Library Media Specialists
Public and private grammar and middle schools that have library media centers employ library media specialists to manage their collections. Specialists may also be called upon to help schools develop a school library center by acquiring materials and setting up the media center. High schools and college preparatory schools need library media specialists to help students and teachers access and learn to use materials in the centers.
Although the title library media specialist generally refers to a librarian who works in grammar schools, middle schools, or high schools, media specialists often find employment outside of the school system. They may work in the libraries of law firms, private corporations, museums, zoos, historical societies, community organizations, and special institutions. They may also find employment as advisers for developers of software, books, and other educational media for children and young adults.
Before applying for a position as a library media specialist in a public school system, librarians usually will have completed the educational and certification requirements set by their state board of education. Positions in nonpublic schools may not have such rigid requirements. You should contact the school district where you are interested in working for specific requirements.
Most graduate schools have career services offices that offer assistance to their students in finding jobs. Professional associations, such as the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians, offer the opportunity to network with professionals in the field, as well as job listings at their Web sites. Some schools advertise openings in professional or educational journals. Most openings in school library media centers occur at the end of the school year, when many incumbents retire, get promoted, or move on to other positions. Some beginning media specialists may be able to secure employment right before the school year begins as well, when many school boards are scrambling to fill positions before classes start.
As was the case in the early history of school libraries, school library media specialists often come to the position after having worked as teachers. If you are not sure if school library media is the field for you, but you know you want to work with children, consider studying to become a teacher first. This will give you a good background with children and their needs. Then, by taking additional classes on a part time basis, you can meet the requirements needed in order to move from the classroom into the library media center.
Library media specialists may advance in their library media center to supervise various clerical personnel and volunteers. After having accumulated experience working directly with students and teachers, a specialist working in a school system may advance into the administrative realm, becoming media program coordinator for an entire school district. Experienced administrators, especially those who have pursued additional training, may eventually advance to become curriculum development superintendents.
Experienced library media specialists who earn a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. may find work as college instructors or directors of college media programs. Some media specialists find better paying positions by leaving the school setting and taking positions with companies that develop teaching aids. Others may use their skills to set up their own media product companies.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: https://joblist.ala.org and https://aect-jobs.careerwebsite.com/jobseeker/search/results/.
Visit http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/home for more information on library science careers.
Read publications such as Library Journal, Knowledge Quest, American Libraries, and Children and Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.
Talk to library media specialists about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.