In the past decade, more than a few Ramapo Literature Graduates have gone on to careers as Librarians. The English & Literary Studies Major is a great first step towards this rewarding career. To prepare for a career in Library sciences, students should talk to working librarians and consider what aspects of the field that are most interests them. Ramapo College Librarian/Dean Liz Siecke and Ramapo’s Instructional/Emerging Technology Librarian Christina Connor offer some advice.
Students should consider the variety of positions available. Archivists need a knowledge of older materials, though there are many different types of archived collections. Academic librarians need a knowledge of technology and should be comfortable teaching. Public librarians need ability to plan events, manage people, and be able to run an office. School librarians who work in K-12 environments may be called on to teach and should be familiar with children’s literature. (Taking the literature course LITR 308 – Children’s And Young Adult Literature is not a bad idea if you are thinking of working in a children’s library).
It’s smart think broadly about the field. One must feel comfortable with technology and teaching in almost every context and understand the basic differences between public and private organizations. One of the librarians we spoke to was asked to chair the genealogy club and manage the local history room, something one might not think of as part of a librarian’s job. Librarians need to be creative, flexible, and open to working with various personalities. Dean Siecke also mentioned having worked at the National Center for Children in Poverty. Here the library and publications/marketing departments were closely linked. She did some field research, wrote entries for annotated bibliographies, proofread research papers, and traveled for the marketing department.
Anna Coats (class of 2005), adds some advice about the education necessary for librarians: To be a librarian one needs a Masters in Library Science from an ALA-accredited school. More and more librarians are required to have a 2nd masters – especially if they want to be academic librarians – but it’s still possible to get jobs with only one Masters.
For more information about Anna coats, read about her new position as East Rutherford Memorial Library’s first children’s librarian.
Below, Gretchen Kaser, Class of 2010 lists the opportunities in Library Science as well as the benefits of receiving a master’s degree in library science.
- A master’s degree in library science or library and information science is necessary for most library careers. Students should make sure their program of choice is ALA-accredited, or they may not be eligible for their state certification. ALA and U.S. News & World Reports both maintain lists of these programs. There are many distance-learning options available in this field, so students who want or need to work during grad school may want to consider this option.
- Not all library jobs involve working in a traditional public or academic library. Many large corporations employ “special librarians” to help with research, maintain records, and more. If your program includes an emphasis on information science, you will likely qualify for some IT roles as well.
- Join professional organizations, even as a student. Most of them, including ALA (American Library Association) and NJLA (New Jersey Library Association), have discounted rates while you’re in school. The networking and continuing education opportunities are endless!
- Think about what type of library you see yourself working in. Most graduate programs let you specialize in certain areas, including archives, youth services, digital libraries, etc. Taking a specialized courseload will help you when you start looking for jobs. School librarianship requires an extra certification in New Jersey, so decide if you want to do that early on in your studies.
- Most work experience is helpful. Haven’t worked in libraries before? Not to worry! Any customer service experience you’ve gained from retail or office work will help if you have to work with the public. Tech skills are also huge. Librarians are often asked to perform web design, social media marketing, and PC/network troubleshooting as part of their jobs. Some may also teach basic computer classes. Other surprising skillsets that may come in handy are event planning, sales, and any type of management experience.
- Don’t listen to the naysayers. Most contemporary research shows that libraries will not die out thanks to Google and ebooks; they will just evolve. If librarianship is what you want to do, don’t get discouraged if you meet some resistance along the way.
There’s more to being a librarian than shelving books. It’s an exciting career with plenty of room for growth.
Below are some links to explore:
American Library Association: Explore a Career in Libraries