School Librarianship


School Librarianship — MLIS Career Pathway

Students in this pathway are prepared to manage libraries in all levels of K – 12 schools. The jobs for these graduates are found across the spectrum of schools and at the district and state levels. While school librarians are often working solo in schools, they may also supervise technicians, assistants, and volunteers in the operation of K – 12 libraries.

The school librarian impacts K – 12 student outcomes by collaborating with teachers, working directly with students, championing reading, provide information–rich learning environments, and advocating for information literacy.

Students will emerge with a specialization in the functions and skills necessary for employment in K – 12 schools, including information literacy pedagogy, collaboration, technology leadership, and program administration.

“For someone interested in teacher librarianship, no other program matches the quality and value of the SJSU program.”
– MLIS graduate

Students choosing to focus their studies in school librarianship may complete the courses required for an ALA–accredited MLIS degree, which is highly recommended. School librarians typically have an MLIS degree plus a teaching license.

In order to work in a public school, you will need to be licensed in the state you work in. California school librarians must have the Teacher Librarian Services Credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

If you are interested in a school librarian credential from a state other than California, view the list of requirements to be a school librarian in each state. (Note: Jonathan Hunt must work with you to identify the specific requirements needed to ensure you have a viable pathway in meeting non-California school library licensure requirements in your state.) Please email Jonathan Hunt regarding your intention before applying to the program.

The requirements to be a school librarian differ considerably by state. We recommend you earn an MLIS degree plus teaching licensure. 

For California school library students

  1. You must earn/hold a valid single or multiple subject clear teaching credential issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 
  2. Earn the Teacher Librarian Services Credential from the State of California
  3. Candidates may choose to complete the MLIS and the CA Teacher Librarian Services Credential course work prior to earning their first credential, but the application process for the California Teacher Librarian Services Credential cannot be initiated until the first credential is issued by the CTC.

For non-California school library students

  1. Check with your state’s school librarianship licensing requirements
  2. Contact Jonathan Hunt to discuss pursuing the School Librarianship career pathway.
  3. Ensure our ALA-accredited MLIS degree is accepted by your state’s licensing agency.
  4. Earn your MLIS degree.

IMPORTANT: Current students interested in the School Librarianship career pathway within the MLIS program and/or the CA Teacher Librarian Services Credential program must self-enroll in the Teacher Librarian Credential Advising site in Canvas as early as possible in their course work. This Advising site is open to all current iSchool students. 

Employment Opportunities

Careers in school librarianship vary from small organizations with a single teacher librarian to complex organizations embedded within larger institutions providing services to thousands of students.

Typical positions are titled librarian, media specialist, district librarian, library media specialist, teacher librarian, library media teacher, etc.

If you choose to do so, school librarians holding the MLIS degree have additional career options outside of K – 12, especially in youth services at public libraries.

What Does It Take to be a School Librarian?

The school librarian has to:

  • Be interested in and comfortable with the company of children and teenagers in schools.
  • Have a passion for teaching and the ability to create information–rich learning environments for students.
  • Be an advocate for students and libraries and be willing to accept responsibility for the information needs of students.
  • Be a lifelong learner and model the practice of life–long learning by embracing technology and information resources.
  • Hold a valid teaching credential from the CTC before being awarded the CA Teacher Librarian Services Credential.

Core Theory and Knowledge

  • The vocabulary of education, libraries and information technology.
  • Key concepts relating to student outcomes, including service, marketing, budgeting, measurement and evaluation.
  • The ability to analyze and apply information policy.
  • The effective use of educational technology.
  • The ability to communicate with all levels of the organization as well as external stakeholders.
  • The political process and the impact of federal, state, and local policies on libraries and information organizations.
  • The ability to plan strategically, balance resources, and implement practical tactics to achieve educational goals.

Required Coursework for CA Teacher Librarian Services Credential Candidates

These courses are approved for the California Teacher Librarian Services Credential. If you are interested in a credential from a state other than California, check with that state’s Department of Education for their requirements before undertaking this program.

Core Courses:

Program Curriculum and Technology:

Information Services and Materials:

Capstone Course:

Required Coursework for the MLIS

Students have the option to complete additional elective courses and earn their ALA-accredited MLIS degree, expanding their career opportunities in the information professions. To complete the required 43 units of coursework for the MLIS degree, students add four more courses to the 31 units of required coursework for the CA Teacher Librarian Services Credential – nine more elective units and INFO 289 Advanced Topics in Library and Information Science or INFO 299 Thesis.

Recommended Elective Courses for the MLIS in support of School Librarianship:

Learn More

  • Contact Jonathan Hunt to discuss pursuing the School Librarianship career pathway and/or the California Teacher Librarian Services Credential.
  • Read Community Profiles of students and alumni pursuing this career pathway.
  • Browse presentations by professionals working in teacher librarianship.
  • Search the Alumni Career Spotlights for alumni working in this field. Consider contacting an alum for an informational interview.