In order to earn a media specialist degree, a future librarian must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The aspiring media specialist is then eligible to apply to a library science graduate program with a concentration in library media. The majority of states in the U.S. require that a school librarian holds a master's degree in library science or a master's degree in education with a library media endorsement.
Media specialists are librarians who work in public or private schools. They are responsible for teaching students how to conduct research by using a variety of print and electronic tools. Media specialists also encourage a love for literature, promoting books to every student who walks through the school library's doors.
Before deciding on a school that offers a library science program, a future graduate student should research the various colleges and universities. Not all colleges offer programs that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA), the official organization that promotes library services with the United States. Some states in the U.S. require that school librarians graduate from a university that provides an ALA-accredited library media program.
Future school librarians should also consider the length of the media specialist degree program. Some schools offer programs that students can complete in one year, while other schools' programs require two years. People unable to commute to a college because there are no media specialist degree programs in their area can also consider a distance-education option.
These programs allow students to complete coursework from home, using the Internet to access lectures. Students can submit assignments online and communicate with professors and classmates via chat rooms and message boards. Distance-education programs may still require that students attend a few classes in person, so travel expenses should also be considered when choosing a university.
Typical courses in a media specialist degree program will usually include classes in collection development, library management, children's and young adult literature, cataloging, research methods, intellectual freedom, and other subjects that relate to modern libraries. Students will learn about online research, electronic databases, and automated circulation systems as well. Some media specialist degree programs require that students complete a practicum, providing them with hands-on training under the tutelage of an experienced school librarian.
People who wish to become media specialists may need to have experience as a classroom teacher as well. Schools may require that media specialist applicants be certified classroom teachers. Some school districts are reluctant to hire school librarians who have no experience in the classroom.
Other districts will hire a school librarian as long as he or she has completed a library media program and earned certification as a media specialist. Those enrolled in a media specialist program should check with their state's teacher licensing department for further details. They can then discover the exact requirements for a school librarian in the state in which they wish to work.