What is a Youth Services Librarian?

“Youth Services” refers to library services for the library’s youngest members – children 0-18 years. Youth services librarians can often be broken down into “children’s librarians” or “teen librarians”. These librarians are usually only present in public libraries versus in academic or special libraries.

Youth service librarians do much the same work as other librarians – helping their customers find materials, providing reference services (often helping them find information for the purposes of homework help or school projects), and programming. However, whatever they do, they do it with an extra splash of fun! Programming is heavily emphasized – storytimes, leaving out scavenger hunts or games for passive programming, teen video game nights, etc. – because their customer base (kids and teens) love having fun.

Young library members often become very fond of their local youth service librarian because a requirement for the job is enthusiasm and having a love of people.

Librarian Job Duties

What does a librarian do?

  • provide storytimes
  • provide book recommendations
  • create book displays
  • organize programming events such as craft hour, Star Wars Day, Toddler Prom
  • provide early literacy tips to parents and caregivers
  • oversee youth organizations such as Teen Advisory Boards
  • select, purchase, and catalog library children’s and teens resources
  • answer questions and queries from visitors
  • update social media accounts
  • serve on a book awards committee such as Giesel or Newberry

Youth Services Librarian Salary

A youth services librarian’s salary depends heavily on the part of the country, the size of the library, and whether the position is a youth services position in name or just practice (oftentimes librarians who enjoy working with kids get all the youth services duties without the official job title).

In 2018, the median youth services librarian salary in the United States was around $57,000, with a range from about $38,000 up to $82,000. Assuming 40 hours of work and two weeks of vacation per year, a salary of $57,000 equates to a monthly pay of $4,750, weekly pay of $1,096, and an hourly wage of $27.40, all before taxes.

Here are examples of librarian salaries by state:

California: $68,000
Texas: $45,000
New Jersey: $49,000

Youth Services Librarian Job Requirements

What are the requirements to be a youth services 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

Most urban and suburban library systems require MLS, MSLS or MLIS from an accredited institution to become a youth services librarian. Following is a short description of each degree. Additionally, some libraries prefer a youth services “focus” in your degree, or at a minimum, experience working with children in or out of the library.

Library Science Degrees

Master of Library Science (MLS)

Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS)

Master of Library and Information Science (MSIS)

Youth Librarian Skills

Youth Librarians require a unique skill set due to the high-energy nature of the job. Specifically, some skills and qualities that these employers ask for include:

  • true enjoyment of young people
  • being well-read and able to recommend a wide variety of books
  • creativity for the large amount of programming and crafts you’ll do
  • 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 Youth Services Librarian

Being a youth services librarian is arguably one of the most fun and rewarding jobs in the library. Let’s look at the pros and cons!:

Pros

  • Your customers are your #1 fans
  • You can make a significant difference in young lives.
  • You’re surrounded by games, music, and dancing.
  • Keeping up with the latest trends means you read a lot of upbeat material.

Cons

  • The amount of high energy required can be draining.
  • Some libraries assume that because you love your work, higher pay for your skills is not required like it is for more technical areas of librarianship.
  • (Good or bad) There are a lot of new books each year to keep up on

Final Thoughts On Becoming a Youth Services Librarian

Working as a youth services librarian allows you to have a great time at work every day and go home knowing that you are forming young minds. It’s a wonderful path to follow if you love libraries and enjoy young people.