What Library Directors Need to Know

Library director jobs perhaps offer the largest range of duties in the library world. In a rural setting, the director may be the only regularly scheduled employee. In a large urban setting, the "city librarian" or director may oversee a staff of hundreds and fifty branches. In the small library the director may handle everything from locking the doors to paying the bills. In a large library the director may have maintenance and accounting departments.


The requirements for a library director 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

Confused? Don't worry, the Next Steps section on the bottom of this page will help you!


  • 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
  • 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
  • Employs management techniques effectively in directing, planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating, budgeting, and evaluating the library's operation


  • Typically ten years of experience as a librarian with five years of managerial or administrative experience although will vary greatly by size of library and responsibilities of the job
  • Demonstrated interest in professional development through attending workshops and conferences

Career path

  • Library directors typically seek other leadership positions that may offer new opportunities such as a new building or renovation project, greater challenges in terms of size of library, and a variety of other factors. Directors who start out in smaller libraries may seek library manager positions in larger libraries.

Finding a job

  • Library director positions are often posted in library publications, such as American Libraries, Library Journal, Library Hotline, and electronically on library electronic discussion lists, library websites, library cooperative websites, and state association websites.


If you are interested in becoming a library director, below are the next steps to consider per your education. You may begin at any step:

read more about it:

Library Administration and Management Association

The Accidental Library Manager by Rachel Singer Gordon (2005)