How to Become a Librarian in Illinois

Illinois is a unique state, in thatIllinois Librarian Education the Secretary of State, who is currently Alexi Giannoulias, also serves as the Illinois State Librarian. This is largely due to the fact that the Illinois State Library is the main information resource for the state government, with a collection of over five million items, and access to additional electronic resources. In addition, the Illinois State Library is a depository for all regional federal documents, contains historic and contemporary Illinois documents, and over 185,000 maps.

Through grant programs, the Illinois State Library provides support to over 3370 public, academic, special, and school libraries across the state, comprising the Illinois Library and Information Network (ILLINET). ILLINET was established in 1975 and today, helps meet the diverse needs of the citizens of the state. 

As there are many different types of libraries throughout Illinois, there are many different types of librarians working within them. Becoming an Illinois librarian is a challenge that is suited for those who have the desire to learn and the discipline to pursue graduate education and specialized training. 

What Does an Illinois Librarian Do?

Because of the varied and diverse libraries across the state of Illinois, jobs for librarians are also varied and diverse. There are some duties that can be found in most Illinois librarian job descriptions, such as:

  • Weeding, selecting and maintaining materials, databases and other resources for the library and maintaining collections
  • Providing reference assistance to library patrons
  • Providing reader’s advisory services to library patrons
  • Providing computer instruction for library patrons
  • Presenting programs for library patrons
  • Promoting the library through community visits, presentations, and public relations
  • Ensuring that staff and library patrons follow library policies, rules and procedures

Librarian Education in Illinois

In order to become an Illinois librarian, you need to have a graduate degree from a college that has received accreditation through the American Library Association (ALA).  This degree should be a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a Master of Library Science (MLS). There are currently three accredited programs in Illinois:

  • Master of Science in Library and Information Science – Chicago State University, Chicago, with specializations available in:
  • Master of Library and Information Science – Dominican University, River Forest, with concentrations in:
    • Youth services
    • Web design
    • User experience
    • Special studies
    • Library and information center administration
    • Informatics
    • Health informatics
    • Digital libraries
    • Digital humanities
    • Digital curation
    • Digital asset management
    • Data and knowledge management
    • Cybersecurity governance
    • Assessment
    • Archives and cultural heritage resources and services
  • Master of Science in Library and Information Science – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, with concentrations in:
    • Knowledge management and competitive intelligence
    • Data and asset management
    • Research and information services
    • Information organization and management
    • Youth and K-12
    • Archival and special collections

Illinois Librarians Certification

School librarians are the only type of librarians in Illinois requiring certification. They must possess a Professional Educator License (PEL) and pass endorsement tests to become a Library Information Specialist. Public and other types of librarians in Illinois need not be certified. 

Jobs for Librarians in Illinois

You can find Illinois librarian jobs advertised in a variety of places, such as the ALA’s JobLIST, the Illinois Library Association’s JobLine,  the RAILS Job Board, and online classified job sites.

Librarian Salaries in Illinois

Illinois has the fifth-highest employment level for librarians in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021 figures). There are 5850 librarians employed throughout Illinois, making an hourly mean wage of $29.28 and an annual mean wage of $60,910. Librarians employed within the following Illinois jurisdictions make the corresponding wages listed:

Area Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Chicago/Naperville/Elgin 4520 $30.86 $64,180
Bloomington 70 $28.74 $59,780
Champaign/Urbana 170 $28.68 $59,650
Springfield 90 $27.14 $56,450
Rockford 110 $26.66 $55,450
Peoria 130 $25.21 $52,440
Kankakee 50 $24.54 $51,050
Northwest nonmetro 150 $23.40 $48,670
Carbondale/Marion 40 $23.19 $48,230
East Central nonmetro 110 $20.54 $42,720
West Central nonmetro 180 $19.79 $41,170
South nonmetro 100 $17.70 $36,820

Job Prospects for Illinois Librarians 

Jobs listed for librarians in Illinois can tell us a lot about the current pay rate versus what the BLS reports, as well as what requirements are necessary in the “real world” in order to become a librarian in Illinois. The following are great examples of the varieties of jobs for librarians, advertised in March 2023, statewide:

  • Middle School Librarian – Lake Forest School District, Lake Forest
    • Pay rate: $45,900 to $58,100 per year
    • Candidates must have Illinois Professional Educator Licensure (PEL) with a Library Information Specialist endorsement
    • Candidates who have an MLIS or MLS degree are preferred
  • Librarian, Reference and Cataloging – The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
    • Pay rate: $47,200 to $59,800 per year
    • Candidates must have an MLIS or MLS degree
    • Candidates must have experience assisting researchers in accessing rare and special collection materials and in using art history research tools, both online and in print
  • Copyright Librarian – Illinois State University, Normal
    • Pay rate: $58,000 to $64,500 per year
    • Candidates must have an MLIS or MLS degree 
    • Candidates with experience in teaching copyright and scholarly communication topics are preferred 
  • Research and Graduate Studies Librarian – Western Illinois University, Macomb
    • Pay rate: $6426 per month
    • Candidates must have an MLIS or MLS degree 
    • Candidates must have an additional advanced or professional degree
    • Candidates must have demonstrated public service orientation
    • Candidates with academic librarianship experience are preferred
  • Information Management Librarian – Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago
    • Pay rate: $45,100 to $57,100 per year
    • Candidates must have an MLIS or MLS degree 
    • Candidates must have at least five years of experience in the information field in the business or financial services industry
    • Candidates must have experience with Content Management Systems, web architecture, and digital projects
    • Candidates must be U.S. citizens
    • Candidates and families must comply with the Bank’s rules regarding the owning of securities of banks or savings associations or their affiliates