How To Become A Librarian

Librarians have been trained to help people find information and conduct research at their local library. Librarians may run programming at the library, help patrons find books, or answer all kinds of questions.

Librarians work in school libraries, college and university libraries, or in public town libraries. In order to become a librarian, a person needs to have a master’s degree in library science.

Why Become A Librarian

A library is well known as a place where patrons can access and borrow collections of information. Most often people stop by a library to borrow books. There are also other resources available within a library, such as magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, e-books, audiobooks, and more, all of which are available to be borrowed. Libraries typically have thousands to millions of items available in their collections.

Libraries provide a number of other services for patrons as well. Computers are usually available for research. Librarians often run a variety of programs, geared towards various members of the community. They may run children’s programming, and have a room dedicated towards children’s literature. They may also run programming for adults, such as the basics of using a computer, or English as a Second Language classes. Libraries are modern community learning centers where everybody can come to learn something.

This is a good job for people who love to read, are knowledgeable about libraries and their offerings, and want to help others learn and research and gain knowledge.

Librarians should possess the following qualities and skills:

Librarian Work Environment

Librarians work in a library. Libraries may be public or private libraries located in a town or city, or they may be school or university libraries. Librarians often are on the floor, helping patrons who have questions. They often are behind the circulation desk or in an office environment.

They may spend the day sorting books, filing new books or returning books, running programs for patrons, or completing administrative tasks at the library. Librarians are expected to have a wide range of knowledge about the library and its programs, since they will likely get asked many questions by patrons.

This job involves equal amounts of interacting with patrons and office work. Librarians generally work standard daytime hours but many libraries are also open on the weekends as well.

Librarian Salary

The median annual salary for librarians was $59,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are many factors that determine salary. One factor is the industry a person works in. Those who worked for college and university libraries earned an annual wage of $63,000 in 2017. On the other hand, those who worked for the local government earned $52,000 in 2017.

Most librarians work full time. However, approximately 25 percent work part time. Those who work full time are able to earn a higher salary. Compared to other occupations in the United States, librarians had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union. This allows them to have a union contract and a negotiated salary.

Average Librarian Annual Salary

$60,760

The average annual salary for librarians is $60,760 a year. Salaries start at $34,300 a year and go up to $91,620 a year.

Average Librarian Hourly Wage

$29.21

The average hourly wage for a librarian is $29.21. Hourly wages are between $16.49 and $44.05 an hour.

Stats were based out of 126,800 employed librarians in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Librarians

Top Paying Cities For Librarians


Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Librarian Career Outlook

Employment for librarians is expected to grow by 9 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is about the average rate of growth for all jobs in the United States. This will result in about 13,000 new jobs being created during this 10-year time period.

Libraries are often employed by certain industries, such as the local city or town government, or public or private schools, or colleges or universities. Each of these industries has an operational budget. Budget limitations, especially in local governments and public schools, often limit the hiring of workers. Those wishing to be a school librarian or a town librarian may have difficulty finding a position.

Librarian Degree

The first step to becoming a librarian is receiving your bachelor’s degree. There is no required degree to become a librarian. However, many people choose programs in English, communications, creative writing, literature, or a similar subject. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.

After receiving your bachelor’s degree, you will need to receive your Master’s in Library Science. This program typically takes two years to complete. In this program you will get an in-depth look at what it takes to become a librarian. You will take specialized courses in library science.

People who want to work as public school librarians will need a teaching certification, just like the teachers who work in the school. This requires passing standardized testing such as the PRAXIS Library Media test. Some states may require certification for librarians in public libraries. Be sure to check your state for their requirements.

Librarian Coursework

Below we have listed some of the typical courses that are included in a master’s of library science program. Please note that these are only some of the courses and there are more courses than these.

Administration of School Libraries: Students will study libraries and their role in the instructional programs of the school. They will learn about the leadership roles of school librarians, management of library personnel, budgets, facility planning, state and national school standards, evaluations, and more.

Children’s Literature: Students study traditional genres such as picture books, romance, adventure, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, tales, and more as they relate to grades K-5. The course focuses on literature written for children in this age range.

Reference and Information Systems: In this course, students learn about the many tools that librarians use for reference services. They study print, electronic databases, indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, government documents, specialized materials, and more.

Librarian Career Path

Career Overview Responsibilities Education Required Benefits
Library Director A library director is responsible for managing a library, typically a public town library, but in some cases also a college, university or school library. Their responsibilities include managing the staff at the library, hiring and firing staff, overseeing the budget for the library, purchasing new books for circulation, deciding on programming for the library, community outreach, publicizing programs and features at the library, and more. A master’s degree in library science is required, plus several years of experience in libraries. Directors are the managers of their team. This is a great position for somebody with several years of library experience who wants a more managerial role. Also, library directors receive a higher paying salary.

Related Librarian Careers

A librarian is a great career for those who enjoy sharing knowledge with others and want to help others learn. If you are considering becoming a librarian, there are other careers you may want to consider as well.

Elementary School Teachers: Elementary school teachers are responsible for instructing young students in basic subjects and introducing children to the fundamentals of learning.

Library Assistant: Library assistants help librarians with running a library, including things like organizing books, checking out books and other materials, and performing administrative tasks.

Art Curator: Art curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, often in museums. They conduct programming for museums and other institutions.

More Careers To Explore

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