Library and Information Science

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Library and Information Science (LIS) (as distinct from information theory) is the "study of stuff having to do with libraries." Strictly speaking, LIS consists of academic studies (most often surveys) about how library resources are used and how people interact with library systems. These studies tend to be specific to certain libraries at certain times.

Library Science is distinct from Librarianship, which is the practical services rendered by librarians in their day-to-day attempt to meet the needs of library patrons. Librarianship tends not to generate new knowledge, nor to strive to advance any field or discipline. Librarians only rarely engage in Library Science, and then usually outside their jobs as librarians. But the study of Library Science is part of the requisite training of librarians. "Information" and "documentation" means non-book stuffs that (university) libraries deal with, such as magazines, scientific journals, technical reports, and access to online databases.

The term "Library and Information Science" should not be broken into these separate pieces. Library and Information Science is a hybrid academic field that grew from library schools' fight for survival in the electronic age. The politics of academia, issues of status and prestige, issues of perceived obsolescence and other forces created these programs. Programs in Library and Information Science are interdisciplinary, overlapping with the fields of systems' analysis, computer science, statistics and various parts of the social sciences.

The field of Library and Information Science is not defined by its output of information specialists, but by the "information specialists" who remain in academia teaching and doing research, by its literature, its journals and all the other ways in which an academic discipline is defined, the study of which, by the way, falls within the scope of Library and Information Science!

Basic topics in Library science include the acquisition, classification and preservation of Library materials.


Important LIS institutions and resources:

Some current LIS issues:


What are our priorities for writing in this area? To help develop a list of the most basic topics in LIS, please see Library and Information Science basic topics.