There are many different paths individuals can take to become a librarian. Predominantly, librarians start with a background in the humanities (e.g. English, History), but there is no required field of study for librarians at the undergraduate level. Even if it seems like your current degree is far removed from librarianship, it will not hinder your ability to pursue the profession and, in some cases, could help you find a future job. Personally, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology with an emphasis in Neuroscience. I found that a degree in the sciences helped distinguish me from other applicants when I was interviewing for academic librarianship positions.
The one necessary step to become a librarian is to obtain a Master’s in Information Science (also called Information Studies or Library Science) from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Degrees generally take two years to complete and some universities offer online-only programs. There are three ALA-accredited schools in Texas: University of North Texas, University of Texas at Austin, and Texas Woman’s University. You can search for other ALA-accredited schools here: https://www.ala.org/educationcareers/accreditedprograms/directory/search.
Information Science is a broad field of study that focuses on collecting, storing, retrieving, and disseminating information. Jobs with a Master’s Degree in Information Science include Librarianship (public, academic, and school), Archives & Record Management, User Experience (UX), and many other potential options. A part of the appeal of the degree is its versatility. Once you are in a program, you will have the ability to take different courses focusing on the wide-ranging aspects of the field. If you want to focus on librarianship, you will predominantly take library-centered courses, but programs encourage students to branch out into other types of courses too. For example, I took classes in librarianship, database management, UX, and digital curation.
If you are interested in learning more about careers in Information Science, check out our panel “Working with Information: Careers in Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections” on Friday, September 24th from 2-3PM in CSI 102 or via Zoom. This panel will consist of three of Trinity librarians (including myself) and a representative from an Information Science program. We will discuss our academic backgrounds, our experience in grad school, how we found a job, what our jobs look like today, and how we see the profession changing in the future. Also, we will include ample time for students to ask any questions about librarianship or Information Science programs. We hope to see you there!
Students who are interesting in attending can visit Handshake for more information and to register.
NOTE: Registration is encouraged but not required for those who plan to attend in person. For those planning to attend virtually, registration is required to receive the Zoom link.