Emerging Technologies


Emerging Technologies Pathway — MLIS Career Pathway

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 that is radically different from the past, where information and knowledge are created, recreated, used, reused, disseminated, stored and shared via multiple social media platforms.

In all environments emerging technology can break down barriers as well as create others, such as access inequalies. 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. The increase in options for social virtual reality environments that allow for remote gatherings and collaboration may shape an emergent metaverse which will bring new challenges and opportunities to cultivate digital citizenship skills and habits.

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 and “Internet of Things”
  • Physical and 2D virtual information environments
  • Participatory service and user experience
  • Learning and new literacies
  • Virtual reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality/Extended Reality/Spatial Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence

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 issues.

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.

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
  • Gaming Librarian
  • Metaverse Librarian
  • AI Prompt Engineer

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 Emerging Technologies career path. However, slides #14, #15, #16 and #17 showcase/highlight the skills most valuable to employers.

  • See the MLIS Skills at Work report, slides #5 through #11 for more detailed information about hiring trends and slide #22 for representative job titles
  • Because this pathway can be so broad, you may want to look at this group of slides as well: #28 (Data Management, Analysis and Preservation), #29 (Digital Initiatives, Integration and Management), #30 (Information Management), #31 (Information Systems and Technology), and #35 (Web Services, User Experience and Social Media)

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. Planning services; articulate a planning process for implementing emerging technologies in a user-focused information setting, involve constituents in the planning, creation and evaluation of technology tools that are relevant, and create prototypes and models of services based on emerging trends that include plans for implementation strategies, sustainability and evaluation.
  3. Articulate an understanding of various schools of thought surrounding emerging technologies and trends and their impact on society.
  4. Understand the provision and use of emerging technologies for digital content creation, sharing, and collaboration both within and outside the library and information center settings.
  5. Create or augment library learning models to include new forms of delivery and emerging models of literacies, such as trans-media navigation and game-based learning, with an emphasis on theoretical frameworks and digital scholarship.
  6. Utilize models of user-centered service and design-thinking in information positions of all kinds.
  7. Understand methods for reaching all users of information services, and promoting services to diverse populations.
  8. 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, determining 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.)
  9. Apply critical thinking from outside the profession to library and information work.

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. 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 graduating students receive an MLIS degree.

Advice from the Technology Program Advisory Committee

In order to help you think about class selection in this pathway the Program Advisory Committee for this pathway gave the following advice:

  • Those who work in the Emerging Technologies Pathway must have expertise in working with both technology and people. Most of the classes incorporate both categories but they are grouped below for general guidance in selecting a balanced program.

Choose several courses from each category.

Working with Technology *Indicates very highly recommended

Working with People

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses

Foundation Courses

Effective leadership and management (of people and information) is critically important for all types of work environments and clients.  We recommend that students also consider selecting courses from the Leadership and Management career path to complement or supplement core skills in other areas.

Areas of Emphasis within the Emerging Technologies Pathway

While all students earn an MLIS degree from the iSchool (no special designation appears on academic transcripts or diplomas), students may include Area of Emphasis information about their skill sets on resumes and in cover letters. The iSchool faculty (with input from the Technology Program Advisory Committee) developed the recommended courses below for these Areas of Emphasis.

Strategic Planning for Technology & Change

This area of emphasis examines planning for continual change and disruption in the information fields. The advancement of technology, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and blockchain, has disrupted traditional models and revolutionized various industries. Organizations need leaders who can understand the potential of these technologies, evaluate their implications, and strategically and ethically integrate them into services and collections. A focused area of emphasis on strategic planning for technology ensures that graduate students gain a deep understanding of emerging technologies and can effectively utilize them to drive innovation and enhance services.

Bridging Emerging Technologies and Human Interaction

This area of emphasis examines working with technology and people. These courses focus on understanding the intersection between emerging technologies and the human element. They emphasize the importance of bridging the gap between cutting-edge technological advancements and the people who interact with them. They acknowledge the significance of exploring how emerging technologies impact individuals, societies, and organizations, while also emphasizing the importance of working with people effectively.

Teaching & Learning with Technology

This area of emphasis examines learning in all of its forms. Libraries and information centers, which serve as hubs for knowledge dissemination, can play a crucial role in facilitating all types of learning, be it formal or informal, virtual or hands-on. Leveraging all available technologies can significantly enhance the learning experience. This focus aligns with the core principles of the field, expands their skill set, addresses evolving educational needs, supports lifelong learning, bridges the digital divide, and enhances information literacy.


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

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.
  • 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 alumni for an informational interview.