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A library school is an institution of higher learning specializing in the professional training of librarians. The first library school was established by Melvil Dewey (the originator of the Dewey decimal system) in 1887 at Columbia University. Since then many library schools have been founded in the United States and Canada. The development of library schools in other countries began in 1915, when librarians' schools were founded at Leipzigmarker and Barcelonamarker (currently, as a faculty of the Universitat de Barcelonamarker, the latter is the oldest library school in Europe). Many others were founded during World War II. The University of Chicagomarker became the first library school to confer a master's degree in library science, which is now the standard professional degree, and later became the first to give a doctoral degree in the field. Two other prominent American library schools are located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (the top-ranked library school in the United States of America for many years, and one of the best in the world) and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (it is now tied for the top-ranked position).

Most library schools in North America offer graduate programs only. Accreditation of these programs is granted by the American Library Association. The bachelor's degree in Library Science (or Library Economics as it was called in early days) was, for the most part, phased out several decades ago. Librarians in North America typically earn a master's degree, either the MLS (Master of Library Science) or the MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science). This degree allows one to work as a practicing librarian in public libraries, academic libraries, school library media centers, and special libraries, while many individuals with the MLS title work with major library vendors. The degree is also applicable to related sectors such as publishing.

Master of Library Science programs are typically structured to offer a mixture of required and elective courses in library science and information science. The required courses focus on core library skills such as cataloging, reference, collection development as well as related areas such as the philosophy underlying the profession, information technology and management. Elective courses may include information management, children's literature, genealogy and archives as well as specialized courses related to different types of libraries.

In recent decades, many library schools have changed their names to reflect the shift from print media to electronic media, and to information contained outside of traditional libraries. Some call themselves schools of library and information science (abbreviated to "SLIS", hence the term "SLISters" for their students), while others, such as the University of Washingtonmarker's Information School, have dropped the word "library" entirely: see List of I-Schools.


  • Reitz, Joan M. (2004). Library School in ODLIS — Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

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