Information Intermediation


Information Intermediation and Instruction — MLIS Career Pathway

This career pathway focuses on information services and instruction. Work in this area requires an understanding of how to help users define and articulate their information needs; excellent communication skills; mastery of a wide range of information tools and retrieval techniques for answering users’ questions; and proficiency in evaluating and selecting information sources and services.  It is also important to be highly adaptable.

Learning effective techniques for instructing users in the retrieval and evaluation of information is central to this specialization. Students may also wish to focus on designing tools to facilitate users’ access to information and tutorials to enhance their information literacy skills. It is crucial to be familiar with the emerging and evolving technologies in the information ecology (or ecosystem). 

See also: Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians​ (2017) ) and Reference and User Services Association (RUSA): Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians  (2017).

Employment Opportunities

Students who concentrate in this field may work as:

  • Coordinators of library instruction
  • Liaison librarians
  • Data Services Librarians
  • Scholarly communications librarian
  • Innovations Librarian
  • Library Consortia Liaison
  • Social Media and Marketing Librarian
  • Database trainers
  • Educational liaisons for vendors
  • Information consultants/information brokers
  • Information services librarians
  • Outreach librarians
  • Open Learning librarians
  • First year experience librarians
  • Student success librarians
  • Public services librarians
  • Reference librarians
  • Virtual reference librarians

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 Information Intermediation and Instruction 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 may cover so many types of education and organization settings, you may want to look at this group of slides as well: #34 (Reference and Research), #33 (Outreach, Programming and Instruction), #45 (Public Libraries), #37 (Academic: College, University and Research Libraries), #40 (Government Agencies and Organizations), #39 (Corporate Organizations, Business Libraries), #42 (Legal: Academic, Government, Private Practice), #41 (Medical, Pharmaceutical, Health Science), and #44 (Nonprofit Organizations).

Core Theory and Knowledge

  • Knowledge of research methodologies
  • Managing reference resources
  • Communicating information literacy in the language of the stakeholders
  • Ability to deliver information services in a variety of venues and through programs designed in partnerships with others
  • Ability to develop relationships with community partners, campus units, and library stakeholders
  • Awareness of the evolution of information services and the core values held by information service providers
  • Ability to assess information services and to communicate the value of these services to potential partners
  • Possession of a user-centered perspective and an in-depth understanding of information seeking behavior
  • Familiarity with a range of information sources and the ability to effectively search, retrieve, and evaluate information from a variety of sources
  • Ability to communicate successfully with diverse user populations, particularly with regard to understanding and responding to user needs and explaining search strategies
  • Understanding of the principles of information literacy and familiarity with current information literacy models and practice
  • Capacity to plan, execute and evaluate instruction in the use of information resources
  • Ability to understand, use, and create technologies, and stay on top of technology trends

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 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.

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses:

Foundation Courses:

* strongly recommended by the Information Intermediation and Instruction Program Advisory Committee

Recommended 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 Information Intermediation & Instruction 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 Information Intermediation and Instruction Program Advisory Committee) developed the recommended courses below for these Areas of Emphasis.

Reference and Information Services

Information Literacy Education

Information Service/Instruction in Non-traditional Settings


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

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