Library and Information Services

Information is the tool by which we learn, make decisions, and answer questions or concerns that we face every day at work, at school, and in our personal lives. Professionals working in the library and information services industryhelp us organize and store information, and then provide guidance when it is necessary to retrieve and process the information available.

Libraries play a key role in the information services industry. Libraries, and the information professionals they employ, are needed to help people sort through the amount of information and technology that continues to rapidly increase. Information professionals may work anywhere from the traditional library setting to such places as research institutes and information brokerages.

Elementary, middle, and high school library media specialists are part of the teaching team who work with the other teachers in planning and determining resources to be included in the teaching curriculum. Academic libraries employ professionals who provide information services to millions of students enrolled in institutions of higher education: junior colleges, colleges, and universities. Librarians and support staff working in public libraries provide a variety of services for people of all ages.

Special libraries provide specialized information services to many trade organizations, research laboratories, businesses, government agencies, art museums, hospitals, newspapers, publishers, and others. The librarians and staff who work in them often have supplemental training or previous academic experience in the subject of the special library. They work closely with the employees of the company or members of the organization and provide their patrons with access to esoteric materials.

Government services in many areas provide opportunities for special librarians in federal and state governments, including work in the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Library of Agriculture. Almost all departments of the executive branch of the government have special libraries that provide the information needed to carry on the work agencies such as all branches of the armed forces, Veterans Administration hospitals, federal research laboratories, and others. In state governments there are historical libraries and archives, legislative reference libraries, law libraries, public library extension agencies, and many smaller libraries that serve specialized branches of the state government.

The career of information professional encompasses not only librarians and information scientists but a variety of others who organize, analyze, retrieve, and disseminate recorded knowledge. An increasing number of information professionals work as information brokers, providing information to clients for a fee. Rather than employing their own full-time specialists, businesses may hire outside individuals or companies to perform searches of computer databases and manual sources, to locate documents, to compile bibliographies, and to provide other information. As today's information society continues to expand, there will be more opportunities for work in these alternative settings.

It is expected that cuts in library budgets will decrease some employment opportunities, with librarian and library technician positions expected to experience slower than the average growth through 2020, while jobs for library assistants are projected to have average growth. Many libraries now assign assistants to perform tasks once handled exclusively by more highly paid professional librarians.

Overall the best opportunities for information services careers will be outside of the library, with private corporations, consulting businesses, and information brokers. Rather than being librarians, these information professionals might be classified as database specialists, researchers, or systems analysts. As information continues to expand, information services professionals will be needed to help keep the information accessible.

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