Q: I am considering a career change and have been thinking about getting my MLS. I am wondering what the job prospects are like for school librarians. Also what is the day to day career like? What do librarians like the most about their jobs? What do they like the least? What kind of job satisfaction do they have? Thank you so much for any information you can provide.
SM: Since neither Tiffany nor I are school librarians (often called school library media specialists), we cannot give you firsthand advice on what it is like to be one. However, we are quite good at providing information that might be useful:
- The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) site (although somewhat outdated) provides good information on recruitment to the profession, education and licensing, and finding jobs.
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, has information on the nature of the work, job outlook, and training and advancement.
- Meet Your New School Library Media Specialist by Eric Weil
- The School Library Media Specialist — Designed as a tool for a university course at Indiana University at Indianapolis.
- School Library Media Specialist Programs by Jonathan Swartz
- A Day in the Life of a School Librarian and Media Specialist Teacher
- 50 States’ Certification Requirements for teachers.
Find out if your State has a school library media association, and if so, check out their web site. They can provide you with information on specific certifications you may need and offer educational resources and tools. You can also look at your State’s Department of Education web site for information on teacher certification. Check out library job postings online to get a sense of how many jobs are available right now, and read the job listings to get an idea of what employers are looking for in an ideal job candidate. And finally, look into some library schools that offer a school library degree program to see what the curriculum is like and to find out more information on what it takes to get started.
I have a few friends who currently work, or have worked, as school librarians (or school library media specialists) and they tell me the best parts of the job are working with students and the schedule (which definitely has its advantages especially if you have school age kids yourself). I’ve heard that the job can be more like that of a classroom teacher than a traditional librarian, and in many schools, your closest colleagues are teachers. We would love to hear from our readers who happen to be school librarians. Please tell us what you love, and don’t love, about your job.