Bachelor’s In Library Science: Exploring The Path To Success

library science degree

Introduction: Discovering the World of Library Science

Library science degrees are often misunderstood or overlooked. To some, this degree is unnecessary as information is one click away. What they fail to recognize is the specialized expertise this degree can offer. 

A bachelor’s in library science alone can give you access to various job opportunities. However, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can pursue an associates degree in library science. 

Library science skills will bridge you to more opportunities in information technology and education. It also leads to roles in data analytics and business. 

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What is Library Science?: Exploring the Field and Its Importance

While search engines produce fast results, they’re often overwhelming, inaccurate, or irrelevant. Conversely, library science properly collects, catalogs, and disseminates information to the public. This field is essential in research and teaching fields. 

Library science equips students with many valuable and transferable skills that make them indispensable. It teaches them how to make sense of the world’s never-ending and confusing data pool. Moreover, graduates’ information literacy will allow them to enter almost any field. They can pursue further education and careers in high-paying industries that require rigorous research, like medicine and law. 

Promoting lifelong learning is yet another subject in library science. Libraries are home to millions of information and a hub for local education and personal development. They also play a big role in helping the community.

Why Choose a Career in Library Science?: Benefits and Opportunities

Do you need a masters degree to be a librarian? Not all positions require a master’s degree. However, you might need an MILS degree if you want to work in large public, academic, and special libraries.

The required commitment for a master’s degree might seem heavy now. However, the ROI will surely compensate for your dedication. With an MLIS degree, you can bring a unique perspective and skills to any role.

Professional Growth

The median annual wage for Librarians as welll as Library Media Specialists is $64,370, with an expected growth of 3% over the next ten years. This might not seem as lucrative as some other professions. However, think about the transferable skills you gain that can point you toward other roles. 

Library science degrees are not exclusive to students who want to work in libraries. They’re for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in an interdisciplinary field and obtain valuable skills. 

Some of the most notable career opportunities for master’s in library science graduates include:

  • Taxonomy Functional Consultant
    • Average Annual Salary: $118,272
  • Associate Editor
    • Average Annual Salary: $80,942
  • Digital History Project Manager
    • Average Annual Salary: $116,035

Personal Growth

A library science degree helps you become a more well-rounded individual. Your abilities and experience will help you make well-informed judgments about the world around you. 

Plus, your love of reading will help you develop cultural competence, which is important in today’s interconnected world. You’ll also be great at forging strong relationships, which is valuable when creating a professional network.

Getting Started: Steps to Pursuing a Library Science Degree

One of the most common questions when pursuing a library science career is, “How long does it take to become a librarian?” Counting the time to complete a bachelor’s in library degree, full-time students can become a librarian in six years. 

1. Evaluate your goals.

This process includes exploring what is library science. You must understand what this degree entails, including educational and market demands. This will also help you decide whether or not you want to pursue a master’s degree.

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

Only consider institutions with proper accreditation to avoid any potential issues down the road. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in library science or other relevant fields that complement an MLIS degree. These include English, history, education, and information technology. Bachelor programs typically take four years to complete. 

After your bachelor’s, you can enter the job market or jump immediately into a master’s in library information science degree. 

3. Earn a master’s degree.

There are several types of MILS degrees. It’s best to research the program to ensure that it aligns with your career goals. Also, only pursue MILS degrees accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). This level usually takes two years. 

4. Pursue librarian positions.

This phase is optional. Yet, many MILS students pursue part-time library positions to gain valuable work experience. It’s also an excellent way to network with industry professionals.

Education and Training: Understanding Degree Programs and Requirements

What can you do with a Library Science degree? The answer also depends on your education and training. 

Associate Degree:

Library science programs in associate degrees often lead to an AA in Library Technology or an AS in Library Science. It prepares students to work as library assistants and library technicians. It also prepares them for a four-year degree. 

Associate degree applicants should at least have a high school diploma or the equivalent. 

Bachelor Degree:

This degree level provides a more comprehensive study of information science and libraries. It includes the following topics: 

  • cataloging and technical processes
  • research methods in the digital age
  • introduction to archives
  • introduction to information systems

Library science bachelor’s degrees typically require high school diplomas and a minimum 2.0 GPA on an associate’s degree. Other requirements include personal statement, official transcripts, recommendation letters, and SAT or ACT scores. 

While it typically takes four years to graduate, some students complete requirements in three years or less. Some of the strategies to graduate faster include:

  • using transfer credits
  • enrolling in accelerated online programs 
  • maximining the allowed credit hours per semester 

Master Degree: 

The Master of Library Information Science (MILS) is an advanced degree that offers several specialization areas. Yet, its main goal is to prepare students for careers in academic, special, and public libraries. It also equips students with abilities related to occupations like consultancy, teaching, and managing archival collections.

The basic admission requirement for the MILS program is an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Some programs have no test requirements, while some accept the Miller Analogies Test. Yet, most programs need Graduate Record Examination (GRE) marks.

Mastering Library Skills: Essential Knowledge and Competencies

To succeed in a library sciences career, you must have technical and non-technical skills. Fortunately, you can acquire the required skills by pursuing formal education. 

Non-technical skills: 

  • Communication skills:
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Reading skills

Technical skills: 

  • Community Advocacy
  • Cultural competency
  • Data research, collection, and analysis
  • Digital systems management
  • Instructional design
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Preservation of artifacts
  • Project management
  • Research methods
  • Web development

Joining professional organizations is the most effective strategy for ensuring that your competencies are up to date. Active engagement gives you access to conferences, workshops, and networking opportunities. 

Finding the Right College Program: Exploring Your Options

Almost a hundred colleges and universities in the United States offer library science degrees. With a bunch of options, it’s often challenging to find which program fits perfectly with your needs. Here are a few quick and effective tips for choosing the right program: 

  1. Evaluate your lifestyle. A part-time online program will suit your needs if you need flexible course scheduling. On the other hand, if you thrive best in collaborative environments, pursue a traditional on-campus program or hybrid learning. 
  2. Consider location and networking opportunities. If you choose an on-campus program, consider the university’s location and its proximity to potential internship or job opportunities. Additionally, consider the networking opportunities available through alumni networks, professional organizations, and conferences.
  3. Consider your career goals. Are you aiming for a specific role within library science? Different programs may specialize in different areas. It’s important to choose one that aligns with your career aspirations.
  4. Look into the faculty members. Are there professors whose research interests align with yours? Are there ample resources to support your academic and professional growth? 
  5. Lastly, always check accreditation. Accreditation signifies that the program is meeting certain quality standards and will provide you with a solid education in library science.

Financing Your Education: Tips for Affording College and Tuition Costs

The cost of education is already high and will continue to increase in the years to come. But fear not; some strategies will help you reduce the financial burdens of pursuing a library science degree. 

  1. Choose an affordable institution. 
  2. Compare tuition costs and financial aid packages. 
  3. Consider attending part-time.
  4. Reduce unnecessary personal expenses. 
  5. Take advantage of work-study programs or part-time employment.

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Opportunities for Aspiring Librarians

You must file your FAFSA early to ensure you have access to as much financial aid as possible. The FAFSA is your gateway to federal grants, loans, work-study programs, and many state and institutional aid programs. 

Aside from filing your FAFSA, you can also apply for external scholarship opportunities. 

The American Library Association offers many library science scholarship opportunities. Most of its scholarships are focused on supporting minority librarians and students interested in library science graduate programs.   

Launching Your Career: Job Prospects and Career Pathways in Library Science

Library science professionals are essential in the modern era. Their skills in managing, organizing, and disseminating information are versatile and used in various industries.

A bachelor’s degree can help graduates apply for entry-level roles. However, a master’s degree will open up more advanced opportunities and positions within and beyond the field.  

Graduates can pursue traditional roles that involve managing library collections, providing reference services, and facilitating information literacy programs. They can also pursue non-traditional roles like teaching, consultancy, and management.