Online master's degree programs for aspiring school librarians are available; the field of study goes by several different names, such as library science, school library studies, library and information science and information technologies. Some on-campus work may be required, such as a capstone practicum, but these programs are also available in fully online formats. Applicants will need a bachelor's degree, and may need teaching certification as well.
A master's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement to work as a librarian or school media specialist. School librarians in public schools are required to be licensed or professionally certified, although requirements vary by state. Check for state-specific regulations when choosing an educational program.
Master's Degrees for School Librarians
People interested in becoming a school librarian have several options for earning their master's degree online. While degree names may vary, required coursework is consistent among programs. Teacher certification, in addition to a bachelor's degree, is a prerequisite for many of these degree programs.
Students can earn a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Library and Information Technologies or school library media endorsement within degree programs like Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Education or Reading. Students in school librarian programs learn how to construct and supervise a school library program at the K-12 level and develop organizational and managerial skills for school library operation.
Information and Requirements
The master's degree programs in school library studies are made up of 36-45 credit hours. Most schools offer the degree program entirely online, but a few require occasional campus visits for technological instruction and professional networking. Online materials, lectures and assignments are accessed through a web-based course management system such as Blackboard, Mediasite or Desire2Learn. Students may interact with their instructors and peers through message boards, chat rooms and e-mail.
The curriculum for a master's degree in school library studies consists of core requirements and, if applicable, concentration courses. A capstone practicum is conducted at the end of the program to give students supervised on-site experience in a school library setting.
Cataloging, Classification and Organization of Knowledge
This course provides aspiring school librarians with the knowledge and skills necessary to make locating library materials and collections as easy as possible for library visitors. Cataloging and classification systems recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Library of Congress are identified and analyzed. Emphasis is placed on the Dewey Decimal Classification, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, second edition (AACR2) and various electronic organizational formats.
Literature for Children and Young Adults
Students examine and evaluate the books and materials considered suitable for inclusion in a library for children and young adults. Methods are developed for aiding young learners to comprehend and appreciate fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry and other styles of literature. Special attention is given to skills involving the selection of materials that support and state- and locally-mandated curricula.
Collection Management and Development
The ideals, standards and techniques involving the procurement of materials and cultivation of a proper collection for a school library are the focus of this class. The specific library-related needs of learners from diverse communities are highlighted. This course also serves to acquaint students with the publishing world and provide them with the ability to appraise different types of information resources.
Many states have certain requirements for school librarians, from a master's degree to teaching certification and teaching experience. Prospective school librarians are advised to review the specific employment requirements for their state of residence. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, there were 50,210 librarians working in elementary and secondary schools earning a yearly average salary of $60,670. Occupational growth of two percent is expected between 2014-2024 for librarians of all types.
School librarians who want to take continuing education courses to maintain certification or for professional advancement may take classes entirely online. Instruction in areas such as reference services, readers' advisory services, marketing the library and grant writing are available online through several universities and the American Library Association (ALA).
Aspiring librarians can earn a master's degree in the field through fully online or hybrid programs. Students will study literature for various ages, cataloging, collection management and more.