Library and Information Science Degrees

Schools of librarianship that developed from training programs to universities began to add 'information science' to their programs in the 1960s. The University of Pittsburgh was the first to do so in 1964. During the 70s and 80s, more schools followed.

By the 90s, nearly all library schools in the U.S. added 'information science' to the name of their programs. Similar developments occurred in other areas of the world. Library and Information Science is a profession of people who are passionate about making a positive impact in the world.

Library and Information Science

They tend to be happy with what they do. In a recent survey, more than 85 percent of the information professionals questioned said they would make the same choice if they had to do it over.

Librarians bridge the gap between technology, information, and people. They work to develop and design knowledge-organization systems. These professionals create reader advisory resources that encourage young students to develop a love of learning and reading. They help scholars locate resources crucial to the work they do. These professionals identify sources of assistance for those in personal and family crisis.

What Is Library Information Science?

Advanced degrees in library and information science are vital for librarians who wish to work in hospitals, government agencies, schools, and more. Unlike the fields of chemistry, economics, and medicine, that are broad in scope, yet have clear ties to the fundamental concerns of the field, library and information science does not elicit that kind of conceptual coherence.

Neither theory or practice is seen as monolithic or unified by a common set of professional skills or literature.

Information Science and Its History

Information science grew from documentation science. It has a tradition of considering scholarly and scientific communication, subject terminology and knowledge, databases, etc. Library science concentrates mostly on libraries and their best practices and internal processes.

At one time, library science was used by scientists, while librarianship was split between scholarly research libraries and public libraries. When information scientists joined library schools, they brought relevant competencies for information retrieval in databases that included concepts such as query formulation, boolean search techniques, recall and precision, and related issues.

Citation indexes and bibliographic databases provided a step forward in the dissemination of information and the library school curriculum.

Are There Online Information Science Programs?

In short: Yes, especially at the Master's level.

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.

Sample Universities with this Online Program

Schools that offer online library science and information programs include:

Syracuse University – School of Information Studies – The program takes 18 months to complete. There is an option to specialize in School Media. It is a Master’s program that requires a Bachelor’s degree to apply. GRE waivers are available.

University of Denver – Morgridge College of Education – The school offers an online Master of Library and Information Science program that is ALA-accredited. Students learn from practitioners. They gain the skills necessary to connect communities with digital age information. No GRE is required.

San Jose State University – A Master of Library and Information Science is delivered exclusively online. This includes academic advising, courses, faculty office hours, internships, research assistant opportunities, conferences, guest speaker presentations, and more. There are no required in-person events or an on-campus orientation. The program requires completion of 43 units.

Drexel University – This program is ranked among the U.S. top library science programs. The online Master of Library and Information Science program is a leader in the industry’s digital information management. The College of Computing and Information is proud of the national recognition received for Health Librarianship, Information Systems, Digital Librarianship, Services for Children and Youth, and School Library Media.

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.

Typical Coursework for this Degree

Courses for library and information science are meant to prepare students for making use of technology in the process of education. They learn how to use technology and how to teach others as well. Courses include:

Library, Information and Society – The objective of the course is for students to understand the concepts, functions, and types of library and information centers and the role they play in society. Segments include concepts and roles of library and information centers in society; national, special, academic, and public libraries and information centers; modern virtual, digital and automated libraries; and the laws of library science.

Information Sources – This course introduces learners to the different forms and types of information services available and how to use them. Topics covered are an overview of information sources, e-resources, reference sources, and types of information sources.

Organization of Information Sources – The course familiarizes the learners with the procedures and methods of maintaining and organizing library materials for use. The concept, need, and purpose of the organization of library materials; the classification and cataloging process of library materials; and the arrangement and maintenance of library materials are discussed.

Library and Information Services – Introduces students to a variety of services. Modules include user library and information services; traditional library services, both anticipatory and responsive; and modern library services.

Management of Libraries – Familiarizes students with routine library and information center management operations. The course addresses librarianship as a career, library staff, library system and management, and library users.

Information Retrieval Systems – Imparts skills for the access, search, and retrieval of information from a variety of both print and non-print sources. Topics include the concept and scope of information retrieval systems, information retrieval tools, basic and advanced search techniques, and web-based search.

Specific Scholarships

The University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science offers over a dozen scholarships for students who attend the school. One set is the Beta Phi Mu Scholarship and Fellowships. Monetary awards that range from $1200 to $3000 are given annually to six library science majors at all stages of education. The university also offers the Reforma Scholarship for graduate-level science majors of Latin-American descent. The annual award maximum is $1500.

Wayne State University offers various scholarships for students who are enrolled in the Library and Information Science program. Most of them are privately endowed. Some of the awards are

  • Isabel James Bath Scholarship
  • Rosemary Benedetti Scholarship
  • Sallie Ellison Memorial Scholarship

The University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Library and Information Science offers a broad spectrum of scholarships who major in library sciences or related students. They include:

  • Charlotte A. Friedman Scholarship
  • Olive C. Koch Rowe Memorial Scholarship
  • Sally Davis Scholarship
  • William R. Werk Scholarship

Top Organizations to Know

Library associations are prime sources for financial aid for majors of Library and Information Science. These organizations further library sciences development and support future generations of librarians. Two notable associations in the U.S. are the Council on Library and Information Resources and the American Library Association. Another is the American Society for Information Science and Technology. The members are from education, chemistry, medicine, law, information architecture, data science, engineering, librarianship, management, linguistics, computer science, and information science fields. The organization advances information sciences and applications of information technology by helping members develop their careers and build their skills as it provides support, opportunity, and focus through ongoing education, publications, research, and training.

Career Options with this Degree

The library and information science field is filled with passionate professionals who want to have a positive impact on their world. Job titles include:

  • Youth services librarian
  • Web content strategist
  • Urban branch manager
  • University library director
  • Taxonomist
  • Subject specialist librarian
  • Senior program manager
  • Semantic modeler
  • Research analyst
  • Rare book curator
  • Publishing manager
  • Program consultant
  • Library and media specialist
  • Learning resource center librarian
  • Knowledge management specialist
  • Internet trainer