Digital Services and Emerging Technologies Pathways

Library services are increasingly migrating to the digital environment in both the building of collections and in patron interactions. This migration has encouraged the emergence of new LIS disciplines that have various titles such as digital librarianship or emerging technologies librarianship. Working in this environment requires technological skills and experience, an understanding of metadata, and an ability to create and manage digital content.

There is a close relationship between the Digital Services and the Emerging Technologies pathways. The Digital Services pathway focuses on the technical and usability aspects of building digital platforms for users. The Emerging Technologies: Issues and Trends pathway focuses on the user experience now and in the future. Students might want to consider classes from both pathways and also explore the options in the Web Programming and Information Architecture pathway.

Digital Services Pathway

The MLIS program requires 43 units for graduation. Within those units, six courses (16 units) are required of all MLIS students and must be taken as part of all career pathways: INFO 203, INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, INFO 285, and either INFO 289 or INFO 299. Beyond those six courses, a student is free to select electives reflecting individual interests and aspirations. See: MLIS Information.

If you are interested in this career pathway, you may choose to select from the Foundation or Recommended course electives listed below. Foundation courses form the foundational knowledge and skills for this pathway. If you can only select a few electives, then choose from the Foundation courses. The Recommended courses are very relevant, but not as foundational to this career pathway.

The career pathway described here is provided solely for advising purposes. No special designation appears on your transcript or diploma. All students get an MLIS degree.


The digital environment is affected by rapid changes in the development of new technologies and the ever-expanding amounts of information. These technological and information trends have given rise to the emergence of new LIS disciplines that require new skill sets. These circumstances have also led to the transformation of traditional concepts (e.g. bibliographic description, metadata standards, user services, and physical and virtual spaces). Working in digital environments requires technological skills and experience, an understanding of metadata, an ability to create and manage digital content, and managerial skills to recognize and take actions leading to change and collaboration that shape the emerging future technologies. A digital environmentalist must also be able to understand and deal with issues regarding big data, cybersecurity, and data communication.

The significant differences existing between objects, printed material, and even buildings or landscapes in the material world blur in the digital environment. Library services are increasingly migrating to the digital environment in both the building of collections and other information-based services. Additionally, organizations of all types struggle with the organization, retrieval, and analysis of information and the types of technology needed in this ever-expanding environment.

This career pathway concentrates on the theories and supporting techniques related to:

  • Creation and maintenance of digital libraries
  • Management of digital collections including cybersecurity issues
  • Mediation and representation of cultural heritage in the digital environment
  • Economics of digital repositories
  • Quality and sustainability of digitization initiatives
  • Analysis of big data

Students pursuing this career will develop skills and expertise in the following areas:

  • Selection strategies for building a sustainable digital collection with emphasis on ownership and rights
  • Techniques of converting digital materials from one format to another to ensure the continuing accessibility of vast heterogeneous collections of digital data stored over time in diverse formats
  • Ontologies and metadata schemes
  • Open source catalogs

Employment Opportunities

  • Build and manage virtual public library branches
  • Oversee technical issues of digital conversion
  • Manage digital collections and digital repositories
  • Implement digital initiatives between museums, archives and libraries
  • Provide services in academic environments to distance learners

Students who concentrate in this specialization may work as:

  • Digital archivists
  • Digital assets managers
  • Digital collections managers
  • Digital initiatives and integration librarians
  • Digital learning services librarians
  • Digital library architects
  • Digital media managers/librarians
  • Digital repositories coordinators
  • Digital technologies development librarians
  • Metadata librarians
  • Virtual services managers

Core Theory and Knowledge

  1. Able to implement and manage emerging technologies in a library or any information environment.
  2. Understand the nature of digital information, its main features, and transformations of information in the digital environment.
  3. Develop and maintain a working competence in prevalent digitization technologies and methods.
  4. Familiarity with the prevailing national and international metadata schemes, classification systems, and ontological frameworks.
  5. Management of user-centered design through the whole process of the development of an application.
  6. Understand the intellectual and economic factors involved in digitization.

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses:

Note: For this career path, INFO 202 is the most important course. If you are not comfortable with the material and format of INFO 202, then this is not the career for you.

Foundation Courses:

Recommended Courses:

Select from the following:

Effective leadership and management (of people and information) is critically important for all types of work environments and clients.

We recommend that students consider also selecting some courses from the Leadership and Management career path to complement or supplement core skills in other areas.

Learn More

Learn about job opportunities in digital asset management (DAM) and one student's successful transition to a DAM career.

Read Community Profiles of students and alumni pursuing this career pathway.

Browse presentations by professionals working in the field.

Search the Alumni Career Spotlights for alumni working in this field. Consider contacting an alum for an informational interview.