What is Library and Information Science?

Library science consists of a number of things. A librarian (a skilled person in the field of library science) is someone who knows how to weave and monitor the complex web of the library. Odds are library science has many more facets than you originally thought. So, what is library science? Well, library science encompasses everything from acquisition of resources, to preservation of knowledge, to cataloguing data, to referencing, to management. These main aspects of library science are outlined below.

What Are the Components of Library Science?

Acquisition of Resources: According to the Five Laws of Library Science, one of the library's main purposes is to grow. This means taking on new resources of information. A library is supposed to act as a feeding ground for knowledge. It is a librarian's job to search out these new resources (whether the resources be books, tapes, film, PDFs, magazines, research papers, or even old newspapers) and make them a part of the library's collection.

Preservation of Knowledge: Sometimes the materials acquired will be fragile in some way. If this is the case, than library science dictates that special precaution should be taken to preserve these resources. It is not the job of the librarian to keep these fragile materials out of the patron's hands. It is the librarian's job to make sure that people can enjoy these resources without hurting the material. Therefore, many libraries have developed "antique" or "rare" book rooms. These rooms are usually open for less time than the main library, have specific lighting so has not to hurt the book's pages, and require patrons to wear gloves while they sift through the text. Some books are in good enough shape or common enough to be out on the floor, but they are too rare or precious to go home with the patron. Therefore, they must be read in the library. There are also rare rolls of film that may not be checked out, but may be watched within library walls. The preservation of these materials is up to the librarian, the practitioner of library science.

Cataloguing Data: This is a large part of library science. The materials acquired must be catalogued efficiently, so that the patron can find the resource they seek in as little time as possible. Sometimes the system is already set up and only new material must be added in. Sometimes a librarian might have to start from scratch. It is important that the resources are cross referenced thoroughly for the sake of the patron. New technology has become a big part of library science. The computer and internet have made cataloguing more efficient than ever before.

Referencing: Library science includes working with the public. When someone comes into a library and wants to find a book, it is important that the librarian is familiar with the catalogue system as well as the library's layout in order to help the patron find their book as quickly as possible. They must have a vast knowledge of internet databases and the like. This may sound very similar to cataloguing, but where cataloguing is behind the scenes, this is the actual act of guiding the customer to the source they seek.

Management: Like any business, administration is a part of the library. Therefore, one aspect of library science has to do with management. In order for the place to run smoothly, a senior librarian must be able to allocate duties. They must manage both the workforce and also the hefty amount of information a library stores. Part of library science is making sure that the library runs like a well oiled machine.

As you can see, there are many aspects of library science. So, if you enjoy everything from cataloguing, to dealing with people, to business administration, than a career in library science is the career for you.