A Community Hub for Learning and Literacy
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.
Public libraries are a partnership between librarians, clients, patrons and stakeholders. Public librarians began as gatekeepers, progressed to intermediaries, and are now contributing value-added information in a variety of ways.
Forget what you think you know about public librarians. These days a librarian does a lot more than check out materials and shelve books. Technology expert, information detective, manager, literacy expert, trainer, community programming coordinator, reader's advisor, children's storyteller, material reviewer, and buyer are just a few of the hats a public librarian wears. A job in today's public libraries offers a diverse and exciting range of responsibilities, projects, and opportunities. Jobs in public libraries vary greatly. There is no one list of daily responsibilities.
(Taken from: http://www.ala.org/pla/tools/careers)
Specific duties vary depending on the size and type of library, but will involve:
- Answering reference questions via telephone, email, and online chat as well as in person
- Building collections to respond to changing community needs or demands
- Developing programs (onsite and online) for library users of all ages and backgrounds
- Digitizing collections for online access
- Facilitating and promoting reading clubs both in person and online
- Introducing users to all types of online social media
- Managing access to electronic information resources
- Researching topics of interest for their constituencies
- Suggesting appropriate books ("readers' advisory") for children and adults of different reading levels, and recommending novels for recreational reading
- Writing grant proposals to gain funding for expanded program or collections
Please see the Public Library Career Environment pages for additional detailed information about public library jobs and worklife, salaries and promotion, tips to ace the interview, and more.
Most public librarians in all but the main branch of a very large system are involved with:
- Collection development and management
- User services for adults, teens and/or children
- Web and social media access
Core Theory and Knowledge
Qualities employers seek:
- Ability to interact effectively with library users from all walks of life both in person and online
- Ability to learn quickly and adapt to new situations
- Ability to represent the library's services and resources to the public both in person and online
- Ability to understand, analyze, and solve problems
- Ability to work in teams
- Information technology skills, especially ability to use the World Wide Web effectively and to be current with social media
- Knowledge of collection development principles and practices
- Strong public service orientation
- INFO 203 Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success
- INFO 200 Information Communities
- INFO 202 Information Retrieval System Design
- INFO 204 Information Professions
- INFO 285 Research Methods in Library and Information Science
- INFO 289 or INFO 299 Culminating Experience
Select the courses that reflect your interests – e.g. students wishing to be public children's librarians will enroll in the programming and materials courses for children.
- INFO 210 Reference & Information Services
- INFO 232 Issues in Public Libraries
INFO 246 Information Technology Tools & Applications: Advanced
Sections on Web 2.0, virtual environments
- INFO 260A Programming and Services for Children
INFO 261A Programming and Services for Young Adults
Two of the following:
- INFO 266 Collection Management
- INFO 275 Library Services for Racially & Ethnically Diverse Communities
INFO 281 Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Sections on diversity issues in information environments and learning design for new
INFO 220 Resources and Information Science in Professions and Disciplines
Students should select areas of interest such as film, music, readers' advisory, etc.
- INFO 221 Government Information Sources
- INFO 234 Intellectual Freedom
- INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification
INFO 282 Seminar in Library Management
Sections on financial management, grant writing, human resources management, managing electronic resources, managing change
- INFO 283 Marketing of Information Products and Services
- INFO 286 Interpersonal Communication Skills for Librarians
- INFO 294 Professional Experience: Internships
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.
Find out about the public library work environment: types of libraries, positions, salaries, job applications, worklife, and more.
Read Community Profiles of students and alumni pursuing this career pathway.
Browse presentations by professionals working in public librarianship.
Search the Alumni Career Spotlights for alumni working in this field. Consider contacting an alum for an informational interview.