With libraries facing critical cuts at all levels of government, school librarians face an uphill battle, but there is no battle that’s more worth fighting. These educators work in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, organizing media and technology for classrooms, creating lists and databases of reference services, and provide information needed by teachers and students alike.
Librarians do so much more than just check out books. They’re advocates for information literacy and they help to build upon and improve their patrons’ passion for learning. Learn about the exciting career of being a school librarian, how to enter this job and the responsibilities and requirements for service.
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What Does a School Librarian Do?
The primary job of a school librarian is to teach students about library resources and how to best use them. They maintain an information center for the school, and make available research materials as well as technology and improved access to information of all types.
Librarians help teachers to gather classroom resources and champion information freedom and access. They certainly provide books and other materials, but above all else, librarians are there to advocate for the services they provide, and to help build and increase excitement for learning and knowledge.
Knowledge and Skills of a Librarian
Librarians go through extensive training in information science and technology. They understand how information works, the relationships between pieces of information, the concepts of networks and research, as well as the latest technologies for accessing information. They know how to build collections based on the specific needs of their patrons, including which materials to purchase and add, and which materials to weed out.
They serve as database administrators, have advanced computer and research skills, and creative problem-solvers. They can assess the reading level of a patron as well as recommend books and other information that will be of interest and at the learning level of the student. They can help teachers and administrators build sets of course materials. They supervise volunteers, staff and assistant librarians. They continually educate themselves as to the best practices in information technology.
Becoming a School Librarian
While most teachers obtain a degree in education, school librarians must pursue a master’s in library and information science (MLIS) with a focus on school librarianship. This degree program usually involves a practical internship working in a school library, followed by testing to gain certification in a given state. School librarians must also obtain criminal background checks to enable them to work with children.
This is a very specific and specialized course of education which usually takes between 18 months and two years to complete, but the end result is a very rewarding career. Librarians have some of the highest job satisfaction ratings of any career. This means it’s also a very competitive field. On average, school librarians earn a median salary of around $58,480 in primary and secondary school, and an average salary of $60,300 for those who work in colleges and universities.
If you have a passion for information and for improving access to information in all ways, from the newest technology to basic analog methods, and you are eager to advocate for student needs, check out the pathway to become a school librarian in your state.