What Librarians Need to Know

Below is a sample of what is often required for librarian job positions. Don't worry if some of the requirements sound confusing! More information is available to help you with some of the tougher decisions.


The requirements for a librarian position can span the range below:

  • Four-year undergraduate degree in any field
  • Master of library science degree (MLS)
  • MLS degree from an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited school
  • ALA-accredited MLS degree plus a teaching certificate (often the case in school libraries) or an ALA-accredited MLS plus a second masters degree, e.g., a law degree


  • Desire to meet and serve the library's user community
  • Ability to think analytically and to develop new or revised systems, procedures, and work flow
  • Ability to exercise initiative and independent judgment
  • Knowledge of computers, the internet, and commercially available library software
  • Knowledge of a foreign language for communities with non-English speaking populations
  • Ability to prepare comprehensive reports and present ideas clearly and concisely in written and oral form
  • Ability to make administrative decisions, interpret policies, and supervise staff
  • Ability to motivate, establish and maintain effective working relationships with associates, supervisors, volunteers, other community agencies and the public
  • Knowledge of the philosophy and techniques of library service
  • Ability to organize job duties and work independently
  • Demonstrated knowledge of library materials and resources
  • Creativity to develop and implement library programs and services
  • Ability to communicate both orally and in writing
  • Positive attitude toward library users with special needs
  • Accuracy and skill in typing


  • It's best to have some experience working in a library before graduating. This can be as a volunteer, page, library assistant, or even as part of an internship or graduate school project. Some libraries allow students who have demonstrated sufficient progress towards their library science masters degree to begin working as a librarian.

Career path

  • Librarians who excel in their area of work and are interested in management may make excellent candidates for a managerial position, such as a department head, branch manager, or assistant director. The job of library director may also be a natural next step, especially in the case of smaller libraries.

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