Degrees in Library Science and Media

Traditionally, working in the library sciences meant collecting and organizing books, documents, and artifacts and preserving them within a library. With the growth of technology, however, the nature of activities performed in libraries has changed to a great extent. Librarians must now stay abreast of emerging technologies for enhancing research services in multiple modalities.

If you’re interested in becoming a librarian or information professional, click on the links below to learn more about your degree options and what program works best for you.

As of 2014, the median salary reported for library sciences is $56,170. The graph below illustrates the projected employment growth of librarians over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Outlook and change in employment for Librarians

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program

Library science defined by BLS is slightly antiquated. An article from the Library of Congress goes more in-depth into this issue: there is a growing overlap in job descriptions between the information sciences and library sciences and is underrepresented in their data. An information science position will likely pay more and be in greater demand, as the graph below shows the growth for computer and information research scientist outpacing librarians (above).

Job outlook and change of employment for Computer and Information Research Scientists

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program

Career Outcomes for a Library Science Degree

There are several different degree options available to those pursuing a career in the library and information sciences. While most employers require a master’s degree earned from an ALA accredited program, there are still options for those who wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree:

  • Associate Degree and/or Certificate in Library Media Technology – Also referred to as an Associate’s in Library Information Technology, graduates of this degree will be qualified to work as library assistants or technicians. Becoming a library assistant or technician is a great way to gain experience in the field while pursuing higher education. This position often requires both a certification and an associate degree, but occasionally having only one instead of both is acceptable.
  • Bachelor’s in Library Science – In addition to being prepared to work as a library technician or assistant, this degree provides a great foundation for students interested in pursuing a master’s degree.
  • Master’s in Library Science – A master’s degree is often required to work as a librarian. A librarian with years of experience may become a library manager, someone who oversees the functions of a single library. While becoming a librarian is the most common career path, graduates of this degree will also qualify students to pursue careers as museum archivists, metadata analysts, information brokers, and business research specialists.
  • Doctorate in Library Science – Doctorate programs enhance student’s knowledge of the library sciences to a level of expertise in a specialized area, such as historical, law, or medical librarianship. These concentrations, along with their respective certifications, equip students with the necessary knowledge to work in that specific field (ex: law or medical library). Graduates may become library directors and manage the operations of multiple library locations.

Getting a Library Science Degree

Every institution has their own unique way of educating students about the library sciences, yet there are a few fundamental courses that should be of no surprise. Here are some common classes offered for the associate and bachelor level, and keep in mind that the titles for these courses may vary depending upon the institution.

  • Intro to Library Science – This is typically the 101 of any library science degree program. It teaches students the fundamentals of library science.
  • Organizing Information – Also referred to as “knowledge organization” or “knowledge and information organization,” this course allows students to learn the basic theories behind how information is collected.
  • Research Methods – Students will learn several different techniques for gathering information for research that can then be applied throughout the rest of their academic and professional career.

Specialized certifications area important part of the library sciences field. Some certifications can be obtained without a degree, but they are most commonly offered in conjunction with graduate-level program. Certifications provide students the opportunity to learn more about a particular topic so that they are further qualified to work in that setting. Take a look at some common certifications that are offered at many graduate institutions.

  • School Media – This certification teaches students how to communicate with school administration and incorporate media into library curriculum. Often areas of concentrations may include interacting and teaching youth and understanding basic child psychology.
  • Digital Libraries – Students can develop a theoretical understanding of information management and collection as well as be provided with concrete knowledge of the latest types of software used to collect research information.
  • Specialized Study – The most personalized certification, this one allows students to work with their program department members to construct a lesson plan that will educate them further in a specific area of study. This could be anything from knowledge management and digital archiving and curating, to international law librarianship. For the latter, is common for the student to have already obtained a master’s degree in the same general topic, in this case the master’s would most likely be in law librarianship.

Classes offered at the graduate level are typically more academically rigorous and are specific to the student’s major. Below is a list of courses frequently offered by ALA accredited graduate programs. Remember that titles may vary from school to school, but the subject are often similar:

  • Library Management – Students learn several different management styles and about the different ways in which library institutions are managed.
  • Indexing – Students analyze and construct information, discuss the different types of indexing techniques, and study theories involving indexing.
  • Human-Computer Interaction – This course provides students with an understanding of how humans think and how computer systems relate to our use of them.

At the doctoral level, classes emphasize scholarly performance and include in-depth work and research in the student’s area of study. Doctoral students are often required complete a dissertation in order to graduate.

A degree in library and information science or a related field can open doors to new and exciting career opportunities. You might be surprised to learn that a degree in library science can lead to employment opportunities in a variety of different settings. Each school and has its own curriculum so it’s important to do your research before choosing one. Our list of schools will help you find the right program that meets your unique career goals.

Ashford University
Ashford University

  • WASC
St. John’s University
St. John’s University

  • MSA
Syracuse University
Syracuse University

  • MSA
Liberty University
Liberty University

  • SACS

Click here to see more colleges offering onilne Information Science degrees

Other Fields in Information Science

Library science and information science are commonly offered as one degree. The merging of the two fields in the United States happened in the 1960’s in response to technology’s growing impact on the way we collect, organize, and present data. The job descriptions between careers in library science and information science are becoming more similar as technology progresses. Information systems is more closely related to information science than it is library science. Check out some other degree programs that students may pursue that are close to library science.

  • Information Systems Bachelor Degree Programs – This is a very broad degree that is applicable to a wide variety of information technology careers. Students learn fundamentals in business, networking, communications, and management courses, in addition to information security and software design.
  • Information Systems Master Degree Programs – Students will enhance their computer design skills while focusing on learning more about information management, how to design databases, and plan information organization.
  • Information Systems Doctorate Degree Programs – Students will delve further into research methodology and develop teaching skills that will allow them to pass on their knowledge of information and computer sciences.
  • Library and Information Science Degree Programs – These two fields offered in one program provides students with a comprehensive blend of research theories and practices, cataloging and organizing information, as well as basic computer skills and data analysis.