Someone who wants to become a music librarian should plan on spending a lot of time in school. People who are interested in this kind of work will need to receive training in librarianship and music, and additional skills may be required as well, depending on what kinds of settings they want to work in. Music librarians work for colleges and universities, music archives, orchestras, radio and TV stations, organizations which work in the field of music, and in many other environments as well. This work can be very demanding and involves a broad skill set.
Qualifying as a music librarian requires fulfilling the requirements to become a librarian and completing additional training to specialize in music. To be a librarian, someone needs a masters in library science or a masters in information science. People who want to specialize in music usually complete musical training as part of their undergraduate work, learning about music history, theory, and practice. Some music librarians also come from a background of performance, although this is not required to become a music librarian.
To become a music librarian, it may be necessary to take special courses in archiving to learn how to care for the objects in a music library. In addition, people may need training in dance, film and television, and other aspects of the arts which can integrate music. Someone who works as a music librarian for an opera company, for example, needs a deep understanding of opera and stage performance, not just skills as a librarian and music lover.
Courses in ethnomusicology, anthropology, and even archeology may also be necessary to become a music librarian. This coursework is utilized by librarians who work with ethnic music, early music, and music manuscripts from other eras and cultures. Because librarians need to understand the objects in their collections, they must have a thorough grounding in the cultural and historical context for the objects they work with. Someone who manages a collection of Renaissance music manuscripts, for example, needs to know about the history of the era, musical trends which existed during this period, and proper archival technique for handling documents from the 14th to 17th centuries.
It helps to have a passion for music to become a music librarian, but it's also necessary to have good organizing and cataloging skills, and an ability to contextualize information. A good music librarian knows the collections he or she supervises and cares for intimately, and can assist people with research requests, locating specific items, and making arrangements to borrow or examine items from other libraries.