Why does a Librarian need a masters degree?

I just finished explaining to a member of the public why a librarian needs a masters degree for the umpteenth time.

As I have been hit with this question several times already since starting the program, I am beginning to realize I need to come up with a clear answer. I find this a really difficult question to answer as the people that ask this generally do not have any idea what librarians do and think that we sit at a desk all day and read or something which really is not the case. I am wondering if anyone has any ideas for answering this question that they wouldn’t mind sharing with me! Thanks!!!

And, for those of you that are curious… my answer is rather long winded. I’ll explain it quickly here in short form.

The job of a librarian includes not only finding information, but organizing it, locating it, synthesizing it and evaluating it. Also, it involves collection development, cataloging, educating members of the library, listening and providing information – often there is a need for authoritative information, even in a public library. Some librarians are expected to have a general knowledge of all fields and others specialize in a specific field. Still, no matter what are a librarian specializes in, s/he must have knowledge of the field of librarianship as well. In order to do this, a librarian must have background knowledge, which comes from both experience and education and combined these help librarians to look at issues from several angles and this helps us to locate information for library users and direct them to information from various points of view so those library users make educated decisions.

6 responses to “Why does a Librarian need a masters degree?

  1. wow! i think that is a great explanation. i understand your frustration on explaining on we need a masters degree. i’m sorry. i have nothing to add on the explanation, but, i may borrow some points that you used and use them when somebody asks me the same quesiton.


  2. Learning Librarian

    Thank you Eves! It is such a difficult question to answer and I find I am continuously being asked this one.

  3. Christine/a Hwang

    I didn’t get asked (yet), but I asked this question myself! That is, before I applied to become a librarian 😉

  4. Hi! I just found your sight and want to thank you for posting this (a couple of years ago!). I have a writing blog where I like to discuss the benefits/importance of the public library system. A librarian-in-training friend of mine wrote up a short article called “Five things you don’t know about your librarian” for my blog. You can read it at http://cailamurphy.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/library-lover-part-2/
    Thanks, again!

  5. Sorry this is ridiculous. Let’s just say you did get a masters degree in library science. That qualifies you to do one thing. What if you dont like the job? Where are you going to go? I saw an ad yesterday for a librarian- master’s degree required for what -19 dollars an hour. If they require a masters degree they should pay a masters degree wage. I guess you could live on that- but not if you are drowning in master degree student loan debt. Lets stop pretending you are dealing with rocket scientistist here. My local used bookseller can does the same job and has no such fancy degree. This is a conspiricy between the colleges and the libraries to get money. Also, the skills a librarian used to have are now made obsolete and easier due to the interenet.

  6. i am doing a research paper on how the decline of readers effects librarians. what i know from other people is that librians get bad pay and hve to go to college for 4 to 6 years to get thier masters. is it worth it? did you have a lot of student loans? how much was it to pay through college? i am a possible future librian. but i don’t wan’t years of student loans to be burried under eather. PLEASE HElP!

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