How Do You Become a School Librarian?

Reading opens up a world of possibilities to children of all ages, and becoming a school librarian can allow an educational professional to participate in the process. The content of books can inspire creativity, inform and even shape future career choices. School librarians are often the first to recommend books on subjects of interest, and today’s librarians have knowledge of even broader resources due to technological advancements relating to multimedia.

The role of school librarian is often looked upon as a fun job within the public educational system, but those who fill this position often face more challenges to reach their career goals than standard classroom teachers.

Although requirements to become a school librarian vary by state, here are some of the typical steps that aspiring school librarians take to enter the profession.

Academic Background

The role of school librarian is considered a niche job within the public school teaching profession, and future school librarians usually start their educational experiences just like traditional classroom instructors by gaining undergraduate degrees.

While it may not be required, aspiring school librarians mostly choose undergraduate majors that reflect their specialization. Instead of gaining a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Early Childhood Education, these professionals may choose to pursue a B.S. in Library Science and Media. Standard classroom instructors only need a four year, undergraduate degree to qualify for their state teaching license.

In some states, school librarians often need advanced degrees to gain positions as librarians at public schools. A popular choice for an advanced degree for school librarians is a Master of Science in Library and Information Science.

During their time at university, librarian candidates should seek out relevant internships if their academic programs do not already require them for graduation. These opportunities give future librarians valuable, real world work experience and allow them to develop their professional network.

Any academic program that is chosen by a librarian candidate should be accredited and endorsed by the American Library Association (ALA).

Professional License and Certification

Just like classroom teachers, nearly all school librarians must hold state teaching licenses. Besides undergraduate degrees and supervised field work sessions, teachers must pass standardized tests to gain their teaching licenses. Librarian candidates who gain undergraduate degrees in library science instead of in education often have to make special arrangements to accomplish the supervised, field work requirement for state licensure. After they gain their teaching licenses, future school librarians can take other tests to get Library Media endorsements or Teacher Librarian certificates added to their teaching licenses.

Career Development

Joining a professional association like ALA or the American Association of School Librarians is one of the most important steps in career development that a school librarian can take. Membership in these organizations exposes librarians to other educational professionals for networking activities. School librarians can also take advantage of continuing education courses that these organizations sponsor. Job boards for national and international positions are also available to members of these professional associations.


As technology becomes an increasingly important part of students’ educational experiences, the role of school librarian evolves. Students may not just expect these educators to point them in the direction of printed books that are located in their physical libraries as resources for school projects and reports. Instead, they rely on school librarians to expose them to publicly available digital resources that can help them to create interactive presentations for their school work. Becoming a school librarian involves learning about different academic resources that are available to students and teaching students how to use those research tools.

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