Alabama Masters in Library Science
The average librarian today is a master of informatics and information science. They’re expected to help a range of people, from children to young adults to professionals, access the information they need to expand their understanding of a variety of topics.
For most librarians and related professionals, that means completed advanced training in library science, information science, informatics or related areas. A successful career in the field typically includes a master’s degree, and certain jobs may require them. Learn more about the educational options and employment situation library science students can expect here in Alabama.
Alabama Library Science Programs
Several degree options exist in the library and information science arena, and it’s not unusual for colleges and universities with graduate degrees in this area to offer several diverse options for students. This could include multiple types of master’s degrees, a range of specialty areas and a handful of graduate certificates.
Each school is a bit different, but master’s degrees in library science tend to have similar-sounding acronyms. The most common are MLS (Master of Library Science), MSLS (Master of Science in Library Science), MIS (Master of Information Science), MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) or MSI (Master of Science in Information), though some schools offer degrees outside that list as well.
Students in Alabama, particularly those who plan to work in public spaces like schools or publicly funded libraries or museums, would be well-advised to limit their search to programs that have been accredited by the American Library Association, which is a state requirement for many positions within schools and other public facilities. For jobs that aren’t covered by state mandates, most employers strongly prefer candidates who have earned degrees from ALA-accredited programs, so for students from non-ALA schools, getting a job may be an uphill battle.
One university in Alabama offers an ALA-accredited master’s in library science, so let’s explore what students need to know about the program.
University of Alabama
- Institution type: Public
- Delivery method: Online and traditional
- Campus: Tuscaloosa
- Total expected tuition: $15,120 (online)
- Degrees offered: Master of Library and Information Studies, Master of Fine Arts in Book Arts
- Graduate certificates offered: Archival Studies, School Library Media
The only ALA-accredited library science master’s in Alabama is offered at the state’s largest public university system, the University of Alabama. Housed at the main campus in Tuscaloosa, as well as being offered entirely online, Bama’s degree, a Master of Library and Information Studies, is designed to take about two years to complete, or 36 credit-hours.
Potential emphasis areas are the same across both formats of the program, including archival studies and school library media, while electives expand beyond those options with courses on digital stewardship, information literacy, social justice and youth services, among others.
Alabama Library Science Outlook
Librarians and media collections specialists in Alabama earn an average annual salary of just under $53,000, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s lower than the overall national average for these workers of $58,000, though the state is near the middle of the pack among all states.
The Auburn-Opelika metro area has the highest average annual wage for librarians and media collections specialists among cities and communities in the state with available data. Librarians in that area make an average of about $63,000. The next-closest cities are Birmingham ($56,320), Tuscaloosa ($56,250) and Montgomery ($56,150). Wages for librarians are lowest in the Anniston-Oxford, Florence-Muscle Shoals and Huntsville areas, where the typical librarian makes less than $49,000 per year.
Librarians and other library workers should see job openings expand over the next several years. According to Department of Labor data, employment of librarians and media collections specialists is projected to rise by about 6.4% through 2028. Other library and educational workers are also expected to see employment increase, though by a slightly lower 5.7% rate. Projections were not available for Alabama.
As the information age continues to expand the horizons and possibilities of knowledge and understanding, the demand for people who are highly trained in harnessing and organizing this information will only continue to grow. Fortunately for those in the state, Alabama’s educational and employment situation is largely a positive one.