Library Media Specialist Degree Programs

School Program ALA Accredited?
Syracuse University Online MS in Library and Information Science
University of Denver Master of Library and Information Science

A library media specialist is an information professional working in a K-12 school setting. These professionals have obtained a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or related degree, often with a concentration in library media or school librarianship. Since the professional is working in a school setting, a teacher license, endorsement, or certification at the state-level is typically required in addition to the MLIS. Library media specialists are also referred to as teacher-librarians, school library media specialists, or school librarians.

Are there online Library Media Specialist programs?

Yes. Many library and information science degree programs, with a library media specialist concentration, are available fully online. Additionally, some programs offer library media specialist licenses, certifications, and endorsements online.

Click to find online library science programs currently accepting applications.

Are there Bachelors in Library Media Specialist programs?

ALA and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL - a division of ALA) only recognize library media specialist degree programs at the Master-level. The minimum for most professional library careers is the MLIS, MLS, or related degree. Bachelor-level degree programs in library and information science do exist for paraprofessional or entry-level positions. Alternatively, some states offer school librarianship programs at the Bachelor-level that prepare individuals to work in a K-12 setting in that specific state. The requirements for degree and licensure, endorsement, or certification will vary, so it is important to thoroughly research these through specific states' departments of education.

Are there Masters in Library Media Specialist programs?

Yes. A number of universities and colleges offer Master of library and information science degrees, with programs including library media specialist or school librarianship concentrations.

Are there ALA Accredited Masters in Library Media Specialist programs?

Yes. Currently, ALA accredits more than 50 programs offering school librarianship concentrations or career pathways. All programs accredited by ALA and those recognized by AASL are at the Master-level. The ALA maintains a searchable database of accredited programs and you can view a review of the best online ALA accredited library science programs here.

Featured Online Library Programs

School Level Program
Syracuse University
Website
Master Online MS in Library and Information Science
ALA-accredited. No GRE required to apply.
University of Denver
Website
Master Master of Library and Information Science
ALA-Accredited, No GRE Required.
St. John's University
Website
Master Online M.S. in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited. Complete in as little as 2 years.
University of West Alabama
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Doctorate Education Specialist: Library Media

What do library media specialists do?

Library media specialists often serve as teacher, information specialist, instructional partner to other educators, and program administrator. In general, the MLIS prepares the candidate to work in a variety of professional settings. A library and information science degree with a library media specialist concentration prepares the holder to serve students, while collaborating with educators and administrators, in an elementary, middle, or high school.

An online search for "library media specialist" may return results for "school librarian", as the terms are often used interchangeably. The American Library Association (ALA) typically refers to professionals in this position as school librarians.

Top 5 online MLIS programs with Library Media Specialist concentrations

The following programs are recognized nationally for their concentrations or specializations that prepare candidates to work as library media specialists. Programs typically require some form of fieldwork or a field experience (sometimes referred to as a practicum). Additionally, programs offer in-state teaching licensure, endorsement, or certification. Each states' requirements for library media specialists will vary. It is highly recommended to research requirements if completing a program in a state other than the one in which you plan to work.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - Youth and School Librarianship Pathway

Regularly ranked as one of the best Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MS/LIS) programs in the country, the School of Information Science is also recognized for its Youth and School Librarianship pathway. The concentration prepares graduates to work with children and young adults in a variety of public, private, and nontraditional settings. The program also offers an online school librarian licensure for the state of Illinois. Prospective students may choose from several paths toward licensure based on their current education and professional level.

The MS/LIS requires 40 credit hours, of which two courses are required. Typical courses in the Youth and School Librarianship pathway include Youth Services Librarianship, Collection Development, and School Library Management. There are also options for students to take a practicum or independent study or complete a thesis. The School Librarianship Licensure Program requires 16 hours of LIS courses and 16 hours of education coursework. Tuition for online, Illinois residents is $663 per credit hour; the nonresident online tuition rate is $958 per credit hour. Online students do not pay campus fees. GRE test scores are required for those with an undergraduate GPA below a 3.0.

University of Washington - School Library Media Endorsement

This MLIS program offers a number of courses designed to prepare candidates for careers in Digital Youth and Children's Librarianship. Coursework emphasizes digital and media literacy. Individuals with a teaching certificate can pursue a School Library Media Endorsement, as the program does not offer a stand-alone option. This option allows students to complete the MLIS degree and then pursue Washington state endorsement. Courses prepare candidates to sit for the WEST-E exam. A directed fieldwork course (practicum) is required for the endorsement.

The online MLIS program consists of 63 quarter credits (including core courses, electives, and a final degree project). Students complete the program in cohorts, taking an average of three calendar years. The program requires a 3-day on-campus orientation session for all new students. The online MLIS tuition is $852 per credit, averaging $17,892 annually (based on 21 credits per year). GRE scores are optional for admission.

Simmons University - School Library Teacher Concentration

The MLIS School Library Teacher concentration places an emphasis on training in instructional technologies utilized in contemporary schools. The program consists of 36 credit hours, including public school fieldwork and a practicum at both the elementary and secondary school levels. Upon completion, graduates are eligible for endorsement to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for licensure.

While some courses can be completed remotely, the school library teacher concentration is not entirely online. Students will need to take in-person courses in Boston and SLIS West (South Hadley and Amherst, Massachusetts). Some in-person courses may be supplemented with those offered online. For those already holding either the MLIS or a Master's in Education, Simmons also offers a School Library Teacher Licensure. Tuition for the School Library Teacher concentration is $1,335 per credit hour, with a $60 per semester student fee. The GRE is only required if the GPA for all previous degrees is less than a 3.0.

University of South Carolina - School Library Certification

With options to complete the program either fully online or combined online and on-campus, the MLIS consists of 36 hours of coursework for those already certified to teach. Students without a teaching certification will need to complete the core 36 hours and an additional 15 hours (consisting of a second internship and four education courses). Students completing the program earn certification eligibility by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Students are able to tailor 18 credit hours to their interests. Recommended electives for the School Library Certification include Storytelling, Diversity in Libraries, and Planning Library Facilities. The culminating experience for the program is a capstone, which includes a course in school library program development, an internship, and a portfolio. Tuition is based on residency status, with certified teacher rates available. GRE and MAT scores are not required for admission.

University of North Carolina-Greensboro - School Library Licensure

The program consists of 36 credit hours, with five core courses and one additional technology requirement (18 hours total). A minimum 18 hours of electives are required. The culminating experience for the program, a capstone, consists of a practicum or research component. The School Library Licensure is for students pursuing the MLIS and with plans to apply for school library licensure with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. There is also an option to complete a school library licensure-only track, for those who have already earned the MLIS.

The majority of online courses are offered with a set class time (synchronous). Estimated tuition and fees are based on residency status. The estimated program cost for North Carolina residents is $17,789 ($356 per credit hour); estimated cost for non-North Carolina residents completing the program online out-of-state is $23,227 ($646 per credit hour); and approximate cost for non-North Carolina residents receiving online education in North Carolina is $40,225 ($1,118 per credit hour). The GRE is not required for admission.

Typical Online School Librarianship Curriculum

While the curriculum will vary by program, courses often focus on information literacy, digital technologies, instruction and instructional design, and program development. Curricula are typically designed to prepare library media specialists to serve in contemporary information centers and to meet the needs of diverse youth and young adult populations. Additionally, an emphasis is generally placed on administration of library collections, services, and facilities. An important component for many programs is preparation for state-level teacher licensure, endorsement, or certification for those not already in possession of a teaching credential.

Courses typically found in a school librarianship concentration

Course Description

Libraries and Technology – Foundational course examining the relationship between information environments and technology, and the role of the information professional in technology adoption. Provides students with a hands-on exploration of various information technologies and systems often utilized in library settings. This course prepares the practitioner to assess, integrate, and operate new and emerging technologies. Emphasis is placed on media and technology applications – especially web-based and mobile tools. The course also includes discussions on current social and professional topics as they relate to libraries and technology.

Information & Media Literacy

Explores the theories, methods, and applications of information and media literacy. Students will learn strategies and best practices for introducing information and media literacy skills to diverse populations. Topic include information access, evaluation, and use; developing literacy skills in children; technology in support of literacy; and literacy program development.

Instructional Design & Instruction Strategies

Students will examine the theories (literacy, teaching, and learning), strategies, and applications for instructional design and instruction in a variety of information settings. Hands-on activities will develop skills in lesson-planning, classroom instruction support, assessment, and technology use. This course provides an in-depth investigation of frameworks and standards. For the final project, students will create and present an instructional program.

Digital Storytelling

This course presents the foundational principles of the art of digital and oral storytelling for all ages, using both traditional and contemporary modes. Topics include story adaptation; presenting and presentation technologies; source materials; literacy, teaching, and learning theories; program planning; and evaluation. Students will gain the skills to present effective storytelling programs using audio, video, and digital media.

Reference Services for Children & Young Adults

Examines widely used print and electronic resources in K-12 settings. Focus is placed on information seeking behaviors in children and young adults, and the development of critical thinking skills in school-aged populations. Students will develop competencies to support children and young adults in developing effective search strategies and evaluation skills – while learning question negotiation best practices.

Library Programming for Children & Young Adults

Hands-on course focused on the design, development, implementation, and assessment of age-appropriate library programming in K-12 settings. Students will explore various events, activities, and themes (such as story times, book talks, and makerspaces), and planning resources for non-curricular programs. Discussions on programming for diverse and special populations are also included. For the final project, students will design and develop a library programming activity for a specific school-aged population.

Resources for Children

Covers the evaluation, selection, and use of print and electronic materials for children (ages 0-12) in public libraries and school media centers. Investigates material selection criteria and frameworks for personal and curricular use. Materials for this age group include picture books, easy readers, and chapter books. Introduces relevant and applicable theories, including human development and information behavior. Takes into consideration the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical needs of children.

Resources for Young Adults

Covers the evaluation, selection, and use of print and electronic materials for young adults and teens (ages 12-18) in public libraries and school media centers. Investigates material selection criteria and frameworks for personal and curricular use. Materials for this age group include graphic novels and traditional literature. Introduces relevant and applicable theories, including human development and information behavior. Takes into consideration the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical needs of young adults and teens.

Collections, Programming, and Services for Diverse Populations

Prepares practitioners to meet the needs of diverse, and ever-changing, information center users by providing equitable collections, programming, and services. Students will explore techniques for research, design, implementation, and evaluation. Additionally, this course investigates the needs of nontraditional library users across a variety of information settings.

School Library Management & Evaluation

This course prepares practitioners to manage and evaluate school libraries and media centers. By examining theories and best practices, students will develop the necessary knowledge and skills to design, develop, and assess a successful library or center. Topics include administration, personnel, budgeting, facilities, and planning. Discussion will also include contemporary issues and trends.

ALA requirements for Library Media Specialist programs

ALA-accredited MLIS programs have received the organization’s endorsement for their commitment to educational standards and value. The process for ALA accreditation and continuation includes stringent, criteria-based self-evaluation and peer-assessment. Several organizations work in collaboration to establish standards for programs offering library media specialist concentrations. ALA, AASL, and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) determine school librarianship standards, while AASL is responsible for reviewing non-ALA accredited programs.

Library media specialist concentrations must meet or exceed measures in five categories to be recognized by AASL. The categories include, The Learner and Learning, Planning for Instruction, Knowledge and Application of Content, Organization and Access, and Leadership, Advocacy, and Professional Responsibility. Standards reflect the modern role of libraries, librarians, and information in school settings and professional best practices.

What careers can you have with a Library Media Specialist degree?

Library media specialists may be employed by public, private, or charter schools, school districts, or nontraditional institutions. Individuals in these roles are often responsible for educating students, teachers, and administrators on proper use of information services. Information literacy and digital technology use are also central to the role. Library media specialists may oversee support staff, student assistants, or volunteers. Library media specialists may also serve as school representatives within the community.

Possible careers include:

  • School Librarian
  • Teacher-Librarian
  • Library & Media Specialist
  • Library Media Specialist Assistant
  • Media Specialist – District
  • Technology Teacher and Library Media Specialist
  • District Media Coordinator
  • Early Literacy Digital Media Specialist
  • Library/Media Center Coordinator
  • Youth Services Librarian
  • Secondary Librarian
  • eMedia Coordinator
  • Program and Outreach Librarian
  • Library Information Specialist
  • Children’s/Youth/Teen Librarian