Thinking about Employment, Part 1

By searching job postings on the ALA website, I was able to find several children and youth librarian positions at public libraries. These postings were all very similar to each other, and spread out across the country, from California to Washington, D. C. 

For example, Churchill County Library in Fallon, Nevada is hiring a Children’s Librarian with the following job description:

The incumbent is tasked with providing services to children including: developing the children’s collection, providing storytimes, planning and implementing the Summer Reading Program, and providing outreach to organizations which serve children. In addition, the Children’s Librarian works the Circulation Desk, answers reference questions, contributes to the maintenance of public and staff computers and software, and interacts positively with the public in person, on the phone and online.

Similarly, the District of Columbia Public Library in Washington, District of Columbia is hiring a Children’s Librarian to perform the following tasks:

  • Provides reference and advisory services to customers in the area of children’s literature.

  • Provides assistance in study-oriented activities and in developing children’s reading interests.

  • Plans, schedules, conducts and evaluates children’s programs and class visits.

  • Develops and maintains the branch collection of children’s literature to meet the needs of the community.

  • Compiles reading lists on assigned subjects and prepares books displays.

The third job posting I focused on was for a Librarian 1 at the Virginia Beach Public Library in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with job duties described this way:

Presenting Every Child Ready to Read curriculum-based storytimes and special programming for children, preparing and delivering education programs for parents (or caretakers) and other adults, to engage them in library services and teach them to help children be successful readers, providing reader’s advisory, reference and information services to children and teens, assisting with the management of the Summer Reading Program and additional system-wide youth programming, providing high quality school-age and teen programming with an emphasis on S.T.E.A.M., creating and maintaining community partnerships, and providing training for staff in youth services. Additional duties may be assigned to ensure the standardization of Youth and Family services programs across the system.

Common elements of these jobs and other similar positions include

  • Customer Service Skills
  • Understanding and Enjoyment of Children
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Planning Literacy and Educational Programs for Children
  • Building Community Partnerships
  • Children’s Reader Advisory
  • Development Collection

Depending on the size of the library, children’s librarians can also have a more diverse job description, including adult reference service and full development collection. At this point, I don’t have a preference between the two. I think I would enjoy either a more diverse set of responsibilities or the ability to focus only on children. 

Nearly all of these jobs require an ALA-accredited MLIS. Other qualifications vary by position, and include things like:

  • Michigan Librarian 1 or 2 certification
  • Computer skills
  • 3-5 years of experience working with children in a library setting
  • Knowledge of children’s literature
  • Experience planning events for children
  • MLIS classes on issues of children’s librarianship

Children’s Librarian positions would likely involve reporting to a public services, reference, or circulation supervisor or a children’s department head. Depending on the size of the library, they could also involve supervising support staff. 

Most of these jobs would require previous experience in entry-level positions. Getting a job as a children’s librarian would likely be an upward move on a career trajectory. It also provides the possibility of continuing career advancement by moving into management positions overseeing the whole children’s department or even all the reference or public services departments. At this point, though, I think I would be content to stay in the middle level of actually working directly with kids and families rather than supervising the librarians who do those things. And with a typical salary for children’s librarians around $50,000, I wouldn’t need to move up to a higher position I would enjoy less just to pay the bills.

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