How to Become a Librarian in Rhode Island

The state library agency for Rhode Island is the Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS). This agency administers state and federal funding to programs supporting libraries statewide. It also coordinates the physical network of the Library of Rhode Island (LORI). 

Rhode Island contains more than 600 libraries, including public, academic, school, hospital, law, and special libraries. Most of the state’s libraries are part of the LORI network, which share reciprocal lending and borrowing agreements, allowing students, residents, and faculty to access the collective holdings of all member libraries. 

Included within LORI are:

  • 71 public libraries, with at least one in every municipality
  • 17 academic libraries
  • 81 school libraries (about 25 percent of the total amount of school libraries in the state)
  • 2 hospital libraries:
    • Rhode Island Hospital Library
    • Veterans Affairs Medical Center Library 
  • 7 special libraries:
    • Providence Athenaeum Library
    • Redwood Library and Athenaeum
    • Rhode Island Historical Society Library
    • Rhode Island Law Library
    • Rhode Island State Library
    • Rhode Island Dept of Attorney General Library
    • Rhode Island School for the Deaf Library

This library network seems even more impressive when you take into account the fact that the state of Rhode Island is the smallest in the U.S., covering just 1214 square miles. It does house over one million residents, however, most of whom likely use one or more of the state’s libraries and the LORI network.

From this information, we can surmise that librarian employment in Rhode Island may provide a diverse and challenging career. Read on to discover how to make this career your own.

What Does a Rhode Island Librarian Do?

As you can see from the above-described libraries, there are libraries within many different genres in Rhode Island. Each of these libraries employs librarians, and each of these librarians has a job description that differs from that of librarians at other types of libraries. A few job duties common to most Rhode Island librarians include: 

  • Planning, implementing and managing one or more areas of a library, including its information and consultant services 
  • Planning and developing program policies, procedures and standards
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating the library network and local library development projects, as well as related policies and procedures
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating library programs for the blind, physically handicapped, and deaf
  • Planning and implementing training programs for employees and trustees
  • Serving as a liaison between libraries, community organizations, and government agencies to promote the library and its programs and disseminate information related to library programs and projects
  • Completing circulation duties, including checking materials in and out, registering patrons for library cards, locating materials online and in the library
  • Enforcing library patron privacy
  • Assisting library patrons with using and accessing library services and resources
  • Maintaining the accuracy of items on reserve and collection shelves
  • Shelving library materials accurately and efficiently

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island librarians should pursue a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree, at a college or university accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Rhode Island has one such program currently – the Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. This program is offered fully online. Tracks are available in leadership, information equity, digital media, and school library media.

The University of Rhode Island’s School Library Media program is ideal for those who wish to become school librarians. This is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE).

What Certification is Necessary for Rhode Island Librarians?

Rhode Island’s public librarians need no certification.

Rhode Island’s school librarians must be licensed and certified. This involves accomplishing the completion of a RI Approved Program, a list of which may be found here. They must also pass the Praxis II Library Media Content Test and the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching.

Where Do Librarians Work in Rhode Island?

Library jobs in Rhode Island are posted on a variety of sites. One of these is the LibraryJobline for the New England region. The ALA JobList also posts librarian jobs in Rhode Island when available. Because Rhode Island is part of New England and close to other states, the following links could also be useful for Rhode Island librarians looking for employment:

What Do Librarians Earn in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s librarians earn an hourly mean wage of $33.21 and annual mean wage of $69,080 as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor (circa May 2021). Those working in the Providence/Warwick metropolitan area earn slightly higher average wages of $33.31 hourly and $69,280 annually. 

Job Prospects for Rhode Island Librarians 

When jobs for librarians are available, they will be advertised at the websites listed above. In January 2023, the following types of jobs were open for librarians in Rhode Island:

  • Librarian – Pawtucket School Department, Pawtucket
    • Wages: $55,700 to $70,500 a year
    • MLS or MLIS required
    • Valid RI School Library Media certificate required 
  • Social Science Data Librarian – Brown University, Providence
    • Wages: $55,200 to $69,900 a year
    • MLS or MLIS required, or other advanced degree in a related field, such as quantitative social science
    • Must have experience providing data-related services in an academic setting
  • Instruction and Outreach Librarian, Special Collections – Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
    • Wages: $57,300 to $72,500 a year
    • MLS or MLIS required
    • Three years of recent instructional and outreach experience in special collections, archives or a comparable professional environment required
    • Experience with library management systems such as Sierra, AEON and Archivesspace preferred
    • Second degree in art history, studio art, or other aspects of print and material culture preferred
  • Library Director – Town of Middletown, Middletown
    • Wages: $$75,000 to $85,000 a year
    • MLS or MLIS required
    • Experience supervising staff and planning, directing, motivating and supervising the work of others required
    • Five years of public library experience, with three in administration, required
    • Must pass a background check
  • Librarian E-Resources RC – McLaughlin Research Corp., Newport
    • Wages: $57,100 to $72,300 a year
    • Prefer candidates with MLS or MLIS
    • Must be able to successfully obtain an Active Security Clearance – Secret level
    • Must have experience in e-resource management, collection development, or acquisitions in an academic, special or public library