Become an Art Librarian: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 10, 2020

Individuals who enjoy literature and possess a love for art often pursue careers as art librarians. Continue reading for more information about a career in managing, cataloging, researching and developing a library's art-related collections.

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Becoming an Art Librarian

Librarians answer questions, conduct research and organize collections in libraries, art museums, and academic institutions. With an educational background in art, art history or library science, art librarians use their knowledge and researching skills to teach and assist patrons on how to find resource material, or learn more about a particular piece of art.

Career Requirements

Degree Levels Bachelor's; master's degree recommended for advancement
Degree Field Art, art history, library science
Experience Internship
Certification Certification requirements vary by state
Salary $59,050 (2018 median for all librarians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

There are various career requirements for an art librarian. At least a bachelor's degree in art, art history, or library science is required. But a master's degree is recommended for advancement. Internships can provide students with experience in the field and certification requirements vary by state. In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for all librarians was $59,050 per year.

Step 1: Bachelor's Degree

The first step toward becoming an art librarian is to earn a bachelor's degree. To become an art librarian, candidates typically need to study both art and library science. Entry-level art librarian positions usually require completion of a bachelor's degree program in art or art history. The undergraduate program also prepares students for master's degree programs in art history or library science. In these programs, students study topics such as world art and culture, art history and visual communications. They may also participate in cooperative education to obtain experience in this field.

Step 2: Work Experience

The second step towards becoming an art librarian is to gain work experience. Upon completion of a bachelor's degree program, candidates may find entry-level librarian positions to obtain work experience. Aspiring art librarians can become members of the Art Libraries Society of North American (ARLIS/NA), a professional organization for the art information field.

The organization provides networking and professional development opportunities. It offers a listing of art librarian internships at various institutions. Additionally, ARLIS/NA hosts an organization that provides financial assistance to individuals interested in pursuing art librarian careers.

Step 3: Certification

The third step toward becoming an art librarian is to obtain certification. Although certification varies by state, most states have specific requirements for librarians working in local libraries or public schools. For instance, school librarians in some states must have master's degrees in education with a library media emphasis. Some states also require librarians to successfully complete a comprehensive assessment.

Step 4: Master's Degree

The fourth step towards becoming an art librarian is to complete a master's degree program. While some students may combine library science degrees with art history degrees, others may choose to earn a graduate degree in a program specifically for aspiring art librarians. Aspiring art librarians may also wish to specialize in a specific type of art, such as Asian art, modern art, Japanese art or Renaissance art. Courses may be held in libraries or museums where students can complete research and internships. An advanced degree can provide librarians with expanded opportunities for employment.

The steps toward becoming an art librarian include earning a bachelor's degree, gaining work experience, obtaining certification, and completing a master's degree program.

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