Library Science Degree
Note: This page provides overall information on library science degrees. For detailed master's degree information, please see our Master's in Library Science page.
Library science is a field of study that is considered multidisciplinary. It applies to the management, practice, education, and technology associated with a library or a school. Library science degree holders within the school system are often considered technology specialists or school librarians. These individuals are important to a school as the "go to" person with access and knowledge in the fields of research and technology. If serving as the school librarian, it will also be your responsibility to order and maintain grade level appropriate selections of books within a budget. The librarian is also responsible for the movement of these books in and out of the library and must keep track of each book and student who has chosen to borrow that book.
Today, library science stretches far beyond the old fashioned picture and into a world of fast paced information, research material, and technology.
Bachelor's Degree in Library Science
Obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science is much like obtaining other bachelor's degrees. The first year two of most undergraduate degree programs consist of general education courses. Once completed, the specialization courses in library science can be added. Including general studies, this type of program is typically completed in approximately four years.
Once someone chooses a specialty in library science, they may be required to take classes regarding topics such as: introduction to librarianship, library administration, information services and sources, as well as cataloging and classification.
Choosing an Online Bachelor's in Library Science
When considering an online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science, you will want to know that the school you choose is legitimate and reputable. To help with this decision, review the following questions:
Is the Program Accredited?
Accreditation status is one of the first things you should inquire about. A school or program can gain accreditation when it has successfully passed a peer review process. The peer review process is conducted by an agency or organization representing the field. If you would like to learn more about the accreditation process, visit: ed.gov/accreditation
How Long Has the Program Been Offered?
As a general rule, the longer an online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science program has been around, the better. Do keep in mind that online learning is still relatively new. However, you may be weary of an online school that has not been in service long enough to gain accreditation.
What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?
In order to facilitate learning, online degree programs utilize online learning platforms. These online learning platforms act as virtual classrooms and can easily be accessed via the web. Students can access multimedia lectures, learning materials, assignments, grades, and communicate with peers via whole class message boards.
What Resources Will I Have Access To?
Good online schools may give their students access to resources. These resources may include online research centers, scholarly article databases, mentorship programs, and internship programs. Some online schools even offer student services such as technology assistance and advising. Knowing what resources you will have access to ahead of time may help you make a confident decision.
What Skills and Topics Are Covered?
When considering an online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science, you may wants to assess the program curriculum beforehand. How do the program goals line up with your career goals? Most colleges and universities will be able to provide a thorough curriculum and list of program outcomes upon request.
Do You Have Job Placement Information for Students Who Recently Graduated from the Program?
Making connections with alumni is a great way to network and establish career contacts. Recent graduates are also great career mentors that can help guide you in the right direction. If given the opportunity to connect with graduates of the program, do ask for advice regarding online learning and how to use the degree upon completion.
Is an Online Degree Right for You?
Online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science is becoming a more attractive option for 21st century students. Since online education requires little to no face-to-face classroom interaction, it is a time saver and a viable option for those already in the workforce. Online classes offer the best of all worlds by taking up less time, providing more flexibility, and avoiding a commute. Online classes are often centered around student discussion through online message boards as well as traditional studying and presenting of learned materials. Review the following if you are considering an online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science:
Online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science programs offer flexibility in scheduling. With online classes, instructors post video lectures - when and where you watch the video lecture is up to you. In addition, instructors will post assignments and deadlines on an online portal. Since you do not need to physically attend a class, you can complete those assignments at a time and location that is most convenient for you.
Accessibility and Convenience
With online degree programs, students have the option to select a program regardless of geographic location. This means that degree candidates are not limited to schools in their vicinity. This also opens up opportunities for students who do not have the option to relocate. A good computer and steady internet connection are among the two most important things needed to participate in an online degree program. With that said, this route also opens up opportunities for students with scheduling restrictions as well as physical restrictions.
Tuition and Costs
An online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science may cost less when overall finance is considered. Some expenses associated with earning a bachelor's degree from a traditional college are eliminated:
- No fees having to do with with commuting, parking, car maintenance, or on-campus meals.
- No costs related to relocating and living on campus.
- Ability to maintain a source of income by working.
Bachelor's Program Course Topics
More than simply an overseer of books, librarians are adept and insightful managers of print and media resources that support classroom curriculum in every subject. Many school librarians also possess a teaching license and degree that enables them to teach students, which in turn creates better support for the classroom teacher. While programs do vary between institutions, bachelor's degree programs in library science contain the following courses and elements:
Introduction to Librarianship
This class would cover the basics of day to day activities in different library settings, orienting the student to what would be required in typical cases. This is a fundamental class that most programs will require early on in the program.
This type of class would explain how to handle a library within a school system, including care for the texts, technology, and other materials under the care of a librarian. This class may also include an introduction to book purchasing, selection, and appropriateness.
Information Services and Sources
This class will offer insight into the available information sources for a librarian and others. This may include the appropriateness and trustworthiness of such sources for students and faculty or others seeking information.
Cataloging and Classification
This class will cover the different ways in which materials can and should be cataloged, cross-referenced, and classified within a library or when sorting information prior to making it available to others. This can be a difficult and confusing task that takes time to master.
Other Bachelor's Degree in Library Science Course Topics:
- Survey of the systems and processes in place in a modern library
- Survey of different kinds of libraries throughout the United States, and from a global context
- Development of the modern library from a historical perspective; libraries and information management from antiquity to modern times
- How to organize and manage print and other kinds of media for a variety of consumers
- Learn to integrate, promote and facilitate technology in the library and for student and teacher use
- Study classical literature and its influence on other forms of literature and media; its shaping of modern culture
- Learn about basic computer programs; prepare to integrate, promote and facilitate their use with various stakeholders and in various internal and external environments
- Learn to build, customize, and use different types of database to track materials, usage, and other metrics
- Learn to build, customize and use different classification and cataloging systems for various media and resources within the facility
- Learn to use various tools and strategies to manage resources for equitable usage
- Learn about different types of information media and their uses
- Survey different models of information organizations through an educational and social perspective
- Learn effective administration through provision of resources in an educational environment
- Study effective administration techniques and their application in library and information science, information systems and archives
- Learn how to familiarize stakeholders with the participation and goodwill systems in place in the management of such organizations
- Develop an understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
- Consider the nature, concepts, and logic of a research mission
- Survey data gathering and data analysis procedures and systems in order to create an information management system that is of most use to stakeholders
- Consider how to educate consumers and other stakeholders about the laws, ethics, and best practices surrounding intellectual property rights from a domestic and international perspective
- Learn to provide students with the skillset to understand research terms, access and assess published research, and use the best methods for investigating hypotheses
Master's Degree in Library Science
Having a Master's Degree in Library Science may allow graduates to run a school library at the K-12 or higher education levels. This degree will even open doors in the public library sector and may allow candidates to enter other jobs within the educational field. In addition, those with a Master's of Library Science (MLS) may also be employed in careers such as museum archivists, web analytics managers, researchers, technology information specialists, automation coordinators, and/or head of access services. Though these jobs may not have library in the title, they are based on a MLS degree.
In order to gain acceptance into a Master's of Library Science program, candidates will generally be required to hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. Admissions to a master's program may vary from school to school, but will typically require:
- Full application, undergraduate coursework with required GPA
- Proof of teacher's licensure
- GRE score when necessary
- Statement of purpose along with reference letters
While a Master's Degree in Library Science can be costly, financial aid is often available. A graduate student can apply through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)to receive government based loans. Other options such as scholarships, grants, and private loans may also be found. Research may be necessary to find appropriate grants or scholarship for your school or area of study.
Choosing an Online Master's in Library Science
An online Master's in Library Science is a reliable option for busy adult students - these are often people who work full time or have families to care for. Online master's degree programs offer the following:
- Variety of library science programs to choose from
- Flexible schedule
- Rigorous library science curriculum
- Faster completion time
- No costs associated with transportation, parking fees, room and board, or relocating
Master's in Library Science Course Topics
Earning Master's Degree in Library Science is a must for many school and community librarians as well as museum archivists. While programs do vary between institutions, Master's Degree in Library Science programs contain the following elements:
- Research different approaches, considerations, and challenges involved in social research
- Develop and design a robust research proposal
- Prepare and develop a research project in the most effective and efficient manner possible
- Practice providing students with a survey of the information management professions; clearly articulate the role of the library and librarians
- Introduce current issues in library science; guide students in developing appropriate strategies, responses and practices to current issues
- Explore and research the development of information and communication technology
- Explore and research the intellectual organization and policy issues that are especially important in stResearch various systems of cataloging and bibliography from the perspective of user need, using various coding, standards, and technologies
Learn more about a Master's Degree in Library Science.
Doctorate Degree in Library Science
The benefits of earning a Doctorate in Library Science can be seen in future employment as candidates will be considered highly qualified. Specializing in a particular area of library science may further your potential as an employee. A doctoral degree may also lead to higher earnings over time. Lastly, a Doctoral Degree in Library Science may open up areas in the library science fields that require a more in depth knowledge, allowing more employment options.
Prior to applying for a doctoral program in library science, one should hold a master's degree in a related field. Some schools many accept candidates with a bachelor's degree, if the program offers a joint master's degree and doctorate. Most doctoral programs will require a thorough application along with an interview for promising candidates. This process may be intensive and will require proof of academic ability as well as experience in the field.
It is highly important to find an accredited program for your Doctorate in Library Science. The American Library Association is the accreditation organization and offers a list of currently accredited programs.
Doctorate Program Course Topics
Professionals who are committed to pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Library Science explore a number of perspectives that focus on issues that arise from how information and information technologies are used and exploited in a variety of social, educational, political, and cultural contexts. While institutions do vary in their doctoral offerings, most Library Science PhD programs include the following elements:
- Critically evaluate the storage and management of rare books and manuscripts from a global resource perspective
- Evaluate the future of written text from a cultural perspective
- Consider information studies from a the perspective of foundational philosophy and epistemology
- Conduct research in the documentation and cataloging of written and visual resources
- Draft information policy steering documents; collect data regarding systemic usage
- Discuss the political mobility of information in public and educational institutions
- Discuss the concept of accessible information and social justice
- Discuss the upward mobility of literacy and reading for task, education and leisure
- Research information users, uses, seeking, behaviors, and practices and their implications on the modern library model
Choosing an Online Doctorate in Library Science
Some doctoral programs in library science can be completed in part online, while others are completely online. Often public presentations, dissertation defense, and at least a few specific capstone classes will require physical attendance. Though these classes require attendance it is often during a short session (1-2 weeks) or even a long weekend. Online degrees may offer the ability to specialize in areas not found in traditional brick and mortar colleges. Online degree programs offer the following:
- Variety of library science programs and specializations to choose from
- Flexible schedule
- Rigorous doctoral curriculum
- Faster completion time
- Increased opportunity and accessibility
- No costs associated with transportation, parking fees, room and board, or relocating
What Can I Do with a Degree in Library Science?
Having received a degree in library science is a great feat, but gaining employment is the ultimate goal. Though a library science degree is most commonly thought to lead to running a library, many other options are actually available. Read through a few options below:
The school librarian is tasked with ordering, distributing, and collecting books that are age, grade, and level appropriate. Many current school librarians have also taken on the role of technology coordinators or integration specialists. Read more on becoming a School Librarian.
Technology Integration Specialist
This career choice is often found within the school system, but can also be found in some business settings. A technology integration specialist. is in charge of teaching staff to use, integrate, and ultimately care for various forms of technology and programs. The teaching can range from very basic to extremely detailed. This is a growing field.
Many libraries are building solid web presence by archiving all documents, records, microfilms, and other forms of information in the library. This job will require transferring hard copies of items into the appropriate and accessible digital format. The jobs in this field are somewhat limited as many libraries are already online with a strong presence. However, larger libraries may have a large amount of text that has not yet been digitized.
Put all those research skills to work as a research analyst. This job allows your research to guide companies that want to know more about particular products, sales records, or consumers.
Another way to excel in the field of library science is to join a professional association. Professional associations help to develop career skills and are a great way to network, stay up-to-date, and advance in this realm. The Special Libraries Association (SLA), for example, is a nonprofit global organization for professionals involved in "specialized" settings in the field of library science. The SLA hosts boot camps, conferences, and expos to help library professionals.