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Tips on Becoming a Librarian

Becoming a librarian can be a very rewarding career where you will be able to share your knowledge and help others. There are three different types of librarians in the workforce today: academic, public, and private.

Academic librarians work within different levels of academia, including grade school through university level positions. Public librarians work in city or county libraries and interact mostly with the general public. Private librarians work for hospitals or corporations who have their own private library. There are ways to gain experience in the different types of librarianship positions available. Here are some tips for helping you to plan a career as a librarian.

Consider your undergraduate degree.
To become a librarian, you must have an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. While earning your MLS is required, giving some thought to your undergraduate degree may be help you in attaining your goals. Most academic and private librarian positions may look highly upon those who have specialized undergraduate degrees.

For instance, a hospital may feel that an applicant with an MLS and an undergraduate degree in biology is more suited for a hospital librarian position. Universities usually have several libraries within their library system, such as Math, Natural Science, Music, etc... and a librarian for each of those specialized types of libraries may do better if they are versed in the subject matter.

Work part-time at a library on campus throughout college.
Most colleges and universities offer library assistant positions to enrolled students. Consider working part-time at a library while completing your undergraduate or graduate work. This will give you an opportunity to see first-hand how an academic library functions and perhaps gain some insight from those currently in the academic librarian positions.

Volunteer or work at a public library.
Public libraries are always looking for volunteers to help. Consider spending a couple of hours a week volunteering at your local library. If you do choose to volunteer make certain that you are able to work in areas that will give you the most insight into how a public library functions. Learning the different library systems will also help to enhance your resume.

Make contacts.
If you are working or volunteering at a library, make certain that you make and keep those contacts. They will be useful for reference letters when applying for graduate school or looking for employment.

Obtain your Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS).
Most librarian positions will require applicants to have obtained their MLS degree. When researching graduate schools make certain that the MLS program is accredited by the American Librarian Association (ALA). Most positions will only accept ALA-accredited MLS or MLIS degrees for their positions. There are some MLS and MLIS programs that are based on-line which may be convenient if you are planning on working full-time while attending graduate school.

Start applying for jobs six months prior to graduating with your MLS or MLIS.
Once you have about a semester left prior to graduating you can start looking for open librarian positions. Most positions will accept applications from those who are close to graduating. In addition, the hiring process may take a while so it is best to start looking for a position even before you graduate.



Nov 18, 2010 8:00pm
Great info for the job I've wanted for a long time, thanks!
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