Guide / Overview

Library Management and Administration Degree Program Overview - 2024

by Staff

Updated: November 1st, 2023

Has your love for reading and researching caused you to pursue a career in library science? Are you passionate about ensuring your community has access to information and resources that address their needs? Do you have an interest in directing, planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating, budgeting, and evaluating a library’s overall operation? If so, you should consider a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program with a concentration in Management and Administration. 

Librarians do much more than make sure books are labeled correctly and placed on the right shelf. Most librarians are motivated by a desire to learn, serve, and engage the community. They are inquisitive people who question the world around them and the information in it. Librarians also encourage others to express their curiosity by asking questions and using the library’s resources to locate the answers.

An MLIS degree with a concentration in Management and Administration prepares individuals to advocate for their communities by improving leadership, communication, and cultural competency skills. The program also trains students to manage the new digital systems created to handle core job responsibilities and serve the public. Upon completion, you’ll have an in-depth understanding of marketing, promotion, and how to supervise, motivate, and assess employee performances. You’ll be able to create effective budgets and collaborate successfully with other teams. 

MLIS degree holders with Management and Administration expertise can work in a variety of environments, including universities and corporations that need an information professional to keep things in order. Data and object classification, preservation, and literacy are not duties only performed in libraries. The MLIS curriculum provides the foundational knowledge needed to fill any of the versatile positions in the information science field. 

A few career paths include, but are not limited to:

  • Library Manager
  • Library Director
  • Director of Collection Development
  • Director of Technical Services
  • Collections Manager

Contrary to popular belief, a librarian’s job is never boring. Government agencies, schools, and local businesses turn to libraries to fact-check data, locate one-of-a-kind manuscripts, authenticate historical legal documents, and more. Librarians are investigators and protect information to ensure it is accessible to the masses. So, if these sound like responsibilities you’d enjoy taking on, keep reading to find out the steps you have to complete to obtain an MLIS degree. 

What should one think about when deciding on a Library Management and Administration Degree Program?

Determining whether or not a school’s program will teach the right skills and provide updated knowledge so that you graduate successfully and enter the workforce prepared is dependent on a few factors. You want to complete the program with a comprehensive understanding of leadership, management, and administration roles in the information field.

Read through the course syllabuses to ensure the curriculum is up to par. For example, administration courses should discuss the operational management of the library and its activities. You’ll learn to determine which policies should be implemented and how, create goals and reach them, and to guide the team’s efforts.

While administration deals with setting objectives and policies, management courses will give you the skills needed to put these items into practice. The learning will cover the interpersonal, informational, and decision-making roles a library manager assumes. Different theories and organizational techniques are taught as well.

As a leader, you are responsible for the budget, public and governmental relationships, hiring, and keeping employees motivated, just to name a few items. This level of responsibility requires a significant amount of training and development that should be offered by the program you choose.

Not all MLIS programs are created equally, which makes choosing the right one a bit challenging. However, there are a few basics to consider as you begin your search. First, you’ll need to think about what you want out of the program. 

What are your career goals? Is there a specialty in the broader field you’d rather pursue? Is the school in a location you can easily commute to, or is distance learning a better option? How will you pay for school? 

The answers to these questions will determine which program is best for your lifestyle. If you work full-time, have children, and have a host of other responsibilities, you’re more likely to complete the program if you find one that offers distance learning. 

Selecting a specialty is another determining factor for choosing a program. For those who want to work in museums, make sure the program offers museum studies. The same applies to any other specific industry discipline a student wants to learn, such as academic librarianship.  

But the first thing you should look for is the American Library Association (ALA) accreditation. Graduating from an ALA-accredited program is a requirement for most professional librarian positions. These programs have been evaluated by the ALA, and their mission, curriculum, staff, financial support, and resources have met the standards needed for endorsement. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to alumni with questions about the program. You want an MLIS program that empowers you to be a leader and prepares you for management and administration roles. That means you’ll have to be thorough in your research. 

When you visit the school’s website, check out the different programs. Many schools allow you to schedule a visit where you can talk to administrators, professors, and other faculty members to better understand the particular disciplines the program offers and how they will benefit your career objective. 

Ask questions about classroom size, graduation date, and post-graduation job placement. Many schools have relationships with local libraries and other institutions that need to staff information specialists. 

The professor’s level of education is a huge indicator of the program’s quality. How long have they been professors? Are they tenured? In which area of information gathering do they specialize, and what types of MLIS environments have they worked?

Also, besides the financial resources available for students, how much funding does the school receive? How many carrels are available to view or listen to different media sources? Is the multimedia equipment updated? Well-funded universities use the latest technology to train students, ensuring they’ll be able to operate and show others how to use the equipment for research purposes 

Standard Requirements for admission

Each program’s requirements differ, but there are general prerequisites for candidates to be accepted into a Library Management and Administration MLIS program.

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree program from a regionally accredited school
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Supply your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores or Miller Analogies Test results
  • Provide at least three letters of recommendation
  • A written declaration of your educational and professional goals
  • In-person or virtual interview
  • Provide proof that you successfully completed a remedial computer course
  • International students may have to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

In addition to these requirements for admission, there are also a few key skills you’ll need in the online classroom. They are as follows:

  • Knowledge of library reference services
  • Knowledge of applicable laws, regulations, and rules
  • Solid communication skills
  • Analytical problem-solving skills
  • Computer and internet literacy surrounding library system software 

Please contact the program you are interested in directly to find out specific enrollment qualifications.

What you will be required to learn in a Library Management and Administration Degree Program?

Library leadership oversees the daily ordering, collection, and organization of resources and tools. In addition to these skills, they must also have strong communication, marketing, and budgeting skills, all while understanding the importance of meeting deadlines. These are all competencies that are taught in an MLIS program. 

An online MLIS program is designed to give professionals the pragmatic leadership skills needed to manage libraries in any environment. That includes government agencies, school settings, and businesses in the digital world. The coursework concentrates on leadership in library and information management. You’ll receive collaborative and in-person experience-based learning, and there will always be guidance and support from faculty members. 

If you want to work in a school setting, look for ALA or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredited programs where you can gain licensure. If licensure isn’t important, check for iSchool membership or ALA-accreditation. 

Some programs offering a Masters in Library and Information Science degree include specialization courses in library management, leadership, and administration. The coursework usually highlights library services for varied communities, project management, contemporary issues, and professional experience through internships. 

There are prerequisites that should have been covered before entering the MLIS program. They would include Copyright Basics, How to Harness the Internet, Improving Relationships with Co-Workers, Information-Age Etiquette, and Library Privacy and Confidentiality. 

As a librarian, you will receive a ton of copyright questions from aspiring writers, artists, and musicians. The course will help you understand publishing laws, copyright holders’ rights, and how to search and find reputable online copyright resources. 

The internet is large and vast and can be confusing for those with little to no digital literacy. It can also be challenging for those who consider themselves digitally literate. If you don’t know how to use it properly, it can be harmful. The course shows you how to use the internet as a reference source and locate factual information. 

Below you will find a list of the other core competencies taught to those enrolled in a Library Management and Administration Degree Program. Please note that the courses may appear under a different course title or be combined or split (depending on the school), but the curriculum will be similar.

Management and Leadership of Information Organizations

This group of courses will provide you with several of the 14 definitive competencies identified by the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA). These skills will be used by all information professionals, no matter their role, environment, or stage of their career. 

Communication Skills: Develop your verbal, non-verbal, and written communication skills while learning new methods to improve interactions with the public and stakeholders. You’ll learn to convey ideas clearly and concisely and listen actively to better serve the community. You’ll also learn to understand different communication styles and differentiate between personal and personnel issues.

Dealing with an employee who isn’t completing their tasks or is simply insubordinate is not easy. This course will give you the language and tools to approach those situations with the sensitivity they deserve. In all, you will develop and continue to build on relationships with co-workers, even the difficult ones. 

Change Management: This is where leaders learn to create collaborative and innovative environments that encourage open communication. Leaders are taught that there are lessons to learn when mistakes are made and trained on how to remain flexible and lead others to do the same. 

Team Building: This is where leaders learn to convey shared visions to unite groups under a common goal. Strong communication skills are utilized to evoke dedication and accountability in the shared goal. A solid team will help you find fun activities for the community and make sure they have the resources they need.

Conflict Resolution: When working in team settings, there are going to be disagreements about how to spend the budget, which resources are more effective, and so on. The key here is to find techniques to de-escalate counterproductive situations and keep everyone aligned with the organization’s goal. This course will give you the tools to encourage different opinions to be raised and discussed constructively. 

Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaborating with other departments and outside organizations is going to be necessary for achieving many objectives. These collaborations also strengthen the presence of the library’s role in the community. 

Problem Solving: One aspect of leadership is solving problems and proactively instituting measures to prevent conflict. But, when unavoidable escalations arise, this course will show you how to address them and assist employees in finding information that offers a set of alternate solutions. 

Information-Age Etiquette: The information age seems to be a time when rules are much more relaxed in the workplace than in previous years. That includes everything from dress codes to written communication. This course will show you how to determine what the dress code should be, how to correctly use communication tools so as to not offend others, how to clean and properly use devices, and how to deal with different physical, ethnic, and cultural perspectives.

Library Privacy and Confidentiality: Laws and policies help keep information safe and protected. As a librarian, it is your duty to uphold these laws. But what are you allowed to release, and what should remain private? Laws like the USA Patriot Act are necessary for librarians to understand, so they know how to react to law enforcement inquiries. 

Information and Ethics: As stated above, librarians have a duty to protect information and ensure it’s stored safely. The course takes a deep dive into the ethical and moral responsibilities of the role and the legal and religious systems that often define right and wrong. You’ll know what to do when an ethical dilemma arises in a professional situation. 

Accounting Concepts and Financial Reporting

Accounting is essential to any business, including libraries. Each one has a budget they must use wisely as they are responsible for supplying the community with information resources they find useful and dependable. 

Learning basic accounting concepts and principles about financial reporting ensures the librarian fully comprehends the science of accounting. Understanding the framework for financial reporting will keep the institution aligned with any regulations and laws required to remain in good standing. 

You’ll learn the basics of financial accounting, including but not limited to creating and presenting a budget, preparing balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements, analyzing financial reports, and calculating and interpreting critical ratios. Managerial judgment is also taught to help choose accounting estimates and methods. 

As an information manager how you have to use the budget in the most effective manner possible; it’s a planning tool that outlines your limitations and decides which goals are priorities. It’s important to sit with your team and list the library’s goals for the next year and then set the budget accordingly. If you don’t, the budget may be spent on resources the community doesn’t need or want, leaving members of local neighborhoods disappointed with the library.  

Marketing and advocacy in Information Organizations

As a library manager, you will have to create activities and goals for the organization by collaborating with employees. Once you decide which activities and goals the library will pursue, you are then responsible for aggressively searching for internal and external constituencies to bring the objectives to fruition. 

Librarians have the tough job of convincing communities to attend programs and become heavily engaged with the activities offered by the library. They have to show the community that the library is a central hub for information and vital to the neighborhood’s survival. However, many librarians are working with decreased budgets, making marketing even harder than before. 

Fortunately, there are many experienced professionals in the field who have gone into teaching and can show you different strategies to support your organization’s mission. 

This course will show you how to attract new audiences and groups with gritty marketing content that will draw interest. You’ll learn how new technologies can help promote library services in the neighborhood. They’ll also cover the tried and true marketing methods that have stood the test of time. 

The concept of advocacy marketing is the focus of this course. This particular strategy enlists current customers to advocate for your products and services. One of the major ways advocates shows their support is by posting about the library on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular social media platforms. 

Word-of-mouth is also another example of advocacy marketing. You’re more likely to gain new customers using this method over standard advertisements. We’re constantly being slammed with one ad after another and have become so desensitized that we don’t pay them any attention. 

But, if someone we’re following just checked into an event at their local library, we’ll be prompted to wonder what’s happening at our community information hub. That’s why this class shows you how to use incentives and develop narratives to encourage more community participation.

Project Management for the Information Professional

It’s an unavoidable fact that librarians will have projects to complete that fall outside of the organization’s standard operations. These projects have a budget, due date, and access to resources and equipment to meet the specific and unique objective of the plan.

The project’s success is dependent on whether the above factors were used efficiently and the goal was accomplished. Another thing that’s unavoidable is the unknown and unexpected. There will always be something that pops up and seemingly throws a wrench in the plan and requires an adjustment to be made. 

One of the biggest projects undertaken by many library leadership teams is the digitizing of collections. These projects require collaborations with researchers, outside agencies, and other libraries. However, projects of such large sizes need clarity around the objectives, resources that match the achievement of the objectives, the risks calculated and analyzed, and daily monitoring to ensure they will meet the deadline.

Taking the project management approach with library initiatives ensures the service or product will be implemented or delivered successfully. You’ll learn how to see a project through, starting with the initial stages and then moving on to planning. 

The planning stage determines which tasks are priorities and compiles them to create a schedule. You then choose the resources to be allocated to various tasks and document the information for future reference. Next is the execution stage – where the operational work begins. 

As the project is executed, the team will know who to report their progress to and who to contact should they need assistance. It may be the same person or two senior members of the team. You’ll learn how to monitor the plan and produce workflows for the different stages. Once the output is released, the project is in its closure stage, and it’s time to evaluate what went well and what could be done better for the next project.

You’ll find the learning you gain in this course beneficial for technology projects, as most fail due to poor planning. You will be taught to develop a common language for all team members to understand, maintain control when working on multiple projects, and create a resource allocation system.  

Adult Services in the Public Library

This course will show you how important of a role the library plays in the literacy of its community members. In the US, it is estimated that 36 million adults have weak literacy skills, and one-third also have weak numeracy skills. These numbers are alarming for a few reasons. 

Adults with low literacy and numeracy skills are more likely to suffer from poor health than those with higher skills. Low-skilled adults have decreased problem-solving abilities in technology-rich environments. So, how can libraries help? 

This course will show you how to set up learning programs for adults who have aged out of the K-12 educational system and those facing financial hardships. There are classes for low-skilled adults to improve their reading and math comprehension, which in turn provides a major boost to their cognitive skills. 

Immigrant groups make up one-third of the low-skilled adults in the US. That is because English is a second language for most. Libraries can offer English and immigration classes to help these community members become citizens.

You’ll learn to collaborate with local social workers to identify those who want to improve their digital literacy skills and invite them to participate in computer labs. This knowledge will empower them to conduct independent job searches, search for healthcare information, and dozens of other actions they wouldn’t be able to execute without the library’s help. 

MLIS courses offer the chance to learn the abilities needed to be a librarian in our digital age. Whether you’re already working as a librarian or this is the beginning of your journey to becoming one, the aforementioned courses help you gain the understanding and skills required when managing a contemporary information hub.

Library administration and management are very similar, with subtle differences. Once the information is organized and in place, the administrative work begins. The theoretical principles that are taught in the MLIS degree program are put into practice. The structure of responsibility and authority is set, and administrators focus on achieving the organization’s goals via well-thought-out plans and a knowledgeable and eager staff.

There are plenty of professional associations for librarians in addition to the ALA. These groups are a support network for information professionals, and many specialize in specific areas of librarianship. If you are seriously considering a career in this field or are a part of the profession, joining one or more of these groups should be on your to-do list. You’ll find other librarians to share best practices, resources, and tools.

Special Library Association (SLA): The SLA is an international group for information professionals in academic, non-profit, finance,government, and business settings. They have members in over 75 countries and the association has 55 regional chapters. The SLA has divisions dedicated to specific area topics with one of them being Leadership & Management. SLA activities include advocacy, networking, professional education, and conferences. If you’re looking for a group of leaders in the industry to support and motivate you, and provide useful resources, then join the SLA.

Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA): LLAMA has been making waves since it was established in 1957. Dedicated to shaping leaders in library and information science, LLAMA is tuned in to the constantly changing cultural, political, economic, and technological landscapes. LLAMA enables library professionals to cultivate successful, long-lasting careers in library science. LLAMA’s mission is to advance exceptional management and leadership practices in the field by nurturing and inspiring excellence in potential and current leaders.

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC): The ALSC is a subdivision of the ALA and the world’s biggest organization dedicated to supporting and enhancing library services for children. They work to implement creative programming and find innovative learning methods the community children will enjoy. If you’re focused on children’s services, this is the group you should connect with.

American Indian Library Association (AILA): The AILA was established in 1979 when awareness about inadequate library services for Native Americans began to increase. Librarians worked alongside the government to correct the situation, and the AILA was born. If you’re interested in preserving the contributions of Native Americans and improving the informational services on reservations, AILA is the association to join.