Librarian Masters Degree Program Information
There are several types of master's degree programs for librarians, but all offer instruction in how to best assist patrons, use technology and perform library administration. Read on to learn about prerequisites, curricula and certification requirements for librarians.
Graduate programs for aspiring librarians typically award a Master of Library and Information Science (MILS) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Library and Information Science. However, some colleges and universities offer either or both a Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) and a Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS). Still other schools confer a Master of Science in Information (MSI) or a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Information Resources and Library Science.
All of these programs have the goal of preparing students to manage a library and its services. Additionally, elective courses can help prepare students for specific library needs. Students learn about reference materials, research methods and organization of materials, in addition to studying library management. A practicum in a library may be required. Most programs call for 36-40 credit-hours of study and can be completed in about two years. Some programs are available online.
In most states, public school librarians must be certified, which may require holding a teacher's license in addition to completing a librarian training program. Some states call for passing a standardized test. Librarians in public libraries may need to be certified in some states as well. Students should make sure any program they are considering meets their state's requirements.
Applicants to librarian master's degree programs must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Generally, this undergraduate degree may be in any area. Most schools expect an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, although that requirement might be waived if a student's GRE scores are high enough or if he or she already has a graduate degree in another subject.
Courses that are common to most library and information science master's degree programs include:
- Basics of library and information services
- Information sources
- Information technology
- Library management
- Organization of materials and information
- Research methods
Librarians' three primary focuses include patrons' needs, technical services and administration. In smaller libraries, there may be one or two librarians who perform all of these tasks. In larger libraries, however, librarians tend to specialize in just one aspect of a library's collections or services. Additionally, some libraries have one primary focus, such as legal, medical or religious information. Employers of librarians might include the following:
- Advertising agencies
- Colleges and universities
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Government agencies
- Law firms
- Professional associations
- Public libraries
Library science and information technology are continually changing, and professional librarians need to keep up with these changes. Many workshops and online classes that provide continuing education for librarians are available, typically through colleges and universities, state libraries and professional organizations, such as the American Library Association. Additionally, some schools offer Ph.D. programs in library and information science.
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