Library and Information Science

What is Library Science?

Library and information science is the integration of technology to create, manage, organize and use information. It makes information accessible to people, communities, businesses and organizations.

A library and information science degree can provide you the opportunity for a career in academia, law or medicine where you help people access special resources or develop competitive intelligence. It could also lead you into a career designing and developing knowledge-organization systems to help audiences from children to CEOs connect with the informational resources that they need to learn and work.

In both cases, a degree in library and information science can be a career path that connects a love of learning with a love of technology.

What is the Difference Between Library Science and Information Science?

While library science and information science are interconnected, it’s helpful to understand the difference between the two disciplines.

Library Science focuses on managing books and other media that are collected, preserved and organized in different types of libraries, including public and academic libraries. Library science is also the study of the management and curation of specialized libraries and archives used by hospitals, cultural organizations, corporations, museums, legal organizations, the military and other government branches.

Information Science focuses on the properties and behavior of information and how it can be managed and processed for optimum accessibility and usability. Information scientists may design indexing systems for libraries, digital archival software for art museums and special collections or medical reference systems used by health care professionals.

What are the Job Opportunities in Library and Information Science?

The field of library and information science is diverse, with a wide array of job opportunities. While library and instructional services positions, records management and data curation careers come to mind, the field is expansive, including these career paths: 

  • Archive Management - Preserves manuscripts and other materials from the past as well as items from the present that may be of historical, cultural or scientific interest.
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM) - Deals with the preservation, organization and storage of digital materials and digitized copies of analog materials.
  • Bibliometrics – Analyzes and quantifies the impact of specific works of research and measures the influence they have on a field of study. Research institutions then use this information to allocate resources.
  • Medical Informatics – A specialty in the field of health informatics, medical informaticists create information technology systems that allow health care providers to access patient medical information and available research to make critical medical decisions.

Many students of library and information science also find their training valuable in other fields of computer science such as data analysis, digital content management and more.

If you’d like to learn more about career paths in library and information science, you can visit our Library & Information Science Careers page.

What are the Current Trends in Library and Information Science?

Current trends in library and information science show that libraries and information centers in communities, businesses and government are becoming technology hubs. Beyond books, music, movies and research materials, libraries are becoming places where people can access:

  • 3-D Printing – Some libraries offer the general public with access to 3-D printers, allowing them to create prototypes, custom field and research equipment and visualization models for little to no cost.
  • Virtual Reality – Libraries are incorporating VR into their offerings to help patrons and researchers access virtual views of the world, access museums, collections and archives and look into the past and future.
  • Educational Games – Libraries provide access to educational and social games that help learners of all ages develop new skills, learn new topics and improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

Library scientists will need to understand these new trends in library and information science to help make information more accessible to their audiences. This technological expansion of the traditional library field offers potential for growth and the chance to make a difference for many different communities and business sectors.

The need for libraries and other information collections to provide access to more data and technology is expanding. Information scientists will be needed to create the systems required to organize that data and ensure that people can access it.

What Do You Learn in Library Science?

Studying library and information science can include topics including digital preservation and stewardship, electronic records management, educational literacy, research methodology, collection development and archives management.

As the role of technology grows and all-digital libraries develop, library and information science may also include topics like

Library and Information Science Programs at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics

For those interested in a career in library science and excited by the intersection of knowledge and technology, our American Library Association (ALA) accredited Master of Science in Library and Information Science can be a valuable part of your professional development.

Rated in 2021 as one of the top 15 library and information studies programs in the country by U.S.News & World Report, Drexel’s technology-infused program also ranks #6 for health librarianship, #4 for information systems, #5 for digital librarianship and #8 for youth library services.

Because every student’s needs are different, we offer a variety of options within the library and information science program. Augment your program with a graduate minor, add elective courses, take advantage of our dual degree program or complete our Community-based Librarianship Certificate. Choose to study full-time, part-time, in-person, online or in a hybrid form. This flexibility lets you customize your degree program so you can focus on the areas of study that have the most bearing on your career path.

Ready to take your career to the next level? Visit the Master of Science in Library and Information Science program page.

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