Should I Become a Library Manager?
Library managers oversee the daily activities and functions of a library. In addition to having standard knowledge of library reference services, resources, and tools, a library manager must have strong communication and organizational skills, knowledge of financial budgeting practices, and the ability to direct others. Evening, weekend, and holiday work hours might be required. Meeting important deadlines is often a part of a library manager's job.
So, what does it take to become a library manager? Let's find out. . .
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree, master's degree preferred|
|Degree Field||Any field: library and/or information science for master's|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure may be required in some states; academic positions could require teacher certification|
|Experience||4-10 years of experience may be necessary, includes volunteer and internship positions|
|Key Skills||Knowledge of library reference services; managerial, organizational, interpersonal, and analytical problem-solving skills; basic computer skills for library system software and basic internet (may require some teaching)|
|Salary||$56,880 (2015 median for all librarians)|
Sources: American Library Association (ALA), *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Steps To Getting into this Career
Now that we know the requirements for becoming a library manager, let's look at the individual steps as well as some tips for success:
Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree
While the job requirements for a library manager will vary depending on the level of responsibilities, having a bachelor's degree is a general starting point for the minimum educational requirements. No particular field of undergraduate study is a prerequisite, per both the ALA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Whatever the undergraduate degree is, coursework taken should prepare an applicant by developing the knowledge and capabilities needed for a library manager position. Per the BLS, those skills include understanding and adapting to technology and computers, along with the ability to work well with others. The ALA also lists strong analytical, organizational and communication skills as being important.
It also helps to work or volunteer in a school, public or private library. Volunteer work at a library can help undergraduate students acquire industry knowledge and further develop abilities that can be applied to future paid positions. Students serving in volunteer roles will see firsthand what a library manager's job functions are.
Step 2: Earn a Master of Library Science Degree
The job qualifications for a position as library manager will vary depending on the specific responsibilities and the type of organization that is seeking to hire a candidate. Although there are no strict guidelines for educational requirements, some higher-level positions will want the applicant to have a Master of Library Science (MLS) from an ALA-accredited educational institution. Library positions at public schools may also require teacher certification in addition to the MLS.
You can improve your chances for success by considering specialization options. Adding a second concentration to a master's degree can boost a library science student's qualifications for entry into the job market. Career preparation can include additional study within the area of management and administration in addition to many others, such as law, music, and science librarianship.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
Because library manager roles require work experience, even individuals who have completed advanced degrees and specializations will likely need to build up to the manager level. Aspiring library managers should seek out jobs that develop supervisory, management, administrative, and decision-making skills to complement their knowledge of library science.
Fellowship programs and internships done during or immediately after graduate school provide one option for some relevant experience. In the ALA's list of possible library jobs, the non-managerial positions include that of library assistant, library technician, and librarian. Such jobs can help individuals gain knowledge of the industry and become comfortable with the daily activities and functions of a library.
Check state licensing requirements. Some states require public library staff to become licensed, depending on their level of education and position within a library. While the process varies in each state, this could entail completing an application or passing an exam.
Attend conferences and workshops. Job applicants can improve their prospects by going to industry-sponsored career fairs for library professionals.
Make use of profession-specific job listings. Professional organizations often have career services that allow applicants to post resumes, search job listings, and participate in web conferences.
Step 4: Network with Professionals and Continue Learning
Membership in a professional library association allows individuals to connect with others in the field while they tap into continuing education resources. By attending library seminars and meetings sponsored by groups, such as the ALA or the Special Library Association (SLA), members can network with others who are at various stages of library careers. Such groups also keep members abreast of broader issues that affect libraries.
Advanced education such as a bachelor's and/or master's degree and 4-10 years of experience in addition to budgeting, organizational, and computer skills are necessary to secure a job in library management, which pays roughly $57,000 a year.