Digital Services


Digital Services — MLIS Career Pathway

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.

The digital environment is affected by rapid changes in the development of new technologies and the ever-expanding amounts of information. Working in digital environments requires technological skills and experience, an understanding of metadata, an ability to create and manage digital content, attention to the user experience and managerial skills to recognize and take actions leading to change and collaboration that shape the emerging future technologies.

A person working in this environment must also be able to understand and deal with issues regarding big data analytics and management, cybersecurity, data communication, and privacy.

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

  • Creation and maintenance of digital collections, exhibits, repositories
  • Management of digital collections including cybersecurity and digital privacy issues
  • Mediation and representation of cultural heritage in the digital environment
  • Quality and sustainability of digitization initiatives
  • Data analytics and 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, metadata schemes, and linked data
  • Open source catalogs
  • Project management and workflow assessment
  • User experience and usability

Employment Opportunities

  • Build and manage virtual public library branches
  • Oversee technical issues of digital conversion
  • Manage digital collections, digital repositories, and online special collections
  • Implement digital initiatives in museums, archives and libraries
  • Support e-learning services

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

MLIS Skills at Work

The MLIS Skills at Work includes important trends and data that are needed to prepare for career advancement within the information professions. The following information within the report relates directly to the Digital Services career path. However, slides #12 through #15 showcase/highlight the skills most valuable to employers.

  • See the MLIS Skills at Work report, slides #5 through #8 for more detailed information about hiring trends and slide #21 for representative job titles
  • See slide #27 to view sample job titles, job duties, job skills, and technology/standards for digital initiatives, integration and management
  • See also slides #25 (Collection, Acquisition and Circulation), #24 (Cataloging and Metadata), #32 (Reference and Research), and #31 (Outreach, Programming and Instruction) for additional roles within this career pathway

Core Theory and Knowledge

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

MLIS Requirements

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.

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 underlying 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.

Faculty pathway advisors are available to help guide you and answer questions about planning a career in their area of expertise. Learn more about faculty pathway advisors.

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