Is becoming a music librarian right for me?

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

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How to become a Music Librarian

A career as a music librarian is a rewarding one for those who have a passion for music and a commitment to preserving musical heritage. With the right education, experience, and connections, you can become a valued member of the music community and play a vital role in helping musicians, researchers, and music lovers access the resources they need to further their knowledge and understanding of music.

Here are the steps you can follow to become a music librarian:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Music or a Related Field: A Bachelor's Degree in Music, Music Theory and Composition, or a related field will provide you with a solid foundation in musical knowledge and understanding.
  • Complete a Master's Degree: A Master's Degree in Library Science (MLS) is usually required for employment as a music librarian. A Master's Degree in Music, although not required to become a music librarian, can certainly be helpful and may be preferred by some employers. The specific requirements for becoming a music librarian will vary depending on the institution and the job description.
  • Gain Relevant Experience: Consider obtaining relevant experience by working as a library assistant, volunteering at a local library, or completing a library science internship.
  • Pass the Library Science Certification Exam: Many states require music librarians to pass the Library Science certification exam to become licensed.
  • Stay Informed About the Field: Attend professional conferences, read relevant publications, and participate in professional organizations to stay informed about new developments and best practices in the field.
  • Build Your Network: Build relationships with other music librarians, musicians, and researchers to expand your network and increase your opportunities for employment.
  • Apply For Jobs: Once you have completed your education and gained relevant experience, you can start applying for music librarian positions.

Certifications and Professional Development
Certifications and professional development opportunities can help music librarians stay current with the latest trends and best practices in the field, as well as enhance their skills and expertise. Here are a few of the most notable:

  • Music Library Association Certification: The Music Library Association (MLA) offers a certification program for music librarians. The program includes a comprehensive exam that covers music bibliography, cataloging, reference services, and collection development. Candidates who pass the exam receive a certificate and are recognized as experts in music librarianship.
  • Continuing Education: Music librarians may also participate in continuing education programs and workshops to stay current with trends in music librarianship and build their skills. The MLA offers online courses and webinars on a variety of topics, such as copyright law, music reference, and collection development.
  • Music Cataloging Bulletin Board: The Music Cataloging Bulletin Board is an online community of music librarians who share information and resources related to music cataloging. Members can ask questions, share best practices, and stay up-to-date on changes to cataloging standards.
  • Professional Associations: Music librarians may also join professional associations, such as the MLA or the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC). These organizations provide networking opportunities, access to resources and publications, and advocacy for the field of music librarianship.

Online Resources
There are a variety of online resources available for music librarians, including:

  • Music Library Association (MLA): The MLA website offers a wealth of information and resources for music librarians, including job listings, conference information, publications, and more. They also have a listserv where members can connect and share information.
  • International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML): IAML is an international organization that promotes the activities of music libraries, archives, and documentation centers. Their website provides information about their activities, publications, and events.
  • Library of Congress: The Library of Congress has a Music Division that provides access to their music collections and resources. They also offer a number of online resources for music librarians, including their digital collections, research guides, and online exhibitions.
  • Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG): MOUG is a professional organization for music librarians who use OCLC WorldCat to catalog music materials. Their website provides information about their activities, resources, and events.
  • Music Reference Services Quarterly: This is a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the role of reference services in music libraries. It includes articles on a wide range of topics related to music librarianship and reference services.
  • RILM Abstracts of Music Literature: RILM is an international database of abstracts and indexes for music literature. It provides access to articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings, and more. It can be a valuable resource for music librarians looking to stay up-to-date on the latest research in music.