An Insider’s Guide to Library Science
The knowledge you’ll need to become a library scientist isn’t limited to something as simple as putting a book back on a shelf. Although keeping materials organized is a big part of being a librarian, modern-day libraries have many different types of media that need to be collected, organized, and preserved in various ways.
The first step toward becoming a library scientist is education. Only about fifty schools offer Library Science Master’s Degree programs. There are no undergraduate degrees in this field. Courses toward a library science degree are on subjects such as collection management, information technology (IT), research methods, information literacy, cataloging/classification, and preservation. In the United States, all librarians must have a library science degree.
Depending on the type of collection you decide to work with, you’ll learn specific skills that pertain to dealing with certain kinds of media. Most public and school libraries offer access to print media such as books, academic journals, and newspapers, but you’ll also have to deal with other media like DVDs, audio recordings, and even video games that can be checked out. If your focus is on archiving, you will be handling delicate, even irreplaceable historical documents.
Image via Flickr by bookfinch
The days of the card catalog are coming to a close. For the most part, libraries now use computerized catalogs that are easier to search by author, title, subject, copyright date, and other traits. The IT courses you take during your library science education will come in handy when you’re dealing with computer-based research and collection management.
Image via Flickr by Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Someone has to keep those historical items in academic libraries from deteriorating with time. As an archivist, you will be responsible for making these items last as long as possible. This job involves adding or replacing binding on existing print media, transferring data to new analog formats, uploading media into a digital format, and regulating surrounding environmental conditions to best preserve each item.
In many ways, a librarian is like a teacher. People come to libraries to discover new information, and librarians are responsible for helping them find it. It’s the librarian’s responsibility to make sure the information available is useful, organized, and well-preserved, but they are also responsible for communicating directly with the library’s patrons to help them find an item. By the time you become a full-fledged librarian, you will not only know everything there is to know about libraries, you’ll also know how to share that information with someone who doesn’t have your extensive education background.
These are just some of the day-to-day applications of the field of library science. Librarians face something new challenges daily, so it’s important that they have a thorough education on the subject. Library science may seem like a lot of theory and not so much practice, but all working librarians will use what they’ve learned in school every day on the job. So next time you visit a library, thank a librarian.