Music Librarians


Employment Prospects


Approximately 134,800 librarians are employed throughout the United States. Music librarians make up a small percentage of this number. Music librarians are employed at large research libraries such as the Library of Congress; colleges, universities, and conservatories; public and private libraries; archives; radio and television stations; and musical societies and foundations. They also work for professional bands and orchestras, music publishing companies, and the military.

As the field of library and information services grows, music librarians can find more work outside the traditional library setting. Experienced music librarians may advise libraries or other agencies on information systems, library renovation projects, or other information-based issues.

Starting Out

Generally, music librarians must complete all educational requirements before applying for a job. In some cases, part-time work experience or an internship while in graduate school may lead to a full-time position upon graduation. Some employers, too, may allow an especially promising applicant to begin learning on the job before the library degree is conferred.

Upon graduating, new music librarians should consult the career services offices at their school. Employers seeking new graduates often recruit through library schools. Most professional library and information science organizations have job listings that candidates can consult. For example, the MLA lists jobs at its Web site. Music librarians can also use online job search engines to help locate an appropriate position. Newspaper classifieds may be of some help in locating a job, although other approaches may be more appropriate to this profession.

Many music librarians entering the workforce today are combining their experience in another career with graduate library and information science education. For example, a music teacher who plays trumpet in a band could mix her part-time teaching experience and her hobby with a degree in library science to begin a full-time career as a music librarian. Almost any music-related background can be used to advantage when entering the field of musical librarianship.

Individuals interested in working in musical library positions for the federal government can contact the human resources department—or consult the Web site—of the government agency for which they are interested in working; for these government positions, applicants must take a civil service examination. Public libraries, too, often follow a civil service system of appointment.

Advancement Prospects

Many librarians gain experience by taking a job as a library assistant. In this role, they can learn a lot from practical experience before advancing to positions with greater levels of responsibility. They may also gain initial experience in smaller libraries and then advance by transferring to a larger or more specialized library. Large libraries have more opportunities to earn promotions to higher positions (for example, to the supervision of a department), and experienced music librarians with the necessary qualifications may advance to positions in library administration, such as library director, who is at the head of a typical library organizational scheme. This professional sets library policies and plans and administers programs of library services, usually under the guidance of a governing body, such as a board of directors or board of trustees. Library directors have overall responsibility for the operation of a library system. A doctorate is desirable for reaching top administrative levels, as well as for landing a graduate library school faculty position.

Experienced music librarians, in particular those with strong administrative, computer, or planning backgrounds, may move into the area of information consulting. They use their expertise to advise libraries and other organizations on issues regarding information services. Other experienced librarians, especially those with computer experience, may also go into specialized areas of library work, becoming increasingly valuable to business and industry, as well as other fields.

Tips for Entry

Join professional associations such as the Music Library Association (MLA) and the American Library Association in order to network, pursue continuing education, access job listings, and lehttp://blog.musiclibraryassoc.org/arn more about the field.

Read the MLA blog, http://blog.musiclibraryassoc.org, to learn more about the field.

Members of the MLA can use its Résumé and Cover Letter Review Service (https://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/page/RCLRS), a Web-based service that allows members to submit their cover letter and resume or CV to an MLA member with experience evaluating employment applications and hiring. The experienced member provides tips that will help the new member improve his or her resume and increase their chances of being hired.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings: https://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/networking/opening_search.asp and https://joblist.ala.org.

Visit https://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/page/mlapublications for a variety of publications on the music library profession.