How to Become a Librarian in Colorado

Colorado has 272 public libraries, per the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Education. The Colorado State Library is actually a division of the Colorado Department of Education, and it is tasked with helping schools, libraries, museums and other organizations improve library services, making library materials and information accessible for all Coloradans. The Colorado State Library is also in charge of the Colorado Virtual Library and the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, two online services designed to meet Coloradans’ needs. State and federal funding is used to fund existing programs and implement new projects.

Colorado also has many organizations designed for its special libraries. The Colorado Council of Medical Librarians is an association of medical and health science librarians throughout the state. The Colorado Association of Law Libraries promotes law librarianship through professional education and networking for members. Colorado is also part of the Mountain Plains Library Association, which specializes in professional development opportunities for librarians working within the mountain states; and the Special Libraries Association – Rocky Mountain Chapter, an organization of librarians with special interests. 

There are many opportunities for interesting and challenging employment for well-trained individuals who are would-be librarians. Whether it is law librarianship, public librarianship, academic librarianship, school librarianship, or other librarianship you seek, you should be able to find your niche in Colorado.

What Does a Colorado Librarian Do?

Colorado librarians have diverse job duties, depending upon the type of librarianship they practice. For example, take a look at some of the responsibilities taken from the following job description for a K-12 school librarian in Colorado, courtesy of the Colorado Department of Education:

  • Planning, designing and teaching essential skills to students to enable learning opportunities
  • Coaching alongside teachers to help them embed literacy and learning skills
  • Providing professional development for staff on literacy and technology skills
  • Teaching digital citizenship and media literacy to students
  • Providing access to student self-selection of a wide variety of reading materials and resources in other formats
  • Providing students with foundational reading skills to assist them in becoming better readers
  • Providing teachers with vetted online and in-person resources to help promote literacy skills in students 

Colorado Librarian Education

A Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree from an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited school is a must for librarians in Colorado.  There is currently one program in Colorado, the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver. This school offers both on-campus and online degree options, as well as career paths that lead to jobs in data management, archiving, librarianship, digital collections, and more.

Librarian Certification in Colorado

Only school librarians must be certified in Colorado in order to be employable. They must have a teacher’s license and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in library science, and pass endorsement examinations to qualify for school librarianship positions.

Where Do Librarians Work in Colorado?

Colorado library jobs are featured on the ALA’s  JobLIST.  They are also found on the Colorado Association of Libraries Classifieds page, the Colorado Association of Law Libraries Jobs page, Colorado Educator Jobline, and Colorado Library Jobline

Colorado Librarian Salaries

Colorado librarians bring home hourly mean pay of $30.12 and annual mean pay of $62,650, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021). Librarians within specific parts of Colorado make the following wages:

Area of Colorado Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Boulder $35.57 $73,990
Denver/Aurora/Lakewood $32.22 $67,020
Fort Collins $31.53 $65,580
Pueblo $28.32 $58,910
Colorado Springs $28.15 $58,560
Greeley $27.62 $57,460
Northwest nonmetro $27.48 $57,160
Grand Junction $26.84 $55,820
Southwest nonmetro $22.56 $46,930
Eastern and Southern nonmetro $20.32 $42,260

Job Prospects for Colorado Librarians 

Employment for librarians in Colorado can typically be found across the state. Perusing the classified ads in March 2023 discovered the following librarian jobs in Colorado, for example:

  • Upper School Librarian – Colorado Academy, Denver, CO
    • Salary: $60,000 to $80,000 per annum
    • Requires an MLS or MLIS from a program with ALA-accreditation
    • Requires three or more years of work in a school library, preferably with students in grades 9-12
  • Children’s Librarian – High Plains Library District, Greeley, CO
    • Salary: $25.31 to $31.24 per hour
    • Requires an MLS or MLIS from a program with ALA-accreditation (or actively working towards such a degree)
    • Requires two or more years of librarian experience
    • Candidates who can read, write and speak Spanish fluently are preferred
  • Special Collections Administrator – City and County of Denver, Denver, CO
    • Salary: $80,371 to $93,431 per annum
    • Requires an MLS or MLIS from a program with ALA-accreditation
    • Advanced degrees in public history, museum studies or archives studies may be substituted for the MLS/MLIS requirement
    • Requires five years of post-graduate library, archival or museum experience
    • Requires previous experience supervising others
  • University Archivist, Assistant Professor of University Libraries – University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
    • Salary: $53,555 to $57,380 per annum
    • Requires an MLS or MLIS from a program with ALA-accreditation
    • An appropriate, equivalent graduate degree in another field may be substituted in lieu of MLS/MLIS if you have relevant professional experience
    • Requires two years of professional experience in museums, libraries or archives
  • Music Librarian and Seay Library Manager – Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
    • Salary: $65,300 to $82,600 per annum
    • Requires an MLS or MLIS from a program with ALA-accreditation
    • Requires two years of related experience, including management and music-specific research experience
    • Requires experience designing and delivering library instruction to students
    • Prefer candidates with an additional graduate degree in music