Leadership and Management


Leadership and Management — MLIS Career Pathway

The Leadership and Management pathway benefits graduates regardless of the position they have in any organization or that they wish to pursue in the environment in which they work.  The skills taught in the pathway enable graduates to be flexible in response to the challenges facing today’s libraries and information organizations, including the coordination of effective collaborations, partnerships with both globalized and virtual work teams, and leading with an EDI lens (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion.)

Librarians and information professional leaders and managers must be effective communicators and know how to lead teams and attain skills including motivation, change management, and conflict resolution.  They must seek opportunities to assess the information needs and interests of their communities, design collections, programs and services to address those needs, and assess the impact of those services on the well-being of their communities. Flexibility is a key skill in this dynamic environment with the ability to analyze and implement new technologies.

The skills taught in the Leadership & Management Pathway enable graduates to be flexible and effectively apply their technical skills, including marketing, promotion, and assessment.  

Students interested in pursuing work in academic settings are strongly encouraged to be highly involved with the iSchool’s Student Research Journal and to do at least one conference presentation before graduating.

Employment Opportunities

Professional librarians work in highly specialized fields such as information literacy in a university or information technology in a corporation, where they are valued for their deep knowledge and abilities. In other cases, MLIS professionals assume responsibility for leading a small department or branch, assessing needs and training support staff to deliver more routine direct services. This is certainly true of the “solo librarian” found in school and corporate libraries and of information professionals working in smaller departments in academic libraries and branches in public libraries. Other MLIS graduates manage geographically-distributed virtual teams who must complete interdependent tasks and share joint responsibility for outcomes.

In addition to professional LIS competencies, MLIS graduates demonstrating management expertise must possess other qualifications as noted in the Core Theory and Knowledge list below.

MLIS Skills at Work Report

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 Leadership, Management and Administration 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 slide #32 to view sample job titles, job duties, job skills, and technology/standards for Leadership, Management and Administration

Core Theory and Knowledge

  • Communicate effectively with diverse communities
  • Develop appropriate policies for effective customer service
  • Evaluate programs and services
  • Manage resources for maximum results
  • Deliver, develop, and promote services through understanding user needs and expectations
  • Plan strategically for improved services and support to realize organizational goals
  • Plan and understand budgets
  • Supervise, motivate and assess individuals and groups
  • Demonstrate ability to be an effective advocate for organizations and employees
  • Identify and analyze those policies and laws that have an effect on service delivery
  • Understand and be able to navigate organizational cultures, structures, and priorities to the advantage of their team or service
  • Work effectively in teams including virtual

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.  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 students graduating receive an MLIS degree.

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses

Foundation Courses

The Program Advisory Committee for this pathway encourages students to aim to balance depth and breadth with the 1-unit courses, and be aware of larger trends in LIS and the job market, as well as those topics that are of particular interest. They also stress the importance of taking an internship.

One of the following:

INFO 230 Issues in Academic Libraries
INFO 231 Issues in Special Libraries and Information Centers
INFO 232 Issues in Public Libraries
INFO 233 School Library Media Centers

Areas of Emphasis within the Leadership and Management 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 Leadership and Management Program Advisory Committee) developed the recommended courses below for these Areas of Emphasis.

Planning – Marketing – Advocacy

For decades, libraries have had to dynamically meet the evolving needs of their communities. Having a toolkit of effective planning strategies will enable future library leaders to be proactive in meeting those needs rather than simply reacting to them. Advocacy, in particular, is critical, as many constituents might not have an accurate understanding of the value that libraries provide to their communities. Being an advocate is critical for securing the funding resources needed to thrive as an organization.

Organizational Management

Information organizations are subject to environmental pressures like every other organization. For example, rising personnel and maintenance costs require strong planning and negotiation skills to obtain increased revenue to maintain current levels of service. And cuts in social services in many communities have community members turning to the library for shelter and support, requiring crisis management skill sets. Specific to libraries is the increase in the increase in electronic holdings. Libraries own less content, but are paying increased licensing fees. This requires knowledge of vendor relations in addition to technological skills.

Creating Inclusive Environments

Many librarians hold identities that grant them social privileges, which can create challenges in comprehending the perspectives of colleagues and users with marginalized social identities. The incorporation of these courses as an Area of Emphasis highlights the importance of creating inclusive organizational environments for both staff and clients.


Information organizations must understand the technological needs of the communities they serve, evaluate new technologies, and find the resources to implement them. Privacy and cybersecurity issues related to technology will continue to be important for decision-making.


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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