Most media specialists work in school libraries, although some work in public libraries. Media specialists help teachers incorporate media or research techniques into their lessons, instruct visitors or students about media, or specialize in a field like computerized resources. Certification may be required, depending on the state, and a bachelor's or master's degree is expected by employers.
Media specialists, also known as information specialists, usually work in public or school libraries. They promote books, periodicals and other forms of technological media. At larger facilities some choose to specialize, such as those who focus on data preservation. Almost all media specialists require endorsement or certification, but standards vary by state.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Master's degree or certification may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||2% for librarians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$56,880 for librarians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for Media Specialists
Sometimes called library media specialists or library information specialists, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that most individuals work out of school libraries instructing students and teachers about using library resources and technology. Some specialize in materials on computerized databases. Others focus on helping teachers discover new ways to incorporate research techniques into daily lessons, including hosting library orientation meetings for students.
Media specialists who focus on acquisitions may choose which new books and other media products are purchased for the facility. Some may work exclusively on updating data storage procedures. For example, if a library has mainly paper periodicals, a team of specialists may decide to scan the materials into digital formats that can be more easily accessed by users.
Other common duties for specialists include helping users locate information. This can include physically showing someone where items are located or making recommendations to enhance someone's search. Many specialists also supervise junior staff members, delegate daily duties and coordinate library events.
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Media Specialist Endorsement and Certification Information
Certification varies significantly from state to state. For media specialists working in public schools grades K-12, many states require that individuals possess a teaching credential. Some states have a different credential specifically for librarian media specialists.
Eligibility requirements for certification usually include having a bachelor's degree related to library sciences; however, some states may require a master's degree. Another common requirement is the successful completion of a credential program, which is usually a 1-2 year program that instructs people on how to teach and often includes a period of student teaching.
There are multiple graduate programs in library sciences that offer specific training for earning a credential. Most programs are constructed under the guidelines of that particular state. Individuals should know that a credential in one state might not be valid in another.
Course topics for these graduate programs can include literature, research, library technology, teaching skills and library management. Many programs can be completed in two years. Some schools demand that part-time students complete the program within five years.
Upon completion of either a credential program or a graduate program with credential coursework, students must pass the state required credential exams. Some states require that students pass both a professional teaching assessment exam and a librarian information specialist exam. In addition, the BLS stated that several states have different certification requirements for specialists working at school libraries compared to those working at public libraries (www.bls.gov).
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, employment of librarians, including media specialists, is expected to grow by 2% from 2014 to 2024. This is slower-than-average growth compared to all occupations. Additionally, the BLS reported that librarians made a median annual salary of $56,880 as of May 2015.
Media specialists who work in school libraries may require a teaching certification or experience in education, as they instruct students on research methods or multimedia, and work with teachers to incorporate media into curricula. In public libraries, media specialists may help visitors find resources, teach about media or work in acquisitions. This position requires at least a bachelor's degree; sometimes a master's degree or certification is necessary.