What is library sciences is a question clouded with confusion, so it is essential to understand its relationship with the job of a librarian. What exactly is it, and what does it entail? Is it different from being a librarian, or are they the same? Here is a comprehensive guide on the subject and its impact on today’s world.
Library Studies and Library Science Defined
At its most basic, library science is the study of collecting, cataloging and preserving various forms of media. Most commonly, these information resources are books. These activities mainly occur in libraries, but the institution can vary from a community public library to collections at universities to national archives.
At its core, this interdisciplinary field focuses on developing and refining preservation, cataloging, and organization techniques. To become a librarian, one must obtain a master’s degree in library science. Modern degree programs also include management courses because librarians often oversee staff. Many also have technology courses on database and information management.
What is the History of Library Science?
Library collections and public libraries provide access to information for everyone. And library studies play an important role in the English speaking world. The history of library curation goes back a long, long time. The concept of collecting and maintaining collections of books began thousands of years ago. As long as there has been written material, there have been collections of that material and people dedicated to preserving them.
Thomas Jefferson maintained an extensive private library and invented a classification system. Later his collection would create the basis for the Library of Congress. However, perhaps the most famous librarian, Melville Dewey, developed the Dewey Decimal system of Cataloging, organizing, and classifying library materials in 1876. The Dewey Decimal system is still used today and is the most popular system of library collection classification.
Most people associate libraries with books. But in the 1990s, several traditional library science schools transformed into a broader category of information schools. These schools are geared towards various information professions and include library science. Thus programs in library science now often include the information science field of study.
Why is Library Science Important?
Information preservation is essential for several reasons. For example, historical books and manuscripts can give scientists unique insight into humanity’s heritage. In addition, as technology evolves, these books and documents frequently surrender more of their secrets. So, library professionals can learn more about the creators, the period in which they were produced, and how they have been viewed throughout the years as times change.
Even books meant to entertain purely can challenge and enrich the human experience. For these reasons, library scientists are invaluable to the human race. However, as outlined by Slate Magazine, this profession is only set to see new changes and challenges as more media becomes digitized.
Who Studies Library Science
Individuals who want to direct a library or manage a department within a library often earn a library science degree. However, there are many different types of libraries, including K-12 schools, junior colleges, and universities. A university has specific libraries for law, theology, and music.
How Do you Become a Librarian?
Below are the traditional steps to becoming a librarian.
- Graduate with a Bachelor’s degree
- Earn a Master’s in Library Science or a Master of Library Information Science
- Get certified if required by the state
- complete continuing education required by your state
What Do Librarians Do?
Librarians are information professionals who are also experts in library science. The terms are often used interchangeably, with no distinction between the two. No matter the kind of institution they work in, the general job duties are similar. Librarians help individuals find information and conduct research. They curate collections of books by constantly adding and subtracting them from the collection. They correctly catalog these books, making them organized and easy to find when necessary. However, specific tasks vary depending on the setting. For example, school, medical, and public library job duties differ.
Another aspect of this profession is utilizing scientific methods to preserve and restore materials so they will survive for future generations to possess. For example, preservation may involve using unique display materials for an item, fixing damaged parts of books, and limiting access to certain materials.
What are the Types of Library Science Degrees?
Various types of library studies programs exist. Prospective students can earn an undergraduate degree, master’s degree, or PhD in library studies.
Undergraduate Library Science Degrees
For example, if you’re looking for an assistant position, many libraries accept candidates with only a high school diploma and provide on-the-job training. On the other hand, a high school diploma may also be sufficient if you want to work as a technician at a smaller library. Still, a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree may be necessary for positions in many libraries. For example, a library technician associate’s degree program covers topics in cataloging, circulating, processing, and ordering library materials.
- Diploma in Library and Information Technology
- Associate in Applied Science in Library and Information Technology
- Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS)
Graduate Library Science Degrees
On the other hand, librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science or information studies. When looking for the right school, ensure the American Library Association accredits the program. To enter a master’s degree program in library science, you can have a bachelor’s degree in any subject.
The length of master’s programs varies, but most library science programs take 1 to 2 years. If you want to work at a public school or public library after graduating, most states require that you become licensed or certified. You may also need teacher certification to qualify for school library jobs.
- Master of Library Science (MLS)
- Doctorate or PhD in Library Science
- Graduate Certificates
What Kinds of Things Do You Study in Library Science?
Library science is a multidisciplinary field that combines libraries’ practices, perspectives, and management tools. Below are some of the typical courses students take in a library science degree program at most schools.
- collection management
- information systems and technology
- research methods
- information literacy
- cataloging and classification
- library economy
- information management
- database management
- information architecture
What Jobs Can you Get with a Library Science Degree?
Library science professionals work in school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries, and special libraries. Academic libraries are college and university libraries. Corporate libraries, law libraries, and medical libraries are special libraries. Some other occupations include working for historical societies, museums, galleries, non-profits, and community archives. Library jobs are typically divided into three areas: administrative, technical, and user services.
Pages are the library staff who put returned books and other materials on the shelves. They may also retrieve materials that are in secured areas and check items back in when a patron returns them.
Library Technician or Library Assistant
Most Library Technicians or Library Assistants perform clerical duties. A library assistant helps check materials out and collect fees and fines. Some may answer general questions for patrons, issue library cards, and assist with reserving materials.
Librarians help with research questions and sometimes homework. They decide what materials to purchase and also which to retire or discard. Some libraries offer training or classes on internet use or file taxes.
Specialized librarians have specific areas where they have a higher knowledge of work. They are specialists in a subject area or with a particular group or population.
- Children’s Librarian / Children’s Literature
- Archives and Special Collections Librarian
- Electronic Resource Librarian
- Young Adult Services
- Academic Librarian / Academic Librarians
- Digital Library Science
Library Managers may be branch managers or associate directors. They are the middle managers and are typically responsible for operating parts of library systems or branches. Managers make work schedules, train new employees, and oversee daily operations.
Library Directors have the central leadership role. Some typical duties of a director are to prepare and oversee the budget, develop policies for staff, and manage relations with the public and governmental agencies. In addition, the director often handles hiring, firing, and fundraising, ensuring compliance with laws.
The director has more responsibilities in more extensive urban libraries and may have hundreds of employees. Whereas, in a small library, the director may be in charge of everything and oversee a few staff members. So, the compensation can vary greatly depending on the job.
How Much is a Library Science Salary?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the annual salary of clerical library assistants is $28,730. Library Technicians and Assistants earn around $34,050 annually, with top wages of approximately $59,000 (BLS).
Librarians have a median annual salary of $61,190 (BLS). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports the salary range from $37,300 to more than $97,870.
What is the Job Outlook for Library Science?
The BLS projects jobs for library assistants and technicians will decrease by 4% from 2021 to 2031. However, the BLS predicts a 5% increase in employment for Librarians during this same period.
With technology changing constantly and the amount of new material growing daily, librarians will continue to play an essential role in the future. Library science is, without a doubt, a fascinating and necessary field.
Increased use of computer technology and electronic resources may decrease the need for librarians. Competition for jobs is expected to be fierce early in the decade but should be better later when older librarians retire.
There are also professional organizations students and graduates can join that offer continuing education and networking.
- American Library Association (ALA)
- Association for Library and Information Science Education (ASILE)
- Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
- Special Libraries Association
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