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Library and Information Science: The facts

Library Science and Information Science are two closely related disciplines that involve the study of the organisation, retrieval and dissemination of information, with particular application to libraries. This social science has groundings in humanities, law and computer technology. The masters degree of this discipline (MLIS) is commonly required for advanced jobs in librarianship.

What is involved in Library and Information Science?

Academic courses in this subject often involve information technology and application, corresponding to the recent advances in computing and software. This will most likely contain tutorials on database use and management with software such as Microsoft Access and more complex programs. Information studies also revolve around several specific data-related activities: research, classification, referencing, statistics and preservation of information.
In that way, Library and Information Science contains elements of mathematics as well as the social sciences.

Where can I study it?

Library and Information science can be studied in various outlets, with accredited courses currently being taught in universities across the United States and United Kingdom, such as in the University of Illinois and the University of North Carolina (ranked best by USNews). Even more schools and universities offer courses that cater to the more general Information Studies, with whole departments specifically involved in that discipline. Examples include Sheffield University, Pittsburgh University and University College London. Offshoots of Library Science can also be studied earlier, with a variety of vocational courses that offer very specific training for budding librarians. Library Schools are the best places to find such courses.

Types of qualifications

The type of degree that is most desired for professional positions as librarians across Canada and the United States is the Master of Library and Information Science, often abbreviated to MLIS. Older versions of this qualification, the MLS and MSLS, are also acceptable for most librarian jobs. Lower qualifications (pre-undergraduate level and vocational) may only be useful in securing less advanced jobs and work experience placements.

Job prospects and pay

The number of positions for librarians are growing in education, law firms, hospitals and many other places. As of 2009, special librarianship was the fastest growing sector of the entire jobs market. The average pay of a librarian (data provided by Payscale.com), with eight years in the field, that one could expect is approximately $48,000. The top 25% earn over $64,000, significantly higher than in many other professions. On the other side, the gap is not so significant; the lowest 25% still earn an average of over $40,000.

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