How to Become a Librarian

When you are thinking about library careers, one of the most obvious choices is to become a librarian. Maybe you are a recent graduate with a library science degree looking for a job, or maybe you had a favourite librarian as a kid, or maybe you just love books.

Whatever your reason for thinking about careers in the library, this comprehensive guide will give you the information needed on how to become a librarian, including salaries, job duties, job requirements and more.

Librarian Salary

One of the first questions many people have is “how much do librarians make?” The answer is, “it depends”, library salaries can vary by type of librarian, type of library, the location and other factors.

In 2018, the median librarian salary in the United States was around $62,000, with a range from about $53,000 up to $73,000. Assuming 40 hours of work and two weeks of vacation per year, a salary of $62,000 equates to a monthly pay of $5,167, weekly pay of $1,240, and an hourly wage of $31.00, all before taxes.

Here are examples of librarian salaries by state:

California: $64,100
Texas: $50,700
New Jersey: $71,000

Librarian Job Description

The definition of a librarian is “a person, typically with a degree in library science, who administers or assists in a library.” The term librarian comes from the Latin “librarius”, which refers to something related to books, and was originally used to denote a scribe or copyist.

Broadly, librarians are responsible for acquiring, organising, managing and distributing library resources, and ensuring that library provision meets the needs of all its users

We like to think of librarians as Keepers of the Books, someone who loves literature and delights in organizing and making available some of the greatest work humanity has created.

Librarian Job Duties

What does a librarian do?

  • selecting, purchasing, and cataloguing library resources
  • answering questions and queries from visitors
  • ensuring that library services meet the needs of particular groups of users (children, young adults, adults, etc.)
  • assisting readers to use computer equipment and conduct literature searches
  • promoting the library’s resources to users
  • management of staff, including recruitment, training and/or supervision duties
  • managing budgets and resources

Types of Librarians

There are many different types of librarians, so one of the biggest factors in your librarian career is deciding where you want to work and what type of librarian you want to specialize as. Librarians work in public libraries, public schools, private schools, high schools, academic institutions, museums, law offices, hospitals, private corporations, and online, amongst other areas.

Librarian Job Titles

  • Access Services Librarian
  • Acquisitions Librarian
  • Adult Services Librarian
  • Assistant Librarian
  • Cataloging Librarian
  • Chief Librarian
  • Children’s Librarian
  • Corporate Librarian
  • Digital Services Librarian
  • General Librarian
  • Instruction Librarian
  • Medical Librarian
  • Reference Librarian
  • Teen Librarian
  • User Experience Librarian
  • Young Adults Librarian
  • Youth Services Librarian

Librarian Job Requirements

What are the requirements to be a librarian? Like most careers, there are both strict requirements for becoming a librarian, like education, as well as key skills you can develop.

Librarian Education & Degree Requirements

Of the job requirements to become a librarian, the strictest requirement is often education. Most libraries in the United States and Canada require you to have either a MLS, MSLS or MLIS from an accredited institution. Following is a short description of each degree.

Library Science Degrees

Master of Library Science (MLS)

Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS)

Master of Library and Information Science (MSIS)

Librarian Certification

Certification to become a librarian can be complicated, as it depends on what state you are in and what type of librarian you want to become. For example, if you plan to work in education, some states require one of the master’s degrees listed above, while others require a certificate or license. In many cases, your library certification is transferable between states.

Librarian Skills

Libraries are looking for skilled, well rounded people. Specifically, some skills that these employers ask for include:

  • organizational skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • teamwork & collaboration
  • IT skills, like searching databases or using the internet
  • management of people and resources
  • presentation and verbal communication skills
  • the ability to write clearly and succinctly
  • subject specific expertise

Pros and Cons of Being a Librarian

Libraries are awesome places to work, and being a librarian is generally pretty great too. Here are some pros and cons of being a librarian:

Pros

  • You are surrounded by books!
  • The quietness of your work environment is legendary.
  • ABL. Always. Be. Learning.
  • As you grow in your career, salaries provide a reasonable or strong standard of living.

Cons

  • The industry is facing major challenges, like decreasing visitors.
  • Libraries can have limited budgets and high expectations.

Final Thoughts On Becoming a Librarian

Whatever your motivation for thinking about a career in the library, working as a librarian is a strong choice with many benefits. We recommend you consider your options and then pursue the career of your dreams; you have the opportunities to enrich lives.