How to Become a Librarian in Massachusetts

Massachussets Librarian Education

Few, if any, libraries in Massachusetts are as grand as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Located on a 10-acre park, this library is dedicated to the life and memory of the 35th president. Dedicated in 1979, and added onto in 1991 and 2012, the library is 164,000 square feet, and nine stories high. While the JFK Library is not a library in the traditional sense, in which patrons may check out materials and take them home, it is more like a museum open to the public most days during the week. Interactive exhibits and media galleries teach visitors not only about the life of JFK, but of the politics and history of the times in which he lived. 

There are more than 350 public libraries across the commonwealth of Massachusetts, most of which are members of one of eight networks. These networks include:

  • C/W MARS: Central & Western Mass.
  • MVLC: Northeastern Mass.
  • SAILS: Southeastern Mass.
  • Minuteman: MetroWest
  • NOBLE: North Shore
  • OCLN: South Shore
  • CLAMS: Cape Cod & Islands

Of course, Massachusetts houses more libraries than just public ones. Archives and museums, like the JFK Library, are one example of another type of library. Others existing in the state include law libraries, academic libraries, medical or science libraries, and school libraries. Becoming a librarian in Massachusetts is an exciting endeavor to undertake for anyone who is interested in media, resources, information and people. Please read on to discover how you can become a Massachusetts librarian. 

What Does a Massachusetts Librarian Do?

Because libraries differ from one to the next across Massachusetts, librarian job descriptions also differ from one genre of library to another. In general, a Massachusetts librarian will have the following job responsibilities: 

  • Explaining the use of library technology to patrons, including computers, internet, intranet and resources 
  • Brainstorming with other library staff to solve problems
  • Interacting with the public
  • Finding answers for patrons’ questions
  • Recommending and helping to choose online and print resources for library patrons
  • Building relationships with library colleagues, patrons, and the public
  • Creating new library programs and services
  • Mentoring other library staff
  • Detailed work of comprehensive collection development
  • Staying updated on current library and business trends

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Massachusetts?

Librarians in Massachusetts need a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. This program must be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Just one program in the commonwealth is accredited: the Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University in Boston. This program offers the following concentrations:

  • Archives Management and History 
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Information Science and Technology
  • School Library Teacher Licensure

School librarians in Massachusetts must also have a master’s degree and licensure (which will be further explained in the next section).

What Certification is Necessary for Massachusetts Librarians?

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners requires that all professional librarians be certified before they may legally work in public libraries. Professional and Subprofessional Certificates of Librarianship are granted to applicants based upon work experience or education level, the main qualification being possession of a MLS or MLIS. In municipalities of 10,000 or less, a library director may have a Subprofessional Certificate of Librarianship; but in municipalities of more than 10,000, library directors must have a MLS or MLIS degree and a Professional Certificate of Librarianship. The certificate fee for each is $53, and applications are available here.

School librarians need a master’s degree, and must pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) with qualifying scores on the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. Only in this way can one become licensed/certified as a school librarian in Massachusetts. 

Where Do Librarians Work in Massachusetts?

Jobs for public librarians in Massachusetts are advertised on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Job Site. The Massachusetts School Library Association advertises school library job openings at its site as they become available. Other librarian positions in Massachusetts are available in traditional online classifieds as well as at the ALA’s JobLIST

What Do Librarians Earn in Massachusetts?

Librarians in Massachusetts make $35.22 as an hourly mean wage $73,260 as an annual mean wage, as quoted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (May 2021). Massachusetts librarians working in diverse parts of the commonwealth make wages that are greater or lesser than these averages, as you can see in the table below:

Area nameHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Boston/Cambridge/Nashua MA/NH$36.65$76,240
Barnstable Town$33.75$70,190
Worcester MA/CT$32.96$68,550
Nonmetro area$32.85$68,320
New Bedford$31.89$66,340
Springfield MA/CT$28.23$58,720

Job Prospects for Massachusetts Librarians 

Professional librarian jobs are usually prevalent in Massachusetts. Some examples of open jobs in December 2022 include:

  • Acquisitions and Serials Librarian – Boston Athenaeum
    • Salary: $51,000 to $55,000 per year
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Two years of experience in library acquisitions and workflows mandatory
  • Library Director – Haston Free Public Library, North Brookfield
    • Salary: $24.00 per hour
    • Bachelor’s degree mandatory
    • Two years of professional experience, one of which is in an administrative/supervisory capacity, mandatory
    • Prefer candidates with professional public library experience 
  • Liaison Librarian – Boston College, Chestnut Hill
    • Salary: $71,300 to $90,300 per year
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Experience in selecting scholarly materials, preferably in history area, mandatory
  • High School Librarian – Quincy Public Schools, Quincy
    • Salary: $57,600 to $72,900 per year
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education Library License required
    • Experience as a school librarian, preferably at secondary level, preferred
  • Assistant Archivist, Digital Collections and Archives – Tufts University, Somerville
    • Salary: $40,900 to $51,700 per year
    • MLS or MLIS mandatory
    • Knowledge of archival theory and practice mandatory