What is a Library Science Degree?

Library science and administration degree programs – also known as library science and library and information science degree programs – teach the skills needed to work as librarians and information specialists.

Students who study the field learn how to:

  • Use information software to select and acquire information resources
  • Catalog, manage, and preserve hard copy and electronic collections of books, journals, documents, photographs, films, sound recordings, and other information resources
  • Perform audits of library a database/inventory
  • Perform ongoing updates of a library database/inventory
  • Coordinate lecture series, author signings, and other related events
  • Assist library users with conducting research and finding information on any subject
  • Create and administer library budgets

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in Library Science and Administration – Four Year Duration
The four-year program that awards a Bachelor’s Degree in Library Science and Administration prepares students for two possible paths: further studies at the master’s level or entry into the field as an assistant or associate librarian or information specialist.

Here is some sample coursework offered at the bachelor’s level:

  • Online Search and Information Handling – how information is organized and retrieved, introduction to library technologies, software programs, and databases
  • Cataloging – principles of cataloging library material, coding information for the electronic environment
  • Current Trends and Issues in Library Science – history of books and libraries, contemporary issues in the field
  • Business Writing – memos, letters, reports
  • Field Work and Workshops – library tours, practical experience, guest speakers
  • Technical Services and Circulation – selection aids, collection development
  • Children’s Literature and Interactive Library Programs – children’s programming, storytelling
  • Managing Digital Collections – selection and management of electronic materials, copyright
  • Specialized Libraries – resources for libraries in the business, technology, legal, and medical sectors
  • Supervisory Skills – working as a supervisor in a library environment
  • Machine Readable Cataloging (‘MARC’) – creating and manipulating records for online catalogs
  • Non-book Materials – organizing and managing non-book materials, including audio tape, video tape, pictures, maps, computer files

Master’s Degree in Library Science and Administration – One to Two Year Duration
It is important to note that a Master’s Degree in Library Science and Administration – often referred to as a Master of Library Science Degree or MLS – is the standard minimum education requirement for librarians who work in public libraries, public school libraries, and college/university libraries.

While some coursework varies depending on each individual student’s chosen concentration, these classes are considered applicable to all specializations:

  • Reference Services and Resources
  • Managing Library Collections
  • Managing Libraries and Other Information Services
  • Ethics and Legal Issues in Information Environments

The common concentration options are:

  • Public Libraries Concentration – public, technical, adult, children’s services
  • Academic Libraries Concentration – specific discipline librarian: legal, medical/health sciences, science and technology, music, etc.
  • Digital Libraries Concentration – e-publishing, web design, multimedia, metadata
  • Information Law, Policy, and Ethics Concentration – how law, policy, and ethics impact the library field
  • Information Literacy Concentration – promoting, teaching information literacy
  • Special Libraries Concentration – libraries in corporations, law firms, trade associations, government agencies, research institutes, and other organizations

Doctoral Degree in Library Science and Administration – Five to Seven Year Duration
The Doctoral Degree in Library Science and Administration, also known as the Doctor of Library Science Degree or DLS, is a researched focused degree. Doctoral candidates in this field often go on to work as senior librarians with public libraries and corporations, university professors, archivists, research analysts, and information systems managers. At this level, their studies are specialized. The following are two examples of possible specializations and some of the subject matter they cover:

Information and Society

  • Professions in the information field
  • Information policy, ethics, social justice, and the law
  • The culture and politics of information-related organizations
  • Literacy and reading
  • Diversity issues in the information field

Information Organization and Technologies

  • Informetrics
  • Retrieving information
  • Human-computer interface
  • Natural language processing
  • Web document descriptions and metadata (data that describes other data, example: author, date created, date modified, file size)

Degrees Similar to Library Science

Archival Studies
Degree programs in archival studies teach students how to design and implement systems for creating and managing records and archives. Classes include creating and preserving records and selecting records for archiving.

Database Management
This degree program teaches students how to construct and organize large information databases. Coursework includes the fundamentals of operating systems, programming, and algorithm design.

Students who major in education study the learning and teaching processes. Among the courses they take are educational psychology and teaching techniques.

Library and Archives Assisting
Degree programs in library and archives assisting teach the skills required to assist librarians and archivists. The curriculum covers the cataloging, storing, displaying, and finding information resources including books, documents, photographs, films, and sound recordings.

Management Information Systems
Students who major in management information systems learn how to build systems to retrieve and store information. They take courses in database architecture and management, multimedia systems, and human/computer interaction.

Skills You’ll Learn

Graduates with a degree in library science and administration come away from their studies with several transferable skills:

  • Information awareness – they are very internet- and research- savvy and know how and where to best locate information
  • Technical skills – they are familiar with technology, including smartphones, tablets, and cloud computing
  • Multitasking – they are comfortable switching gears and locating countless kinds of information as required
  • Oral and written communication
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience

What Can You Do with a Library Science Degree?

Library science and administration is all about information and information management. Career opportunities in the field, therefore, are wide, simply because many work sectors deal with gathering and handling information.

Here are some of the occupational categories in which the skills learned in a degree program in library science and administration can be applied:

  • Public libraries, in roles such as children’s librarian, youth services librarian, reference librarian
  • Public and private school libraries
  • Academic libraries at colleges, universities, research institutions, learning resource centers
  • Special libraries in sectors including law, healthcare, science and technology, non-profits, government agencies, museums, industry associations, community organizations

In each of the sectors, a librarianship may involve some or all of these activities:

  • Archiving special collections
  • Cataloging / metadata / records management
  • Database administration
  • Digital preservation and archiving
  • Documentation / publishing
  • Library staff management
  • Research
  • User experience / human-computer interaction design

Career Paths

Learn about your career prospects after graduation.

Read about Career Paths