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How do I Learn about Careers in Library Science?: School (K-12) Libraries

Learning About School Libraries

The ODLIS defines a school library as "a library in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves the information needs of its students and the curriculum needs of its teachers and staff, usually managed by a school librarian or media specialist." 

Working in a school library involves varied tasks, interaction with students, teachers, staff, parents and community members . . . and lots of flexibility.  Secondary school libraries are often staffed by a professional librarian with the support of one or more library assistants full or part-time.  The librarian's schedule in a secondary school is often more flexible and varied, depending on classroom projects needing support at various times through the school year.  Elementary school librarians may work alone and work a more "fixed" schedule - classrooms come in on a scheduled basis at the same time each week for more formalized library programming. 

A day in the life of school library staff may include some or all of the following . . .

  • Circulation and reference support of students and staff
  • Selecting and ordering of new materials as well as replacements for lost or damaged items
  • Cataloging and physically preparing new materials to be ready for the shelves
  • Supervising classified library staff, student aides and volunteers
  • Repairing damaged materials
  • Performing inventory of every item in the library
  • Teaching information literacy, research and citation skills to students in support of classroom activities
  • Story time and early literacy activities
  • Organizing and publicizing library activities such as book clubs, special speakers, book fairs, reading contests
  • Overseeing computer labs, technical troubleshooting, reading program software management
  • Collaborating with teachers for classroom lessons, pull books for teachers around themes/lessons
  • Supporting state and district curriculum requirements
  • Supporting the intellectual freedom of all library users
  • Managing the library budget and raising additional funds through community grants for special projects
  • Weeding outdated, irrelevant or damaged materials
  • Maintaining and managing audio-visual equipment (overhead projectors, VCRs, DVDs, TVs, etc.)
  • Obtaining materials for students and staff from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan
  • School principals often assign other duties such as managing CSAPs, serving on building committees, etc.
  • School librarians do it all!

 

Search for librarian jobs in public libraries currently open on ALA Joblist and check out the job's responsibilities or desired/preferred qualifications to get an idea of what types of roles are out there.

School districts vary on the educational and experience required to be a school librarian.  In Colorado Springs, some school districts require a teaching certificate with a library content area test.  Other school districts also require a Master of Library Science degree.  Smaller school districts may hire one librarian in the district with a teaching certificate and masters degree.  This "professional" librarian will often staff the high school with additional libraries in the district being staffed by "classified" or non-professional librarians.  Large school districts may centralize library services such as cataloging and physical material prep so they are delivered to each school shelf ready.

State Endorsement Requirement Resources

Colorado Department of Education Resources

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Who's Who?

Librarians working in the K-12 public and private school setting answer to various names . . .

Library Media Specialist

Media Specialist

School Librarian

Teacher-Librarian

In Colorado the title may reflect the type of training, education, endorsement.