How does one get a library job without a graduate degree? Is there any sort of jobs board specifically for library jobs? How does one get into a library sciences PhD program with no prior relevant experience or coursework?
Thank you for asking! I love questions! Here we go.
First, just to put it out there, you don’t need a graduate degree to get a job in a library. I worked as a page and library assistant in public libraries without a degree. Our library system’s cataloger and branch managers didn’t have grad degrees. If you want a “librarian” position (with the official title and everything), you do need a MLIS or MLS. Especially in academic and public libraries. If you’re interested in school libraries, it gets a little confusing. Ultimately, it varies depending on state and school district. Here in Utah, school districts only require that middle and high school librarians (not primary or elementary) have a library media endorsement and teacher certification. Most have a Masters in Education as well. Side note: There’s a bit of hmm… contention in the library world over whether or not an MLIS is truly necessary for a librarian position. I believe it is, but I may be in the minority. Fun discussion topic!
Second, there are many different ways to find library jobs even without a degree! Once again, it really depends on the type of library job you want and your preferred location. When I worked as a public librarian in Georgia, I would check out our state’s library job board and some regional ones. List-servs can also be helpful! State and regional library associations, ALA divisions, smaller library associations, etc. all have list-servs where members share job postings. New Members Round Table’s NMRT-L is a really good one to check out. But sometimes you have to be a member of the association or division to get access. ALA also has a decent job board. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Chronicle Vitae is good if you’re looking to work in academic libraries. I Need a Library Job is another wonderful resource. LibGig provides an aggregation of library postings. There are definitely resources out there.
Finally, getting into a PhD program without an MLIS/MLS can be done, but it’s more work. In the School of Information at FSU where I got my PhD, they prefer that you have a MLIS, but it isn’t required. Instead, you would need to take additional coursework to bulk up your knowledge (basically get a MLIS while working on a PhD. I had a friend do this.). Obviously, this extends how long it will take you to complete the doctoral program. Other schools may just require you to take additional relevant courses but not complete another degree. Depends!
Disclaimer: I always tell people this if they are considering a PhD. There are maybe two reasons (top!) to get a PhD and so so many more not to. It’s a cruel, time consuming, and sometimes unbearable task to take on. Carefully think about why you want to get a PhD and what your end goals for it are. If you are in school, ask faculty members about the process and lifestyle. If possible, find a doctoral student for insight. You can usually find at least one huddled in a coffee shop at 9pm on a Friday quietly sobbing over a dissertation that will JUST NOT END and is slowly but surely destroying all of her mental functioning (Definitely wasn’t me.)
Anyway, wayyyyy more info than you wanted, but I hope some of it helps! Again, thank you for asking!