Turn a Page in Your Career: Become a School Librarian
School librarians manage the libraries—both books and Internet resources—that students use for their school research, and make sure that their library materials are up-to-date.
Traditionally, school librarians have managed the distribution of printed information within a limited community. Over the years, the job description for school librarians has expanded to become a multifaceted and exciting career with near endless scope in the computer age.
If you would like to learn how to become a school librarian, read on to see what exciting opportunities await.
Sharing Knowledge and Information
Much more than the traditional Dewey decimal or Library of Congress system subscribers, school librarians unite students with information using the most advanced resources available. As new technologies are created and mainstreamed, librarians create systems that provide the information in an organized manner to meet student needs. Some school librarian responsibilities include the following:
- Analyzing school and student needs to determine appropriate informational sources
- Finding reliable source information and distributing it
- Classifying information in a user-friendly way
- Writing summaries and abstracts
- Showing students and teachers how to access information
- Overseeing library management and administration
- Supervising employees and volunteers
- Fundraising and public relations
- Managing a budget
Shhh, You’re in a Library
A school librarian’s workplace is one of constant discovery and interaction. Using the most current technologies, librarians spend most of their time helping students troll the Internet and locate printed materials for resources and information.
Research requires a considerable amount of time viewing computer monitors and walking students to source locations. Libraries often have volunteer staff to aid in sorting and shelving materials, as well as other responsibilities; however, lifting and shelving books and climbing ladders to access upper stacks is usually part of the job.
Enjoy Vacation Benefits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for librarians is $57,680. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
School librarians, like most teachers, enjoy perks, such as holiday and vacation time, that most careers do not offer. While many of these full-time opportunities exist for qualified library teachers, there are a significant number of part-time jobs available as well. If you are interested in working in an educational setting without the struggles of daily lesson plans and lectures, becoming a school librarian might be for you.
Training and Certification
Certification requirements for library teachers vary among states. Some require a bachelor’s degree and regular state teacher certification. Others require library teachers to have a master’s degree in library science or a master’s degree in education (MEd).
Master’s programs in library science and education prepare you for the job in different ways. A library science degree will prepare you for library jobs outside of the educational system, while an education degree will better equip you to move into other teaching positions in your school.
If you choose a library science program, you are sure to take classes in the following disciplines:
- foundations of library and information science
- intellectual freedom and censorship
- cataloguing and indexing
- research strategies
- customer / user service
- online reference systems
- Internet search methods
- automated circulation systems
- library administration
The American Association of School Librarians encourages all future school librarians to attend programs accredited by the American Library Association or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to ensure the quality of the education program.
If learning and sharing knowledge excite you, then a career as a school librarian could be the perfect fit. The work is intriguing and gratifying as you discover new insights and inspire young minds, searching for answers to the unlimited variety of questions posed by students. Your reward is the great sense of accomplishment you’ll get every time you solve a young person’s mystery and expand his or her world.