When you think of libraries, you probably picture the person behind the counter at your school or public library—the one who answers your questions and tells you to be quiet. The truth is, libraries contain a whole universe of knowledge and information ready to be absorbed by people just like you, and library science is what makes it all possible.
These days librarians work in many information-rich industries. Some librarians curate and manage web archives. Some develop and manage corporate private libraries. Engineering firms, pharmaceutical companies, and legal firms all employ librarians. Earning an online library science degree can train you to work as an archivist, curator, or museum technician. Jobs outside of traditional library settings—schools and public libraries—are projected to grow the fastest. As a graduate who understands education and who is eager to work as a corporate information and data manger, you may see high demand for your expertise.
THE CAREER PATH
There’s so much information in the world that library science professionals often enjoy the opportunity of working with the types of subjects, materials, and specialized information that they choose. Work can be focused on manuscripts, sculptures, maps, or government records, and subjects such as law, medicine, particular cultures or eras of history, and more. The primary paths for library science careers are described by the United States Department of Labor as:
- Librarians – The passion of a librarian lies in helping individuals find information and conduct research. Librarians can work in almost any setting imaginable, so their job duties can vary between different roles. Some of the major types of librarians include school, academic, user service, and special librarians.
- Archivists – Archivists may work in museums, libraries, and other institutions to appraise, process, organize, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. In some settings they are responsible for coordinating educational opportunities and public outreach programs like workshops and tours. They often specialize in specific types of records (government records, manuscripts, etc.).
- Curators – Also known as museum directors, curators are responsible for overseeing collections of art and history by researching, authenticating, evaluating, and categorizing items. They are also responsible for tasks such as negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange, and loan of collections and pieces.
- Museum Technicians – Museum techs are the professionals who prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits. They care for, maintain, and safeguard objects and collections as well as keeping records and overseeing the logistics of collections.
The demand for qualified library science professionals is expected to increase more than average in the next decade across the board and demand is expected to be the highest outside traditional settings. Whole schools and public libraries are still hiring training for a career as an information architect rather than a librarian may be a smart move. The payoff for a career in library science is significant—a wealth of knowledge—and nearly $60,000 as a librarian or nearly $50,000 as an archivist, curator, or museum worker.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Library science refers to a whole field of designing, developing and managing libraries, archives, information, history, and knowledge in museums, governmental institutions, art galleries, schools, and more. Professionals in library science play a critical role in how members of our community access information, learn about our world, and pass along knowledge to future generations. If you’re excited about helping people conduct research, advancing public knowledge, and preserving history and culture, then a career in library science could be a great fit for you.
Additionally, librarians and other library science professionals are generally thirsty for knowledge and eager to help others gain it as well. They must be dedicated to understanding the organization and authentication of information and artifacts as well as sharing their ideas and meaning with others, including the general public. The career path demands initiative to be excited about new information, technology, and resources. Consider a career in library science if you’re curious about working in a field that allows you to feel the excitement of discovery and problem-solving.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
To work in a professional role at a public library, you’ll need a master’s degree in library science. Most online library science degree programs award either a master’s of library and information science (MLIS) or a master’s of arts or science in library science. The MLIS degree is more focused on technology and knowledge management, while the standard master’s degree provides a traditional foundation in library science.
If you’re interested in working at a public school, you can explore an online master’s in education with an endorsement or concentration in school media. Each state has specific guidelines, but most require school librarians to have teacher licensure. In certain states, you will also need a master’s degree to work as a library media specialist. Check with your state education department for the credentials required in your particular location.
Consider library science degrees that hold programmatic accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). This additonal accreditation can be very attractive to potential employers and adds extra prestige to your degree. Enrolling in online courses in information architecture, information storage, virtual reality and computerized data collection will also boost career prospects. Research methods and reference classes will also hone your logical thinking skills. Bulking up on courses in administration, budgeting and digital media will help you qualify for the best library science jobs. Finally, make sure your online library science degree offers electives in high-demand areas if you’re interested in pursuing a career in technology and information.
Our rankings reveal that the average cost of an online master’s degree in library science is just under $23,000 in the United States. This figure includes all online learning fees but does not include textbooks. Use this figure as a benchmark as you consider programs. Click on a degree listing below to see tuition and admisison information.