How to Become a Librarian in Idaho

The Idaho Library AssociationIdaho Librarian Education (ILA) maintains a page on its website detailing myths about the membership of Idaho libraries in both the ILA and the American Library Association (ALA), versus reality – the truth. Some people falsely believe that all Idaho libraries are part of the ILA and ALA- not so. Libraries do not join these organizations, but those working in Idaho libraries are free to do so if they wish. Another myth, according to the ILA, is that the ALA tells Idaho libraries what they can and cannot do. In reality, the ALA offers guidance for best practices in librarianship, but does not tell Idaho libraries how they must operate. Idaho libraries may choose to follow ALA guidelines but they do not have to do so.

The ILA is a separate organization from the ICfL, or the Idaho Commission for Libraries. The ILA is a professional organization of those working in or supporting libraries in Idaho, with the mission of advancing the shared library interests of the state through collaboration, advocacy and professional development. The ICfL, on the other hand, is an agency of Idaho’s state government, under the administration of the Board of Library Commissioners, with the State Librarian as its chief executive officer. Its job is to help Idaho libraries in building capacities that allow them to better serve their communities.

Another point that the ILA makes on its Myths vs. Reality page is that funding for Idaho public libraries is not the responsibility of the federal or state government. This money does help to support Idaho libraries, but bit is inconsistent. Nor does the ALA give money to Idaho libraries for their operations. Libraries in Idaho work on yearly budgets based on what their city or county allocates to them, and also based upon property tax allocations within the jurisdiction. 

Working as a librarian in Idaho is more straightforward. One of the myths that does exist about Idaho librarians is that everyone who works in an Idaho library is a librarian. This is not true, as the libraries in Idaho also employ staff who are not professional librarians, as well as volunteers. Here, we will focus on what it takes to become a professional librarian in Idaho. 

What Does an Idaho Librarian Do?

Idaho’s librarians may work in public, school, academic, or special libraries. Therefore, their job descriptions differ widely. General duties of librarians in Idaho that apply to almost all of the librarian positions include:

  • Administering and maintaining collections of information for usage by library patrons
  • Working with diverse types of library materials such as periodicals, books, films, databases, recordings, and other digital content
  • Acquiring, cataloging, and circulating library materials
  • Helping library patrons to find information in the library
  • Organizing library information to make it easier for patrons to locate items
  • Instructing library patrons in accessing and using information of all types
  • Operating library media equipment

Librarian Education in Idaho

Librarians in Idaho must have a master’s degree from an institution with American Library Association (ALA) accreditation.  Both the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or the Master of Library Science (MLS) are acceptable. Idaho currently does not house any of these degree programs, but they may be found in neighboring states and in online institutions.

Idaho Librarian Certification

Public librarians in Idaho need no certification. Idaho school librarians must have a teacher’s license and succeed in passing endorsement examinations to become a Library Media Specialist. 

Jobs for Librarians in Idaho

Jobs for Idaho librarians are advertised on the ALA’s JobLIST, IdahoWorks, and INALJ Idaho, as well as within online classified job websites.

Idaho Librarian Salaries

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2021, Idaho librarians earn $22.05 an hour (hourly mean wage) and $45,870 per year (yearly mean wage). Those working in the following Idaho metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas earn the following wages:

Area Hourly Annual
Pocatello $25.13 $52,260
Southeast-Central nonmetro $24.92 $51,840
Twin Falls $23.85 $49,600
Boise City $22.06 $45,880
Coeur d’Alene $20.19 $41,990
Idaho Falls $19.92 $41,430
Northwestern nonmetro $18.01 $37,450

Job Prospects for Idaho Librarians 

Idaho librarians work within a variety of settings across the state. In March 2023, these are just some of the jobs posted for librarians in the state of Idaho.

  • Teacher Librarian Hiring Pool- Independent School District of Boise City, Boise, ID
    • Salary: $189 per day
    • Applicants need an Idaho teacher’s license and School Library Media Specialist endorsement
  • Associate Director/Branch Manager – Ada Community Library, Boise, ID
    • Salary: $50,544 per year
    • Applicants need an MLS or MLIS degree 
    • Applicants need five or more years of professional library experience 
    • Applicants with public library experience are preferred
    • Applicants need to have leadership characteristics
  • Circulation Assistant I – City of Nampa Public Library, Nampa, ID
    • Salary: $15 per hour
    • Applicants need at least a high school diploma or GED
    • Applicants need one year of library experience, or related experience providing customer service, resolving conflicts, and interpreting policies
    • Applicants should have working knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System
  • Information Technology Specialist – Internal Revenue Service, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, ID
    • Salary: $116,393 to $183,500 per year
    • Applicants with an MLS or MLIS degree are preferred
    • Applicants need at least one year of specialized experience in information technology
    • Applicants need to be U.S. citizens
    • Applicants must pass a background investigation and FBI criminal history check
  • Library Technician – City of Idaho Falls, Idaho Falls
    • Salary: not specified
    • Applicants need a high school diploma or GED
    • Applicants need at least two years of library science college credits