Library Science


Get to the bottom of the Dewey Decimal System.


Libraries are one of those places that seem to be inevitably doomed to extinction, like malls, disco music, and pandas. Stupid pandas.

Actually, libraries aren't going extinct. They're merely in the process of changing; they're incorporating brand new technologies to what they've been doing all along. And wouldn't you know it, but the people who work in libraries are just as relevant as ever.

Fact: humans really like to write. Even before books were born, people were writing and drawing on walls. So despite the existence of the Internet, there has been no shortage of new books. If anything, the number of books has been increasing.

And all these books need a place to live, don't they? You can't keep them outside, or they become wet, warped, and lonely. So humans invented special buildings called libraries. Some of these libraries added price tags and these were called bookstores. The more books you put into a building, the more important it is to know where everything is. Presumably, this was discovered after it was decided that a giant pile wasn't the best organizational strategy.

Library science, at the most basic level, is knowing where everything is. This is a dramatic oversimplification, as the whole point of library science is to be as unobtrusive as possible. Chances are, you walked into a library at least once—probably at school—and never thought about why a specific book was where it was. You just got your book and left in a rush.

Librarians are masters of organization. They think about it so you don't have to. However, they do other things, too. Library science includes elements of information technology and education. The parts that really add the ''science'' to the back end.

The former is one of the big reasons library science as a discipline is still going strong. Books don't have to have physical forms to require organizing. (We hope we didn't blow your mind there.) Information, no matter the format, will always need some organizing principle so that human users can find it. Even when dealing with a far-future computer from which you could just ask for anything you like, there has to be a search algorithm for the computer to use.

Library science is also closely tied with education. Every school has a library, and books are where people keep all the knowledge. Makes sense, right?

Library science is a great major for people who don't just love reading, but love books in an obsessive, all-consuming kind of way. "Our people," we call them at Shmoop. You are studying to be the bridge between the human mind and our ever-expanding store of knowledge. You're joining an elite group of smart people that spans the globe.

And you never have to pay a late fee ever again.

Famous People who majored in Library Science

  • Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System
  • Golda Meir, fourth Prime Minister of Israel
  • Beverly Cleary, children's author
  • Laura Bush (with a Master's Degree), former First Lady
  • Nancy Pearl, Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library
  • Rupert Giles, watcher and mentor to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
  • Madam Irma Pince, Hogwarts librarian

Percentage of US students who major in Library Science:


Stats obtained from this source.