically hold a master's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as librarians as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for librarians.

Education attained by librarians
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for librarians

Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science (MLS). Students need a bachelor’s degree in any major to enter MLS programs.

Some colleges and universities have other names for their library science programs, such as Master of Information Studies or Master of Library and Information Studies.

MLS programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete. Coursework typically covers selecting library materials; organizing information; and learning different research methods and strategies, online reference systems, and Internet search techniques.

The American Library Association accredits master’s degree programs in library and information studies.

Librarians working in a special library, such as a law, medical, or corporate library, usually supplement a master’s degree in library science with knowledge of their specialized field. Some employers require special librarians to have a master’s degree, a professional degree, or a Ph.D. in that subject. For example, a law librarian may be required to have a law degree or a librarian in an academic library may need a Ph.D.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for librarians

Public school librarians typically need a teacher’s certification. Some states require librarians to pass a standardized test, such as the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist test. A list of requirements by state and contact information for state regulating boards is available from Libraries Unlimited

Some states also require certification for librarians in public libraries. Requirements vary by state. Contact your state’s licensing board for specific requirements.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for librarians? Below we see the distribution of librarians salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as librarians, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$52K$45K$27K$29K$41K$56K$63K$67K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (0%)High School (1%)Some College (7%)Associate's Degree (4%)Bachelor's Degree (21%)Master's Degree (62%)Professional Deg/Doct (3%)Doctorate (2%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by librarians

This table shows the college majors held by people working as librarians. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Librarians with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as librarians, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by librarians given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Elementary and middle school teachersLawyers, judges, and magistratesPostsecondary teachersManagers (specialized areas)Secondary school teachersEducation administratorsSecretaries and administrative assistantsEditorsWriters and authorsMarketing and sales managersChief executives and legislatorsFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesManagement analystsPreschool and kindergarten teachersSpecial Education TeachersCounselorsTeacher assistantsLibrariansComputer and information systems managersLibrary techniciansClerical library assistantsComputer systems analystsTeachers and instructors (specialized areas)Social workersPsychologistsPhysicians and surgeonsHuman resources workersFinancial managersAccountants and auditorsFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersCustomer service representativesRetail salespersonsEnglish Language andLiteratureHistoryElementary EducationLibrary ScienceGeneral EducationPsychologyPolitical Science andGovernmentBusiness Management andAdministrationCommunicationsLiberal ArtsAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for librarians

What jobs will most librarians hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of librarians reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

LibrariansClerical library assistantsEducation administratorsLibrary techniciansElementary and middle school teachersPostsecondary teachersFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersSecretaries and administrative assistantsManagers (specialized areas)
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for librarians

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 4 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as librarians as well as 1% of respondents after working as librarians. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for librarians
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Elementary and middle school teachers
164,300
$0$200K$51K
Education administrators
45,800
$0$200K$68K
Clerical library assistants
16,300
$0$200K$28K
Library technicians
14,400
$0$200K$32K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for librarians: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as librarians? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of librarians surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for librarians
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Elementary and middle school teachers
164,300
$0$200K$51K
2.9%
Education administrators
45,800
$0$200K$68K
2.4%
Clerical library assistants
16,300
$0$200K$28K
6.9%
Librarians
14,500
$0$200K$51K
61.3%
Library technicians
14,400
$0$200K$32K
4.2%
No occupation
9.8%
Read about librarians
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Librarians typically do the following:

  • Help library patrons conduct research and find the information they need
  • Teach classes about information resources
  • Help patrons evaluate search results and reference materials
  • Organize library materials so they are easy to find, and maintain collections
  • Plan programs for different audiences, such as storytelling for young children
  • Develop and use databases of library materials
  • Research new books and materials by reading book reviews, publishers’ announcements, and catalogs
  • Choose new books, audio books, videos, and other materials for the library
  • Research and buy new computers and other equipment as needed for the library
  • Train and direct library technicians, assistants, other support staff, and volunteers
  • Prepare library budgets

In small libraries, librarians are often responsible for many or all aspects of library operations. They may manage a staff of library assistants and technicians. In larger libraries, they usually focus on one aspect of library work, including user services, technical services, or administrative services.

The following are examples of types of librarians:

User services librarians help patrons conduct research using both electronic and print resources. They teach patrons how to use library resources to find information on their own. This may include familiarizing patrons with catalogs of print materials, helping them access and search digital libraries, or educating them on Internet search techniques. Some user services librarians work with a particular audience, such as children or young adults.

Technical services librarians obtain, prepare, and organize print and electronic library materials. They arrange materials to make sources easy for patrons to find information. They are also responsible for ordering new library materials and archiving to preserve older items.

Administrative services librarians manage libraries, hire and supervise staff, prepare budgets, and negotiate contracts for library materials and equipment. Some conduct public relations or fundraising for the library.

Academic librarians assist students, faculty, and staff in postsecondary institutions. They help students research topics related to their coursework and teach students how to access information. They also assist faculty and staff in locating resources related to their research projects or studies. Some campuses have multiple libraries, and librarians may specialize in a particular subject.

Public librarians work in their communities to serve all members of the public. They help patrons find books to read for pleasure; conduct research for schoolwork, business, or personal interest; and learn how to access the library’s resources. Many public librarians plan programs for patrons, such as story time for children, book clubs, or other educational activities.

School librarians, sometimes called school media specialists, work in elementary, middle, and high school libraries, and teach students how to use library resources. They also help teachers develop lesson plans and find materials for classroom instruction.

Special librarians work in settings other than school or public libraries. They are sometimes called information professionals. Law firms, hospitals, businesses, museums, government agencies, and many other groups have their own libraries that use special librarians. The main purpose of these libraries and information centers is to serve the information needs of the organization that houses the library. Therefore, special librarians collect and organize materials focused on those subjects. Special librarians may need an additional degree in the subject that they specialize in. The following are examples of special librarians:

  • Corporate librarians assist employees in private businesses in conducting research and finding information. They work for a wide range of businesses, including insurance companies, consulting firms, and publishers.
  • Government librarians provide research services and access to information for government staff and the public.
  • Law librarians help lawyers, law students, judges, and law clerks locate and organize legal resources. They often work in law firms and law school libraries.
  • Medical librarians, also called health science librarians, help health professionals, patients, and researchers find health and science information. They may provide information about new clinical trials and medical treatments and procedures, teach medical students how to locate medical information, or answer consumers’ health questions.
Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of librarians? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Communication skills
Librarians need to be able to explain ideas and information in ways that patrons understand.
Initiative
New information, technology, and resources constantly change the details of what librarians do. They must be able and willing to continually update their knowledge on these changes to be effective at their jobs in the varying circumstances.
Interpersonal skills
Librarians must be able to work both as part of a team and with the public or with researchers
Problem-solving skills
Librarians conduct and assist with research. This requires being able to identify a problem, figure out where to find information, and draw conclusions based on the information found.
Reading skills
Librarians must be excellent readers. Those working in special libraries are expected to continually read the latest literature in their field of specialization.
Technology skills
Librarians use technology to help patrons research topics. They also use computers to classify resources, create databases, and perform administrative duties.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for librarians
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for librarians was higher than 66% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $59KAll jobs' median $39K$61K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for librarians are anticipated to grow by 9% over the next decade, which is faster growth than is predicted for 57% of other jobs.

The projected employment for librarians is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030050,000100,000150,000200,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most librarians? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as librarians. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Librarians per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.02.5
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where librarians earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for librarians compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for librarians.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Librarians to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which librarians earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Librarians (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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