How to Become a Music Librarian in the US

If you have been to a music library, you probably know how difficult it is to locate a musical book or sound recording on your own. Music librarians are professionals who possess a broad musical knowledge, which they use to catalog and maintain musical collections, so they are easily accessible. With a passion for music and aptitude for libraries, you can find great fulfillment in becoming a music librarian.

What Do Music Librarians Do?

Although the basic responsibilities of music librarians vary from workplace to workplace, they generally:

  • Organize and catalog musical collections – in large libraries, this may involve creating a computer-based catalog
  • Coordinate the acquisition of musical records, books, journals, magazines and other library materials
  • Answer questions from researchers, students and other library users
  • Manage the rented-music inventory
  • Ensure the library space is used efficiently and aesthetically.

Music librarians in supervisory positions also:

  • Train and supervise library technicians and other staff members
  • Formulate policies governing the acquisition and use of library materials
  • Serve as music editors in libraries with in-house publications.

Work Environment

Music librarians typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Those who work in education institutions may start their day at 8am and work half-day on Saturdays.

These professionals are based in libraries, where they may have small offices. Regular travel may be part of the day-to-day lives of librarians who are employed by bands and orchestras.


How much do music librarians earn in a year? Find out below:


Annual Wage

Music librarian

$40,000 or more


Entry Requirements

It often takes a broad education in both liberal arts and music education to become a music librarian. You can begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields:

  • Music History
  • Musicology
  • Music Education.

The degree will enhance your musical knowledge and can land you a music librarianship job in small libraries.

To work in large libraries, you will need to earn a master’s degree in library science or archives management. The Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing offers a graduate degree in Library Science with specialization in Music Librarianship, which you can obtain to make yourself the best candidate for the job.

It is also advisable to learn at least one foreign language.

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Important Qualities

To be a competent music librarianship practitioner, you need:

  • Strong basic library skills
  • An interest in music, recordings and books
  • Excellent communication and people skills
  • Superior cataloging, organizational and records management skills
  • The ability to understand printed music formats
  • Skills in publishing and marketing
  • Good research skills
  • Good skills in information acquisition
  • Good skills in personnel management.

Career Advancement

To advance in this career, you will need to improve your library management skills, broaden your musical knowledge and stay abreast of developments in the music industry.

To achieve this:

  • Gain vast work experience
  • Join the Music Library Association – the MLA offers music librarianship workshops, which are an important professional development resource.

Job Opportunities

The employers of music librarians include:

  • Colleges and universities that offer musical programs
  • Public libraries
  • The Library of Congress
  • Music publishing companies
  • Radio and television station libraries
  • Bands and orchestras
  • Musical foundations and societies.

In time, librarians who work in small libraries can find jobs in large libraries with higher remuneration packages. Others can advance to become music library managers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of all librarians will grow by 7 per cent through 2022, slower than the 11 per cent average for all occupations. The best opportunities will be available to master’s degree holders.

So if you really love music and books in equal measure, then maybe you should become a music librarian.

Image: HVML News!