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Library Sciences Degrees: Gateways to Career Opportunities

Although most people may not realize this, library science degrees can be incredibly versatile. Besides library work, there is some incredible sideways compatibility between the skills and knowledge necessary for that and the needed learning and training to work in museums and archives. So if you’re considering advanced education, now may be a good time.

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Graduate Degrees in Library and Information Science

According to the American Library Association, the most commonly offered degrees in this area include:

  •          Master of Library Science (MLS);
  •          Master of Librarianship;
  •          Master of Arts;
  •          Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS); and
  •          Master of Science.

The subjects that these curricula emphasize can vary widely. However, the basic idea is to ready learners to serve in libraries in a multifarious array of roles, such as collections management, assisting with research, program development, scheduling, acquisitions, patron assistance and technical support.

Some schools offer a Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS). This degree typically focuses on not only library science curricula, but also leadership and business management pedagogy. Programs such as the USC MMLIS include business administration, management, marketing and related topics to train professionals for leadership, outreach, advancement and other skills — abilities that prove to be useful for library, museums and archive settings.

Upon occasion, some institutions include a doctoral program in library science. The typical degree earned is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). While career opportunities can be more extensive for doctorate degree holders, their vocational paths typically lead them to academia.

Applying to Schools

You’ll need to get organized and collect needed information before you begin applying to any schools. While entry requirements may vary, in general, most schools will require that you already hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and have a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). In most cases, you’ll also likely need some letters of recommendation and a statement of personal intent that details your goals and objectives for learning.

Test requirements are different at each school, but they may require that you take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submit your scores in the application process. Additionally, if you first language is not English, you could also be asked for your Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. And after admission, you may be tested on your computer aptitude early on in the program. If needed, you might be required to complete remedial courses to bring yourself up to speed.

Paying for Graduate School

Planning ahead is a wise idea when you’re about to make any major investment, and graduate school is no different. U.S. News and World Report recommends applying early so that your intent is known, as this could help you secure funding. They also suggest the following approaches to funding your education:

  •          applying for employer tuition reimbursement programs;
  •          securing scholarships;
  •          applying for assistantship, which usually provides a stipend;
  •          checking out your student loan options; and,
  •          taking advantage of application education tax credits.

Projected Job Growth

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only predicts a 2% growth between 2014 and 2024 in its Job Outlook for librarians, you shouldn’t dismiss the idea of a library science degree just yet. The relative stability of the field means that with more education, you may be qualified for management or other advanced positions. Additionally, your degree could make you a good prospective candidate for archivist, curator or museum work. These fields will average about a 7% growth in the next decade, according to the BLS.

Library science is an interdisciplinary field, with skills that translate easily to related careers such as archival or museum work. Additionally, information science is also an expanding discipline, and professionals must be able to effectively guide users and select resources that best serve their organizations. A library science degree increases your chances of finding a job, as well as future upward mobility.

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