Library Media Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

You should prepare for this field of library media by taking a strong college preparatory course load, including classes in English, speech, science, foreign languages, history, geography, and mathematics. Additional study in communications, broadcasting, graphic arts, photography, and videography will give you good background knowledge of the materials you will use every day as a library media specialist. You may also consider taking courses in psychology, sociology, education, and child development to help you learn about the different age groups you will encounter in your profession, and how you can best help them in your role as a library media specialist. Computer science classes are also very important because they will help you learn more about technology and the Internet.

Postsecondary Training

After high school, you should earn an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts, educational media, or instructional technology. Depending on the major you choose, you will probably need to take courses in English, communications, speech, and computer science. All of these courses can further your expertise with the tools you will use as a media specialist. Additional studies in child development and education will prepare you for working with all age groups, and will make it easier for you to achieve teacher's certification when you are ready to begin working as a professional library media specialist.

Although some current library media specialists presently have only bachelor's degrees, the American Library Association (ALA) recommends that entry-level library media specialist positions require a master's degree in library and information science or a master's degree with a specialty in school library media, educational media, instructional technology, communications, or education. Certain master's programs that prepare for a specialization in school library media are accredited by the ALA or by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. In a master's degree program, a typical course load would include courses in cataloging, reference sources, children's and young-adult literature, library automation, library-oriented computer technology, and media program management.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education classes is an excellent way to keep your skills up to date and become a more attractive job candidate. These opportunities are provided by the American Association of School Librarians, American Library Association, Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Association for Information Science and Technology, Association for Library Service to Children, National Association of Media and Technology Centers, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Most states require that media specialists employed in public school systems have teaching certification. Many states require that they also have certification in library media from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (https://www.nbpts.org).

Individuals interested in specializing in the field of library media should become familiar with the specific educational and certification requirements of a particular state department of education if they plan to work in a public school. Since the different certification requirements from state to state may present problems for people who relocate, many states have set up reciprocity agreements. Under such agreements, individuals who have achieved certification in one state may be able to receive certification in another state, despite different requirements. Private, parochial, or other nonpublic schools often have less specific certification requirements for their school employees.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as a volunteer or in a part-time job in a library will be helpful for aspiring library media specialists.

Library media specialists must be creative, inventive, and adaptable. They should enjoy working with children and young adults, and they should be able to communicate well with many different people. They must be able to handle responsibility and to work well under pressure. Good organizational and planning skills are also very valuable. Media specialists must have good manual skills and the ability to work with technology. They need to have the skills to operate different types of audiovisual equipment and the ability to teach others how to operate the equipment.

A commitment to learning is necessary to deal with constantly changing technology. The ability to understand and implement new library media technologies, as well as to teach others how to utilize new technologies, is invaluable.