Information Organization


Information Organization, Description, Analysis, and Retrieval — MLIS Career Pathway

Discovery depends on the organization and description of information resources. Work in this area requires understanding of existing and emerging shared standards, frameworks and principles for organization and description as well as systems such as library services platforms, discovery platforms, institutional repositories and digital library management systems.

Technology is essential to this career path, due to the wide range of technologies in use for creating, storing, and giving access to information resources. A thorough understanding of search and retrieval using a variety of technologies is essential. Work in this field requires a well-balanced understanding of information agencies such as the Library of Congress, organizations such as NISO and the World Wide Web Consortium. See the core competency report prepared by the professionals working in this field; and also the  and discussion of the SJSU curriculum to the specific skill sets looked for by employers in this area.

It also requires knowledge of the management of people and processes, and user perspectives and user experience as a framework for appropriate discovery. A critical understanding of user experience and the ethics of metadata creation is essential for this area of professional work.

This career pathway focuses on:

  • Discovery: Information seeking, evaluation, and use
  • Information architecture: the structure and indexing of information for discovery
  • Organization: description and classification of information resources in all formats
  • Discovery systems:  tools and resources for discovery and information retrieval.

    Employment Opportunities

    Students who concentrate in this field may work as:

    • Catalog and Metadata Librarians
    • Electronic Resource Librarians
    • Data Management Coordinators
    • Data Curation Librarians
    • Knowledge Management Analysts
    • Schema Architects
    • Taxonomists
    • Technical Services Directors
    • User Experience Architects
    • Information Architects
    • Vocabulary/Information Architecture Directors
    • Digital Content Managers
    • Search Analysts
    • Discovery Platform Coordinators
    • Linked Data Strategists
    • Content Strategists/Content Editors/Content Designers
    • Content Librarians
    • DAM Management for Archives and Special Collections
    • Social Media Program 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 Information Organization 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
    • See also slide #26 to view sample job titles, job duties, job skills, and technology/standards for Cataloging and Metadata

    Core Theory and Knowledge

    • Understand the evolution and current environment of standards used for organizing and describing information
    • Appreciate organizational service environments and communities of practice for resource discovery
    • Understand user experience, the search process, and how information architecture affects search strategy
    • Understand vocabulary, user experience, and information needs both inside and outside information organizations
    • Appreciate the evolution of technology, current information technology capabilities and options, and explore new and innovative uses of technology for searching, web navigation, and resource discovery
    • Understand the evolution of the World Wide Web and its semantic web technologies using various applications of linked data
    • Understand the development and practice of data transformation between different metadata standards
    • Maintain a broad perspective on discovery and information organization
    • Understand project planning and management, including the needs of stakeholders

    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. See also the recommended courses in the Areas of Emphasis section below.

    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.


    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

    * if you can only select one or two classes from this pathway these are ranked highly by the Knowledge Organization Program Advisory Committee.

    ** if you can only select one or two classes from this pathway these are ranked of medium importance by the Knowledge Organization Program Advisory Committee.

    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 Organization, Description, Analysis, and Retrieval 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 Knowledge Organization Program Advisory Committee) developed the recommended courses below for these Areas of Emphasis.

    Systems & Standards for Information Organization

    This area of emphasis examines the following topics: Content management systems, Discovery systems, Linked data, Metadata schema/standards, Taxonomies, Thesauri, Vocabulary design, Cataloging, Metadata, Digital curation, System evaluation & assessment.

    Design & UX for Information Environments

    This area of emphasis covers the following topics: Information architecture, Information needs assessment, Project management, Vocabulary design, Search experience, UX (user experience), User interface design, System evaluation & assessment.

    Technologies for Information Organization & Retrieval

    This area of emphasis focuses on the following topics: Data transformation tools, Emerging technology, Linked data, Project management, Semantic web, Technology evaluation & assessment.

    In support of this career pathway see also Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professional Librarians. All the competencies are met by the following combination of classes:


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

    Learn More