How to Become a Librarian in Virginia

Virginia Librarian Education

One of the missions of a public library is to commit to quality services that benefit the general public, according to the Public Library Association (PLA) of the American Library Association (ALA). This mission applies to all types of libraries, not just public ones. Libraries should serve the ever-changing needs of their target audience. A great example of this has occurred at Virginia Commonwealth University’s library. 

The VCU library has begun an Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative to provide support to faculty to help them find or create free alternatives to expensive course materials. When you consider that 75% of Virginia college students worry about the costs of textbooks and course materials, and more than 33% say that cost has led them to take fewer classes, not to register for certain classes, or to receive a poor grade, this initiative makes perfect sense. Over the past five years, this initiative of the VCU library has affected more than 77,000 students, saving them a total of $7.2 million.

Libraries are dedicated to equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice. The Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative is proof that VCU’s library is fulfilling these goals. Being a librarian in Virginia can be a very rewarding experience. If you want to learn how you can take on this endeavor, you have come to the right place.

What Does a Virginia Librarian Do?

Librarians working in Virginia have differing duties depending upon where they work. Public librarians, for example, may have different responsibilities than archivists. In general, the following duties are common among Virginia librarians:

  • Assisting library patrons with questions, inquiries and problems, including problems accessing online services from home
  • Initiating, promoting and providing reference services to individuals and groups
  • Directing library patrons to specific informational sources
  • Assisting library patrons in using the Internet, online services, the library’s catalog, and the library’s collections
  • Planning, implementing and evaluating instructional programs for the library
  • Assisting in developing library collections
  • Maintaining an awareness of current library issues and trends
  • Working with community and school groups 
  • Advancing the library in the community and providing outreach services

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in Virginia?

Librarians in Virginia must have a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. This degree must have been earned at a college whose program is accredited by the ALA. One such program currently exists in Virginia: the Master of Library and Information Studies at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The program is also offered with a concentration in school librarianship, for those who wish to work in Virginia’s schools. If you choose not to attend this program, you have many other choices – online programs, or a MLS or MLIS program housed within any state, all fulfill the credentials requirement, as long as the program is accredited by the ALA.

What Certification is Necessary for Virginia Librarians?

Public libraries in Virginia that serve a population over 15,000 must employ certified librarians in full-time positions. This means that librarians should seek professional certification through the Library of Virginia. In order to apply for certification, you must have a MLS or MLIS from an ALA-accredited program. Complete the Application for Librarian’s Professional Certificate, and mail it with your graduate transcripts, along with a check for $50 payable to “The Library of Virginia,” to:

Attn: Paranita Carpenter

Library Development & Networking Division

The Library of Virginia

800 East Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23219-8000

School librarians in Virginia need a teaching license and must pass the Praxis I examination to earn certification.

Where Do Librarians Work in Virginia?

Jobs for Virginia librarians are posted on the Virginia Library Association’s Jobline, as well as on the ALA’s JobList. Additionally, openings for librarians statewide are found within the online classifieds. 

What Do Librarians Earn in Virginia?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that as of May 2021, Virginia’s librarians earn an hourly mean wage of $32.77 and an annual mean wage of $70,250. Librarians working across the state may earn more, or less, than these averages, as you can see in this table:

Area of VirginiaHourly payAnnual pay
Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News$31.81$66,160
Northeast nonmetro area$28.87$60,040
Northwest nonmetro area$27.25$56,680
Southside nonmetro area$25.14$52,300
Southwest nonmetro area$24.43$50,820

Job Prospects for Virginia Librarians 

Positions such as the ones below, which were advertised as open in Virginia in December 2022, are commonly found throughout the state:

  • Youth Services Manager, Librarian I – Fairfax County Public Library, Annandale
    • Salary: $54,421.54 – $90,701.94 annually
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school mandatory
    • State certification from the Virginia State Board of Certification of Librarians mandatory, or obtained within three months of hire
  • Librarian (Preservation Specialist) – US Library of Congress, Culpeper
    • Salary: $89,834-$116,788 annually 
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school mandatory
    • Knowledge of history and formats of recorded sound in a library or archive mandatory
    • Ability to perform conservation/preservation procedures mandatory
  • High School Librarian – Louisa County Public Schools, Mineral
    • Salary: $46,500-$58,900 annually 
    • Virginia teaching license and certificate with the proper endorsement mandatory
  • Clinical and Education Services Librarian – Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, The Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville
    • Salary: $56,000-$68,000 annually 
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school mandatory
    • Candidates with two years of combined library, teaching, information technology or biomedical experience preferred
    • Candidates with experience in a clinical health care environment preferred
  • E-Resources Librarian – George Mason University, Fairfax
    • Salary: $75,000 annually
    • MLS or MLIS from ALA-accredited school mandatory
    • Two years of academic library experience mandatory
    • Experience managing electronic resources mandatory