How to Become a Librarian in Kentucky

Kentucky Librarian Education

Children’s story times have become a staple at public libraries across America. Recently, some groups have begun their own story times at public libraries, volunteering to read to children on a regular basis. One such story time, however, is being canceled in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Drag Queen Storytime-Kentucky is a Louisville-based non-profit organization that was created in 2021 to provide inclusive, accessible, and culturally diverse educational programming to Kentucky’s youth. In this program, drag queens and other members of the LGBTQ+ community read stories to children at libraries throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. It is designed to capture the gender fluidity of childhood and give children positive LGBTQ+ role models. 

However, in 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about heightened concerns of domestic terrorism threats against marginalized groups nationwide. This includes the LGBTQ+ community. Drag Queen Storytime-Kentucky has therefore decided to put all events in the commonwealth on hold indefinitely. This move was made to keep both the performers/readers and the children safe. 

Drag Queen Storytime-Kentucky is just one way in which Kentuckians are giving back to youth through usage of the commonwealth’s public libraries. The KLU Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2021-22 reports that Kentucky has 108 public libraries statewide. Each of these libraries provides unique programs to the public it serves. 

Librarians do not just work in public libraries in Kentucky. There are many school librarians, archivists, medical librarians, law librarians, and more. If you would like to learn how to become a librarian in Kentucky, please keep reading.

What Does a Kentucky Librarian Do?

Librarian duties differ across Kentucky depending upon the type of library in which one works. There are several tasks that are typically found in most, if not all, librarian positions in Kentucky. They are:

  • To plan and provide programs for library patrons
  • To evaluate, maintain and participate in selecting print and online materials
  • To troubleshoot technology problems for staff and library patrons, including issues regarding the internet, tablets, smartphones, social media, eReaders, computer programs and library system software
  • To establish and maintain relationships with local agencies and organizations to promote programs and encourage partnerships throughout the community
  • To schedule, promote, and assist in setting up exhibits and displays
  • To evaluate and prioritize the library’s needs on a regular basis
  • To attend professional workshops, continuing education courses, and regional and network meetings and seminars

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Kentucky?

Kentucky’s professional librarians must have a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from a school with an American Library Association (ALA)-approved program. As of 2022, Kentucky has one such program: the Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. This online program offers concentrations in Health Information, School Librarian, Youth Services and Literature, Academic Libraries, Information Systems, Public Libraries, and Generalist. 

School librarians must also earn a MLS/MLIS/MSLS degree and have a teaching certificate. Graduates will have certification as a school media librarian in Kentucky and must then pass the Praxis II Library Media Specialty Examination. 

What Certification is Necessary for Kentucky Librarians?

The Kentucky State Board for the Certification of Librarians was created by Kentucky’s General Assembly in 1938. It states that public libraries must be staffed by appropriately certified personnel. Professional levels of public librarian certification are based upon education as follows:

  • Professional IV: Must have a bachelor’s degree with 9 graduate/undergraduate hours in library science AND 6 graduate/undergraduate hours in a job-related field of study

OR Must have a master’s degree with 6 graduate/undergraduate hours in library science and 3 graduate/undergraduate hours in a job related-field of study

  • Professional III: Must have a bachelor’s degree with 21 graduate/undergraduate hours in library science, OR must have a master’s degree with 15 graduate/undergraduate hours in library science
  • Professional II: Must have a MLS/MLIS from a school that does not have ALA accreditation, OR must have a master’s degree with at least 15 graduate hours in library science
  • Professional I: Must have a MLS/MLIS from an ALA-accredited school

As mentioned above, school librarians must hold certification as a school media librarian in Kentucky, and pass the Praxis II Library Media Specialty Examination.

Other librarian positions may have their own certification requirements, depending upon the type of librarianship.

Where Do Librarians Work in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Archives and Libraries Job List posts available jobs within libraries across the commonwealth. The ALA’s Job List also posts available librarian jobs in Kentucky. 

What Do Librarians Earn in Kentucky?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2021, Kentucky’s librarians earn an hourly mean wage of $27.88 and an annual mean wage of $58,000. Librarians working in various cities and towns throughout Kentucky make varying wages, as is evident here:

AreaHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Louisville/Jefferson County$29.34$61,030
Elizabethtown/Fort Knox$28.73$59,760
Central nonmetro area$27.65$57,510
West nonmetro area$26.73$55,600
South central nonmetro area$26.63$55,380
Bowling Green$25.72$53,500
East nonmetro area$25.02$52,050

Job Prospects for Kentucky Librarians 

Available librarian positions across Kentucky vary. As of December 2022, the following jobs were posted in the commonwealth:

  • Adult Services Librarian – Woodford County Library, Versailles
    • Pay: $35,000 annually
    • Need MLS/MLIS from ALA-accredited school
    • Need knowledge of library policies and procedures, practices and materials
    • Need knowledge of reference sources, research methods, database, and online reference sources
  • Electronic Resources Librarian/Assistant Professor- Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
    • Pay: $37,100 to $46,900 annually 
    • Need MLS/MLIS from ALA-accredited school
    • Need familiarity with electronic resource industry standards, best practices, and protocols or willing to learn
  • Community Engagement and Instruction Librarian – University of Pikeville, Pikeville
    • Pay: $38,800 to $49,100 annually
    • Need MLS/MLIS from ALA-accredited school
    • Need two years of library experience 
  • Strategic Collection Cataloguer- Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore
    • Pay: $36,900 to $46,700 annually
    • Need MLS/MLIS from ALA-accredited school
    • Need prior original and copy cataloging experience or coursework
  • Need experience with online integrated library systems and the OCLC system
  • Library Manager, Neighborhood– Louisville Metro Government, Louisville
    • Pay: $45,100 to $57,100 annually
    • Need MLS/MLIS or master’s degree in related field
    • Need two years of supervisory experience 
    • Need to hold and maintain Professional Librarian Certification in Kentucky within 30 days of employment