Earning a Master's in Library Science Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Library Science Online?

Completing a master's in library science online program can lead to professional opportunities locating, evaluating, and organizing information resources for libraries, museums, schools, law offices, and other organizations. Graduates of master's in library science online programs gain the skills they need to work as librarians, archivists, museum directors, and school library media specialists. Most organizations that produce or use information offer positions for information science graduates.

The ideal candidates for earning a master's degree in library science online include undergraduates who want to become librarians, library support staff seeking professional advancement, and workers in other fields who want a career change. Earning a library science master's online is often more convenient, flexible, and affordable than earning a traditional degree. Prospective students who possess interpersonal, reading, problem-solving, and technology skills are a good fit for this field.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Library Science Graduates

Master's in Library Science Salary

Graduates of master's in library science programs find rewarding career opportunities with varying levels of pay. Librarian salaries differ based on several factors, including state of residence and experience level.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national mean salary for librarians is $60,760, but librarians who work in top-paying states can make an additional $24,000 a year. Librarian pay also increases with experience; entry-level librarians make $45,000 a year, while late-career librarians make $60,000 annually. The two charts below identify the top paying states for librarians and average pay rates by experience level.

Top Paying States for Librarians

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 1,160 $84,090
California 8,940 $76,940
Maryland 2,840 $71,440
Alaska 420 $70,920
Virginia 4,100 $70,490
United States 126,800 $60,760

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Librarians

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $45,369
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $49,691
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $52,682
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $60,814

Source: PayScale

Master's in Library Science Careers

Graduates of library science master's programs find professional positions in libraries, museums, archives, schools, and law firms. Master's in library science online programs teach graduates how to locate, evaluate, and organize information. This field appeals to naturally inquisitive people who enjoy reading, writing, research, and learning new things. The best librarians also like helping people and have a knack for mastering new technology.

Librarian

Annual Median Salary: $58,520

Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Most professional librarian positions require a master's degree. Librarians help people locate, manage, and understand information. Job duties vary substantially, but can include helping people, conducting research, teaching classes, organizing and purchasing library materials, budgeting, and maintaining databases.

Library Director

Annual Median Salary: $63,029

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Library directors usually start as librarians, then earn a master's in library and information science to seek administrative positions. They oversee library operations, including hiring librarians, scheduling programs, and managing budgets. They usually need management experience and benefit from strong communication and problem-solving skills.

Archivist

Annual Median Salary: $47,360

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Archivists organize material and digital databases, handling items like books, documents, and artifacts. These professionals must understand archival best practices regarding preservation, storage, documentation, and analysis, and also understand how to use modern technology. Good writing and communication skills are helpful as well. Archivists typically hold a master's in library and information science or a related field.

Law Librarian

Annual Median Salary: $60,152

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Most law librarians need a master's in library and information science, but some employers prefer a law degree. Law librarians work for law firms and universities, where they manage, organize, and analyze legal information, order and classify new materials, and assist with legal research. They may also be responsible for training other staff in how to use library resources.

School Library Media Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $48,228

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

School library media specialists work at schools and usually start their careers as teachers. They often need a master's in library and information science and a teaching credential. School media specialists teach K-12 students and educators how to locate and analyze informational resources. They also order materials, manage budgets, train staff, and perform administrative duties.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Library Science Program?

Online master's degree in library science administration programs teach students how to find, evaluate, and catalog information and resources. The curriculum below is an example of what you can expect to study in a library science program.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Library Science

Organization of Information and Resources

This course introduces learners to fundamental theories of information organization. Students explore controlled vocabularies, facet analysis, theories of classification, display and arrangement, and semantic relationships. This course covers skills applicable to any information science career, including librarianship.

Collection Development

Students learn how to find and acquire items for collection, with a focus on public and academic libraries. The course explores common development practices, community analysis, the ethics of controversial material collections, and the practical process for purchasing artefacts.

Marketing for Libraries

Students explore how marketing concepts and strategies can help libraries attract patrons and audiences. The course approaches marketing as an integrated process that can support libraries in reaching both short- and long-term goals.

Introduction to Law Librarianship

In this course, students gain practical experience answering complex legal research questions and using common library tools, including administrative law resources, federal legislative histories, and special subject resources.

Library Management

This class explores communication strategies, budgeting, strategic planning, project management, supervision and training, and other necessary skills for library management. Students gain skills for any management position, including library director.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Library Science Prepares For

  • Academy of Health Information Professionals Certification: The Medical Library Association coordinates the AHIP credential for health sciences librarians. This peer-reviewed certification requires a portfolio demonstrating professional experience, education, and accomplishments. Applicants must hold a master's in library science. Once approved, they can enhance their credentials with continuing education and experience credits.

  • State Certification for School Librarians: School library media specialist certification requirements vary by state. Many require school librarians must earn a teaching license before getting a librarian or library media specialist certification. The School Library Connection maintains a database of state-by-state certification requirements.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Graduates of library science master's programs should utilize professional organizations in library and information science. Joining a professional group means access to networking opportunities, annual conferences, continuing education programs, job boards, and career services. They also help professionals stay up-to-date on new developments in the field.

  • American Library Association: The largest and oldest professional organization for librarians in the world, ALA focuses on advocacy. Its mission includes creating equal access to information and promoting literacy. ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom also publishes an annual list of the top 10 frequently challenged books.

  • Public Library Association: PLA is a subsidiary of ALA and boasts 10,000 members — all public library employees in the U.S. and Canada. PLA organizes a biennial conference, advocates for public libraries, and offers continuing education.

  • American Association of Law Librarians: AALL's mission is to support the professional development of its members and advocate for the profession of legal librarianship as a whole. It represents law librarians and other legal information professionals.

  • American Association of School Librarians: A division of ALA, AASL represents school librarians and much of its work is geared toward connecting librarians and teachers with educational resources. AASL also organizes a biennial conference exclusively for school librarians.

  • Medical Library Association: MLA promotes health sciences librarianship, offers leadership and mentorship opportunities, and disseminates new information related to medical libraries. It also advocates for the profession and helps experts network with one another.

  • Professional Tools for Librarians Serving Youth: The Association for Library Service to Children manages this selection of resources for librarians who work with young people. Its resources include digital media, book lists, and plans for diversity advocacy and early literacy programs.

  • JSTOR for Librarians: This resource helps librarians learn to use JSTOR collections and manage subscriptions. It includes administrative tools for creating usage reports, reviewing institutional subscriptions, and keeping track of new journals.

  • Library Journal: The most popular publication about the library community and librarianship, LJ covers technology, policy, and management issues. It reviews more than 8,000 materials each year.

  • School Library Journal: Much like the LJ, SLJ is a publication for librarians, but it specializes in those who work with children and adolescents. SLJ covers issues related to literacy, educational policy, and library technology, and it reviews more than 6,000 resources each year.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: Purdue's writing lab offers instructional material and writing resources for use by teachers and librarians. Resources cover topics like subject-specific writing, English as a second language, conducting and using research, and citing sources.