How Do I Become a School Librarian?

Research what it takes to become a school librarian. Learn about typical job duties, education requirements, annual salary information and licensure and certification options. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a School Librarian?

As a school librarian you will assist students and faculty while overseeing the physical and digital libraries of an institution. They may also teach students how to research, use library resources, and locate items within the library. Additional responsibilities may vary according to the size of the school. Read on to discover how you might start a career as a school librarian. The following table provides an overview of this career:

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Education and library science
Key Responsibilities Maintain the print & digital collections, help students locate material, research for school projects
Licensure/Certification Teacher certification is required for librarians in public schools
Job Growth (2014-24) 2% for all librarians*
Average Salary (2015) $56,880 for all librarians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a School Librarian Do?

When you work as a school librarian, you'll be responsible for maintaining the print and digital collections found within an elementary, middle or high school library. You'll also be responsible for helping students locate certain books and perform research for school projects. You must be able to organize library materials in a way that makes it easy for students to track down information.

If you're interested in becoming a school librarian, you'll likely also wish to develop your skills with computerized databases, electronic media centers and information retrieval systems. In addition to tracking down books and printed materials for students, you should also be able to help them find digital files and information on the Internet or within a computer system.

What Education Might I Need?

You'll likely need a master's degree in library science in order to become a school librarian, though it's possible to be hired with just a bachelor's degree and a teacher certification. Professional and academic librarians do need a master's degree, and the requirement is becoming more common among school librarians, as well. Any undergraduate major can prepare you to enter a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program.

Once you're enrolled in a 4-year program in library science, you'll then learn about the theory and foundations of information science. You may also study the principles of intellectual freedom, censorship, research methods and information organization. You should also learn the practical skills necessary to sort and organize materials, use online reference systems and select new materials for a library.

Will I Need Licensure or Certification?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, each state has its own certification requirements for school librarians. Many states require students to have a master's degree in either library science or education before they can gain certification (www.bls.gov). Another common requirement for school librarians is teacher certification. Such certification can be earned through the state board of education. Some states and school districts prefer school librarians to have teaching experience in addition to certification. The specific requirements vary by state.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

In addition to schools, librarians may work in other environments such as law or public libraries. Curators, archivists, and museum technicians require a similar skill set as well. If individuals desire to stay in education, teaching roles, particularly in literacy, would be appropriate. Education requirements and specialties may vary according to level and working environment; curators and archivists typically need a master's degree while museum technicians and K-12 teachers must earn a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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