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Library Science Training Programs and Requirements

Students interested in library science can pursue master's or doctoral programs in the field. These programs can prepare them for work in academic libraries, public libraries, special libraries and media centers. Doctoral students may also go on to teach at the college level.

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Essential Information

Master of Library Science (MLS) programs teach students how to navigate digital and physical library databases. A master's degree is the minimum education typically required for librarians, and these programs often take 1-2 years to complete. Specializations are typically offered.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in library science can prepare students for work as high-level administrators of large libraries, or for teaching positions at universities. These programs tend to focus on independent research tailored to students' interests.


Master of Library Science

Students in MLS programs develop their skills in cataloging, referencing and data management. In addition, master's programs often allow students to specialize in a certain concentration, like rare books or children's literature. Master's programs usually offer internship opportunities to students, providing the chance for real-world experience while earning a degree. Some coursework might include:

  • User services and tools
  • Library management
  • Intro to research
  • Representation and organization
  • Database design
  • Digital libraries

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Ph.D. in Library Science

The PhD in Library Science can usually be completed within three years or more, depending on how long a student's dissertation project takes. Programs emphasize research above all else, leaving graduates qualified for scholarly work at colleges and universities. Some programs require students to minor in a field that's outside of the department and related to their research interest. Some common course topics include:

  • Conducting research
  • Supervised dissertation
  • Teaching and learning
  • Applied statistics for LIS
  • Qualitative research

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS states that as of May 2015, librarians make a mean annual wage of $58,930. The job outlook for this career from 2014-2024 is expected to grow 2%, which is slower than average compared to all the other occupations.

Certification and Licensure

In general, librarians must be certified or licensed. Certification and licensure are administered by individual states, rather than through a national organization. Some states, however, accept certifications and licenses earned in another state. Certification and licensure guidelines vary by state and position. Public librarians may need to submit their MLS transcripts and a fee to become certified, then complete continuing education courses to maintain their certification. In some states, school librarians also need to obtain teacher certification. Other states may require that librarians pass a certification or licensing exam.

Continuing Education

A number of organizations, like the American Library Association, hold conferences throughout the year. These conferences feature educational seminars and workshops that address key issues affecting librarians, such as information technology, leadership and research. These events typically last 3-5 days. Statewide organizations, such as the California Library Association, also hold similar conferences. Librarians can find professional development resources, such as websites and computer software, throughout the Internet. Some of these resources help sharpen traditional library science skills, like working with the Dewey Decimal System. Other resources keep librarians up to date with changing information technology.

Aspiring librarians may consider earning master's degrees in library science, which can prepare them for certification or licensure. Students who want to conduct high-level research might look into library science doctoral programs. Both programs can be customized according to students' research interests and career goals. Graduates can stay up-to-date with changes in the field through professional workshops and seminars.

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