Do you have a passion for books? Are you a person with good public service and eager to learn about new technologies in providing informative knowledge? Being a librarian must be just the right career for you. Learning how to become a librarian may be something you should consider.
Information specialists, or commonly known as librarians, are experts that works in a library. They are responsible for the entire operation and performance of the library. They teach people where to look for the information they are searching for. They do a lot of tasks from organizing books to handling technical matters.
Here are some ways in order for you to become a librarian.
1. Review the profession
Many people think that librarians are people who only work to arrange books in the library. This is true, but the work of a librarian can be quite complex and varied.
- In order to be a librarian, you must have the skills in order to be one. These skills are usually learned while in school, but having interest in learning these skills is the best way to start your journey towards becoming a librarian.
As a librarian, you will be creating an organizing information directories and systems. These will help you organize books and other resources in order to meet the needs of the readers.
- Capable of handling technical duties
Aside from working with physical books, librarians are also expected to do technical services. Most libraries make use of technology in order to keep their resources organized.
Since the world of technology is becoming apparent, most libraries also make use of computer databases as a source of information. As a result, librarians will need to know how to use these databases and assists users in using them as well.
- Ability to perform administrative tasks
A part of your work as a librarian is to do administrative task, among this is managing library personnel and collaborating with library equipment and material contractors.
2. What type of librarian you would want to be?
This question can only be answered by you. In choosing a specialization, it is best to choose the one that interests you the most. There are several types of libraries:
(a) Academic Libraries
As an academic librarian, you will be working in colleges and universities where you will be providing service for students, staffs and faculty members.
- Most employers would be requiring academic librarians to complete a second master’s that would be useful in order to be eligible for a faculty status.
- Faculty status allows librarians to render exceptional contribution to the academic institution, which makes you responsible of giving importance to research, publication and service improvements, in addition to your daily duties.
- The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) provides an in depth information about the standards and guidelines of the faculty status for academic librarians.
(b) Public Libraries
As a public librarian, you will be working with and serving local communities of every size. This type of library caters to and is open to all age groups.
- The Public Library Association (PLA) is an organization that provides programs for public librarians in terms of advancements, continuing education and other programs necessary to hone the skills of their members.
- Most public libraries also provide specific job positions for public librarians. If you choose to be a public librarian, you may focus on areas like children literature and librarianship, reader’s advisory, collection development and a lot more.
(c) School Libraries
School librarians, also know as media specialists, work in k-12 institutions.
- Public school libraries require school librarians to have a state teacher or media certification on top of their MLS. Each school may have different requirements from one to another. Be sure to check on your state’s requirement.
- Private schools may not require you to be certified, but private school media specialists are paid less and job opportunity is scarce.
- The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) provides concrete information on standards for aspiring school librarians.
(d) Special Libraries
As a special librarian, you may be working in museums, associations and other specialized settings. Special librarianship is indeed an extensive profession, which entails subgroups where you can work as law, health or medical librarian.
- The Special Libraries Association (SLA) will provide you the standards and guidelines in starting your career as a special librarian.
3. Start to gain experience while in high school
If you really have the interest to be a librarian, you can start gaining experience while in high school. It is best to start education as soon as possible.
- Working as a student librarian or part-time library staff will expose you to the library setting. This will give you the opportunity to assess whether being a librarian suits for you.
4. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
Most public and academic libraries require librarians to obtain a master’s degree in library science (MLS) in order to land a job. This program doesn’t have a specific undergraduate degree requirement in order to enroll for the MLS.
- While there is no specific course required in order to complete an MLS, it is best to complete courses that would be a great help when starting your career as a librarian. This can include English, foreign languages, literature, administrative courses or computer degrees.
- Complete necessary requirements to complete your bachelor’s degree.
5. Complete a Master’s degree in ALA accredited programs.
Since most of the librarian positions will be requiring you to obtain an MLS, it is best to enroll in colleges and universities that offer ALA accredited MLS programs.
- The American Library Association (ALA) is an accrediting body that provides leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services. They provide a list of accredited library and information science programs in their website.
- When choosing for a program, you must also consider some factors that will help you decide which programs best suits you.
a. You have to choose programs from a location where you would like to pursue your studies.
b. You may also choose some accredited programs that offer distant learning opportunities.
c. Tuition fees for an MLS education may vary from one program to another. Choose a program that best suits your budget. You can also check in the ALA website for programs that provides financial assistance.
d. You may also secure a letter of recommendation from your college professor or employer as most school will be requiring this.
- While in school, most programs will require internships. This will give weight to your resume once you start finding a job as most employer prefer candidates with previous experience in a library setting.
- After completing the master’s degree, you can then start your career as a librarian.
6. Apply for a job
After getting hold of your master’s degree title you can then start working on your resume. It is best for you to join professional organizations like ALA, or one of it's divisions like the SLA, AASL, PLA, or ACRL depending on the type of librarian you wanted to be.
- Distribute as many resumes as you can to probable employers, especially at job fairs and library conferences. You may start this in your local libraries or at the ALA Placement Services.
- Look for jobs in the ALA Joblist that is found on their website.
- You may also check online for other library websites and library schools that posts job openings online.
With all the requirements you need to complete in order to become a librarian, it is indeed a demanding but a rewarding job as well. Your goal is to deliver information to the people, assisting them in acquiring knowledge and opening a variety of information source that will make studying and learning much easier.
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