The Science and Business of Librarianship

View all blog posts under Articles

Library science is a field of study that can be learned through the lens of business. As the only library and information science program offered through a top ranked business school, the Master of Management in Library and Information Science degree through the USC Marshall School of Business offers unique insights into the importance of communication, collaboration and partnerships among those working in the library and information science field.

This degree can help students build management and leadership skills while preparing graduates for potential career opportunities across a wide array of careers. Read on to gain a clearer picture into the benefits of working toward a library and science degree and how the business-focus offered through the online MMLIS degree from USC is essential when pursuing leadership positions in library and information management.

Library books on a shelf

Image via Flickr by Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side

Collaborations and Partnerships in Libraries 

For students who choose to pursue careers as librarians, a master’s degree in the field will enable students to take on the variety of duties demanded of today’s modern library and information professionals. Our unique Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) online program focuses on the strategies needed to succeed as a leader in the field of library science and information management. The library environment is constantly evolving, requiring those at the helm of these organizations to be excellent communicators, leaders and manager.

In today’s world, librarians are scientists who must embrace innovative technology and processes to provide a place where every person can succeed. It is important for MMLIS graduates to understand how the innovations in technology impact library science and information management, for example how we organize, locate and retrieve information has rapidly evolved with technology.

One way in which libraries stay current is through forming partnerships with others in the community, including community leaders and businesses in the area. Many corporations will partner with libraries to encourage reading among younger children. For example, a higher learning institution might look to partnering with a library to offer access to resources that are not available on campus. By combining information and library science topics with business and management theories, MMLIS students can learn how to become effective business partners and thus maintain their goals by staying on the cutting edge of library and information science.

Community Partnership

Community libraries also require collaboration. Library science professionals may find themselves in positions where they must collaborate with private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies to help their library thrive in its local community. Through the curriculum offered in USC’s MMLIS program, students can build their critical thinking skills as they consider organization policies, trends and services in order to evaluate possible consequences of partnerships with public and private organizations.

Critical thinking and analysis are skills that every successful librarian needs to build as part of the educational process. Through the analysis of possible partnerships, students can learn how to respect public policies, analyze risk & rewards, and manage minimal resources. Librarians are also responsible for developing collaborative initiatives that will benefit the community as a whole including stakeholders, any partnering organizations, and the library itself.

According to Ashley Cooksey of American Libraries Magazine, “When school librarians hear the word ‘collaboration,’ their minds may immediately drift to a meeting room with a small group of educators, calendars in hand, planning a multifaceted research project, complete with product examples, presentation dates, and ideas for a new Pinterest board.” However, in most cases, the collaboration between a librarian and members of the community doesn’t happen quite as described in that example. Instead, collaboration depends on building relationships with the community’s business and public sectors.

Building the Skills Needed to Collaborate

By offering our unique MMLIS degree through the Marshall School of Business, students can learn the skills needed to succeed in forming partnerships and collaborating with local business, community and government leaders. Although these relationships can certainly benefit the library in many ways, getting out there and meeting people can prove to be a challenge. By building important business skills — including communication, project management, and analysis — a librarian can feel more confident when seeking out partnerships and forming relationships with community leaders.

According to The Balance, communication is the top soft skill in information-based careers. Through course GSBA 502, Management Communication for Leaders, students can learn how to better communicate their ideas in order to capture their audience. This enabling MMLIS graduates to better present their ideas to community and government leaders as well as small business in their local areas to foster relationships and collaborations, overall driving partnerships.

Using Business Skills to Form Better Relationships

Peter Struzziero, a contributor to Public Libraries Online, said of his library system:

“We have strong partnership with our local school department and our senior center… It’s a great relationship to have, but in a lot of ways, it’s the low-hanging fruit. They are our natural allies in town, but it’s important when possible to go a step further.” – P. Stuzziero

Building relationships with local nonprofit organizations, city departments, businesses, and other leaders in the community can help libraries expand their reach and services.

The curriculum in the Master of Management in Library and Information Science program available through the Marshall School of Business at USC helps students build the skills they need to be effective library science professionals. These skills include building collections, conducting research, developing partnerships with local businesses and communities, managing databases, and using information technology to improve the library’s atmosphere.

The program focuses on opportunities to enhance leadership and management skills through project management, communication, and teamwork. Although a job as a librarian or researcher might not seem like it involves a lot of teamwork, certain aspects of the work lend themselves to collaboration. By aligning our courses with the 14 core competencies for librarianship laid out by the American Library Association, the Master of Management in Library and Information Science degree not only teaches students to be effective library and information professionals but instills them with the business, management and leadership skills necessary to build high-level leadership careers.

Changes and Growth in the Future of Library Science

The role of library science and information management has changed over the years. The various career paths available to those who pursue degrees in these areas include archiving, digitization of historical materials, and research, of course as well as working as a librarian in a community, public, academic, government, corporate, medical, or law setting.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for librarians in the United States, is predicted to be 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, adding about 12,400 new positions. By earning a master’s degree in a program that focuses on building business, leadership and management skills in addition to a master’s level exploration of library and information science, the potential for career growth may be higher. Graduates of such a program may leave with additional skills that could help them collaborate with community members, build stronger libraries, and overall provide superior benefits for their patrons. For more information on our unique Master of Management in Library and Information Science and Graduate Certificate in Library and Information Management online program, contact an enrollment advisor today!


Taylor & Francis Online

Inside Higher Ed


USC Marshall School of Business

The Balance