A master's degree in library science or information studies is typically required for individuals wishing to become librarians. Master's degrees take 1-2 years to complete. As of 2016, the ALA accredited 59 library and information science master's degree programs in the U.S. Individuals who want to become public school librarians often need to hold teaching certification as well.
Here is an outline of common concepts taught in library science courses:
- Reference services
- Catering to the patron
- Collection management
- Classifying and Cataloging
- Information technology
- Youth outreach programs
- Materials for various ages
List of Common Courses
Information Sources and Services Course
This required class is often taken early in a library science degree program. Students are introduced to reference and information services. They learn to identify and use print, online, electronic and audiovisual sources to meet library patrons' information needs. Students also learn the principles of developing, measuring and evaluating the information services they'll provide as working librarians.
Collection Development Course
Another core course, this class introduces students to the concepts behind building and maintaining collections of library materials. Various collection development tools are introduced, along with practices for managing print, electronic and audiovisual media collections. Students may also discuss challenged materials, budgeting, and working collaboratively.
Cataloging and Classification of Materials Course
Dewey decimal classification, Library of Congress subject headings and machine-readable cataloging (MARC) format are the focus of this required class. Coursework includes major concepts in cataloging and classification as well as historical overviews of prominent figures and trends and the role and use of technology. Current topics in cataloging and classification are discussed. Students typically perform hands-on work.
Foundations in Information Technology for Libraries Course
Some programs require students to enroll in this class. Coursework introduces a selection of technologies that working librarians are likely to encounter in the field. Students generally complete projects that involve planning, budgeting, implementing, measuring and evaluating various technologies. Topics include telecommunications, computer networking and troubleshooting, social media networking and Internet technology.
Young Adult Literature and Library Materials Course
Students in the public library or school media tracks may be required to take this class. Lessons focus on historical overviews and collection development of print, electronic, online and audiovisual materials that meet the educational and recreational needs of adolescents. Outreach services are also discussed, along with major trends, authors and genres in young adult literature.
Children's Literature and Library Materials Course
This may be a required course for library science students who plan to serve the educational and entertainment needs of children. Coursework surveys major writers, trends and themes in children's literature appropriate to each age group. Most classes include literary criticism, collection development of audiovisual materials and age-appropriate strategies for outreach.