How to Become a Librarian in New Jersey

New Jersey Librarian Education

New Jersey’s public libraries are organized into four categories – association libraries, which are nonprofit organizations; and county, joint, and municipal libraries, which are units of the local government that are property tax-funded. About 98 percent of New Jersey residents are served by a municipal, county, or joint library. Just two percent of residents are served by association libraries. 

New Jersey is home to 234 municipal libraries, 14 county libraries, five joint libraries, and 45 association libraries. A New Jersey State Library report found that after 2010, visits to New Jersey’s libraries began to decrease each year, as technology and the internet made virtual visits and e-library services more common. Libraries in the state with the highest attendance, according to the data, are Ocean County Library in Toms River; Somerset County Library in Bridgewater; Mercer County Library in Lawrenceville; Monmouth County Library in Manalapan; and Burlington County Library in Westampton. 

These figures just account for New Jersey’s public libraries. The state is also home to school libraries, academic libraries, libraries within museums and corporations, medical libraries, law libraries, and more. Becoming a librarian in New Jersey can be an exciting, challenging endeavor for those who are interested in various types of media and resource materials and helping others. 

What Does a New Jersey Librarian Do?

It is almost impossible to list all of the job responsibilities of all types of librarians in the state of New Jersey, as these would go on for multiple pages. The job expectations of a public librarian, however, are a bit easier to identify. According to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the hiring entity for the State Library System of New Jersey, public librarians carry the following responsibilities:

  • Help and educate library patrons in finding desired resources and information, including in the usage of computers
  • Provide a variety of library services in one or more functional areas of the library, requiring professional knowledge of and experience with librarianship theories, principles and practices
  • Create and/or supervise library programs and services
  • May supervise library staff and operations
  • Develop methods and/or techniques to increase efficiency in work operations
  • Coordinate activities of a department or program with other areas of the library
  • Provide reader services responsive to user needs
  • Provide research services, answering patrons’ reference questions and explaining how to use reference sources in all appropriate formats
  • Explain and demonstrate procedures for searching print, electronic and online catalogs to patrons
  • Design, organize and maintain library materials and electronic resources in keeping with the needs and learning styles of patrons
  • Planning and conducting library tours and programs
  • Performing original cataloging by assigning classification numbers and descriptive headings
  • Determining content and arrangement of library materials for exhibits, displays and special library programs
  • Ordering or recommending the ordering of collections materials and library supplies
  • Giving talks before groups and organizations as well as the public
  • Using various electronic and/or manual recording and information systems used by the agency

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in New Jersey?

In order to be a professional librarian of any type in New Jersey, you are required to possess a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. This degree must be from an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited program. As of 2022, there is just one New Jersey program accredited by the ALA: 

  • Master of Information – Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
    • Program may be completed in person or 100% online
    • Full-time students can complete the program in one and a half to two
    • Part-time students can complete the program in two to three years
    • Concentrations within the program include:
      • Archives and Preservation
      • Design your Own Pathway
      • Data Science
      • School Librarianships
      • Interaction Design and Informatics
      • Library and Information Science
      • Technology, Information and Management

A bachelor’s degree is necessary in order to gain admission to the MI program. This can be in information and library science or any field. 

Remember, you need not attend a MLIS program in New Jersey. It may be in any state or online, as long as it is ALA-accredited. 

What Certification is Necessary for New Jersey Librarians?

All professional librarians in New Jersey are required to be certified by the State of New Jersey. This certification is accomplished through Thomas Edison State University. To apply for certification, you must complete the certification form and enclose your official transcript from your MLIS program. You must also pay a $75 certificate fee via money order or check to Thomas Edison State University. Send everything to:

Attn: New Jersey State Professional Librarian Certificate

Office of the Registrar

Thomas Edison State University

111 W. State ST.

Trenton, NJ 08608

Once issued, your professional librarian certification in New Jersey does not expire.

If you wish to become a school librarian in New Jersey, you must hold a MLIS degree and become certified as a School Library Media Specialist (SLMS) through the New Jersey Department of Education. This requires completing a degree program that is focused on SLMS, a list of which can be found here. In addition to completing required coursework, you must complete a yearlong residency in a school library prior to certification. 

Where Do Librarians Work in New Jersey?

New Jersey professional librarians may work in the public libraries listed above, school libraries, and many specialty libraries located throughout the state. The New Jersey Library Association maintains a job site listing both library positions in New Jersey that require a MLIS and ones that do not. In addition to public and school library jobs, academic librarian jobs within universities, librarian jobs for nonprofit associations, and librarian jobs for corporations are listed.

What Do Librarians Earn in New Jersey?

New Jersey librarians and media collection specialists make an hourly mean wage of $35.34 and annual mean wage of $73,510 as of May 2021, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those employed in the Ocean City area make a salary slightly higher than average, at $36.00 per hour and $74,870 yearly. Trenton’s librarians are also slightly above average, earning $35.62 hourly and $74,100 per year. Librarians working in the Atlantic City/Hammonton area earn $32.61 per hour and $67,830 per year. Those working in the Vineland/Bridgeton area earn $31.83 hourly and $66,210 yearly.

Job Prospects for New Jersey Librarians 

As mentioned above, the New Jersey Library Association maintains an updated site featuring jobs for those holding an MLIS degree and for those without a degree. In addition, classified job sites also list librarian jobs and jobs for those with MLIS degrees (as this degree can be applicable to other types of jobs as well). Some examples of available jobs as of November 2022 include:

  • High School Media Specialist/Librarian – Manchester Regional High School, Haledon
    • Pay rate: $55,000 to $75,000 per year
    • Must have MLIS/MLS degree
    • Must hold NJ Media Specialist certification
  • Instructional Design Librarian – Saint Elizabeth University, Morristown
    • Pay rate: $61,000 to $77,300 per year
    • Must have MLIS/MLS degree
    • Must have experience providing reference and instruction services
  • Public Services and Head of Archives Librarian – Felician University, Lodi
    • Pay rate: $57,600 to $72,900 per year
    • Must have MLIS/MLS degree
    • Second master’s degree preferred
    • Must have teaching experience and presentation skills
  • Professional Archivist – Canaan Media, Bridgewater
    • Pay rate: $52,800 to $66,900 per year
    • Must have bachelor’s degree in history or related field
    • Prefer MLIS/MLS degree
    • Must have experience in document management systems for collections archiving
  • Technology and Adult Services Coordinator – West Deptford Free Public Library, West Deptford
    • Pay rate: $20 to $24 hourly
    • Must have a bachelor’s degree 
    • Prefer candidates with public library experience