Library Administration and Management

Library administrators and managers are in charge of the operations of sections of a library, or in smaller libraries, of the entire library. They may manage staff, collections, policies and procedures, physical space, technology, and more. For those who want to work as professional librarians and are interested in administration and management, a career as a library manager or library administrator may sound appealing.

Of course, you can’t just walk into a library, degree in hand, and expect to be hired as an administrator or manager right away. Typically, library administrators and managers need from four to ten years of professional library experience, as well as a few years of supervisory experience (not necessarily within a library). A demonstrated interest in professional development through attending conferences and workshops on library topics is also recommended for aspiring library administrators and managers. 

Does a career in library administration and management sound enticing to you? Keep reading to discover more about becoming a library administrator or manager. 

African american female librarian

Education for Library Administration and Management

Like all professional librarians, the American Library Association (ALA) recommends that library administrators and managers have a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from an ALA-accredited program. You can search the ALA’s database for programs that include concentrations in library administration and management here. Some library administration and management positions prefer that applicants have an ALA-accredited MLS/MLIS plus a second master’s degree in education, law, or another specialized library concentration, or a teaching certificate. 

If you choose a MLS/MLIS program with a concentration in administration/management, you can expect to take courses such as:

  • Administration and Management of Libraries and Information Centers – This course explores the principles that govern how libraries and information centers work, and gives students a foundation for and introduction to the theories, practices and procedures involved in managing and administering libraries and information centers.
  • Library Privacy and Confidentiality: Law and Policy – This course is designed to help future library managers and directors gain a better understanding of the US Patriot Act and other laws as they apply to library user privacy and other issues. 
  • Volunteer Recruitment, Development and Supervision – This course teaches students how to manage a volunteer program successfully, perceiving volunteers as motivated and professional, and as enhancements rather than threats to the library and its jobs.
  • Managing Difficult Patrons – This course teaches students how to deal with difficult patrons, and provides students with tools to apply to manage a variety of difficult library patron situations.

Library Administration and Management Certification

The ALA runs a voluntary Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA) Certification Program. This is post-MLS certification for public librarians who have three or more years of supervisory experience. Although it is not a requirement in order to be a library administrator, it can improve your chances of being hired. 

Certification is not necessary for library administrators and managers, unless the state in which you wish to work requires it. For example, the state of Wisconsin requires public library directors and administrators to obtain state certification upon being hired. They may need to complete certain library courses to obtain that certification. Wisconsin only requires a bachelor’s degree and official documentation of four required library courses that have been completed (Basic Public Library Administration, Advanced Public Library Administration, Organization & Management of Collections, and Public and Community Library Services). Each state is different in its certification requirements for library administrators, managers and directors, so check with your state’s State Library System, Board of Library Commissioners, Department of Education or Department of Public Instruction for its rules. 

Job Description for Library Administration and Management

Positions in library administration and management may go by different names, including:

  • Library Division Director
  • Library Deputy Director
  • Assistant Library Director
  • Associate Library Director
  • Branch Manager
  • Library Manager
  • Library Director
  • Library Executive Director
  • Director of Outreach, Programs and Services

Library manager positions are usually thought of as being “inside” library jobs, in which one manages a library and its staff. Library director positions, on the other hand, may be more outward-focused positions, concentrating on obtaining funding for the library and dealing with the community and the public. 

Taking that into account, a job description for a position within library administration and management may include duties such as:

  • Managing the day-to-day operations of a library or division, including staff, materials and facilities
  • Scheduling, training, supervising and evaluating professional and support staff within the library
  • Overseeing or participating in the recruitment, scheduling and training of volunteers
  • Directing and coordinating activities of the library in connection with system regulations and policies
  • Making budget recommendations and monitoring the library’s budget
  • Participating in promotional and public relations tasks, such as creating interest in library services and raising awareness of library services
  • Working with other leaders and managers of libraries/divisions in developing tools to measure the impact of library services in the community
  • Attending library board meetings, community town hall meetings, etc.

Library Administration and Management Jobs

Library manager and administration positions may be advertised on the ALA’s JobLIST site, in library publications, on library electronic discussion lists, on library websites, on state association websites, and on internet job sites. 

A recent search for jobs within library administration and management found the following nationwide openings:

  • Library Manager, Selby Library, Sarasota County Government – Sarasota, FL
    • Salary: $63,003 to $87,006/year
    • Requires MLS/MLIS and three years of supervisory experience in a public library
  • Library Director, Blackstone Library – Branford, CT
    • Salary: $85,000/year
    • Requires MLS/MLIS plus significant experience (5 to 7 years) in library administration in a leadership role
  • Library Executive Director, St. Joe County Public Library – South Bend, IN
    • Salary: $96,000 to $144,000/year
    • Requires MLS/MLIS, 10 years of leadership experience in public library, and ability to obtain an LC1 Indiana Public Library Certification 
  • Director of Outreach, Programs and Services, King County Library System – Issaquah, WA
    • Salary: $133,187 to $159,829/year
    • Requires MLS/MLIS and 5 to 7 years of experience
  • Assistant Library Director, Library Systems & Services – Palmdale, CA
    • Salary: not specified
    • Requires MLS/MLIS and five years of public library experience, with three of those years in management/supervision 

Organizations and Resources for Library Administration and Management

These organizations and resources are of interest to those who work in library administration and management, as well as students who wish to pursue administration and management careers:

Library Administration and Management Association (LLAMA)– LLAMA is a division of the American Library Association that was established in 1957. It gives library professionals tools for building successful careers in library administration and management. 

Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures (CORE)– This division of the ALA is a national association that advances the profession of librarians and information providers in roles of leadership, management, metadata, collections and technology. 

Guidelines and Standards – Various library guidelines and standards developed by the ALA are listed on this page, including Library Privacy Guidelines, Guidelines for Standardized Cataloging for Children, and Guidelines for Preservation Photocopying of Replacement Pages. 

Library Leadership and Management (LL&M) – This professional journal of the ALA CORE: Leadership, Infrastucture, Futures focuses on assisting library managers and administrators at all levels as they deal with daily challenges.