How to Become a Librarian

Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke
Professional development expert and National Urban Literacy Consultant; M.A. in Literacy and Culture
Young, female librarian sorts books on a bookshelf in a library.

What Does a School Librarian Do?

A school librarian is a key individual in promoting literacy in K-12 education, especially in elementary and middle school. In both high school and higher education, librarians support the student population in literature appreciation, gathering information, and understanding research. They truly create an environment that promotes life-long reading and learning.

School librarians at any level are responsible for instructing students and teachers to acquire information, demonstrating the use of technology for research and writing, and introducing readers of all ages to new books and resources. Daily, librarians teach literacy and library lessons for elementary school classes. They introduce children to new books through regular read-aloud experiences, constantly order new books to increase their school’s inventory, and catalog the books daily and weekly so that a substantial number and variety of titles are always available for check out.

Librarians are the educators responsible for bringing book fairs to the school, promoting family literacy, and having the capacity to add financial funds for the library and school. They organize schedules for every classroom to visit the library weekly and train parent volunteers to help facilitate student checkouts and returns, and run the book fair before, during, and after school hours.

Librarians are often the school contact and administrator for technology-based reading incentive programs, including Accelerated Reader (AR) or Star Reading. In this capacity, the librarian assists students in selecting a title to read, visiting the library to take the online comprehension quiz, and distributing prizes associated with AR guidelines. School librarians often organize book clubs like Battle of the Books to introduce novel studies to support higher-level thinking for upper-grade level avid readers and compete in a comprehension challenge.

Finally, school librarians are often the ones in a school that bring in guest authors for school assemblies, book signings, and writing workshop models for students of all ages. The library is often the hub of oral language communication, reading, research, and information for students and teachers alike.

What Skills Does a Librarian Need to be Successful?

Communication

Librarians need a variety of skills and personality traits to be successful in the field. Communication skills are essential since librarians constantly interact with readers of all ages, teachers, authors, parents, and book fair companies. Interpersonal skills are also valued because librarians should collaborate with teachers in the building and parent volunteers from the school community.

Oftentimes, a library assistant or a part-time librarian is assigned to a school with a large enrollment. Therefore, the head librarian is responsible for creating a schedule and duty list that outlines the expectations for this hired individual.

Organization and Time Management

Librarians have to be highly organized. Organizational skills are essential in planning schedules for parent volunteers, book fairs, author visits and assemblies, and weekly classroom library visits. Librarians are responsible for ordering new books and inventory, cataloging, maintaining book and resource inventory, and running an efficient check-out and return system. Writing grants and adhering to budgets are also desired skills for librarians.

Time management skills are also imperative for completing organizational tasks. Planning a classroom library visit includes a read-aloud experience, lesson, and book check-out time for students.

Tech-savvy

Technological expertise is also desired skills for school librarians, especially as technology continues to advance. This includes utilizing the platform for book check-outs and returns as well as the inventory catalog system and technology-based reading incentive programs such as AR or Star Reading. Maintaining and having access to updated technology, including computers, laptops, and tablets, around the library is also necessary to support the students and staff.

Librarians should consider regularly attending library conferences to meet and connect with new authors, learn about new books and recommended titles, and acquire the latest information in both technology and research to bring back to their schools.

Library Resources

In addition to desired skills and personality traits, school librarians need several resources to be successful in any school. The most essential resource is books, of course. When libraries have shelves filled with a diverse selection of popular titles, new books, and books that match the interest levels and reading levels of the students, librarians can increase reading engagement. Culturally relevant titles that represent the student population are also essential in increasing literacy success.

How to Become a School Librarian

School librarians are in demand today more than ever. Colleges and universities have created a straightforward path for someone to become a school librarian. A bachelor’s degree in library science or a related subject matter is the first step in becoming a school librarian. Many schools and districts now also require librarians to have a master’s in library science. States also have a required standardized test for librarians to take until they pass to earn their license to be a librarian.

Once an individual is a fully licensed librarian, they should apply for any open positions in schools and districts of interest to them. Every librarian should find the best school library to meet their own personal and professional goals to promote a culture of literacy and love of reading among the school community.

Ready to impact students through a love of reading? Explore our available literacy programs and start your next journey today!

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