How to Become a School Librarian
Many people who are interested in getting a Master’s of Library and Information Science do so with the hopes of one day becoming a public school librarian. After all, working with children can be extremely rewarding. And being the school librarian means you get to see all the kids, but none of them really “belong” to you at the end of the day. Kind of like being the cool aunt, or the grandma. Add in the generous vacation time every year and this is an attractive job. It’s competitive, though, so you should go about it the right way.
In order to apply for a Master’s of Library Science, you will need a bachelor’s degree. And in order to be allowed to work in the public schools, you will ultimately need a teaching certificate. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to get your bachelor’s degree in a field that leads to certification, such as elementary education.
At that point, you can get a job teaching in the public schools or you can move directly to your master’s program. Getting a job has two benefits: it makes money, which is nice, and it shows future employers that you are serious about education. In some master’s programs, you can take some or all of your MLIS courses online. This makes holding down a job and getting your master’s degree at the same time easier.
Once you have completed your 36 to 48 hours of coursework, including in-depth studies of electronic collection management, inter-library request procedures, research for the young student, and instructional technology applications, you may or may not have to write a thesis. Once you have received your degree, you will be able to apply for school librarian positions. At this point, your prior teaching experience will be useful. Competition for these positions can be intense, considering that some cash-strapped school systems are replacing degreed librarians with library assistants who help children check out books.
What Types of Library Science Programs Exist
While a master in library science is the most commonly sought-after degree in this profession, bachelor and associate programs can help you start a career in this field. Also, information systems programs are a good alternative to library science. Find out more information, including available online programs with the links below.
What Careers are Common for Students With This Degree
- K-12 School Librarian You’ll teach students how to do basic research, promote literacy by sharing new books with them, and even plan library lessons around different themes during the year. Librarians are usually in charge of managing the school’s collection of books and audiovisual equipment.
- University Librarian University librarians do the job of a regular librarian, but they have to know much more about research and how to help students dig through huge collections. Technology is increasingly important.
- Corporate Librarian A corporate librarian can work in many different fields, including law, medicine, or engineering.
- Public Librarian Public librarians have to be prepared to work with a diverse clientele, including children, senior citizens and limited-English populations. In addition, they help the public find books, perform research using traditional means, and use computers for research.
- Library Assistant A library assistant works in the library shelving books, helping people check out books, answering phones, and supporting the day-to-day operations of the library.
- Library Manager A library manager is responsible for overseeing other library employees, managing the library branch’s budget, setting work schedules, conducting training sessions, and other administrative tasks.
What are the average salaries for a person with a Master’s of Library and Information Science
Since most people who graduate with this degree become librarians of some kind, let’s take a look at the librarian’s salary in some different areas. The 2008 average salary for college librarians was about $55,000, while the average for elementary and secondary schools was slightly less. Librarians working for the local government as public librarians made about $48,000 in 2008.
The highest earning group is the group of librarians working for the Federal Government. These people made an average of almost $85,000 as of March 2009. Obviously, the government isn’t using the economic turmoil as an excuse to decrease wages in the library sector.
Factors that affect wages include geographic location (higher cost of living areas will pay more, but it won’t matter), years of experience, and whether you belong to a union. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up to 30% of the librarians in the U.S. belonged to a union in 2008.
Library Science Scholarships and Grants
There are more than a few library science scholarships and grants available to qualified students. This is by no means a comprehensive list of scholarships, but the links here should definitely give you a good start. Don’t forget to fill out your FAFSA so you can be eligible for federal loans and grants.
Library Science School Rankings
Unfortunately, there is not a “master list” of the best library science programs in the United States. You will have to do your homework to discover the best school for you. However, you do have help. The American Library Association has standards by which it awards accreditation for library science degrees, and it would be a good idea to find out whether your prospective schools are accredited. Do research about each program’s course offerings and make sure that there are adequate classes in computer science. Since the librarian, more than ever, must be a master of instructional technology and computer-based research, you want to be sure that is part of your degree.
Other considerations are the school’s rate of successful job placement. Do its graduates actually get jobs as librarians? Do its graduates typically get jobs in certain metropolitan areas? How will a degree from this college serve you after you leave? These are more important questions to ask than ever, as the field of education has become increasingly competitive.
Transferring Library Science School Credits
When you decide to pursue a program in library science, you need to be aware that most schools will not transfer credits from another school unless the class is in a core subject such as History. This would only happen in an undergraduate degree such as an associate of applied science in Library Science.
Even then, it is up to the individual school. This is partly due to the regional and national accreditation status of each school. Why don’t graduate hours transfer? Many schools refuse to transfer graduate credit, since the classes may vary so much between programs. Also, since a master’s program in library and information science is designed to be completed in two years, colleges are less willing to accept transfer credits from other schools. Quite honestly, they will make more money if you get your whole degree from their school, so they may make you re-take courses.