Becoming a Librarian

Q. One of our library assistants has decided he'd like to become a librarian. Where can I direct him for more information, particularly for a list of library schools?

A. Information on becoming a librarian can be found starting at ALA Education & Careers, which leads to more in-depth information in the areas of scholarships, careers in librarianship in general, education, and finally, employment resources. 

Also encourage your staff member to explore ALA's  and its information on the educational requirements of the various career paths.

Details concerning undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional and paraprofessional positions can be found at the ALA FAQ, under the question heading, "How can I become a librarian? Does ALA offer any classes?"

Undergraduate degrees and certificates in library science are usually associated with library paraprofessional work. Becoming a professional librarian usually requires having a master's degree in library and information science. The American Library Association is the professional organization that accredits the master's degree programs at over 60 universities all over the USA, in Canada, and in Puerto Rico. You can freely access the Directory of ALA-accredited master's programs in library and information studies from the ALA website courtesy of the ALA Office for Accreditation.

The ALA Scholarship Program -- -- assists students pursuing the master's degree in library science.  

Also check for the ALA publication, Working in the Virtual Stacks: The New Library and Information Science by Laura Townsend Kane. This title is on the public Library Careers list at, which you can use to see which books on librarianship are available at your local public library, by searching on your zip code.

An extensive list of resources has been compiled by the ALA Library at



I would also suggest the new collaborative project called Hack Library School. It is a blog written by, for and about LIS students — current and future. These are well-written and thoughtful posts about the current LIS degree and its rewards and challenges.

Ask MetaFilter ( is a great resource for would-be librarians, particularly for advice and opinions concerning the “dirty little secrets” you won’t discover in the official literature. I’m 1.5 semesters into the MLS program at SILS, UNC-Chapel Hill, and I found the forum helpful in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different library schools.