How to Become a Librarian in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Librarian Education

When you think of the Civil Rights movement in America, Oklahoma is probably not the first state that comes to mind. However, in 1950, the director of the Bartlesville Public Library, Ruth Brown, tried to organize an interracial story time for children, promoting equality for all children in the area. Brown, like most dedicated librarians, realized that information is intended for everyone and wanted to share stories with children of any race, color or creed. Brown was subsequently fired after 30 years of service, with the board of the library saying that she provided subversive and communist materials targeted at indoctrinating children against America. 

Today, equality is not just an ideal but one of the foundations of our country. The Oklahoma Library Association’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Intellectual Freedom Roundtable now presents an award named in Brown’s honor to recognize those who work with libraries to address social issues and/or underserved communities. In addition, a mural was commissioned at the Bartlesville Public Library, as well as a bronze bust, commissioned by the Bartlesville Women’s Network. 

This is just one example of the impact that a simple librarian can have on a community, as well as on history and society. Here, you can discover how you can become an Oklahoma librarian and perhaps make a similar impact.

What Does an Oklahoma Librarian Do?

Oklahoma librarians do not all have the same job description. A public librarian, for example, has different duties than a school librarian, a digital archivist, or an academic librarian. There are some job responsibilities that are typical to most library positions in Oklahoma, however, such as:

  • Designing, promoting and delivering a variety of engaging library programs for various ages through individual assistance, group orientations, online, and classroom instruction 
  • Developing materials to support research and instruction 
  • Developing, implementing, and advancing general library instruction and reference assessment programs, strategies, and initiatives 
  • Partnering with other library departments, community committees, and nonprofit groups to create initiatives and programs
  • Keeping up-to-date with current and emerging trends, issues, and best practices in library outreach, instruction, information access, and assessment
  • Providing general and virtual information, research and reference services in a variety of formats 
  • Providing proactive, user-centered service to library patrons
  • Selecting materials for the library’s collection adhering to stipulated budget
  • Maintaining updated knowledge of professional developments through participation in professional organizations, workshops, and continuing education opportunities

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Oklahoma?

Employers of Oklahoma librarians are looking for candidates who possess a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. This degree cannot be from just any college or university, however – it must come from one whose program has received accreditation by the American Library Association (ALA). Currently, there is one such program in Oklahoma:

  • Master of Library and Information Studies – University of Oklahoma, Norman and Tulsa. Classes are available in online, in-person, and hybrid formats. Areas of concentration available include:
    • Academic librarianship
    • Archival studies
    • Children’s services
    • Digital libraries
    • Information systems design and analysis
    • Public librarianship
    • School librarianship
    • Young adult services

An accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree program is also available. 

Those who wish to become Oklahoma school librarians must have a master’s degree and a teaching license. They must also pass tests which will be described in the next section.

What Certification is Necessary for Oklahoma Librarians?

Certification is voluntary for Oklahoma public librarians. There are seven levels of certification available:

Level 7: An MLS or MLIS and six years of public library experience after the degree, three of them administrative, OR an MLS/MLIS, certificate of advanced study, and five years’ (three administrative) public library experience after the degree

Level 6: An MLS or MLIS and three years of public library experience after the degree

Level 5: An MLS or MLIS

Level 4: A bachelor’s degree in library and information science (LIS), OR, a master’s degree in a field other than LIS and 15 hours of LIS coursework

Level 3: Completion of the Oklahoma Public Library Academy and five years of public library experience, OR completion of the Oklahoma Public Library Academy and a bachelor’s degree in any field, OR an associate degree/technical certificate in library science and five years’ public library experience 

Level 2: Completion of the Oklahoma Public Library Academy and three years of public library experience, OR an associate degree/technical certificate in library science; OR completion of 6 hours of library courses

Level 1: Completion of the Oklahoma Public Library Academy courses (offered in-person and online).

Oklahoma school librarians need to possess a teacher’s license and must pass the Library-Media Specialist Certification Examination for Oklahoma Educators in order to become certified to work. 

Where Do Librarians Work in Oklahoma?

Jobs for Oklahoma librarians are routinely posted on the ALA JobList,  the Oklahoma Library Association Career Center, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Jobline, and INALJ Oklahoma.

What Do Librarians Earn in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma librarians make an average hourly pay rate of $24.57 and yearly pay of $51,100 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021). Librarians working around the state may make more or less than these mean rates, as evident below:

AreaHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Oklahoma City$25.20$52,410
Northeast nonmetropolitan $22.95$47,730
Southeast nonmetropolitan$21.81$45,360
Northwest nonmetropolitan$21.10$43,880
Southwest nonmetropolitan$18.48$38,430

Job Prospects for Oklahoma Librarians 

Jobs for Oklahoma librarians are generally posted on the above-mentioned websites, as well as online classified job sites. Some examples of jobs posted in January 2023 are:

  • Administrative Librarian I – The State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma County
    • Wages: $56,616/year
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school required
    • Seven years of professional librarian experience required
    • Two years of supervisory librarian experience required
  • Information Technology Librarian – Langston University, Langston
    • Wages: $45,800-$58,000/year
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school required (or working towards one)
  • Librarian – Core Civic, Holdenville
    • Wages: $22/hour
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school required
    • Library experience required
    • Valid driver’s license required
    • Must be at least 20 years old
  • Archivist – The University of Tulsa, Tulsa
    • Wages: $44,800-$56,800/year
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school required
    • Three years of archival and special collections experience required, in a museum, tribal museum, cultural center, historical society, or university
  • Instruction and Research Services Librarian – Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
    • Wages: $45,000/year
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school required
    • One to three years’ library experience required (academic preferred)