Alabama is known for its love of football and southern hospitality. However, it’s also a great place for librarians and is the home of one of the best degree programs for library and information science.
In Alabama, there are 305 public libraries among its 67 counties. This means, there is a ratio of over four public libraries per county. However, that does not account for the additional number of academic libraries within the 61 colleges in Alabama.
To see why Alabama is such a great place for librarians, let’s take a look at the programs offered in Alabama and the program’s specific qualifications. Additionally, we will look at some amazing places to work as a librarian and what you need to do in order to become a librarian in Alabama.
Masters Programs in Library and Information Science (MLIS) and Library Media in Alabama
The University of Alabama: Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)
The University of Alabama offers an online Masters in Library and Information Science with live and interactive classes and meetings. They use cutting-edge technology for their online school and they hire highly qualified and experienced faculty to prepare students for working in any type of library setting including public, academic, k-12 schools, and special libraries.
- Two optional concentrations: Archival Studies, and School Library Media
- 36-credit hour program
- Online Degree
How to Apply
Before you can apply, you will need at least a 3.0 in a 4.0 system for the last 60 semester hours in an undergraduate program or higher to qualify. Then, when you apply, fill out an online application and pay the application fee. The application may require additional documentation, but you will need to send in at least three letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, and a statement of purpose. The GRE is not required for admission, and you can apply to two programs per application.
They have deadlines for applying for each semester, so check their website for the next deadline.
The University of West Alabama: Education Specialist (Certification) Library Media
The University of West Alabama offers an online Master’s in Library Media. This program trains librarians who are specifically going into school librarianship. They will give you the foundation you need to provide a school with library services and to provide information to students and teachers.
- Accredited by CAEP
- 33 credit hour program
- Online Degree
- Part of the Mentor Collective Program
How to Apply
For this master’s degree, you will need an Alabama Teachers Certification and two years of experience in education at a public school or state-registered private school.
In order to earn an Alabama Teachers Certification, one must receive a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and then finish a program for preparing educators that are approved by the state’s Department of Education. Additionally, you will need to pass all state-required exams. There are two tests you have to pass. The first is the Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program which covers basic knowledge of reading, writing, and mathematics. The other test is the Praxis for Library Media specifically.
Then to finish applying for the Media Specialist Program, just apply online!
Alabama Library Science ProgramsThe following list includes library science Master’s degrees, PhDs, and certifications in Library Science that are available within the state of Alabama. The list notes whether the GRE is required for admission into the graduate programs, as well as whether or not the programs are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
|School Name||City||State||Program Level||Program Name||Accreditation||Program URL||GRE Required?|
|University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||Alabama||PhD/Doctoral||PhD in Library Science||ALA||https://slis.ua.edu/prospective-students/||Unsure|
|University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||Alabama||Masters||Master of Library and Information Studies||ALA||https://online.ua.edu/degrees/mlis-master-of-library-and-information-studies/||Unsure|
|University of West Alabama||Livingston||Alabama||Certification||Education Specialist (Certification) Library Media||NCATE||https://www.uwa.edu/academics/collegeofeducation/departmentofcurriculumandinstruction/librarymediaeducationspecialist||No|
How to Become a Librarian in Alabama
There are many jobs within a library that do not require a Master of Library Science, however, without a masters you are not considered a certified librarian in the state of Alabama. In some states, you can be a librarian with a bachelor’s in Library Science, but in Alabama, a bachelor’s in Library Science will get you as far as any other bachelor’s degree.
Below are common library positions in Alabama and their qualifications:
Library Technician: A library technician position typically requires a high school diploma and a year or more experience in clerical work, or in a library setting.
Entry-Level Librarian: In some Alabama library systems, you can become a Youth and Children’s Librarian or an entry-level Librarian with two or more years of library experience and a bachelor’s degree. However, many entry-level Librarian positions require an MLIS or MLS degree from an ALA-accredited program.
Library Management and Administration: These Librarians are department heads, library branch managers, or are part of the administration in a system of libraries. These positions will require an MLIS or MLS degree from an ALA-accredited program and at least two years of supervising within a library setting.
Library Media Specialist: These librarians work in k-12 schools. To become a Media Specialist, you will need a bachelor’s degree, two years of teaching in a state-accredited school system, a teaching certificate, and a Masters’s in Library Media.
What Else Can You Do with a Library Science Degree in Alabama?
There are many types of libraries you can work for including university libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries. However, there are numerous jobs out there that need the information organization skills a librarian has. Additionally, all Library Science Programs teach other skills that are appealing to non-library jobs. These skills include marketing, administration, and leadership skills, research, utilizing digital technology in various forms, graphic design, and customer service.
Here is a list of some of the other jobs for librarians and the various skills they have in Alabama:
- Archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History
- Content Manager
- Collections Manager
- Digital Archivist
- Data Curator
- Marketing Manager
- Graphic Design Artist
- Researcher/ Research Assistant
Library System in Alabama
As mentioned above, there are around 305 public libraries in the state of Alabama and 61 colleges. The majority of Alabama colleges have at least one library, while large state universities have three or more. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities out there.
Below is information on the largest public library system in Alabama and the largest university academic library system in Alabama.
Birmingham Public Library System
The City of Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and is home to one of the best hospitals in the nation and is one of the top transplant centers in the world. Additionally, Birmingham is home to the “Oscars of Dining” if you want to work and live near good food. And it’s a national leader in parks and recreation with downtown park places and thousands of acres of hiking and biking woodlands.
The public library system in Birmingham has 18 library branches and a vast online library free to Birmingham residents. The system also has an archives department that holds 30,000,000 documents and 500,000 photographs that relate to the greater Birmingham area and various materials related to Alabama history and its progress including the environmental movement and civil rights movement. They also have events and programs daily for all age groups and ongoing exhibits to view for art and history.
So, there are plenty of different jobs for librarians in Birmingham.
The University of Alabama Libraries
The University of Alabama is located in the city of Tuscaloosa which has 35 different parks among 2,000 acres of land, a children’s museum, an amphitheater, a national airport, and of course, the University of Alabama. The university campus provides dining and entertainment opportunities including Alabama football games, theater productions, and chances to get involved in a university community.
The library branches at the university include The Bruno Business Library, The Gorgas Library, The Sanford Media Center, The Williams Collection, The Hoole Special Collection, The McClure Education Library, and The Rogers Library. They also have a large archives collection that provides digitization services.
Three of the libraries are open from 7:30 to after midnight and the Rogers Library is open 24 hours a day. This may mean librarians will need to work night shifts at times, but it also means more staff is needed to keep the libraries open for those long hours.
Because of the different types of libraries and collections at The University of Alabama, there is a multitude of different librarian positions and jobs. It is also a great place to be and to serve students and professors by providing quality information and technological services.
Salary Opportunities in Alabama for Librarians
Librarians have many opportunities to move up after first being hired in whichever area of librarianship they choose. As you read above, there is a multitude of different jobs for librarians and there is a multitude of income brackets to go along with those career positions. There’s a job and an income to meet the needs of your lifestyle and family life.
Here is a list of typical positions and their average salary:
Public and Academic Librarians
- Entry-level positions make on average $34,290 annually.
- Department heads and library branch managers make on average $53,555 annually.
- Library Assistant Directors make on average $87,376 annually.
- Library Directors make an average of $120,274 annually.
Library Media Specialist (Teaching Certificate also Required)
- School Librarians make an average of $43,873 annually.
- Museum and history Archivists make on average $48,812 annually
For more information about librarianship and Library Science visit ala.org.
For more information about The School Library Media Specialist Degree and Certification visit https://www.ala.org/ala/aasl/
For more information about public libraries in Alabama visit https://aplsws2.apls.state.al.us/