Library Science and Librarianship

Librarians work in a variety of library types, from elementary school libraries to law libraries. Read about the education required for becoming a librarian, get career prospects, and find out what you'll learn in a library science degree program.

Are Library Science and Librarianship for Me?

Job Description

Librarians work in a plethora of institutional settings; their skills are needed wherever information needs to be collated, organized and made available for easy retrieval by those who need access. Whether in the form of books, files or electronic resources, as a librarian, you can use the knowledge gained from your training in library studies to tailor the organization of resources to the needs of the population you serve. These populations might be the pupils at a school or college, workers and managers at a corporation, lawyers at a large firm or researchers at a private archive. Through library science education, you can acquire skills in database management and public outreach strategies to prepare for employment in this diverse vocational area.

Employment Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job growth for librarians is expected to be around 7% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Job prospects might be better than indicated solely by that statistic, though - while competition for jobs will be strong during the first part of that decade, many current workers are expected to retire during this period, per the BLS. As of May 2012, the BLS found that the median salary for all librarians annually was $55,370; the middle 50% percent of librarians made $43,720-$69,490 annually that year.

How Can I Work in Library Science and Librarianship?

Education

The American Library Association (ALA) reports that a master's degree in library sciences received from an ALA-accredited program is the generally accepted professional degree for librarians (www.ala.org). These programs can take 1-2 years and accept students with virtually any bachelor's degree. Also, in some degree programs, you could specialize in topics within library science, such as the handling of alternative media within libraries. Some programs also offer Ph.D. tracks, which are generally tailored to prepare graduates for either teaching positions within library science or administrative roles in library systems. If you wish to work in a library, but without the extended training required to become a librarian, you could find work as a library assistant with only an associate's degree, certificate or library science coursework.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing requirements vary greatly depending upon the position sought. The BLS indicates that many states have developed certification procedures for librarians of public libraries, but that these are largely voluntary. To work as a librarian within primary or secondary schools, you must adhere to the licensing requirements of the state in which you work, which often include a requirement that you receive a teaching certification in addition to your library science credential. Finally, to work in a specialized setting such as a law or medical library, you can complement your library science training with study in the relevant professional field. Dual-degree programs, such as a joint law and library science degree, are available if you aim to enter these fields.

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