When a person enjoys helping others, doing research and solving problems, library science could be an ideal degree program. There are associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in this area of expertise, and there are sub-specialties within the scope of the major. Knowing what library science is makes it easier to select a major, choose courses and plan for the future.
Library science includes the development of collections within an individual library or library system. For example, a library scientist may focus on children’s fiction books or English as a second language books. They may also focus on developing a collection of reference materials or software for use at the library building. Some digital librarians may develop collections of software that people can use by logging into their library accounts from anywhere with an internet collection. Collection development includes researching sources and ensuring that different cultures, languages, complexity levels and viewpoints are included within the collection.
Another part of library science involves information literacy. A librarian should be aware of the information sources around different subjects. For example, a person who needs information about a medical condition might be referred to a medical reference book on the library’s shelf as well as the PubMed website or journals that are available through the library’s digital collection. Information literacy also includes the ability to communicate with the patrons of the library and explain information to them so that they can make the most of the library’s resources. Information literacy also encompasses the ability to organize and store or save information for later use.
Advising Library Patrons
According to the American Library Association, library science also includes providing advice to library patrons. People may come in looking for recommendations for a resource for research, a fiction book to read or a place to find statistics. Patrons may come in seeking resources for tutoring, homework help or applying for jobs. The patrons may need help using the technology in the library or finding different types of media, such as newspapers, magazines or books. Librarians may offer recommendations for readers who want a new book to challenge themselves. They may also offer advice on how to use the materials in a library.
An important part of library studies is the archiving of materials. This is different from what an archivist does. An archivist compiles materials that were specifically made for saving and using at a later time. Within the scope of library science, archiving means preserving information that was meant for current use and making sure that it will be accessible in the future. For example, microfiche used to be a common means of viewing printed materials, such as 100-year-old newspapers that had been scanned onto strips of film. The materials may only be available in that format.
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Library science, which may also be called library studies, library economy or bibliothecography, continues to be important even in the age of digital information. Librarians who are familiar with current technology and databases or who have an area of specialty, such as law or technology, should find many employment opportunities. Understanding the basics of what library science is could help a person decide on whether or not this is the right career path for them.