Library science may be perceived as one of the easiest online master’s degrees, but there’s a lot more to it than just finding books on a shelf. Today’s library science students complete a much more data-heavy curriculum that prepares them to find, understand and work with data both in the library setting and outside it. Whether you want to work as a data librarian or branch out into other roles in any number of career fields, you can find a use for your knowledge of data science and research.
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Studying Data Science in a Master of Library Science Program
Library and information science students might focus their coursework on a data science concentration. A library science program that emphasizes data science might revolve around core coursework in information organization, information professions, information sources and service and the information systems utilized in library environments.
An introductory data science course can help you gain fundamental knowledge of the field, while classes in data on the Internet and data visualization can help round out your knowledge. Students often learn the technical skills to manage databases and program computer applications. Studies in how data is used and conveyed in different disciplines – like business, science, social science and government – may also be found in a master’s degree program in library science. Coursework in data archives, preservation and policies may also help aspiring librarians and data analysts understand important new aspects of what it means to work with data.
Although many data courses are offered through a school’s library and information science department, students interested in data science may also be encouraged to take courses from other departments, like graduate-level statistics classes and computer science courses.
Working in Data Analysis
The discipline of data analysis is relatively new, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting on the field as a new occupational trend in 2013. Since then, the field has grown and spread. Data analysts work in a variety of fields, from business, finance and e-commerce to healthcare and research in the life and social sciences. If you find that you enjoy the data analysis aspect of library science, you could leverage your master’s degree to work in just about any field where employers prize the ability to work with data. Whether you plan to use the skills acquired through your data science coursework in the library or far from it, you should expect to brush up on other skill sets not typically associated with library science, such as math and computer programming.
Your job title can vary not only by your precise job duties but also by the field or industry in which you work. For example, job titles like data and research analyst, data analytics manager and data management analyst are generic enough to apply to any field. On the other hand, you might have a job title like business analytics specialist or business intelligence analyst if you work specifically in the corporate world. If you work for a financial institution like a bank or for a financial planning firm, you might hold a job title like financial data and reports analyst. Clinical data analyst is a role found in healthcare, while data analyst job titles in the sciences include genomic data scientist and bioinformatics data analyst.
If you haven’t abandoned your dream of being a librarian, you can also choose to focus on data science in library settings. Libraries are scrambling to fill the skills gap that arises when technology evolves faster than the average established librarian learns how to use it. This means that librarians who focus on data science and other technology matters are particularly in demand.
In job titles like data librarian, system data librarian, data services librarian, research data librarian or database librarian, you could enjoy the best of both worlds, tailoring your original plans of librarianship to emphasize your new interest in data science. A job in data science can be lucrative for librarians. Job search website ZipRecruiter lists a national average salary of $66,428 for data librarians – more than $10,000 per year above the $55,395 national average salary the site reports for librarians in general.
As more data goes digital, even librarian positions not focused on data science will require more extensive technical skills. Being willing and able to embrace new technologies for locating information is valuable for the job outlook for all librarians, the BLS reported.