Become a Music Librarian: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 09, 2020

In this lesson, you'll learn about the steps involved in becoming a music librarian, including how much education you'll need and how much you might earn in the field.

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94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)

Music Librarians

Students interested in pursuing a career as a music librarian often show early interest in listening, performing, or researching the history of music. While musical knowledge is necessary to becoming a music librarian, a wider liberal arts education could help students place music alongside relevant cultural information. A music librarian must be able to see music in its larger context.

Music librarians have many of the same responsibilities as other librarians. For example, they may catalog and maintain collections of books, recordings, and performance materials or select materials for a collection. Music librarians might conduct research, organize electronic bibliographies, and help plan concerts and other presentations.

Career Information

Degree Level Bachelor's; master's
Degree Field Library and/or information science; music
Experience Internships valuable
Licensure State licensure may be required for public libraries
Salary $59,050 (2018 median annual salary for librarians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

College graduates may find employment and music librarians in a variety of settings, including large lending libraries, university collections, music publication companies, and prod casting stations. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015 librarians in general earned a median annual salary of $59,050. Opportunities for employment are expected to increase by 6%, or as fast as the average, between 2018-2028.

Let's look at the steps involved in becoming a music librarian.

Step 1: Study Music and Languages

Students who want to specialize in music often show an early interest. Knowledge of one or more foreign languages could prove helpful for students who plan to take courses in the history of music or who are interested in specializing in music from non-English-speaking cultures.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While enrolled in a bachelor's degree program, prospective music librarians should develop an understanding of history and other social sciences. While an undergraduate, a student might seek out opportunities to work in libraries, either as a student worker or intern.

Step 3: Earn Graduate Degrees

Professional librarians often hold a Master of Library Science (MLS). Some programs go by other titles, such as Master of Information Studies (MIS) or Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS).Applicants to master's degree programs in library science should seek a program that's accredited by the American Library Association. In an MLS program, students learn about day-to-day and overall approaches to archiving, materials selection, research methods, cataloging and circulation.

Because of their specialized focus, aspiring music librarians usually pursue a graduate degree in music as well as a professional degree in library science. Some programs allow for the combination of the two subjects; however, many music librarians carry at least two master's degrees.

Step 4: Get a License

According to the BLS, some states require librarians who work in public libraries to be certified or licensed. Since qualifications vary, prospective music librarians should check with their state licensing board to find out what - if anything - is required of them.

Let's review. You'll need a bachelor's degree and a Master of Library Science. As of May 2018, librarians in general earned a median salary of $59,050.

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