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How to Become a School Librarian

Want to start a career as a school librarian? Our guide is here to show you the different paths how!

Table of Contents

Step 1: Learn about a school librarian's role and responsibilities

School librarians are responsible for the day-to-day running of the school’s library or resource centre. They acquire, organise and maintain resources that support both pupils and teachers. The responsibilities of a school librarian can vary greatly depending on the schools needs. 

Here are some of the key responsibilities you’ll likely deal with as a school librarian:

  • Manage library IT such as computers and book searching facilities 
  • Collaborate with teaching colleagues to embed the development of learning, research and study skills into the curriculum.
  • Select, purchase and maintain library equipment and stock as well as manage the libraries budget. 
  • Develop, implement and enforce library policies, procedures and processes
  • Make the library environment attractive in a way that will encourage reading and learning.

When you'll be working

As a school librarian, you’re generally going to be working during your school’s term times but you could be working (usually for shorter periods) outside of term time as well occasionally. 


What does a school librarian earn?

The average salary for a school librarian is £21,526 but depending on your region and experience you could be earning more or less, with school librarian salaries ranging up to around £29,644. Less experienced school librarians might be paid around £17,935.

Step 2: Improve your chances of getting a position as a school librarian

If you’re comfortable with the responsibilities of being a school librarian, then you’ll need to ensure that you have all of the necessary skills and qualifications for the position and understand what exactly you can do to help yourself get started in an information management setting.

There are two main paths to becoming a school librarian: one is through education and the other through work. Despite this having more qualifications will only help your chances if you are on the work route and more hands on experience can only help if you are pursuing the career through the education path.

What qualifications do you need to become a school librarian?

If you want to become a school librarian through education you require either: a degree in librarianship or information management, or a degree in any subject with a postgraduate qualification in information management. Make sure the qualification is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information professionals. Courses can be both full and part-time as well as some being online. 

The second method of becoming a school librarian requires you to have two years experience working as a library assistant. You will then be able to apply to become a certified affiliate with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. After two more years you can then apply to become chartered which leads to the full qualification.

Get some supporting qualifications valuable to the job

Though not essential, having supporting qualifications can really improve your chances of getting the position that you want and help you to stand out among other applicants. Getting your supporting qualifications will let you demonstrate additional knowledge that other candidates might not have.

For a school librarian there are a number of supporting qualifications that could be helpful. A safeguarding and prevent course is going to equip you with the knowledge you need to help safeguard learners, as it’s everyone in the schools responsibility. Employers are going to feel confident knowing you have the knowledge you need to support the organisation’s safeguarding responsibilities to a higher level. 

You could also look into a qualification in understanding autism. Having a greater understanding of autism and how it affects people could be very beneficial depending on the learners you’ll be working with. Even if you’re not working in a specialised setting, having the knowledge is likely going to help in your position as autism affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, so it’s likely at least a few pupils in the school will have autism.

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How to get experience as a school librarian?

Having experience working in a library is really valuable, even when applying for an information management course so much so that some courses require placements. A great way of getting experience is volunteering as a library assistant or even better a school library assistant as experience working in a school environment is an even greater asset.

It’s also a  good idea to think about the transferable skills you’ll be bringing from other work. As a school librarian having good organisational and communication skills is key, being able to work well with children and young people is also essential. Checking out our jobs board is a great way to start searching for the experience you need!

Typical weekly hours

As a school librarian you could be working around 38-40 hours a week depending on your school and responsibilities.

Step 3: Make sure your CV is up-to-date

You should make sure your CV includes your most up-to-date information, including any relevant qualifications and work experience you might’ve gained since you last updated it. It’s important to present yourself as best you can, since we all know first impressions are important, and your CV is more often than not going to be the first thing potential employers will see. It’s essential that they’re done right.

To make the best impression you can, you’ll need to convey the right information and present it well. Given how important your CV is, we’ve created a short guide to help give you the best chance of landing an interview and starting your career as a school librarian!

Top school librarian CV writing tips

When you’re looking at a position as a school librarian, it’s crucial that your CV is high quality and reflects your passion for the role. An effective CV is well presented, displays relevant skills and experience, and gives your potential employers an insight into who you are. 

It’s important that you use grammar correctly, that your writing is concise but informative, and any non-relevant information is left out. Not following these rules could mean your application is rejected, since employers could see it as too unprofessional. Our school librarian CV writing tips are here to help you to land that position you’ve been waiting for!

1. Grab their attention with a personal profile

Your personal profile is the first section of your CV that employers will read to find out more about you. This is your chance to introduce yourself, sell your skills and outline your characteristics. Personal profiles are a perfect way to persuade recruiters, as it tells them straight off why they should hire you. 

This section can include relevant experience and achievements, but it’s important to tailor this to the job description and what’s prioritised there to show your enthusiasm for the role and that you’re a serious candidate for the position who has what they’re looking for. 

There are no set rules on the length of this section but you should aim for a few short sentences and no longer than 100 words. This way you can keep it concise and effectively highlight who you are to employers without giving them too much information, increasing the chances of them reading through the rest of your CV and considering you for the job. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and presenting the things that you think make yourself stand out.

Talk about yourself (when it's relevant)

Though your CV should be more focused on your skills and work experience rather than your personality, it can be good to include some relevant personal information such as your hobbies in your CV, but what counts as relevant will vary from job to job. 

2. Sell your skills

There should be a section in your CV that outlines your relevant skills. This makes it easy for the employer to read and more easily determine if you meet the requirements of the role. You should format this section using bullet points so that it’s simple and easy for employers to read. Make sure to include relevant skills that you think make you a good candidate for the position. Such as:

  • Maintaining a child-friendly, clean, and tidy environment for both children and co-workers.
  • Managing children and teaching important life skills, including social skills and food hygiene
  • Leading and organising daily activities for children
  • Ensuring that the children are engaged and happy, and that all their needs are being met

If you’re struggling to think of skills that are relevant to the job then it’s a good idea to check vacancy advertisements for some ideas. Start off by rereading the job you’re applying for and what might be useful to mention, but if you’re still stuck then take a look at other similar job postings. You should also think about which of your skills have been helpful in any of your past work or study. 

It’s important when talking about your skills to try and include both hard and soft skills, so that you can show some variety. Hard skills are the skills you gain through experience, knowledge, or learning such as through a qualification or after undertaking training. Soft skills refer to your personal traits and habits that determine how you work, like being an effective communicator, able to work in a team, or organisational skills.

3. Outline your experience

You should outline any past experiences in either work or volunteer positions that are relevant to becoming a forest school leader and can best show your potential employer the value that you’d be bringing to the position. 

The most valuable experience you can have as a school librarian is working in either the same position before or as a nursery assistant, you should present this work experience front and centre. Give details of where you worked, including the dates you started and finished your employment (these don’t have to be specific, usually the month and year are fine), alongside your key responsibilities within the role. If you have a lot of relevant experience then list it from most to least recent. Employers will want to know more of what you’ve been doing recently rather than years ago, as it’s more relevant to the jobs you’ll be applying for now.

If you have no relevant experience then you should include any previous employment you’ve been in and the transferable skills you gained that will be useful in the role. Try and think about any similarities between your previous positions and the one you’re applying for. Is there anything listed on the job advertisement that sounds familiar?

4. List your education and qualifications

Making sure you mention your education clearly on your CV is very important, as it will show that you have the knowledge and qualifications needed for the job. When listing your qualifications you should prioritise two things: the level of the qualification (is it a degree or a GCSE?) and when you received it. Much like your experience, it’s best to list your qualifications from your most to least recent.

When you’re listing your qualifications make sure you include the name of the institution, the dates you attended them from, the subject(s) you studied or name of the qualification, as well as the final grade you received. If there’s a particular aspect of your study that is very relevant to the position you’re applying to then it would be a good idea to briefly mention it at some point.

Include your certificates and other qualifications

Don’t think you just need to include your experiences from school or university, things like standalone courses that award you with a certificate or diploma are more than relevant, especially if they cover a subject that’s relevant to your work. Add your certificates in the same way you’d add your other qualifications, providing any additional information as needed.

5. Remember to include your contact details

It might seem obvious, but having your contact details clearly signposted on your CV is extremely important, without them potential employers may have no way to contact you. You should include your up-to-date email, phone number, and address somewhere near the top of your CV so that they don’t get lost amongst the rest of your information.

Example school librarian CV

School Librarian CV Template

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Step 4: Search for school librarian jobs you can apply for

Searching for a position as a school librarian should be simple, and shouldn’t be any different from finding other jobs you’ve applied for before. Try checking local schools for job postings first. Just make sure that the positions you apply for are a good fit for you and that you have all the necessary qualifications and you should have no trouble! Checking out our job board could be a good start for your search.

Step 5: Write a job-specific school librarian cover letter

You should write your cover letter using the job description of the vacancy you’re applying for. Your cover letter is an important part of many job applications. 

No matter what kind of job you’re applying for, your cover letter is going to help demonstrate to potential employers the passion that you have for the role and allow you to sell yourself as a valuable candidate that they need to consider hiring. 

Top school librarian cover letter writing tips

Cover letters are your chance to really sell yourself to a prospective employer and progress to the next stage of the hiring process. This opportunity isn’t always fully exploited by candidates, and sometimes cover letters just become reworked CVs or are poorly planned and formatted.

1. What should a cover letter look like?

The header of your cover letter should have your up-to-date email, contact number, and the current date, as well as the recipient’s contact information. You should start your cover letter with a greeting such as “Dear [Company] Hiring Manager” or “Dear Mr/Ms Surname”, if you know who you’ll be contacting directly.

When choosing your font you need to make sure it’s not only easy to read but also looks professional, as well as the right size. Try to stick between a size 10pt-12pt font on your cover letter, as making your font size too big could come across unprofessionally, but it should still be clear and legible. Make sure to split the main body of text into multiple paragraphs, this not only makes it easier to read but also easier to plan the structure of your cover letter (each paragraph might have a specific topic, for example). 

It’s a good idea to sign off your cover letter using your name and a complimentary close. Using “Yours Sincerely” or “Your Faithfully” are seen as very formal, but can sometimes appear outdated, try using “Kind Regards” as a formal alternative that is still professionally acceptable.

2. What should I write in my cover letter?

Here are some suggestions for each of the paragraphs in your cover letter and what you might want to mention to your prospective employer: 

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First paragraph


Start by explaining why you're writing the letter, making sure to mention the job you're interested in by its specific title, you could also mention where you saw or heard about the vacancy. Give a brief sentence stating your experience or a relevant qualification. 

Second paragraph

Experience and Qualifications

Highlight your relevant experience or qualifications. Talk about relevant responsibilities you had in previous roles, and go into more detail about how this makes you suitable for the role--is there a particular achievement you're proud of in your previous work or study that is relevant to the job? Mention it here!

Third paragraph


Discuss the skills you have that are relevant to the job and make sure that you mention how they make you well-suited for the role. Always be showing the employer what you have to offer them if they were to hire you. 

Final paragraph

Final note

Reiterate your interest in the role. Outline your motivations for not only working this type of job but why you want to work for this employer. It's a good idea to include some relevant knowledge about your potential employer, as it shows you are taking an extra interest.  

3. How can I make my cover letter unique for each role I apply for?

A good way of making your cover letter stand out from other candidates is by tailoring it to the particular role you’re applying for. It’s always easiest to look back through the job posting and pick out relevant information like the job title and employer and making sure to mention them early on. This will show your employer that your cover letter is tailored towards them, rather than being something generic you’re sending around to every employer.

When you’re going through the job posting take note of the specific skills and experience listed as desirable by the employer, you can tailor the skills and experience you mention to what they’re looking for. Try not to follow along too closely and risk looking like you’ve just copied the advertisement, but do enough to show that you’re the ideal candidate. Order your skills, experience, and qualifications in order of relevancy–what’s highlighted or mentioned first in the job posting? Is there something very specific that they’re looking for? Make sure you bring it up!

4. Finishing touches

Now that your cover letter is well-formatted, has the main body of it’s content written, and has been tailored to the job role, it’s time to put the finishing touches to your work.

Proofread what you’ve written a few times over to check for punctuation or grammar errors and how well your writing flows. Try and enlist the help of a friend or relative to give it a read over, they may spot something you missed!

Now you should go back to the job vacancy and re-read all of it. Check if there are any special instructions you should follow when applying for the position, like if they’re asking for the documents to be submitted as a particular file type or maybe want you to add a job reference number to your cover letter. Make any of the changes you need and ensure everything’s in order. Overlooking small things like this could ruin your otherwise perfect cover letter!

Example school librarian cover letter

School Librarian Cover letter Template

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Struggling to put your cover letter together? Download our free cover letter template and get a head start on writing an amazing cover letter. Make sure to follow the rest of our tips and learn how to land that job you’ve always wanted!

Step 6: Prepare for interviews

We all know that job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but being well prepared for the interview will help you to appear calmer and more confident. It might seem obvious, but make sure that you always present yourself professionally at interviews, dress well, and always be polite. First impressions can make or break your chances!

Interviews can be daunting and hard to prepare for–especially if you don’t have much experience–but we’re here to help you out. 

We’ve compiled a list of common questions that you might be asked in your interview for an early years job and how you should go about answering them, as well as some questions you can ask your interviewer to help show your interest in the position!

Questions your interviewer might ask

Your motivations

The interviewer is looking for you to give genuine reasons why you want to be a school librarian, this could be passion for the role itself and it’s duties or part of a greater goal to impact leaners. Though the most important thing when answering this question is that you are genuine and tell the truth.

This is a commonly asked interview question and can be answered in many different ways. One reason this question is asked to test if you have researched the school and it’s values. Mention the schools ethos and explain how you fit well with it’s ideals. Also talking about your personal ties to the school are also good to mention, such as going to this school as a child. Mentioning that you are local to the school could also be a good idea. Not only does it suggest that you will be able to arrive more reliably at work but it also suggests you might be more invested in the local community.

Your personal approach to the role

In this question you could mention your methods of gathering feedback from learners or researchers, whether this be talking to them directly or anonymous method such as suggestion boxes. This is to ensure the resources you suggest learners use are of an appropriate level. If there are times when you have had to handle this situation personally make sure to use the star method to recall what you did.

This question could not only be used to find out how you use technology to support learning but could also be used to feel out how comfortable you are in general with IT systems. The answer to this question may also vary depending on the technology available so you could include mention of that in your answer. 

Qualifications and experience

As a school librarian you will need to have excellent communication and customer service skills, especially but not limited to interacting with children and young people. Referencing times you have shown this in previous employment would be an ideal way to answer this question. 

Being very organised is also a crucial skill for a school librarian to possess because if the school library is poorly organised it will be hard to use. Having good IT skills can also be very important as you may be expected to work with a variety of different types of software or even instruct learners to use programs or software.

To answer this question you primarily want to talk about any qualifications you have in information management or librarianship. These qualifications or certifications being recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is what most organisations are looking for so mentioning it is ideal. 

Supporting qualifications such as those in safeguarding and prevent or understanding autism are also great things to mention as they fill out your profile as a well rounded librarian. Mentioning other relevant qualifications such as bachelors degrees is also a good idea, especially if the institution you are applying for teaches that subject.

Questions for you to ask your interviewer

Now let's recap...

Final note

After reading through our guide, you should be ready to embark on a new career in information management with the confidence you need to excel. If you follow our tips then you’ll be more than ready to get the job role you’ve been looking for! Good luck, and if you need any more advice on other career options, don’t forget to take a look through our career advice page

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