Is becoming a librarian right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do librarians do?
Career Satisfaction
Are librarians happy with their careers?
What are librarians like?

Still unsure if becoming a librarian is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a librarian or another similar career!

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How to become a Librarian

Becoming a librarian involves a combination of education and practical experience. Here is a guide on how to become a librarian:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: While specific undergraduate majors are not always required, many library science graduate programs prefer candidates with a strong academic background. Choose a major that aligns with your interests, such as English, history, or a related field.
  • Earn a Master's Degree in Library Science (MLS or MLIS): Most librarian positions require a Master's Degree in Library Science. Look for programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Common coursework includes information organization, reference services, and library management.
  • Gain Relevant Experience: Gain practical experience by working or volunteering in libraries, archives, or related settings. This can help you build relevant skills, make connections in the field, and enhance your resume.
  • Develop Skills: Librarians often work with digital resources and information management systems. Familiarize yourself with library software, databases, and other relevant technologies. Librarians need strong communication skills to interact with patrons, colleagues, and other professionals. Develop your ability to convey information clearly and assist diverse audiences.
  • Consider Specialization: Depending on your interests, consider specializing in areas like youth services, academic libraries, archives, digital libraries, or information technology. Specializations can help you tailor your career path.
  • Networking: Become a member of library associations such as the American Library Association (ALA) or state-level library associations. Attend conferences, workshops, and networking events to connect with professionals in the field.
  • Certifications (Optional): While not always required, certifications can enhance your credentials. For example, the American Library Association offers certification programs like the Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA) and the Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC).
  • Prepare for Job Search: Highlight your education, relevant experience, and skills in your resume. Tailor your cover letter to emphasize your passion for librarianship and how you can contribute to a specific library. Check job boards, library websites, and professional organizations for librarian positions. Apply for entry-level or assistant librarian positions to start your career.

Librarians can obtain various certifications to enhance their professional knowledge and skills. They can choose to pursue one or more of these certifications based on their interests and career goals.

  • Master of Library Science (MLS): This is a graduate degree in library science and is the most common requirement for professional librarians.
  • Certified Public Librarian (CPL): This certification is offered by the American Library Association (ALA) and requires passing an exam to demonstrate knowledge of public library administration, services, and collections.
  • Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC): This certification is offered by the ALA and is designed for support staff working in libraries. It requires passing an exam and demonstrating competency in library services, technology, and communication skills.
  • Specialist Certification in Library Administration (SCOLA): This certification is offered by the ALA and requires candidates to demonstrate proficiency in library administration through an exam.
  • Digital Archives Specialist (DAS): This certification is offered by the Society of American Archivists and is designed for professionals working in digital archives. It requires passing an exam and demonstrating knowledge of digital preservation, metadata, and access.
  • Information Governance Professional (IGP): This certification is offered by the Information Governance Certification Council and is designed for professionals working in records management, archives, and information governance.
  • Certified Records Manager (CRM): This certification is offered by the Institute of Certified Records Managers and is designed for professionals working in records management. It requires passing an exam and demonstrating knowledge of records management principles, practices, and technologies.

Helpful Resources
Librarians can access a variety of resources to enhance their professional development, stay informed about industry trends, and connect with the broader library community. Here are some helpful resources for librarians:

  • American Library Association (ALA): The ALA is the largest library association in the world. It offers resources, professional development opportunities, and advocacy for librarians. Members can access publications, attend conferences, and participate in specialized divisions based on their interests.
  • Library of Congress Professional Development Opportunities: The Library of Congress provides professional development opportunities, workshops, and webinars for librarians. Topics cover a range of areas, including cataloging, digital initiatives, and preservation.
  • Public Library Association (PLA): A division of the ALA, the PLA focuses on public libraries. It provides resources, training, and support for public librarians, including publications, webinars, and conferences.
  • Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): ACRL is a division of the ALA that specifically addresses the needs of academic and research librarians. It offers professional development, publications, and advocacy for academic librarians.
  • Special Libraries Association (SLA): SLA is an association for professionals working in special libraries. It provides resources, networking opportunities, and professional development for librarians in various specialized fields.
  • Library Journal: Library Journal is a leading publication in the library field, providing news, reviews, and insights. Librarians can access articles, reviews, and information on current trends and best practices.
  • Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA): LISA is a database that provides access to literature in library and information science. It includes articles, conference proceedings, and book reviews, offering a comprehensive overview of research in the field.
  • Library Link of the Day: This website provides a daily curated selection of library-related news, articles, and resources, keeping librarians informed about developments in the field.
  • Libraries Transform (ALA Campaign): Libraries Transform is an initiative by the ALA that showcases the transformative power of libraries. It provides resources, toolkits, and marketing materials to help librarians advocate for the value of libraries in their communities.
  • State Library Associations: Many states have their own library associations that offer resources, events, and networking opportunities. For example, the California Library Association (CLA) and the Texas Library Association (TLA) provide state-specific support for librarians.