Kentucky Masters in Library Science
Though the occupation has some decidedly antique roots, today’s librarian is a far cry from the shushing school marms of decades past. Modern librarians and library science professionals must be experts in information science, and they can work in a variety of fields, from schools and public libraries to less-obvious settings like museums or corporations.
Regardless of the job title, pursuing a library science career most often means earning a master’s degree in the field. Let’s take a look at the state of graduate study in library science and related fields in the commonwealth of Kentucky as well as what prospective library science practitioners need to know before they hit the job market.
Kentucky Library Science Programs
Most prospective library science professionals will need a master’s degree to qualify for jobs, but that doesn’t mean educational options are one-size-fits-all. In fact, some schools offer multiple degree options, and almost all of them provide specialization options and/or pathways that give students a chance to customize their degree journey.
Still, while students should have options when it comes to curriculum details, most degrees in the field have similar-sounding acronyms like Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Science in Library Science (MS), Master of Information Science (MIS), Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Science in Information (MSI).
Also, landing a job, particularly one in a government-funded setting like a school or public library, usually means getting a degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Even for jobs in other settings, most employers prefer candidates who complete ALA-accredited programs.
In Kentucky, one university offers an ALA-accredited library science master’s degree, so let’s take a look at what interested students need to know.
University of Kentucky
- Institution type: Public
- Delivery method: Online
- Campus: Lexington
- Total expected tuition: $24,892
- Degrees offered: Master of Science in Library Science
- Graduate certificates offered: School Librarian
The only ALA-accredited library science master’s degree is a Master of Science in Library Science offered by the University of Kentucky. UK’s MSLIS is earned entirely online, and in-state tuition rates for the online program make the degree much more cost-effective for out-of-state students.
Concentration areas include academic libraries, health information, information systems, public libraries, school librarian, and youth services and literature. Dual degree options pair MLIS training with Master of Arts degrees in modern and classical languages, literatures and cultures.
The school librarian track within the MSLS program satisfies the commonwealth’s requirements for school librarian certification, though to be admitted to the program, students must already have a valid teaching certificate in Kentucky. Students aren’t required to complete a practicum, though they can opt to take on the task, which entails completing 140 hours of experiential learning
Kentucky Library Science Outlook
On average, Kentucky librarians earn $58,430 per year, which is just over the national average of $58,000, according to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to helping Kentucky rank near the national average, that figure also puts it ahead of neighbors like Tennessee ($56,610) and West Virginia ($41,450).
In a few cities and metro areas across Kentucky, librarians can expect to earn even higher wages than what the commonwealth overall offers. Wages are highest in the Elizabethtown and Lexington areas, where the average librarian makes about $61,000. Librarians should expect their wage potential to reach its lowest in Bowling Green, where the average librarian makes about $52,000.
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 Kentucky.
Our information age will continue to expand the boundaries of human knowledge, and as a result, demand for professionals who are trained in facilitating access to this information and modern information systems will grow. While the current state of employment in Kentucky is mixed, the outlook over the next several years is positive.