Rambling Librarian | Episode 1 | How to Become a Librarian
How to Become a School Librarian
As a school librarian, you're responsible for maintaining a large collection of books and digital materials at an elementary, secondary, high school or post-secondary school. Unlike working at a public library, you are responsible for helping individuals or groups of students to find books, complete research projects, and learn more about how the library works. However, before you begin you work, you must know how to become a school librarian.
Earning Your Undergraduate Degree
Choose an undergraduate college.You don’t have to go attend a prestigious university to become a school librarian. But it’s helpful if you choose a school that has a good academic reputation and a wide variety of majors to choose from.
- It may benefit you to go to an undergraduate program that is known for its teaching programs. Since many school librarians have job responsibilities related to teaching, it would be beneficial for you to get at least a little bit of background knowledge about teaching school children.
Choose your major.Most graduate programs in library sciences don’t require an undergraduate degree in library science as a prerequisite for admission to their graduate program. So you have a little bit of flexibility here when choosing a major.
- A library science degree will, however, give you more background knowledge in your chosen field. It will also give you a leg up over other applicants when applying to graduate programs (and when you eventually apply for jobs).
- Some other related majors you could consider are English, Philosophy, Education, Art, History, Psychology, Sociology, or Computer Science.
Finish your degree plan.Attend your classes, complete your projects, and make your way toward the end of your undergraduate degree.
- Remember that most graduate programs have a minimum GPA requirement (often 3.0 or higher) to even be able to apply for their program. So getting good grades during your undergraduate courses is important.
- Also keep in mind that you can move directly from your undergraduate degree into an internship if that is the path you want to take. However, if you don’t pursue a graduate degree or the various helpful certifications, this will severely limit your job prospects as a librarian in the future.
Pursuing a Graduate Degree
Prepare yourself for the application process.There are many things you’ll need to do before you can apply to graduate programs. Check your school’s specific requirements so that you have a good idea about what documents you’ll need to gather for your application.
- You will need to gather letters of recommendation from several of your undergraduate professors. Be sure to give them plenty of time to complete the letters (at least six weeks when possible) before the application is due.
- You’ll most likely have to study for and take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE is needed to enter most graduate programs, but requirements vary by school. Make sure you check the requirements for the schools you intend to apply to well in advance so that you have enough time to register for the exam and study for it far enough ahead of time that your scores will be available when you apply to your desired programs.
Apply to a graduate program.Choose a school (or several) with a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program, preferably one that is accredited by the American Library Association. Applying to more than one school will increase your chances of being accepted to a graduate program you’re interested in.
- Complete application requirements by writing or obtaining the required documents such as an official undergraduate transcript, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a letter of intent.
- Apply and gain admission to a graduate school with a library science major.
Graduate with a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS).The degree usually takes one to two years to complete, depending on the specific program you choose.
- Take required courses in intellectual freedom, research methods, library administration, history of books, and the history of printing.
- While it is recommended that librarians pursue advanced degrees in library sciences, it is not always a necessity. Some school libraries will accept you as a candidate for the librarian position with only a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. However, keep in mind that not attaining a graduate degree in library sciences will significantly limit your career prospects as a librarian in the future.
Getting the Necessary Training and Certifications
Complete an internship.Find an internship at a school library to gain practical experience in the field. This will help you when you go on the job market by giving you the upper hand over other new graduates who have little to no experience.
- Many new library science graduates find that librarian positions often require previous experience (other than just educational training at school), so an internship is a great way for you to gain the experience you’ll need to land your first job.
Investigate state licensing requirements.The requirements to work at a public school vary from state to state. Depending on the state where you will be working, you may need a certificate or license to work as a school librarian.
- Some states require school librarians to have a Master’s degree, but others require only a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate in a single area of study.
- Certifications are earned through the state's board of education, passing a comprehensive assessment examination, or earning a teaching certificate.
- Check the certification requirements ahead of time for the state you want to work in so that you’ll know what kind of qualifications you’ll need to go on the job market.
Gain specialized knowledge in a certain field.School librarians have to know a lot of information about a wide variety of topics so that they are able to help their students find the resources they need and so they can maintain the organizational structure of the library materials. But having a specialized field of study will help make you more marketable when you start looking for a job.
- An internship is one way to gain knowledge and experience in a specialized field. Choose an internship that will allow you to hone your skills in a particular area.
- Another way to gain specialized skills is through the courses you take while you are working on your college degrees. Get a minor in History or French or Art so that you can list this as an additional area of expertise on your résumé.
Finding a Job as a School Librarian
Search for jobs online.Many librarian jobs are posted online – you just need to do a little browsing to find them. You can try checking the individual websites for schools. Librarian jobs are often posted alongside postings for teaching positions at each school.
- You can also browse the job postings on the American Library Association’s webpage.
Check with school districts for job postings.You can call your local school district (or the district where you would like to find a job) to inquire about any school librarian positions that might be open. This is a great way to find many jobs at once, especially in one geographic region.
- The school district may also be able to refer you to other resources where you can find school librarian job postings.
Network with other school librarians.This is a great way to discover job openings in your new field. Other librarians will be the ones who know the most about the job market and opportunities in the field of library sciences.
- Ask your friends or other librarians you know about any job openings they may be aware of.
- You can even go to a library and ask a librarian you don’t know about job opportunities they might have heard of.
QuestionWhat are the duties of a librarian?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLibrarians can have a wide variety of duties ranging from shelving and checking out books to teaching library skills and reading classes. They must often manage online sources and computer systems as well.Thanks!
- If you choose an undergraduate library science program, you will take classes in foundations and theories of library and information science. Also, you will learn about online reference systems, how to organize library materials, and what's involved in selecting new library materials.
- Employers prefer that you graduate from a school that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Once you're working as a school librarian, you'll be required to undergo continuous training to stay current with library technologies, updated information systems, and new library resources.
- You may need additional education such as a doctorate in library and information science if you want to work in a large school system, a college, or university.
- Although some school librarians are hired with only a Bachelor's of Library Science degree and a teaching certificate, most employers prefer you to have a Master's degree in Library Science.
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