How to Become a Librarian in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a librarian. learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Librarian?

Librarians may work in schools, public libraries, hospitals or government buildings. Their job is to maintain materials, such as books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and video games, that are available for the public to use and borrow. This may involve ordering materials or replacing or repairing worn ones. They catalogue media so that they are assigned a place for display or storage, and also assist individuals seeking a specific item. In addition, they check out materials that clients take home and process them when they're returned, ensuring they're returned to their proper location. They may also supervise, promote, and lead special activities, such as book readings for small children.

Degree RequiredMaster's degree
Education Field of StudyLibrary Science
Library and Information Science
Key ResponsibilitiesManage acquisitions and print and media collection
Assist patrons in finding and utilizing information from the library's collection
Check books in and out for patrons
Licensure/CertificationTeacher's license needed to work in a school library
State librarian's certificate needed to work in a public library
Job Growth (2014-2024)2%*
Mean Salary (2015)$58,930*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: What Are My Responsibilities as a Librarian?

As a librarian, you'd assist library patrons in finding and using books, periodicals, audiovisual materials and digital resources. You could find work in various settings, such as public libraries, schools, law offices, museums and archives. Your responsibilities would range from assisting patrons with research to developing reading and technology training programs and organizing collection materials. Additionally, you'd maintain a library's collection and decide what to purchase or discard.

Step 2: How Do I Decide What Type of Librarian I Want to Become?

There are various types of librarians, including academic librarians in college or university libraries, public librarians in public libraries and school librarians in public elementary, middle and high schools. Special librarians are also employed as corporate librarians, medical librarians or museum librarians. Public librarians focus on collection development, reference assistance and children's services. Visiting various types of libraries or working as a page or clerk while in high school may help you decide what specialty you'd like to pursue.

Step 3: What Kind of Degree Do I Need to Become a Librarian?

In order to qualify for a librarian position in a public school or library, you must have a master's degree in library science or in education with a minor in library media. Your degree must be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) to be considered for available jobs. A master's degree in library science typically takes 2-3 years to complete. In the program, you'd study cataloging methods, classification, information, management and reference If you choose a specialty field, such as law or children's literature, you can expect to take coursework unique to your area of interest. Many students also pursue internships during their degree program to gain experience in a library setting.

Step 4: Are Degree Programs Available Online?

A number of competitive on-campus and distance learning ALA-approved programs in library science. Online programs generally require the same amount of time as traditional on-campus programs. On-campus programs offer students face-to-face contact with professors as well as access to school libraries and archives with opportunities to gain internship experience. If you're looking for a program with a more flexible schedule, online programs allow you to review class material on the weekend or evening.

Step 5: How Do I Get Certified?

Specific certification requirements vary by state, but you'll generally need to have a librarian's certificate to work in a public library. To pursue work in a public school, you'd need state-issued teaching license. To receive your librarian's certificate from your state, you'll need to submit an application, a transcript of your courses and reference letters supporting your application. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov), a number of states have separate guidelines pertaining to these requirements.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Archivists, curators and museum workers perform many tasks that are similar to those of a librarian. They are responsible for acquiring, presenting and storing materials that are historical, educational, or otherwise significant. They typically need a bachelor's degree to enter their field. Library technicians and assistants provide support to librarians. They are typically in charge of returning materials to their designated spot and help customers locate specific items. They do not need a bachelor's degree, but typically have a certificate or associate's degree. Like librarians, middle school, high school and postsecondary teachers also perform a crucial role in helping to educate the public. Their educational requirements may vary; middle and high school teachers need a bachelor's degree and teaching license, while postsecondary teachers typically need a master's or doctoral 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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