The field of library science is quickly evolving. The days of researching through card catalogs and paper archival systems are being replaced with the Internet, digital libraries and online databases. As a result, degree programs in library science integrate technical and traditional training in order to keep librarians abreast of changing trends in computer science, publishing and media services. Individuals interested in becoming librarians must earn a high school diploma, bachelor's degree and master's degree.
High School Diploma or GED Equivalent
The road to a degree in library science begins with a single step: a high school diploma. High school students interested in a career in library science should take courses in literature, English and social science. Students should also be avid readers and research as much as possible.
After high school, future librarians will be required to earn a bachelor's degree. In preparation, students will need to maintain a high grade point average (GPA) and sit for the American College Testing (ACT) or Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) standardized college assessment examinations.
Library science degree candidates must first earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The library science major is not offered at the undergraduate level; students should major in any subject they choose, provided they maintain a high GPA in anticipation of applying to graduate school. Popular undergraduate majors for those considering a career in library science include liberal arts, computer science, business, engineering and communications.
Librarians choosing to work within the public school sector may want to consider earning a bachelor's degree in education, as most state boards of education require librarians to have a valid teaching certificate. Towards the close of their bachelor's degree, students should sit for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Most master's degree programs examine applicant's GRE scores, among other factors, when determining admission. The GRE tests students in three areas: analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
Most librarians are required to have a master's degree in library science. Programs typically take between one to two years of full time study to complete. Although several colleges and universities throughout the United States offer graduate programs in library science, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers prefer to hire graduates from one of the 49 schools accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Students receive instruction on several skills needed for a career as a professional librarian, including organizational, management, technical, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
Students can expect to take courses in: the role of information and libraries in society; intellectual freedom and censorship; the history of books and printing; foundations of library and information science and information organization. Students will also take courses relevant to their intended area of specialization, including cataloging, indexing, reference, bibliography, administration or special collections.