How To Become a Librarian

Student and librarian

For those of us who grew up loving books and thriving in libraries, being a librarian is a dream job. For others, the job may not sound too inviting - a notion that owes its existence partly to the usual stereotype of librarians as stern-looking old ladies. But for those in the know, a librarian's task is not confined to books, nor is it boring. A librarian is faced daily with numerous and challenging duties.

Go around the libraries in your neighborhood and get the feel of things. Observe the librarians and see for yourself what their various responsibilities are. If possible, ask them questions about the job. Do you see yourself doing the same things and enjoying them? If so, you're on the right track. Read on.

To become a librarian, you must have an undergraduate degree, because most libraries require that a librarian have a master's degree in library science (MLS). In larger libraries, a Ph.D degree in library science might even be required. You cannot possibly have these degrees unless you have an undergraduate degree first.

There is no preferred undergraduate course, but it is strongly advised that you take a course that will teach you about information management and technology, as librarians deal with information daily. Librarians spend a substantial amount of time researching and answering queries from people. Moreover, in this time and age, most library catalogs are not written on paper but are stored in databases. Thus, the need for librarians to be technology-savvy.

While studying, work part-time at your local or university library as an assistant or part of the clerical staff. Sign up as a volunteer in a public library or in a local reading room. This will look good on your resume once you start applying, but more than that, it will help you gain experience in managing a library.

There are specialized fields for librarians. Know which one you prefer. If you want to specialize in children's library services, start training early by getting acquainted with children's literature, or even do volunteer work in daycare centers, where you'll learn how to deal with children. Later on, you can take more formal courses for the area you like.

To know which graduate school to go to for your MLS, check the website of the American Library Association (ALA) for a list of colleges and universities that have ALA-accredited programs in library science. Choose a school that is most strategically located for you, and which is within your budget. While studying, link up with a professional library organization. Doing so will help you in networking, in getting regular updates about the profession and in finding a job in the future.

Once you're ready to apply, know what kind of library you want to work in - a public or a school library. There are still other kinds of libraries, such as those in private corporations. Once you've decided, look for job openings in websites or visit the libraries themselves.

Be confident. As long as you've prepared well, you won't have any problem establishing a career as a librarian.


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