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Public Libraries

Forget what you think you know about public librarians.

These days a librarian does a lot more than check out materials and shelve books. Technology expert, information detective, manager, literacy expert, trainer, community programming coordinator, reader’s advisor, children’s storyteller, material reviewer, and buyer are just a few of the hats a public librarian wears. 

A job in today’s public libraries offers a diverse and exciting range of responsibilities, projects, and opportunities.

Read from working librarians on why they chose librarianship as their profession.

Education

Most public librarian positions require a Master of Library Science (MLS) or a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree, preferably from a school accredited by the ۰̨ͼ (ALA).  Undergraduate degrees in almost any subject area are appropriate. 

It's a good idea to contact your state library for specific certification requirements for library staff.  Michigan, for example, requires that public library directors have a master of library science degree if the library serves a population of 25,000 or more. The has list of certification requirements by state.

Public Librarian Testimonial

"It's the most satisfying work I can imagine. Every single day I am privileged to touch someone's life. And I know this because they tell me so. One patron needed information on liver transplants because her daughter was having one. Even finding a recipe can bring tears to a patron's eye, if it's the meatloaf her mother used to make and the recipe was lost in a house fire. Few days are that dramatic, but every day is different, and every day brings people who need something to which I can be the conduit. In my current position, even when I'm not directly interacting with patrons, I'm helping them-by hiring the best people I can find to be there every time they call or come in, and by making the best possible use of the tax dollars they've entrusted to me without even realizing it."

"Even on the slowest or most hectic day, at least one person thanks me, and I can tell they mean it. I don't think that happens in many jobs. I thrive on immediate gratification, and the opportunity to perpetually be on a treasure hunt-and they pay me to do it!"

Sally Decker Smith, Head of Adult Services/Raconteur, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, Illinois

The core purpose of (Public Library Association) is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve.