Emerging Technologies and Digital Services Pathways

Library services are increasingly migrating to the digital environment in both the building of collections and in patron interactions.  The significant differences existing between objects, printed material, and even buildings or landscapes in the material world blur in the digital environment. Organizations of all types struggle with the organization, retrieval, and analysis of information, the types of technology needed in this ever-expanding environment, how to best interact with users, and how to ensure privacy and cybersecurity.

Working in this environment requires a focus on the technical and usability aspects of building digital platforms for users, an understanding of metadata, an ability to create and manage digital content, an understanding of information architecture, good project management skills, an awareness of and a focus on the user experience, and an understanding of cybersecurity and digital privacy

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.

See: Technologies Librarians Need to Know

Emerging Technologies: Issues and Trends

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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This career pathway focuses on emerging technologies and the issues and trends that accompany them along the curve of adoption into public life, information centers, and business. Advanced network technologies, increased capacity for communication and exchange, digital and physical creation tools, and the emerging "open source/ open access" mindset present a landscape where information and knowledge are created, recreated, used, reused, disseminated, stored and socialized. 

In all environments emerging technology breaks down internal barriers. Those working with emerging technologies will  create experiences or workshops with different age groups. e.g. in public libraries they may conduct a coding class with elementary school children  as part of a summer activity, coding for robotics with teens afterschool, or an introduction to a coding class for adults exploring a career change.

Students in this track will develop practical and theoretical expertise in one or more of the thematic areas as well as an understanding of the societal and cultural implications of emerging technologies.

  • Mobile technologies & "Internet of Things"
  • Physical and virtual information environments
  • Participatory service & user experience
  • Learning & new literacies


Employment Opportunities

Opportunities exist in all types of libraries and information centers, museums, cultural institutions and the private sector. Technology pervades the library field and everyone working in libraries will in some way utilize emerging technologies within the thematic areas. Students who concentrate in this specialization may work as:

  • Digital Communication and Learning Initiatives Librarian
  • Digital Literacy Librarian
  • Educational Technology Librarian
  • Educational Initiatives Librarian
  • Geospatial Librarian
  • Information Commons Librarian
  • Information Concierge
  • Learning Environments Librarian
  • Librarian with Emerging Technology Emphasis
  • Online Instructional Design Librarian
  • User Experience (UX) Librarian

Core Theory and Knowledge

  1. Ability to analyze emerging technologies (consumer, academic, enterprise) in relation to potential for impact on information center mission and ongoing or new services.
  2. Create prototypes and models of services based on emerging technologies and trends with planning for implementation strategies, sustainability and evaluation.
  3. Articulate an understanding of various schools of thought surrounding emerging technologies and trends and impact on society.
  4. Understand provision and use of emerging technologies for digital content creation, sharing, and collaboration within and outside the library and information center setting.
  5. Ability to involve constituents in the planning, creation and evaluation of technology tools that are relevant for the life of the user.
  6. Create or augment library learning models to include new forms of delivery and emerging models of literacies, such as transmedia navigation and game-based learning, with emphasis on theoretical frameworks and digital scholarship.
  7. Utilize models of user-centered service and design-thinking in information positions of all kinds.
  8. Understand methods for reaching all users of information services and promoting services to diverse populations.
  9. Articulate a planning process for implementing emerging technologies in a user-focused information setting. This typically involves assessing  a user’s knowledge of a new technology, determing how they want to use the technology,  developing on the fly a curriculum that will get them there (a series of one-on-one sessions, a session and some online support, etc.)
  10. Apply critical thinking from outside the profession to library and information work.

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses:

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

View student projects developed in INFO 282 Emerging Future: Technology Issue and Trends seminar, showcasing some of the technologies that will impact our future.

Learn more about this career pathway, including insights from a faculty expert, in an iStudent Blog post about the Emerging Technologies Career Pathway.

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.