How to Become a Librarian in West Virginia

West Virginia Librarian Education

Libraries provide many services to their patrons. When you think of libraries, what first comes to mind is probably media of all types – books, magazines, periodicals, electronic resources, and audio and visual resources. Libraries are also important parts of their communities, and one library in Bridgeport, West Virginia has proven themselves to be an entertainment option for residents.

The Bridgeport Public Library began keeping storage bags filled with materials for hobbies at the library, with the intent of providing things to keep adults busy and give them something to help pass the time. They include crochet kits, craft kits, stamp carving kits, baking kits, and calligraphy kits. These kits can be used within the library or checked out by patrons to take home. This is just one more way public libraries are serving the requirements of their constituents. 

The West Virginia Library Commission maintains a Library Directory that incorporates all libraries within the state. This includes public libraries, university libraries, correctional center libraries, medical center libraries, federal libraries, historical societies and archives, law libraries, and special libraries. (The only libraries not contained within this directory are K-12 public school libraries).

Reading through this list, you may begin to realize just how many different types of libraries exist within the state of West Virginia. No matter what your interests are – general librarianship, archives and museums, preserving history, legal libraries, medical or science libraries – there should be a place for you to work as a West Virginia librarian, if you have the requisite education and experience. To find out what education and experience you need to become a West Virginia librarian, read on.

What Does a West Virginia Librarian Do?

Career descriptions for West Virginia librarians vary from one setting to the next. In general, however, librarians in West Virginia perform the following job duties:

  • Selecting, acquiring, cataloging, classifying, circulating and maintaining library materials
  • Furnishing reference and readers’ advisory services to library patrons
  • Performing research and writing reports
  • Synthesizing, analyzing, editing and filtering information
  • Working with information systems and databases to catalogue and access information
  • Instructing library patrons in using library technology 
  • Assisting in providing requested information to library patrons
  • Planning and teaching classes on library instruction, information literacy and other topics
  • Assembling and arranging library displays and exhibits
  • Performing public relations work for the library within the larger community and in the media

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in West Virginia?

The American Library Association (ALA) recommends that all professional librarians get a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from a college or university that is ALA-accredited. West Virginia does not currently house any such programs, but you may attend an accredited program in any state or online. Because West Virginia does not yet require certification for public librarians, all library positions in the state might not require a master’s degree. School librarians in West Virginia must be licensed teachers and should have a degree in library science. 

What Certification is Necessary for West Virginia Librarians?

The West Virginia Library Commission is currently (as of January 2023) developing a three-level certification program for its public librarians. This will consist of online courses, webinars, workshops and institutes. As of now, the Basic Certification track exists and is recommended for library personnel with no formal training in library science. It covers introductory coursework in the fundamentals of librarianship, collection development, organizing materials, management, programming, services, and technology. Intermediate and Advanced Certification levels will be added to the program. You must work at a public library in West Virginia in order to begin their Basic Certification program.

West Virginia school librarians must have a teaching license, which requires a bachelor’s degree in courses related to library science. Teaching experience (which is often gained in a bachelor’s degree teacher preparation program) must also be earned, and you must pass Praxis tests in Principles of Teaching and Learning and School Library Media. Only then can you receive an endorsement as a School Library Media Specialist in West Virginia.

Where Do Librarians Work in West Virginia?

West Virginia librarian jobs can be found posted within the ALA’s JobList, which is updated often with new openings. Librarian jobs are also posted on online classified job forums.  

What Do Librarians Earn in West Virginia?

West Virginia librarians are paid $23.03 per hour (mean wage), and $47,900 per year (mean wage), per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (circa May 2021). Librarians working in various parts of West Virginia may make higher, or lower, wages than the BLS-reported means, as the table below shows:

AreaHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Huntington/Ashland WV/KY$25.38$52,800
Northern nonmetro area$19.40$40,340

Job Prospects for West Virginia Librarians 

Jobs for librarians are found throughout West Virginia. In January 2023, the following librarian openings were posted in West Virginia:

  • Librarian 2, Culture and History – State of West Virginia, Kanawha County
    • Pay: $35,994 to $66,589 yearly
    • Must have an MLIS or MLS (ALA-accredited)
    • Must have two years’ full-time professional librarian experience 
  • Library Director – Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, Clarksburg
    • Pay: $45,000 to $50,000 yearly
    • Must have an MLIS or MLS (ALA-accredited)
    • Must have two years’ full-time professional librarian experience 
    • Must pass a background check
  • Research Librarian – Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, Bridgeport
    • Pay: $43,000 to $64,000 yearly
    • Must have an MLIS or MLS (ALA-accredited)
    • Must have three years’ librarian experience in a law firm or other professional services environment
  • Branch Manager – Kanawha County Public Library, Dunbar
    • Pay: $51,900 yearly
    • Must have an MLIS or MLS (ALA-accredited)
    • Must have two years’ professional librarian experience
    • Applicants with supervisory experience preferred
  • Humanities Librarian – West Virginia University, Morgantown
    • Pay: $56,000 to $63,000 yearly
    • Must have an MLIS or MLS (ALA-accredited)
    • Applicants with an additional advanced degree in humanities preferred
    • Applicants with experience in librarianship in higher education and instruction preferred