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What Is Library Science?

Books in a library.
An old fashioned card catalog in a library.
Library books.
Article Details
  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Library science, sometimes also referred to as library and information science, is the field of study and work surrounding libraries, including public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries. An individual who studied library science may also work in a preservation or archival position at a library, preserving materials. Specialized libraries such as medical libraries in hospitals also hire people from this profession as well. A degree in library and information science is typically a master's degree, though some people in advanced academic libraries might have a doctoral degree. In general, in order to work as a librarian in a serious capacity, a master's degree will be required.

The actual field of library science encompasses a number of different topics. These include management of the library from a business perspective, though this is typically fairly limited. Management of the collection of resources at the library, keeping them up to date and acquiring new resources over time is a large focus of most library degrees. Cataloging and organizational methods are also included, to ensure that those wanting to do research at the library can easily find the information they are looking for. As technology has improved and become a major part of every day life, most library science degrees feature a great deal of examining different information technologies, and the various ways of collecting and sharing information online.

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Education is also an important part of the field of library science. People pursuing a master's degree in this field will be trained in different methods of research, so they can instruct students in effective research methods as well. Most people training in this field will have a specific area of interest; for instance, students who wish to work with younger kids will receive additional training in early education, whereas students who want to work in academic libraries may focus more intently on scholarly research methods and information technology. Some people in the field of library science will continue performing scholarly research of their own, will write and publish peer-reviewed papers, and develop new methodologies for libraries to use.

The preservation and archiving of library resources is another aspect of library science, but this is another niche area, in which not all students are trained. Generally, this is a very different career path than working as a librarian, cataloger, or instructor in a library. It involves the preservation of printed documents, as well as the careful archiving of library resources so they can be accessed down the road. This requires additional specific training.

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