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Online Media Specialist Degree Program Overviews by Program Level

Dec 02, 2019

Research online media specialist courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

A master's degree program in library science, often called by other names, is the most common preparation for media specialists. Certificate programs are most common for teachers or individuals already working as librarians. A bachelor's degree is a requirement for entering any media specialist graduate certificate or degree program.

Most media specialist programs require internships, though courses can be completed totally online or through a hybrid format. Online courses cover topics such as cataloging, technology, literature for various populations and reference materials.

Most states require licensing or certification for public school librarians. They usually must be certified as a teacher. Some states require that media specialists in public libraries be certified as well, although not as teachers.

Media Specialist Graduate Certificate

A media specialist works in a library, often on a school or university campus, and helps patrons in the use of library resources. They also advise teachers and professors on the integration new technologies into the classroom. This graduate-level certificate program educates students in both the latest content-delivery technologies and the latest instructional methods.

Program Information and Requirements

Some media specialist certificate programs offer all courses online, while others offer selected classes online but require that students attend other classes on campus. Many programs also include a field experience component that can be completed near a student's area of residence.

Classes and associated lectures, assignments and readings are usually delivered via a content management system (CMS). Students must purchase textbooks if required.

Common Courses

Courses tend to focus primarily on electronic and online sources, though some traditional resources may be discussed. Some classes introduce particular types of library media, while others focus on instructional techniques for introducing teachers and patrons to the use of new technologies.

Technology and Curriculum

Students learn about contemporary learning technology and educational theories. They develop strategies for integrating new media into school curricula. They also explore current information literacy standards from state school boards and learn about techniques for educating students in the use of technology.

Library Computer

A library computer course introduces students to the electronic resources that libraries provide to patrons. Digital reference sources, online materials and software are discussed.

Reference Sources

Students learn about contemporary print and digital reference materials that are useful for children and teenagers. The course deals with techniques for developing patron research skills and information literacy capabilities.

Master of Library of Science Degree Program with Media Specialist Concentration

One of the most common and versatile ways of qualifying to work as a media specialist is to enroll in a Master of Library Science program that includes a media studies or media specialist concentration. At the core, such programs emphasize various aspects of library science, from acquiring and managing collections to interacting with patrons. Specialized information technology and new media coursework occurs as part of the media concentration.

No library science degree options are available at the bachelor's level; however, students with bachelor's degrees can apply to library science graduate programs. Library science degree programs usually do not require that students have any previous experience with library work.

Program Information and Requirements

Most Master of Library Science programs take 2-3 years to complete, depending on how many courses a student takes each term. Some universities offer all courses online, while others offer programs in hybrid format, where some classes are available online and some only on-campus. Many programs require that students complete an internship in addition to the coursework.

Students can access course materials and class discussion boards online through the university's CMS. Some classes also require textbooks, and literature survey courses often require the purchase of many books.

Common Courses

A master's degree in library science with a media specialist concentration includes classes in general library collection management and courses specific to new media technologies. Courses also cover techniques for reaching out to library patrons of all ages.

Survey of Young Adult Literature

In a young adult literature course, students read classic and contemporary books for teenagers. They also learn strategies for recommending books to patrons.

Library Cataloging

Students learn about various systems for organizing and classifying library materials. Systems discussed include Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal.

Collection Management

The considerations librarians take into account when acquiring new materials, organizing their collections and eliminating obsolete materials are the focus of this course. Community, budgetary and intellectual factors are also discussed.

Digital Library Materials

Students examine online electronic library resources. They learn about the particular concerns of managing digital collections, including access, availability and long-term storage.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), available positions for librarians were predicted to increase at 6%, on par with the average, during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). Digital media specialists reported an annual median salary of $46,703 in October 2019 ('Payscale.com'). In 2018, the median annual salary for librarians was $59,050, according to the BLS.

Online graduate certificate and master's degree programs in library science can prepare students for careers as media specialists through internships and coursework covering such topics as reference materials, instructional technology and cataloging.

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