How to Become a Librarian in Maryland

Maryland Librarian Education

Public librarians in Maryland wear many hats. One job responsibility that might not immediately come to mind when you think of a librarian is providing legal information. The Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA)’s Delivery of Legal Services Section has been conducting outreach initiatives with public librarians in the state, training them to be better able to help members of the public who come into public libraries in search of legal information. 

This example illustrates the many topics in which Maryland public librarians must be well-versed. A broad knowledge base is necessary in order to assist library patrons who may enter the library looking for specific or general information. Today’s public librarians in Maryland must be information specialists as well as technologically savvy, understanding the importance of all forms of data and knowing various ways to access these media. 

According to Maryland Public Library Statistics for 2020, in that year, Maryland’s public libraries experienced 48,161,364 total visits statewide. Of these visits, 30,614,108 were virtual, indicating that many patrons that year accessed the library from the comfort (and safety, during the COVID-19 pandemic) of their own homes. Librarians are responsible for assisting patrons both in-person and online, to the best of their abilities.

If you have a natural curiosity about the world, are open to learning all you can about virtually everything, have top-notch analytical and organizational skills, and are an effective interpersonal communicator, becoming a public librarian in Maryland could be the ideal career for you. Read on to discover what you must do to achieve this goal. 

What Does a Maryland Librarian Do?

According to the American Library Association (ALA), as of 2019 there are 24 public libraries in Maryland. While that might sound like a small amount for a state with a population of 6,177,224 as of 2020, keep in mind that Maryland has an integrated system among its libraries, connected via the Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium. Information can be shared among libraries, and patrons may even log on from home to reserve books from one library and pick them up at their local library (or to reserve Kindle e-books and have them delivered directly to their Kindle tablet). Maryland residents are not charged any fees for borrowing from any public library in the state. 

Being a librarian in Maryland today is much different than being a librarian in Maryland was 30 years ago. While many library patrons in Maryland still physically visit their local library to conduct research and check out media of various types, some are visiting the library for other reasons. Those who do not have access to an internet connection may come to the library to utilize its connection.  Others might come into the library to take advantage of the temperature, getting warm from the library’s heat in the winter and enjoying the library’s air conditioning in Maryland’s humid summers. 

Maryland librarians must, therefore, be excellent customer service specialists, as they are the face of the library and the first thing that patrons who walk through its doors see. They must be intuitive and help patrons understand what they are looking for, even if the patrons are not sure of that themselves. Maryland librarians must also be experts in technology, having a thorough understanding of the various forms of information and technology available to patrons as well as for their own usage in assisting patrons. A pleasant, helpful, and knowledgeable librarian is one who will keep patrons coming back to the library.

Of course, there are many other types of careers for librarians, which are explored further in these pages. Becoming a librarian in Maryland does not necessarily mean working at your local library. 

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Maryland?

In order to become a public librarian in Maryland, you must have a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. This degree must be from a program accredited by the ALA, and may come from any state or online, as long as it is accredited. As of 2022, the ALA has accredited just one MLIS program in Maryland, at the University of Maryland in College Park. This program is offered in face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats. Focus areas available within this degree include:

  • Archives and Digital Curation
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • School Library Certification
  • Individualized Program Plan
  • Youth Experience
  • Intelligence & Analytics
  • Legal Informatics

Before you can be admitted to any MLIS program, however, you must complete a bachelor’s degree. Depending upon the school’s requirements, this bachelor’s degree may be in library science or a related area, or in a completely different area (each school has differing mandates regarding this, so check with the MLIS school in which you are interested to see what is necessary for admission there). 

A MLIS or MLS degree is necessary for all of the types of librarian careers we explore within this website. 

What Certification is Necessary for Maryland Librarians? 

Maryland state law requires that school librarians and public librarians be certified. For public librarian certification, you must have a MLIS or MLS degree from an ALA-accredited program. School librarians must have an MLIS/MLS and receive certification as a Library Media Specialist, which requires completion of programs tailored to librarianship for school-aged children. (There are alternative ways to become a school librarian in Maryland, involving having a bachelor’s degree, completing a year of library experience, and completing 36 hours of post-baccalaureate education in certain fields). 

Once certified, public librarians must complete six semester hours each year in one of these areas:

  • Information technology
  • Reference or technical services
  • Management and supervision
  • Other subjects related to your professional librarian position

Where Do Librarians Work in Maryland?

Public librarians may work at the 24 public libraries found statewide, one in each of the 23 counties, and one in Baltimore city. Those who decide to pursue school librarianship may find employment at any of the 1427 public schools statewide, or at the many private schools in the state. Specialty librarians work in a variety of milieu, including universities, museums, corporations, hospitals, and for the government.

What Do Librarians Earn in Maryland?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2021, Maryland is the fourth-highest paying state in which librarians work. Their hourly mean wage is $37.39 and annual mean wage is $77,780.  Those working in the Baltimore/Columbia/Towson area earn $72,630 annually and $34.92 hourly. Librarians working in the California/Lexington Park area earn $70,300 annually and $33.80 hourly. Librarians employed in the Salisbury area earn $68,850 yearly and $33.10 hourly. Those who work in the Hagerstown/Martinsburg MD/WV area bring home $67,230 yearly and $32.32 hourly. Maryland nonmetropolitan area librarians earn $68,850 yearly and $33.10 per hour. Librarians working in the Cumberland area earn $60,250 per year and $28.97 per hour.

Job Prospects for Maryland Librarians 

Although we have focused primarily on public librarians in this article, once you have an MLIS degree, many types of jobs will open up to you. Some examples of jobs recently posted in Maryland for those with an MLIS degree and/or experience include:

  • Digital Humanities Librarian– Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
    • Pays $63,300 – $80,200 annually
    • Requires MLIS or MLS degree
    • Requires three years of professional library experience
    • Prefer candidates with a second degree in humanities, experience in grant writing, and experience in teaching
  • Special Collections Librarian/Archivist – University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne
    • Pays $44,900 – $56,800 annually
    • Requires MLIS or MLS degree
    • Requires two years of experience in academic library or museum
    • Requires special collections/archivist experience
  • Information Technology Librarian – Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg
    • Pays $43,900- $55,600 annually
    • Requires MLS or MLIS degree
    • Requires experience working with integrated library systems and applications
  • Librarian I Children’s Services – Frederick County Government, Middletown
    • Pays $46,664 – $59,916 annually
    • Requires MLS or MLIS degree
    • Requires one year of experience working with children ages birth to fifth grade
    • Requires one year of customer service work experience 
    • Requires Professional Public Librarian certification from the Maryland State Department of Education or ability to obtain 
  • Head of Reference Services – Maryland Courts, Annapolis
    • Pays $81,953 annually
    • Requires MLIS or MLS degree
    • Requires five years of professional law library experience
    • Requires two years of experience supervising staff