In order to become an art librarian, a person typically needs educational qualifications in both art and library science. Specifically, an advanced degree in art history or a related field is usually combined with a degree in library science. In some cases, a person might be able to become an art librarian with only a library science degree. Once educational qualifications have been met, finding a job as an art librarian may still be difficult. Many art librarians start by working in another type of library and then move to the art library once experience has been gained.
The most important step when trying to become an art librarian is making sure that you are sufficiently educated for the position. As an undergraduate student, taking coursework in art is usually necessary. Many people in this field obtain a bachelor's degree in art history and sometimes go on to get a master's degree as well. The more advanced your qualifications, the more open your career path may be. Doctorate-level work in art history is usually not necessary, but it can be highly advantageous.
Some universities offer programs that focus on the specific challenges of working with art, but specificity is not strictly necessary for this position. A library science degree in combination with an art history degree, for example, may be sufficient for a job. On the other hand, coursework directly relating to being an art librarian can be helpful once employment is obtained. It is not possible to prepare for all possible situations, but a strong and comprehensive education in library science is usually a valuable investment.
The next step when trying to become an art librarian is gaining experience. If you cannot obtain a job as a librarian of this type immediately, finding work in a related area may have to suffice. Some librarians find work in museums, which can be particularly valuable when trying to become an art librarian. This experience can help a person become an art librarian later on or may lead to a new and unique career using the art librarian's skills.
It is important to note that art librarians often have a specialty, whether or not they actively use this specialty. Many jobs relate specifically to a type of art, such as Asian or African art. While it is important to know about the breadth of art history, it is also sometimes desirable to be able to present special coursework to potential employers. This type of experience can help make your application stand out among potential employees.