While a library science degree is primarily intended to prepare learners to work in the field, compatibility with other professions shouldn’t be discounted. Libraries themselves have been undergoing massive shifts in their services and strategies over the last decade and a half. Meanwhile, museums and archives are also embracing advanced technologies, and other fields find that the talents of a librarian can be indispensable in a wide variety of applications. Library science programs are staying aware of these developments, encouraging students to branch out to unique skill sets and find nontraditional areas and organizations in which to serve.
Museums and Archives Offer Additional Opportunities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, archivists, curators and museum professionals are expected to see steady employment opportunities over the next decade. The BLS predicts that employment in these combined sectors will see around 7 percent growth until the year 2024. As this field experiences a greater move towards the digitization of text, photographs and other materials, library science graduates with strong technology skill sets may find the most opportunities, particularly in archival work where a master’s degree in the subject area is most valuable.
A Shift Towards Information Gathering and Analysis
The American Library Association states that library science education programs in the 1990s began to focus more broadly on information gathering and retaining, expanding their collections of resources to databases and other digital repositories. With this new approach, some schools dropped the word “library” from their programs’ names altogether and chose to call them “information” schools instead. However, some keep a degree of traditional views in their curricula, with the goal of getting their students ready to serve in brick-and-mortar libraries offering electronic resources for patrons.
In addition, other information-related fields began to see an upsurge in growth and employment, such as computer and information systems. While some new innovations from outside have found extended uses, others arose from the field itself. Entities such as the Online Computer Library Center have contributed to this trend. WorldCat, an OCLC creation that serves as a large online public access catalog, has broadened access to printed and electronic materials worldwide.
Unique Possibilities in Other Industries
As a recent blog post on USC’s online library science degree website revealed, other industries also contain potentially lucrative career paths for those trained in the gathering, retrieval and curation of data. Strong information-finding skills are prized for market research experts. Once the domain of graduate degree holders in business administration, marketing and similar disciplines, librarians are finding a new home in this profession, aiding businesses in finding new ways to reach their audiences, build their brands and improve sales.
Additionally, special collections curators are enjoying more career possibilities, with the advent of more niche subjects and specializations. For example, architecture librarians are trained to keep an eye on public spaces and buildings of the past, aiding city planners, architects and building professionals to plan for future development. Also, you might be surprised to know that wine librarians are enjoying new success, using their extensive historical knowledge on vintages to benefit public and private organizations.
A Graduate Degree Is the Stepping Stone to Opportunities
Library science programs have changed their focuses, and the expansion of their curricula has in turn prepared learners for new, exciting potential careers. Those with a bent towards working directly with innovative technologies may opt for library-related careers in system design, software engineering and information delivery. There’s also potential as special collections librarians, and the same skills taught in these programs and transferrable to other fields such as marketing research. With some outside-the-box thinking and a willingness to broaden one’s skills, a graduate library science degree is an open door to a wide range of possibilities.
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