So you want to be a librarian?

Have you ever thought about being a librarian? Most people think of working in a library as a quiet, peaceful job that almost anyone can do. You help people find books, you put books back on the shelf, you enter information into the library database, and you tell people SSSHHHH! Not much to it, right?

What kind of librarian do you want to be? Photo by mrsdkrebs

What kind of librarian do you want to be? Photo by mrsdkrebs

It may surprise you to hear that Library Science is a very competitive field. Becoming a librarian is no easy task; it requires dedication, years of study and specialization, and a degree. Fortunately, many schools now offer degrees in Library Science entirely on line. But before you can even think about signing up for classes in the field, you need to make a few decisions, and understand a few things.

What kind of library do you want to work in? Do you want to work in a public library, for the city or county? Would you prefer to work in a elementary or high school library? Do you think you would enjoy working in a college library? Or maybe even a prison library? The kind of library you work in will determine what kind of patrons you will be serving, which makes a big difference in a job.

What’s your concentration? In all these different types of libraries, there are still different specializations. Archival studies, Library Outreach programs, Library Administration, Technical media, collections development, reference, youth services, and digital library systems are just a few of the many different concentrations a librarian can choose. It is possible to earn a degree with no concentration, but this may be a short-sighted choice, as the more specific knowledge you have about library science, the more valuable your degree will be.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree? This may be a shock, but you’re going to need a bachelor’s degree, and a good grade point average, and good scores on the GRE, just to be able to begin studying you’re your library science degree. Most libraries require a Masters degree in Library Science (MLS) or Library and Information Studies (MLIS) for all their librarians. That’s right – you can’t just wing it, you have to buckle down and get your Masters degree if you want to pursue a career as a librarian. Depending on the on line program you select, the curriculum will vary, but as a rule of thumb you will probably need about 36 semester hours to achieve this degree.

The American Library Association. This is where any prospective librarian is going to need to start. Their website gives a great overview of the profession, and the concentrations you can pursue. It also lists all the schools that are accredited – and if you’re going to go for a Masters in this field, it MUST be from a school or program accredited by the ALA. Otherwise, that degree will not help you get a librarian job.

The ALA is your starting point. Now you have to ask yourself these questions, and decide if being a librarian is what you want to do.

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