Learning about the Job
What does a school librarian do?
Today's school librarian works with both students and teachers to facilitate access to information in a wide variety of formats, instruct students and teachers how to acquire, evaluate and use information and the technology needed in this process, and introduces children and young adults to literature and other resources to broaden their horizons. As a collaborator, change agent, and leader, the school librarian develops, promotes and implements a program that will help prepare students to be effective users of ideas and information, a lifelong skill.
Librarycareers.org is a service of the American Library Association designed to promote interest, awareness, and information about careers in libraries. It serves as a starting point for anyone considering a library career.
So you want to become a librarian is a project of the Alliance Library System in Illinois. Their wiki includes information on becoming a librarian.
These resources provide a more detailed description of the school librarian's job:
- School Librarians: Sample Job Description. American Association of Librarians.
American Association of School Libraries. (2009). Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs. Chicago: American Library Association.
Toor, Ruth and Weisburg, Hilda K. (2015). New on the Job: A school librarian's guide to success. Chicago: American Library Association.
Coatney, Sharon. (2010). The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Staino, Rocco and Berkowicz, Jill. (2011). Looking for a School Librarian: What are the Qualifications? School Library Monthly, 27 (5), 50-51.
Valenza, Joyce. Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians
The 21st Century School Librarian: Literacy in a New Era. April, 2011 blog post by new librarian Laura Lee Calverley.
School librarians are generally on a similar salary schedule as teachers. Salaries go up with years of experience and amount of education in most cases. When transferring from district to district, a school librarian may be given credit for some, but possibly not all years of prior experience based on the teacher contract in the district. Occasionally school librarians will have a slightly extended contract to finish administrative tasks outside of the school year, but this is not common.
Teacher salaries vary from district to district, but averages can be found at:
- National Center for Education Statistics - Digest of Education Statistics, Average base salary of full time teachers in public elementary and secondary schools through 2011-2012
National Education Association - Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States and Estimates of School Statistics lists average salary of public school teachers by state.
- Librarians. Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mentoring or Job Shadowing Programs
Another way to learn about the job is to shadow a school librarian for a day. Contact your local schools or state professional organization to set up a visit. Once you are in a job, connecting with a mentor will help the new school librarian navigate through the challenges of a new career.
- Exchanging Jobs is a free Web site that offers job exchanges and job shadowing opportunities for librarians.
Reforma, the National Association to Provide Libraries and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, provides a mentorship program to assist those providing services to Latinos.