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Library and information science (LIS) is the study of issues related to libraries and the information fields. This includes academic studies regarding how library resources are used and how people interact with library systems. These studies tend to be specific to certain libraries at certain times. The organization of knowledge for efficient retrieval of relevant information is also a major research goal of LIS. Basic topics in LIS include the acquisition, cataloging, classification, and preservation of library materials. In a more present-day view, a fervent outgrowth of LIS is information architecture. LIS should not be confused with information theory, the mathematical study of the concept of information, or information science a field related to computer science and cognitive science.

Programs in LIS are interdisciplinary, overlapping with the fields of computer science, various social sciences, statistics, and systems analysis.

Difference between LIS and librarianship[]

LIS is distinct from librarianship, in a way analogous to the difference between medicine and doctoring. Librarianship, the application of library science, comprises the practical services rendered by librarians in their day-to-day attempts to meet the needs of library patrons.

Many practicing librarians do not contribute to LIS scholarship but focus on daily operations of their own library systems. Other practicing librarians, particularly in academic libraries, do perform original scholarly LIS research and contribute to the academic end of the field.

Most professional library jobs require an academic LIS degree as certification. In the United States, the certification usually comes from a Master's degree granted by an ALA-accredited institution, so even non-scholarly librarians have an originally academic background.


Subdisciplines of library and information science include the study of:

  • Human Information Behaviors (Information seeking, search strategies, and use)
  • Knowledge Organization (which includes Bibliography, Cataloging, Classification, Indexing & Abstracting, Metadata, Semantic & Syntactic Analysis (Controlled Vocabularies, etc.))
  • Digital libraries
  • Collection development
  • Public references and other services
  • Scholarly communication (includes Bibliometrics, Informetrics, Scientometrics, Webmetrics)

Types of Information Professionals[]

  • Librarians
  • Museum curators
  • Archivists
  • Computer, Data, and Information Systems professionals
  • Metadata Architects
  • Catalogers
  • Indexers
  • Information brokers
  • Information Architects
  • Metadata Managers



The study of librarianship for public libraries covers issues such as cataloging, collection development for a diverse community, information literacy, community standards, public services-focused librarianship, serving a diverse community of adults and children, and legal and budgeting issues.


The study of school librarianship covers library services for children in schools up until (but not including) university. In some regions, the local government may have stricter standards for the education and certification of school librarians (who are often considered a special case of teacher), than for other librarians, and the educational program will include those local standards. School librarianship may also include issues of intellectual freedom; pedagogy; and how to build a cooperative curriculum with the teaching staff.


The study of academic librarianship covers library services for colleges and universities. Issues of special importance to the field may include copyright; technology, digital libraries, and digital repositories; academic freedom; open access to scholarly works; as well as specialized knowledge of subject areas important to the institution and the relevant reference works.

Some academic librarians are considered faculty, and hold similar academic ranks as professors, while others are not. In either case, the minimal qualification is a Master's degree in Library Studies or Library Science, and, in some cases, a Master's degree in another field.


The study of archives covers the training of archivists, librarians specially trained to maintain and build archives of records intended for historical preservation. Special issues include physical preservation of materials and mass deacidification; specialist catalogs; solo work; access; and appraisal. Many archivists are also trained historians specializing in the period covered by the archive.


Special librarians include almost any other form of librarianship, including those who serve in medical libraries (and hospitals or medical schools), corporations, news agency libraries, or other special collections. The issues at these libraries will be specific to the industries they inhabit, but may include solo work; corporate financing; specialized collection development; and extensive self-promotion to potential patrons.

Current issues in LIS[]

See also[]

  • List of library associations
  • List of library and information science programs
  • List of basic library and information science topics
  • OCLC
  • Library of Congress

External links[]

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