About Library & Information Science

People who have a master’s degree in library science, or LIS, or MLS, often become librarians, although, as you will see in this introduction, this is not always the case.

Library professionals help people locate information from all types of sources. Most librarians, including those who are employed in public and academic libraries, are responsible for maintaining library collections and for many responsibilities to keep a library running efficiently.

With a master’s degree in library science, some of the most common parts of your job include:

  • Helping library customers find key information
  • Efficiently organize library materials
  • Plan programs for different types of groups
  • Develop and update databases of library materials
  • Select new books, magazines and videos for the library archives
  • Research and purchase any  new equipment that a library needs
  • Provide training and guidance for library staff
  • Administer budgets for the library

Types of Librarians

Librarians work in many different settings and often have different job duties. Most of the librarians who work in these institutions have a master’s degree in library science. Some of the most common types of librarian:

  • School librarians: These professionals are often known as school media specialists and they work in elementary or secondary schools. They teach students how to effectively use library resources. They also aid teachers in coming up with new lesson plans and finding new materials for their classes. These librarians also work in university and college libraries.
  • Special librarians: These librarians work in places other than schools or public libraries. They are sometimes referred to as information professionals. Some of the organizations that have their own specialized libraries include museums, businesses, government organizations, and law firms.
  • Government librarians: They provide research services and information access to staff from the government and also the public.

Other Job Opportunities for Library Science Professionals

People who have a master’s degree in library science are not just limited to jobs in libraries however. Having abilities to both navigate and manage information is a good skill to have and there are many jobs that are not in libraries where these skills can be very useful:

  • Information resources specialist
  • Researcher
  • Meta data analyst
  • Documentation specialist
  • Project manager
  • Archival consultant
  • Research lead
  • Freelance researcher
  • Web analytics manager
  • Head of access services
  • Business researcher

People with this master’s degree can also use their skills to establish new businesses. For instance, the Professor of Practice Jill Hurst-Wahl of the Information School at Syracuse University has a consulting firm for digitization initiatives.

Over the coming decade, there may be other non-library jobs in this field. Some library science graduates could work as information brokers for private companies, nonprofits and consulting firms.

Some companies are starting to turn to librarian professionals because of their superior organizational and research skills. They also tend to have great knowledge of computer databases and library automation systems.


The vast majority of librarians must have a master’s degree in library science. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject to enter graduate school in library science.

SEE ALSO: MLS Online Degree Programs +10 Options

Library information studies programs look at many aspects of the management and use of libraries today. The degree program deals with educational systems and information technology, and also how information is organized, collected and disseminated. Depending upon which program you enter, you may also cover archival sciences as well.

There are different names for library science programs, depending upon which college you attend. Some programs are called Master’s in Library Science, or MLS, and others may be called Master of Information Studies, or a Master of Library and Information Studies.

There are many university programs offering this master’s degree, but only about 55 programs in the US are currently accredited by the American Library Association. You should strongly consider an accredited program so you have better job possibilities.

If you are working in a special library, you may want to supplement your master’s degree with more specialized knowledge in that given field. Some librarians go on to earn another master’s degree or even a PhD in that field.

SEE ALSO: How to Get a Library Science Degree

Salary and Job Information

The median annual wage for librarians in 2010 was $54,000, according to the BLS. The top 10%, most of whom possess a master of science in library science, earned about $83,000.

The employment of librarians is expected to increase by only seven percent by 2020. This is slower than average when compared to other professions. Overall, there will be a need for librarians to manage various types of libraries and to help customers locate the information they need. However, electronic resources are more common, so many people do not need as many librarians to help them find information.

Still, with more electronic information available, there will be more need for various types of special and research libraries. For example, many older libraries are being replaced with more digitally advanced organizations, and today’s librarians are constantly undertaking new projects and services that take advantage of new technologies.

SEE ALSO: Masters in Library Science Salary Outlook

One key area where there may be more jobs in the future includes a key action area of the American Library Association, which is to “transform libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasingly global digital information environment”.

In some cases, budget limitations in local government districts can slow the demand for librarians. You may find that you will be in strong competition with others who have a master’s degree in library science as they are competing for limited positions. However, later in the decade, you may find better prospects as older librarians are retiring and new positions open.


Sarah J

Sarah J

Sarah J is Chief Editor and Founder at MastersinLibraryScience.net, formerly LibraryScienceList.com (LSL). Join us today and become a community curator. We can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Learn more about me on Google+