How to Become a Librarian in Arizona

Jana Bonfield, a librarian atArizona Librarian Education Eckstrom-Columbus Library in Tucson, AZ, recently wrote an interesting article on her journey to librarianship. When she was a child, growing up in Pima County, and her home had no air conditioning, her mother would take her to the library to cool off. Once, she recalls, after checking out her library books and returning to her mother, who was sitting comfortably reading a book in the library, she told her mother she was ready to go home. Her mother reminded her of the unbearable heat at home, and suggested that she get comfortable in the library for a while longer. 

Becoming comfortable in a library became Bonfield’s career goal, after getting a degree in elementary education and still feeling unfulfilled. She realized that the things that she looked for in a career – providing passionate learning opportunities, offering safe spaces, and giving underserved populations a voice – could be found in librarianship. Ultimately, she pursued that goal.

Librarians in Arizona do more than make their patrons comfortable, but that is a large part of the job. They open minds, welcome all with open hearts, and provide security to library patrons and their wider communities. If you think becoming an Arizona librarian sounds like a welcoming, comfortable job to you, keep reading.

What Does an Arizona Librarian Do?

Arizona librarians do all of the above-mentioned things – welcome all types of patrons into the library, making sure they feel safe and comfortable. They also have some other job duties, such as:

  • Answering reference requests and providing reference services to patrons of the library
  • Plan, organize, coordinate, implement, and promote library programs and events
  • Evaluating library collections in an ongoing manner, weeding out unnecessary materials and recommending new materials
  • Research and evaluate library materials and equipment needs
  • Assist in developing or revising library policies and procedures, and enforcing them with staff and patrons
  • Helping patrons of the library in using library technology such as electronic catalog systems and computers

Librarian Education in Arizona

Arizona librarians are typically required to have either a  Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. This degree must come from a program that has received ALA (American Library Association) accreditation.  As of 2023, there is one program with this designation in Arizona: the Master of Arts in Library and Information Science program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The program is presented in in-person and online formats. Concentrations in the following areas are available to students:

  • Special librarianship
  • Public librarianship
  • Medical and community health information
  • Legal information
  • Digital curation
  • Archival studies
  • Academic librarianship

Arizona Librarian Certification

Arizona public librarians need not be certified. A certification program for public library staff who do not have an MLS or MLIS does exist, offered through the ALA. Arizona K-12 school librarians must possess a teacher’s license and must pass endorsement examinations to be able to teach library/educational media in the state’s public schools.

Librarian Jobs in Arizona

The ALA’s  JobLIST is one place in which you can find librarian jobs in Arizona when they are available. Other places that advertise Arizona librarian positions include the Arizona State Library Jobline, the University of Arizona Libraries page, and INALJ Arizona.

Arizona Librarian Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2021, Arizona librarians bring home $25.62 as an hourly mean wage and $53,280 as a yearly mean wage. Librarians working in various communities statewide may make wages that are above or below these averages, as you can see here:

Area of Arizona  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Phoenix – Mesa- Scottsdale $26.78 $55,700
Flagstaff $26.20 $54,490
Tucson $25.59 $53,220
Prescott $23.42 $48,720
Nonmetro area $21.43 $44,570
Sierra Vista – Douglas $21.32 $44,350
Lake Havasu City – Kingman $20.09 $41,790
Yuma $19.95 $41,500

Job Prospects for Arizona Librarians 

When jobs are available for librarians in Arizona, they will be posted at the above-referenced websites, as well as on classified job sites. Some examples of jobs available as of March 2023 are:

  • Librarian I – City of Avondale, Avondale, AZ
    • Salary: $53,602 to $77,730 yearly
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • One year of customer service and public programming experience mandatory
  • High School Librarian – Maricopa Unified School District #20, Maricopa, AZ
    • Salary: $41,200 to $52,200 yearly
    • Arizona teacher’s license with endorsement in library media mandatory
  • Reference and Instruction Librarian – Benedictine University, Mesa, AZ
    • Salary: $36,100 to $45,700 yearly
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Library experience preferred
  • Medical Librarian and CME Administrator-THMEP – Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, AZ
    • Salary: $44,400 to $56,200 yearly 
    • Bachelor’s degree in health care administration mandatory
    • MLS or MLIS preferred, or graduate studies working towards a degree
    • Two years in program administration and program implementation mandatory
  • Archivist – Arizona State University, Tempe
    • Salary: $60,000 yearly
    • MLS, MLIS, or master’s degree in anthropology, art history, museum studies or related field mandatory
    • One year of museum curatorial and registration experience mandatory
    • A bachelor’s degree in the above-referenced subject areas and three years of museum curatorial and registration experience may be substituted for the education/experience requirement
    • Six years of museum curatorial and registration experience may be substituted for the education requirement 
    • Prefer candidates with five years of experience in management of anthropological archives
    • Prefer candidates with three years of experience in supervising archival specialists, students, assistants, volunteers and interns
  • Librarian I/II, Collection Development – City of Tempe, Tempe, AZ
    • Salary; $52,570 to $70,444 yearly
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Two years of library experience mandatory
    • Must pass criminal history background check