The Library Science Degree
Online Library Science Programs
Library science is an interdisciplinary field that applies the tools and concepts of management, education, information technology and other areas to libraries. For students who are interested in a library science degree, looking into an online program may be the best possible use of their time, especially if they are working while studying. For some students, it is possible to start their library science degree program and work as an intern at local libraries in the meantime; however, these positions may be limited to more populated areas. The same courses that are offered through a traditional, campus-based library science program are also offered by the typical online library science program, with similar degrees awarded for successful completion.
Library Science Programs
- Bachelor of Library Science – Most bachelor’s degree in library science prepare students to work as a school librarian.
- Master of Library Science (MLS) – also referred to as Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) and Master of Librarianship. In addition to providing a foundation in librarianship, the master’s degree also provides students with the skill sets that are essential for emerging roles of librarians in the various information centers and other venues.
Some of the courses that students have to study for their library science program include archiving, research methods, collection management, cataloging, document preservation, computer reference systems and developing easy-to-use storage systems. Library science programs offer similar core courses, however they vary in their specializations, professional focus and certifications.
For those who enjoy cataloging information, and have an eye for detail, a library science degree will be fulfilling and enjoyable.
Library Science Degree – Admission Requirements
Some of the general admission requirements for a library science degree include:
- An undergraduate degree
- A personal statement of professional intent
- Letters of reference
- Some schools also require a minimum score on the GRE (graduate record exam)
Graduation Requirements for a Library Science Degree
Graduation requirements to consider include:
- Time restrictions for earning the degree
- Mandatory classes
- Minimum number of credits
- Field work or thesis is optional and depends on the school
The Pros of an Online Library Science Degree Program
There are a number of benefits to studying library science in an online setting. These include:
- Lower tuition costs
- The ability to set a schedule
- Self-directed pacing
- The ability to read and reread information as many times as it takes
- No distractions of other students
- No competition with other students
- No additional fees for sports or extracurricular activities
The Cons of an Online Library Science Degree Program
There are also a number of drawbacks that should be considered:
- There is no motivation to stay on track beyond the student.
- Assistance typically must come via email, with up to 24 hours in between the first and second messages.
- Some students work well by interacting with others.
- Visual or hands-on learners may not do as well with an online degree program, which may focus on reading material and posting written responses.
Other Considerations and Factors
In the past, an online degree was not always perceived as being as valid as a campus-based program was, but thankfully, that is all changing now. It is important to note that many traditional schools are offering distance learning and online classes instead of and in conjunction with other classes to accommodate a wider range of students, to keep their tuition costs down and to prevent overcrowding. In some disciplines, the need for classroom space is at such a premium that only the top five percent or less of each class is given room, with others either forced to wait or to take the online classes instead. As the budgets for libraries get cut, library jobs will become increasingly more competitive, meaning that the stronger the degree and the knowledge gained from it, the better.
Opportunities for the Online Library Science Degree
Finding a position in a local public library may be difficult, but it is not the only opportunity for those who hold an online library science degree from an accredited school. Private libraries, such as those that are opened in conjunction with museums or historical sites, may be more lucrative in the long run.
In addition to these, a library science degree may be beneficial to those who want to assist with research projects but are not interested in returning to school to earn a PhD themselves. For instance, the student may be hired by a doctoral candidate to help with some of the legwork toward their own degree.
For the student who prefers to work in a solitary manner and a solitary field, the library science degree program may be a perfect fit. The cost is typically lower with an online degree program, regardless of the discipline, and may be done at the student’s direction, allowing for work and other obligations to be completed as well.
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