How to Become a Librarian

A great alternative title for a librarian is information manager. According to LibraryJournal.com, if you’re interested in this career, you have lot of options beyond working in public, academic, school and corporate libraries. As someone who manages information, you can work in nearly an organization that needs information management.

Initial homework

LibraryJournal suggests browsing through the American Library Association (ALA) web site to learn about the different types of librarianship and the resources the association can provide. You’ll find information readily available on working in academic or public libraries. You can also check out expectations for employment in school media centers or libraries, in special libraries and in other information careers such as records or database management that use library science as a basis.

You’ll also want to interview some librarians working in various areas to see if what they do appeals to you. Also be sure to ask what they enjoy most about their work. LibraryJournal suggests searching for and subscribing to several blogs maintained by working librarians.


Most professional library science positions require a master’s degree accredited by the ALA. This degree is in library and information sciences and is granted a number of ways: MLS, MLIS, MSIS, MSLS, MA in LIS or MS in LIS. The title of the degree depends upon the school granting it. While many students enroll in a graduate program in library science immediately after receiving a bachelor’s degree, for a growing number, librarianship is a second career.

Positions that don’t require a master’s degree typically pay less of a salary than that of a professional librarian and require paraprofessional duties. LibraryJournal stresses that graduates of a master’s program should plan on the need to relocate to find a job after finishing their degrees.


You can find a list of accredited schools on the ALA web site. Most of these schools don’t require a particular undergraduate major for entrance.

Some colleges follow a model similar to that of the University of Michigan. It has a school of information rather than a library science school. These programs are ideal if you want to focus on a job in areas like human-computer interaction, informatics or social computing or if you simply want to use your training in a nontraditional occupation.

In the past, most prospective MLS students chose the school closest to them. However, since so many schools now offer distance education alternatives, you now have a greater choice of places to study.

Financing a degree

All graduate school programs can be expensive. You will want to consider that library careers are not the highest-paying options as you decide how to finance your education. Applying for financial aid for an MLS or similar degree program is no different from applying for other types of graduate aid. It should start by contacting the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.

Sometimes intending to specialize in specific subfields makes you eligible for certain scholarships. The lisjobs.com site is an excellent place to research scholarships.

If you already work in a library at an academic institution, check to see if you’re eligible for a tuition waiver or other assistance.

Market yourself

LibraryJournal suggests that an MLS or equivalent degree is the minimum credential you’ll need to become a librarian. You should also plan to get professionally involved with a student membership in the ALA and should get library experience by completing an internship or taking on a part-time job before graduation.


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