Q: What does it take to be a music librarian?

Q: I am a musician and a lawyer and I am looking to change careers.  What does it take to be a music librarian?

The first thing to do is to visit the Music Library Association’s (MLA) web site. They state that:

A music librarian is a librarian qualified to specialize in music. A broad musical background is essential, for music of any style, medium, or era can find a place in a library. Aptitude and training in both music and librarianship are necessary.

The MLA’s site offers great resources and services for those interested in music librarianship, including: workshops, resume review services, job postings, and a directory of library school offerings in music librarianship.

So, to sum up, in order to become a music librarian, you need two essential things:

  • a background in music (which can vary in degree depending on role and environment)
  • a masters degree in library science (MLS or equivalent)

You can also visit the American Library Association’s site for more information on accredited library schools, career paths, job listings, scholarships, and professional development.

Do your research before jumping into a new career. You will want to think about what type of library you would like to work in, and what clientele you would like to work with. Music librarians work in all different kinds of libraries: academic, research, public, and specialized (corporate, organization, etc.).  Each position will have different requirements and different duties. Seek out job ads for music librarians and find out what is required for different positions and different types of libraries.

Finally, visit music libraries, get in touch with music librarians, and if possible, volunteer or do an internship. Any hands-on experience you can get now will help you tremendously in the job search process down the road.

Best of luck!

Additional Resources:

To Be a Music Librarian by Paula Elliot

Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association (abstracts and TOCs for nonsubscribers)

Music Librarian Jobs

Job Openings – MLA Site

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