How To Become a Librarian in Florida

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Updated on April 29, 2024
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Florida is a peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the east side. It is the most populous southeastern state in the U.S. and the second most populous southern state in the U.S. after Texas. Florida is known for its white sandy beaches, large amusement parks, and abundance of wildlife. They’re landscape includes marshes, lakes, lagoons, beaches, orange groves, and off its coast are coral reefs and estuaries. They also have hot summers, mild winters, and frequent storms and hurricanes that cause significant damage every year. 

There are many opportunities for librarians in Florida and there are also education programs for librarians as well. Florida also has two of the largest public library systems in the U.S. One is the Miami-Dade Public Library System, and the other is the Broward County Library System. The largest academic library system is at the University of Florida and they are the 42nd largest university library in the nation. Florida also has large public and private schools that staff school librarians, and there are an abundance of special librarian positions throughout the state as well. 

This article will go over the most common librarian career options in Florida for academic libraries, public libraries, and K–12th grade school libraries.  For each career option, the article will go over what the job entails, how to become qualified, and what additional qualifications employers prefer. This article will also cover the certification process for becoming a school librarian within the state of Florida. 

How to Become an Academic Librarian in Florida

Academic libraries are libraries at universities. Academic librarians primarily serve students and faculty. They help with providing resource materials for each degree program the university offers and with accessing information. Additionally, it is not uncommon for an academic librarian to be a professor as well as a librarian, or to be a full-time library science professor. If a university has a MLIS program or other library science program, they will most likely have a number of full-time librarians as instructors. Florida has two MLIS degree programs as well as a Ph.D. program in Information. These programs are offered at Florida State University and the University of South Florida. They will be the schools to hire full-time faculty positions to librarians. Below we break down the different types of academic librarian positions and the job qualifications. 

Collections Librarian

A collections librarian must ensure the library is up to date on resources and that the library collection has enough resources for each program the university offers. For example, if a university offers a nursing degree, the collections librarian would ensure access to nursing and healthcare journals,e-books, print text books, online textbooks, and health science databases that contain current scholarly articles. Large universities that offer hundreds of programs may staff multiple collection librarians. Some collections librarian positions may only require a bachelor degree in library science or a related degree, but the majority of collection librarian positions will require a master’s degree in library and information science from an ALA-accredited program. Other required and/or preferred qualifications may include experience working with library collections, knowledge of the MARC system, skills working with various integrated library systems, and experience in cataloging. 

Archival and Special Collections Librarian

In an academic library, an archival and special collections librarian collects, organizes, and maintains materials including rare books, newspaper articles, photographs, and other items that relate to the history of the university and the local community. An archival librarian also aids with research in local history. They typically will create displays and exhibits, have presentations, and post online content to promote the collection and provide accessibility to the resources. Some required or preferred qualifications include strong communication skills, experience with outreach and collaboration, knowledge of current cataloging standards and library integrated systems,  experience in archival and library work, and experience with creating displays. Most universities will require an archival librarian to hold an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program and have library experience within archives or special collections. 

Professor of Library and Information Science

A professor of library and information science will be responsible for the instruction in either a classroom setting or in an online format. The classes will relate directly to information science and librarianship. Some of these positions will be as an assistant, associate, or a full-time professor. A part-time assistant or associate professor may also be an academic librarian. Many universities with library science degrees will hire current librarians as part-time faculty as well. Many universities require all of their faculty to hold a doctoral degree related to the subject they would be teaching. For a library science faculty member, a requirement, or strong preference, is to have an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program. Other requirements or preferences include experience in teaching, experience as a librarian, experience in scholarly research and writing, skills in information technology, and excellent communication skills.

Research Librarian 

At research institutions, a research librarian will take on more responsibility and be expected to present to stakeholders, collaborate with faculty and administration, work with other librarians and faculty members as a team, and write grants. All research librarians will work one on one with students and faculty to help them with their research. Some research librarians will have a specific subject they specialize in and will work within a department of the university rather than serve the whole university. Most minimum qualifications for this position will include holding an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program, two or more years of professional library experience, and having the ability to work with a team. Some preferred qualifications include knowledge of profiling systems such as Researcher I.D., skills in customer service, the ability to collaborate with students and faculty, and understanding how to search for research with data sources such as Web of Science, InCites, Scopus, SciVal, and/or Google Scholar.  

How to Become a School Librarian in Florida

A school librarian, or library media specialist, is a librarian that works in a public or private school for elementary, junior, and high school students. Library media specialists provide resources and aid to teachers and students, instruct students how to find research, provide storytimes and other programs for younger students, and help the school in any way through resources, library facilities, and services. Many library media specialists also help with clubs, organize maker spaces, and create programs for STEAM activities. In Florida, the education requirements for a library media specialist is a bachelors program or master’s program in library science or educational media. A degree in a different field is also acceptable, but at least 30 semester hours need to be in library science or educational media. Experience in teaching or librarianship is preferable. 

How to Become a Public Librarian in Florida

Public libraries in Florida have a couple special requirements for their public librarians and some of the librarian roles differ from other states. However, for the most part Florida has similar requirements to other U.S. states for public librarians. This section will cover both the differences and similarities of requirements and job expectations. The job descriptions and qualifications will vary some from county to county within the state. 

Adult Services Librarian

An adult services librarian will often take on a supervisory role, and may be expected to act as a library branch manager or department head. This depends on the size of the library system, and if there are issues with short staffing. Adult services will include the adult and young adult collection management, adult and young adult programming, providing services and resources for the young adult and adult population, and communicating with the young adult and adult library users to learn the best ways to meet their needs. Because this is often a supervisory position, experience in supervising is preferred for this position. Additionally, to qualify for this position in Florida, applicants will need a valid Florida driver’s license, an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program, experience with electronic technology and social media, and they must be willing to complete the National Incident Management System (NIMS) training before the end of the first six months of working.

Youth and Family Services Librarian

A youth and family services librarian creates and hosts programs and events for children, teens, and families. They also connect families to local resources, help local educators and non-profits find resources, and provide services to families, children, educators, and other organizations that help families in the area. This position may also serve as a supervisory role, or a back-up management role. Qualifications for this position include having an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program, a year or more of public library experience, and a valid Florida drivers license. Other qualifications or preferences may include experience working with children, experience as a children’s librarian assistant, strong communication skills, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of current technology in education tools. 

Branch Manager / Regional Branch Manager Librarian

A branch manager of a small library will be responsible for the management of the library branch and the branch’s staff members. This may also include managing the collection, budgeting, bookkeeping, and other administration duties. A regional branch manager will be responsible for multiple branches in an area, or one large library branch. Both of these positions will require an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program and a valid Florida driver’s license. Both will also require experience as a supervisor, or experience in management. The more responsibility the position requires will depend on the level of experience required. A preferred qualification will be having some education in management or administration.  

Additional Resources

For current job listings in the US and Canada visit: https://joblist.ala.org/jobs/

For current job opportunities in Florida visit: https://fla.mcjobboard.net/jobs

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