How to Become a Children's Librarian
A children's librarian selects material for the children's section of the library, assists children, teachers and parents in finding appropriate reading material for school, homework or leisure reading, and also provides activities for children and their parents to encourage literacy and love of reading and learning.
Most children's librarians will have an undergraduate degree as well as a graduate degree in library studies from an American Library Association accredited school. School librarians, a position that also works will children and young adults, will also have additional certification and licence, as required by the state where they work.
In the past, many children's librarians were former teachers, and many teachers have taken a graduate degree in library studies to work as children's librarians.
Advice for Becoming a Children's Librarian
Library education is a requirement, but it also helps to have some experience with children. If you are currently an undergraduate student, you should pursue opportunities to work with children and young adults, such as working in a group home or working in a camp during the summer. Libraries will also hire students in the summer to work on children's programming, such as summer literacy programs, or reading games, so you should investigate these opportunities. Working in a museum, especially one that has programming for children such as science experiments and birthday parties, is also an asset, since programming for and managing large groups of children will also be a requirement when working at a library.
It is also helpful to learn about literacy issues and reading development. You should read as much children's literature, both fiction and non-fiction, as you can, since many interviews will ask questions about popular children's literature, trends, and your favorite authors in this genre.
Different Types of Children's Librarian Jobs
The job title "children's librarian" may describe a wide-variety of positions within a library. A children's librarian could select picture books and early literacy material, as well as conduct programming for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their parents. This librarian will also make suggestions about reading, audio and video material to parents and teachers.
Many libraries, if they are large enough, will have distinct children's and young adult librarians, though this was not always the case, and some children's librarians will find themselves working with school aged children, as well as teenagers. This means working on programming to encourage reluctant readers, learning about literacy development, creating programming for children of all ages. For example, a book discussion group for toddlers is not appropriate, but many libraries have had success running reading circles for school aged children, as well as movie discussion groups and craft classes, such as making Goth crafts, for teenagers. Some children's librarians also manage the graphic novel and computer software collections, as well as audio and video collections for children.
Many children's librarians are employed by public libraries, but they can also work in school libraries and in academic libraries that have a teacher training program, or a children's literature collection.
The average wage for librarians, nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was twenty-five dollars an hour. Many libraries have experienced lay offs in recent years, or have cut full-time staff to part-time staff, so the competition for positions is fierce.