Interested in possibly exploring a career in library science? One of the best ways to pursue this passion is by first obtaining a degree in library science. Here is everything you need to know about a library science major, what kinds of classes you will need to take and the jobs that will be available to you once you get that degree.
What is a library science major?
A library science major is a field of study that teaches you how to manage various resources like books and databases. More specifically, you learn how to collect, organize, and preserve resources.
Sometimes, a library science degree is also referred to as a Library Science or Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS), or Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS). You can also go on to obtain a library science degree at the doctoral level, with a Doctor of Library Science (DLS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Someone with a library science major may go on to work in libraries, schools or museums. They may also go onto other careers that require organization and operational skills. Whatever you choose, obtaining a library science major opens up tons of doors for you! It can also be an exciting career for someone who loves to learn. After all, your office is going to be filled with books!
What classes do you take as a library science major?
The courses that are part of a library science major will differ from school to school. And there are a total of 114 colleges and universities that offer library science or school librarian programs, according to Teach Certification Ideas. Of them, six offer a certificate in library science or as a school librarian. Nine offer an associate's degree in library science or as a school librarian. Ten offer a bachelor's degree in library science or as a school librarian. And 97 of them offer a master's degree or another advanced degree in library science of as a school librarian.
Of course, the level of certificate or degree you are studying to obtain will also determine the courses that you are required to take. That said, here are some of the most common classes that you may take as a library science major.
1. Archives and Special Collections Management
In an archival and special collections management class, you will learn how to appraise, preserve, and conserve archive and special collections.
2. Children and Youth Services
In a children and youth services course, you will learn how to work with children and young adults to develop their learning skills. You will also learn how to enhance their reading skills and encourage them to read more.
3. Digital Information Management
In a digital information management class, you will focus on the digital strategies used to organize data in libraries and museums. This is basic records management that you will need to do your job, wherever you work.
4. School Library
In a school library course, you will learn the ins and outs of how school libraries operate. You will also learn more about how to work with students in developing their literacy skills.
5. Data and Asset Management
In a data and asset management class, you will learn how to collect and organize data manually, not necessarily with technology (though there may be a digital portion of the course, as well).
What jobs can you do with a library science major?
There are tons of jobs you can pursue with a library science degree. Here are just a few to get you started.
1. School librarian
A school librarian is an obvious one! You can work in a school helping students find resources, check out books, and work on their class projects. You may also host school events in the library.
2. Public librarian
As a public librarian, you do the same thing you would do in the school systems, except that you have all kinds of people visiting the library. You won't just have kids and teenagers in school. You will also have adults visiting.
3. Museum curator
A museum curator is in charge of keeping tabs on the museum's resources and making sure that the archives are organized. You may be in charge of the whole museum or a specific section of it, depending on the museum itself.
4. Art gallery curator
Like a museum curator, as an art gallery curator, you will be responsible for organizing and maintaining the art pieces in the gallery. You may also be in charge of collecting art and working with the artists themselves.
As an archivist, you will be in charge of preserving specific materials and helping people who come to you to obtain it. This may include paperwork, documents, photographs, or other materials.
How much money can you make with a library science degree?
You can make a good salary with a library science degree, particularly if you become a librarian with that degree. After all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job of a librarian is expected to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029, which is a rate that is much faster than the average for all occupations. Many librarians are expected to retire in the upcoming years, so this means that the number of job openings becoming available are growing. More specifically, librarians earned a median annual salary of $59,500 in 2019.
Of course, your salary will depend on the actual job you choose with a library science degree. It will also depend on where you work — as different geographic areas lend themselves to higher salaries than others. Whether you work in a private or public library, or whether you work in a stand-alone library, a bookstore, a school, a museum, or somewhere else will also impact your pay.
Is a library science degree worth it?
It is ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you think a library degree is worth it. If you love books and have serious organization skills, a job as a librarian may be perfect for you. If, however, you are more interested in another field, you are much better off pursuing a degree in that field.
That said, generally speaking, a library science degree will get you places. There will always be a need for librarians — whether you choose to work in a school, a public library, or a museum. Schools will always need librarians. And museums will always need people taking care of the archives, as well. This is a job that will always be in demand. Therefore, if you love studying it and you plan to enter the field, then, yes, it is safe to say that a library science degree is worth it.
3 signs a library science degree is right for you
Here are three signs that a library science degree is the right degree for you.
1. You love to read!
If you have always been a total bookworm, then why not pursue a degree that will land you a career surrounded by books? You can help share your knowledge with students and the public who are already interested in learning more about your favorite pieces of literature. You can also dedicate your days to preserving these books that you love so dearly.
2. You are well-organized.
As a librarian, you will need to be in charge of keeping tabs on the archived resources. You will need to have great organization skills, as tons of people come in and out of libraries every single day, checking resources out and bringing them back. Often, libraries will get big donations of resources like books and tapes, as well. It is necessary that you are on top of the inflow and outflow of these resources, so if you think you can handle it, a library science degree makes sense for you.
3. You are a life-long learner.
If you love to learn and think you will miss your days of being a student long after you get that library science degree, then this may be the right path for you. This is because, as a librarian, you get to be surrounded by books and resources where you can continually learn and grow. You can also help those who visit the library or museum (or wherever else you work) do the same.
About the Career Expert:
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.