Master’s in Library Science Program Guide

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August 19, 2021

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Librarians and other library science professionals promote literacy and information acquisition in schools, government agencies, private sector institutions, and local communities. In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 78% of all adult Americans and 87% of American millennials reported trusting librarians to help them find reliable information.

Although professionals with a related bachelor's degree can fill entry-level roles in a library setting, those looking to fill salaried positions as public librarians, school librarians, and academic librarians must generally hold a master's degree in library science. These master's programs typically detail how to collect, organize, archive, and present media.

Degree-holders can pursue a variety of careers depending on their interests and skills. For example, individuals who enjoy engaging young readers and promoting youth literacy can work as school librarians. Those more interested in library collections management can organize specialized records and documents.

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Should I Get a Master's in Library Science?

There is considerable demand for library personnel. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 5% job growth for librarians, and library specialists.

Before pursuing this degree, students should consider the potential time commitment. Full-time students can usually complete their degree in 1-2 years. However, part-time students generally take longer. Earning an online master's degree in library science can offer a more realistic alternative for learners seeking self-paced and more flexible options.

Government agencies issue licenses to ensure that library science personnel are familiar with all necessary technologies and procedures, though exact licensure requirements vary by state.

Often, graduates with a master's in library science must earn additional licenses or certifications to work in their desired careers. Government agencies issue licenses to ensure that library science personnel are familiar with all necessary technologies and procedures, though exact licensure requirements vary by state.

Professionals looking to work in public school libraries may need a state teaching license. Those looking to pursue more specialized roles can earn supplementary certifications and credentials. The Medical Library Association, for example, offers certification programs for medical librarians.

Find the best online master's in library science programs.

What Will I Learn in a Library Science Master's Program?

While pursuing a master's degree in library science, students learn to perform a variety of library services and operations. Learners may study relevant technical services to more efficiently organize and distribute digital media.

Library science students learn how library infrastructures can promote positive social outcomes, such as child and adult literacy. They also gain the skills needed to organize events, form institutional partnerships, and coordinate other public relations strategies.

Some library professionals acquire, archive, catalog, and preserve specialized media items. Often, library science curricula cover how librarians can properly conserve government publications, academic journals, legal materials, and historical documents. Students also learn about the legal parameters of public access to information.

Concentrations

Public Librarian
This concentration benefits students looking to work in government-funded library settings. Courses generally cover outreach processes, media distribution, event curation, and other duties that public librarians perform to serve adults and children in their communities.
School Librarian
This concentration combines elements of library science and education. School librarians work with primary and secondary school students and aim to ignite young peoples' passion for reading. Degree-seekers learn the specialized skills needed to curate class activities and promote children's and young adult literature.
Law Librarian
Law librarians preserve and classify legal documents using both digital and physical recordkeeping platforms. They can work in law firms, courts, law schools, and law libraries. Degree-seekers in this concentration learn how to help lawyers and paralegals conduct research and access case materials.

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How to Get Into a Library Science Master's Program

When applying to master's programs in library science, applicants usually need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, sometimes with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs also require GRE scores.

Because library science programs tend to focus on building students' professional competencies, many applicants include evidence of previous work experience. Some programs also require statements of interest and letters of recommendation.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Library Science?

Professionals who hold a master's degree in library science can pursue employment in a variety of settings. Librarians in the public sector serve their local communities by distributing accessible media and holding specialized events.

According to the BLS, librarians earn a median annual salary of $60,820. At public libraries, graduates can assume more specialized roles, such as outreach coordinator and patron services manager.

Some library science professionals enjoy acquiring and organizing specific collections or documents. These individuals can find work as academic librarians who collect resources for university researchers and faculty. Archivists preserve historical or government documents, while law librarians assist legal professionals and catalog various legal documents.

Below are several common career paths for library science graduates.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Library Science?

Salary potential depends on location, institution, position, and seniority. According to the BLS, librarians make a median annual salary of $60,820. The top 10% of earners make more than $97,460 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Library Science Programs

What is library science? true

Library science is the study of library operations and management. Students gain the technological competencies needed to organize media in library settings. Although students might choose a concentration or specialization that aligns with their desired careers, curricula largely focus on organization, marketing, electronic recordkeeping, event coordination, and management theory.

Is a master's in library science worth it? true

Yes, if you're sure you want to work in a library. Though exact requirements depend largely on state regulations, many librarian positions require a relevant master's degree and role-specific licensure.

How much does it cost to get a master's in library science? true

The cost of library science programs varies considerably, and tuition expenses can range from $6,000-$70,000 per year. Financial aid, online programs, and in-state tuition can help students reduce their costs.

Is librarian a good career?

Libraries are central community-building institutions that make media and resources accessible to community members. Many library science professionals find their work especially fulfilling. These individuals get to share their passion for literacy with young readers and adult patrons.

Can you be a librarian without a master's?

Required credentials for librarians vary based on state and institutional regulations. Public libraries, especially those serving large populations, often require librarians to hold an American Library Association-accredited master's degree. Individuals without a master's degree can still find work in library settings as library assistants and technicians, but may have difficulty competing for more advanced roles.

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