How to Become a Public Librarian


It used to be that a librarian worked almost 100 percent with printed resources. Today's librarians mostly work with non-printed materials such as computerized database resources, CDs, DVDs and the Internet. It is a career projected to have excellent job prospects in the future due to the fact that two out of three librarians are age 45 or above and will retire in the next 10 years. There are some basic educational requirements to become a public librarian, so read on to learn how to enter this profession.

  • All public librarian positions require a Master's degree in library science (MLS). MLS programs are offered by most colleges and universities, but only 56 programs are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Those schools are generally looked upon as the only acceptable ones by many employers. Some examples of accredited schools include the University of Michigan, Rutgers, University of California Los Angeles, Florida State University and many others. See the websites listed below in the Resources section.

  • To be accepted into an MLS program, a person must have earned a Bachelor's degree, typically in the liberal arts as opposed to the sciences. Some states require librarians to become teachers, while others require an MLS degree. It is not unusual for a school to require a Master's degree in education with a specialization in library science.

  • The requirements to work as a public school librarian vary from state to state. More than half of all states require school librarians to become certified.

  • Other qualifications may include a specialization requiring a Master's, doctoral or professional degree in a subject. It is typical for law librarians to have law degrees and medical librarians to have medical training, but most public libraries do not require an additional graduate degree.

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