Leadership and Management

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.

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Note: The skills, knowledge, and courses outlined in this career pathway are useful in all functions and environments — even if you don't expect to be in a supervisory position in your first job. But it is crucial for all information professionals to appreciate the importance of leadership and management (of both people and information) in all types of organizations, including globally distributed virtual organizations.

The Leadership and Management Program Advisory Committee is comprised of library leaders who review this Pathway on a regular basis. They favor candidates who have broad-based backgrounds along with strategic and critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal communication skills for a variety of positions. Their recommendation to offer 1- and 2-unit courses was adapted by the iSchool to enable students to gain an understanding of key issues relevant to many types of information organizations. Therefore, students may wish to select some courses from this Leadership and Management path to complement or supplement core skills in other areas.


Librarians and information professionals seek out opportunities to assess the information needs and interests of their communities; design collections, programs and services to address those needs; and assess the impact of those services on the well-being of their communities. These may be learning and teaching communities, research communities, professional communities of practice, and, increasingly, organizations whose knowledge is distributed globally and managed virtually.

It is the role of managers to proactively orchestrate resources, both people and materials, to enable members of these communities to access and make effective use of information and ideas for improved decision-making.

Courses in this pathway will benefit future employees regardless of the position they wish to pursue or the environment in which they work. The skills taught in the pathway enable all employees to be flexible and effectively apply their technical skills, and demonstrate the value of their work and organization using a variety of techniques, including marketing, promotion and assessment. While all students would benefit from extra-curricular involvement, those interested in pursuing work in academic settings are strongly encouraged to be highly involved with the iSchool’s Student Research Journal (SRJ) and to do at least one conference presentation before graduating.

Career Opportunities

Professional librarians may work in highly specialized fields such as information literacy in a university or information technology in a corporation, where they are valued for their deep knowledge and abilities. In other cases, however, graduates assume responsibility for overseeing and managing a small department or branch, assessing needs and training support staff to deliver more routine direct services. This is certainly true of the "solo librarian" found especially in school and corporate libraries, but also of information professionals working in smaller departments in academic libraries and branches in public libraries. Other MLIS graduates manage virtual teams of geographically-distributed individuals who must complete interdependent tasks and share joint responsibility for outcomes.

Management expertise provides a career ladder through the organization that is not based on professional competency alone.

Core Theory and Knowledge

  • Communicate effectively with others, including those from diverse backgrounds
  • Develop appropriate policies for effective customer service
  • Evaluate programs and services
  • Manage resources for maximum results
  • Market services through understanding user needs and expectations
  • Plan strategically for improved services and support to realize organizational goals
  • Plan and understand budgets
  • Supervise, motivate and assess individuals and groups
  • Understand effective advocacy
  • Understand the effect of state and national policy on service delivery
  • Understand the nature of the organization
  • Work effectively in virtual teams

Required Courses:

Foundation Courses:

Recommended Courses:

One of:

INFO 230 Issues in Academic Libraries
INFO 231 Issues in Special Libraries and Information Centers
INFO 232 Issues in Public Libraries
INFO 233 School Library Media Centers

Learn More

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.