Academic Librarianship Degrees

According to the Research Information Network & Consortium of Research Libraries, a variety of factors impact contemporary academic libraries and their functions.

Technological advancements make a great amount of information available in digital format. They enable faculty members to access information beyond physical journals and books remotely. The number of visits faculty members make to the library has been reduced. They employ external sources for information-searching and retrieval processes.

Academic Librarianship Programs

Librarians develop digital collections that are expensive and involve continuous communication with members of the faculty to understand and meet their needs. The increased expense and difficulty of developing library collections are behind the establishment of inter-library loan agreements that enable scanning, mailing, and loaning of materials.

Libraries make payment agreements to share databases that are too expensive for individual libraries. Librarians have to be aware of the new skills required of users to search and retrieve information in this digital era.

They must address the difficulty of reaching items if they do not provide descriptive information of the items in a collection that contains as much information as possible, especially for items that are available only in physical collections.

What is Academic Librarianship?

Academic libraries are found in higher education institutions, such as specialized research institutes, major universities, private or community colleges. They support the mission of the institution. The mission may be undergraduate instruction, faculty and graduate academic humanities research, and social and hard sciences.

Academic librarianship involves

  • Access to digital information
  • Development of digital collections
  • Sharing
  • Discovery and access
  • Metadata and catalogs
  • Budgeting and prioritizing
  • Formal and informal scholarly communication

The academic libraries of today are involved in various activities meant to meet the information needs of campus stakeholders like researchers, faculty, and students. Leading issues considered in the functions and roles of academic libraries in the near future include:

  • Outreach to and collaboration with academic content providers, end users, researchers, and faculty
  • An emphasis on research methodologies for undergraduates or educating 'by design'
  • Evolving and leveraging the frameworks of digital library services
  • Implications of online content access especially intellectual property, copyright, open access, conservation, digital preservation, and curation
  • Supporting roles of librarians in federally funded scientific research
  • New scholarly publishing forms
  • Libraries as publishers

Online Academic Librarianship Programs

Rapid higher education changes and major shifts in information technologies and publishing have created a demand for innovative, well-trained academic librarians. Online core and specialization coursework teaches students to support college students' development, assist researchers, and drive academic success as they learn to compile and analyze information. It prepares them for careers as academic information specialists that help researchers and students access the information they need, whether conducting research in a university or attending a community college.

The concentration prepares students for work in libraries that belong to private and public higher education institutions from community colleges to top-ranked universities and technical schools.

The online student develops an understanding of how to serve the goals of researchers and students in universities and colleges from the management of digital libraries to the development of information literacy among users. Students learn to deliver helpful library experience. The programs prepare students to teach in 21st-century school libraries. The courses include the latest research-based, best practices in the field of school libraries. Students are exposed to techniques and strategies for teaching information literacy.

Sample Universities with this Online Program

Schools that offer online programs in Academic Librarianship include the following.

East Carolina University offers an online MLS with a concentration option in Academic Librarianship. A GPA of 2.7 and a MAT or GRE score are required for admission. Students develop a portfolio and choose from many electives as part of the curriculum.

Florida State University has an online MS degree that offers a concentration in Academic Librarianship. There is a holistic admission process that takes into account all application aspects. Classes are in a synchronous format that meets one evening from Monday to Thursday each week. In-state tuition rates are offered to students from the Academic Common Market cooperating states. Other out-of-state students may apply for Market Rate tuition.

University of Kentucky offers a fully online MSLS degree with an area of concentration in Academic Librarianship. The course is completed in 36 credit hours. It is entirely asynchronous. All online students pay in-state tuition rates. Optional features of the program include a Practicum, Study Abroad, and internships in DC. Applicants need a GPA of 3.0 and GRE scores. Ph.D. students can waive the GRE scores. Students design programs of their own and have the option to take some face-to-face classes if they desire.

Typical Coursework for this Degree

Students choose from courses like the following.

Planning and Delivering Literacy Programs – Students identify essential components of successful and sustained programs and are provided resources they can adapt and use in programs of their own. ‘Training the trainer’ workshops bring together people from multiple countries and communities to share ideas and learn from one another about the planning, implementation, and sustaining of quality programs. Students maintain electronic communication with program leaders who support and encourage them as they develop their programs.

Introduction to Digital Libraries – The course focuses on the evaluative, human factors, technological, and theoretical components of digital library practice and research. Students read and discuss literature on digital libraries, review existing proof-of-concepts implementation projects and technologies, and work together to develop an operational digital library prototype. The course is fundamental for students who wish to engage in digital librarianship.

College and University Libraries – Students study the history of the college library higher education in the United States as well as the impact of social and demographic changes on the provision of the service. They also study the planning, staffing, and evaluation of academic library administration.

Web Design for Libraries and Information Centers – The class is an information architecture approach to designing large enterprise websites. Topics include accessibility, usability, searching, navigation, labeling, organization, and information content.

Project Management in Information Organizations – Students are provided with an overview of managing a project and guided through project management skills and tools required in information organizations.

Specific Scholarships

The Texas Library Association awards a TLA member who is a graduate student attending a Texas, ALA-accredited program in library education. The applicants must have a B average for the last two years in a Bachelor’s program. It is a $1000 award. The scholarship is available to full- and part-time students. It is granted by financial need analysis.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) awards approximately 15 scholarships. Each includes complimentary registration and a $600 stipend to attend the organization’s ACRL 2021 conference in Seattle, WA, held April 14-17, 2021. They provide library science and information students opportunities to participate in professional development experience and learn about developments and issues in research and academic libraries. The goal is to provide students with a positive, active interaction with ACRL that strengthens their interest in and understanding of academic librarianship.

Top Organizations to Know

The American Library Association has many subdivisions of specialized groups based on geography, subject area, or both. Those that pertain to Academic Librarianship include:

ACRL: Association of College & Research Libraries – It is an association of academic librarians. The association is committed to the enhancement of information and academic library professionals’ ability to serve the informational needs of higher education communities and to improve research, learning, and teaching. ACRL is the ALA’s largest division. Its membership currently exceeds 12,000, which accounts for almost 20 percent of the ALA membership.

CARL: California Academic & Research Libraries – The purpose of the organization is to provide its members opportunities for professional growth by arranging programs and conducting workshops to encourage the exchange of information and ideas related to library development and cooperation; to disseminate educational information to those working in research and academic-oriented libraries; and support and participate in other regions and local organizations, when appropriate, to improve and promote library services to the research and academic community.

Career Options with this Degree

Academic librarians serve two purposes that complement each other. They are to support university faculty and student research and to support the school’s curriculum. Sample job titles include:

  • ‘Subject Matter’ Librarian
  • STEM Teaching and Faculty Outreach Librarian
  • Serials Librarian
  • Scholarly Publications Librarian
  • Reference and Instruction Librarian
  • Online Learning Specialist Librarian
  • Instruction and Outreach Librarian
  • Digital Humanities Librarian
  • Digital Collections LibrarianCataloging LibrarianElectronic Resources Librarian
  • Assistant Professor/Librarian
  • Assistant Librarian