What is Library Science?

Updated February 15, 2022 | Staff Writers

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What is Library Science?

Library science sounds like a specific and narrow subject, but it is actually a diverse and multifaceted area of study that encompasses a wide range of practical skills. It is considered an interdisciplinary field that incorporates a diverse collection of knowledge and perspectives from a variety of other academic programs. Students often find themselves in courses alongside individuals studying information technology, psychology and business management. As a scientific pursuit, it is also constantly evolving to keep pace with developments in computers and other digital tools.

Careers for Library Scientists

Modern libraries and archives aren't just about collecting hard copies anymore, although preserving physical materials is still an important part of their mandate. These institutions are now home to massive collections of digital material that needs to be organized and presented in an accessible way. Public institutions often also serve as a point of access for internet research, so many key positions require competency with networks and computer system. Library employees fill a number of different roles depending on their background and skills, like teaching kids about internet safety and actively assisting researchers.

While many people who get degrees in library studies seek employment in libraries, archives or similar organizations, there are many non-traditional opportunities to explore as well. The skills required to structure, organize and present large amounts of information is a useful skill in many business settings as well. Library scientists can also seek employment on their own as a contractor consultant or found a business to provide public or commercial services.

Pursuing a Degree Library Studies

Students can pursue a degree in this field on the undergraduate or graduate level depending on their career goals. Not all positions in libraries and archives require completion of a high-level academic program, but it can open doors and allow for faster career progress. Those studying library science should embrace opportunities to expand their expertise into information technology and organizational management, as these skills transfer well into various roles and occupations.

A graduate-level education represents a significant investment of time and finances, although the opportunity to specialize and examine issues with more detail can be well worth it. Students should consult with experienced advisors and explore the field to identify careers paths that create the most interest. It's also a good idea for students to seek out internship and employment opportunities during their education to build their experience and network with professionals in their field.

Featured Online Master's in Library Science

Other Requirements and Considerations

Certification requirements for library staff are enforced on a state or regional level, so the prerequisites can vary greatly depending on location, according to the ALA-APA. Some positions are only available to those with a graduate degree from an accredited university, while others are open to any qualified applicant. Many public libraries require proof of competency either through a degree or completion of a certification process.

Related Resource: The 25 Best Online Masters in Information Assurance and Security for 2017-2018

There are endless career opportunities available to experts of library studies if they fuel professional growth by consistently expanding their knowledge and adopt a flexible mentality. Managing information in a digital environment presents numerous challenges and opportunities for innovation. A career in library science can be a meaningful and engaging way to work towards objectives that have tangible benefits for communities, researchers and commercial organizations around the world.

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