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Get a Job in a Library

A librarian's role depends on the size and type of institution where you want to work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for librarians to grow by 7 percent by 2022, or more slowly than other occupations. Reciting details of your resume won't help in such a competitive climate. Instead, plan on explaining how your hiring fits the job description and helps the library to accomplish its goals.

Basic Educational Requirements

The major credential for most jobs is a master's degree in library science, for which any undergraduate major is acceptable. Programs generally last one to two years, with a focus on organizing information, research strategies and selection of materials, according to the American Library Association. Employers in specialized settings like corporate, medical and law libraries also typically expect applicants to obtain a Ph.D. or master's and professional degree in their chosen subject, as well.

Certification and Licensing

Some openings require additional credentials. For example, school librarians must also hold teaching certificates, and some states require additional certification to work in public libraries, the BLS advises. Depending on the state, you may also need to pass an assessment like the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist Test. Still other employers may expect applicants to get a degree from an ALA-accredited course, which isn't mandatory but helps access better job opportunities, the BLS notes.

Essential Skills

The size and type of institution determine a librarian's job duties. For example, librarians in smaller communities oversee most functions -- such as budgeting, cataloging and customer service -- with help from support staff and technicians, the BLS indicates. By contrast, librarians working for larger employers focus on one major operational aspect, like administrative or technical services. Regardless of the setting, however, librarians must cultivate strong communication, problem-solving and technology skills to keep up with constantly changing trends in those areas.

Other Considerations

Libraries often want new employees to do new things. Pay attention to job ads that emphasize attributes like strong customer service, since you'll probably be called on to fix problems in those areas, asserts "Publishers Weekly" editor Brian Kenney in the magazine's August 2013 article, "How to Land a Library Job." Also, a review of board meeting minutes, blog posts, local newspaper stories and websites will yield clues about how the library serves the area -- and will assist you in framing answers that impress a selection committee.

Outlook and Opportunities

Of the 148,000 jobs that librarians held in 2012, 38 percent worked for elementary and secondary schools, according to the BLS. Local governing bodies -- excluding schools and hospitals -- accounted for the second largest category, at 29 percent. The BLS expects competition for jobs to hold steady as schools and governments confront budget problems that favor technicians or assistants who can provide services for a lower cost. Prospects should improve later in the decade, however, as older librarians leave the field.



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