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Best Doctorates in Library Science: Top PhD Programs, Career Paths, and Salaries

Muhammad Junaid Khalid - June 20, 2022


A PhD in Library Science can open up a world of opportunities for library professionals. With a PhD, you can work as a librarian in a public or academic library, conduct research, or teach at the college or university level. There are many library science jobs available to those with a library science PhD degree .

So if you’re looking to level up your career and want to enroll in the best PhD in library science, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss the top PhD programs in library science, as well as career opportunities and salaries for those with a library science degree.

What Is a PhD in Library Science?

A PhD in Library Science is a research degree that prepares students for careers in library and information science. Students in a library science PhD program conduct research on topics such as information retrieval, library management, digital libraries, and user behavior. They also learn about the history of libraries and the ways they have changed over time.

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How to Get Into a Library Science PhD Program: Admission Requirements

The requirements to get into a library science PhD program are a Master’s Degree in Library Science, school transcripts, and an acceptable GPA. some library science programs require that you take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). You’ll also need to provide a statement of purpose, a written sample of your previous research, and letters of recommendation.

Admission requirements for library science PhD programs vary. Some strictly require a master’s degree from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited institution, while others don’t. Some programs may also require you to have experience working in a library.

PhD in Library Science Admission Requirements

  • Master’s Degree in Library Science from ALA-accredited institute
  • Transcripts of all previous education
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample of prior research
  • GRE
  • Letters of recommendation

Library Science PhD Acceptance Rates: How Hard Is It to Get Into a PhD Program in Library Science?

It’s hard to get a PhD in Library Science. In fact, getting admission in PhD in any subject is not easy. The acceptance rate for library science PhD programs varies but is generally very competitive. For instance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill only has a 24 percent overall school acceptance rate, which also indicates that PhD acceptance there can be challenging.

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Best PhDs in Library Science: In Brief

School Program Online Option
Dominican University PhD in Library and Information Science Yes
Emporia State University PhD in Library and Information Management Yes
Indiana University Bloomington PhD in Information Science No
Rutgers University PhD in Library and Information Science Yes
San Jose State University Gateway PhD in Library and Information Management Yes
Simmons University PhD in Library and Information Science No
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill PhD in Information and Library Science No
University of Pittsburgh PhD in Library and Information Science No
University of South Carolina PhD Library and Information Science No
University of Wisconsin – Madison PhD in Library and Information Studies No

Best Universities for Library Science PhDs: Where to Get a PhD in Library Science

Some of the best universities for library science PhD include Simmons University, University of South Carolina, and University of Pittsburgh. You’ll also get the best library science doctoral degree from Indiana University, Rutgers University, and Emporia State University. In this section, you’ll learn about more of these schools and their library science PhD programs.

1

Dominican University

River Forest, IL

Dominican University was founded in 1890 as a private university. It comprises eight schools, offering 19 master's and PhD programs. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10-to-one, making it easier for students to get individualized attention. Dominican University is consistently ranked as the fourth best value school by US News & World Report .

PhD in Library and Information Science

This PhD program is an accelerated four-year degree. The first year of the program is dedicated to graduate-level coursework, and the next three years are devoted to PhD study. Some of the major courses offered include Studies in Core Values, Ethics, and Issues in the Library and Information Professions, Organization of Knowledge, and Big Data & Competitive Intelligence.

PhD in Library and Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 76% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $850/credit
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Scholarships, financial aids

PhD in Library and Information Science Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute
  • 1500-word statement of purpose and resume
  • Research writing sample
  • Official transcripts of all educational degrees
  • Letters of recommendation
2

Emporia State University

Emporia, KS

Emporia State University (ESU) has one of the oldest schools of library sciences in the western half of the US. This public research university was founded in 1863. Now, it has more than 200 academic programs across four colleges.

PhD in Library and Information Management

The program consists of four advanced courses, four research courses, and four foundational courses in a concentration. It’s offered in three concentrations: Instructional Design and Technology, Information Systems, and Informatics. This doctorate program prepares students for higher education roles, such as researchers, instructors, and administrators.

PhD in Library and Information Management Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 86% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,467/semester (in-state), $7,425/semester (out-of-state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships, scholarships, fellowships

PhD in Library and Information Management Admission Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.25 in master’s degree
  • Minimum GRE score of 304
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • 200-300 word statement of purpose
  • Written work sample
3

Indiana University Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university. Founded in 1820, it’s the main campus of Indiana University and the largest of its seven campuses by enrollment. Over 43,000 students are enrolled in this school, making it the largest campus of Indiana University. Most of Indiana University Bloomington's programs are highly ranked nationwide.

PhD in Information Science

Indiana University Bloomington is one of the oldest information science doctoral programs in the nation. Areas of research include archives, critical information, library science, digital libraries, philosophy of information, and information ethics. The program has produced many notable alumni who have gone on to careers in academia and industry.

PhD in Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 80% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $7,092/semester (in-state), $20,967/semester (out-of-state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Teaching assistantships, scholarships

PhD in Information Science Admission Requirements

  • CGPA of 3.2 in bachelor’s degree and 3.5 or better in master’s degree
  • GRE scores
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Writing sample (may be a publication, a grant proposal, or a technical white paper)
4

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers University is known as a research powerhouse. This university has three campuses, 29 schools and colleges, and more than 300 research institutes throughout New Jersey. It offers more than 400 graduate programs and is home to nearly 69,000 students. The university was founded in 1766 and is one of the oldest and largest universities in New Jersey.

PhD Library and Information Science

Rutgers University is a world-renowned institution for PhD in Library and Information Science. The program faculty are at the forefront of knowledge in their fields, with numerous publications to their credit. The research areas in this PhD program include but are not limited to human information behavior, information retrieval, and information and technology.

PhD Library and Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 67% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $43,807/year (in state), $61,892/year (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Teaching assistantships, graduate assistantships, and fellowships, grant funding

PhD Library and Information Science Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s and master’s transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • CV
5

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA

San Jose State University (SJSU) is located at the center of Silicon Valley, making it a prime location for students interested in technology and innovation. The university is research-focused and is known for its world-class education. SJSU was founded in 1857 as a state normal school, and today has nine colleges and 36,000 enrollments.

Gateway PhD in Library and Information Management

SJSU's Gateway PhD in Library and Information Management is an international doctoral degree program that partners with Manchester Metropolitan University, England. It’s focused on research and prepares scholars for faculty and research positions. Students have the opportunity to get knowledge, supervision, and experience from the faculty of both universities.

Gateway PhD in Library and Information Management Overview

  • Program Length: 4-7 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 67% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $10,794/year
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: No funding opportunities

Gateway PhD in Library and Information Management Admission Requirements

  • Master's Degree in Communication, Information Science, Library Studies, Media Studies or another related academic or professional field
  • A minimum 3.5 GPA from a relevant master’s degree
  • Demonstrate research experience gained in master’s (master’s thesis or the research publication at master’s level)
  • 250-word statement of interest and a letter of recommendation
  • 500-word research proposal and a resume
  • Copies of transcripts of all previous degrees
6

Simmons University

Boston, MA

Simmons University is a private research university founded in 1899 focused on advancing education for women. With over 4,500 graduate students, it’s now a coeducational university offering more than 60 majors and programs. Simmons University is committed to providing students with opportunities for both on-site and off-site research.

PhD in Library and Information Science

Simmons University is one of the nation's leading institutions for library and information science. Its Library and Information Science program is ranked 11th in the country by US News & World Report. The program is focused on envisioning the library's function in academic communication, strategic priorities in academic libraries, and library technology management.

PhD in Library and Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 83% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,345/credit
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Teaching assistantships, scholarships, fellowships

PhD in Library and Information Science Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree
  • CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Character references (academic or professional)
  • Writing sample
  • Official transcript of previous education
  • GRE scores
7

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill is one of the oldest public research universities in the US. This school was chartered in 1789. It now offers over 160 graduate and doctoral degrees and is known for its high-quality and affordable education. It’s also ranked as the sixth most innovative university in the World by Reuters.

PhD in Information and Library Science

UNC at Chapel Hill offers an outstanding Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Science program. It provides students with opportunities in research, leadership, and teaching. Admission to the program is competitive. Scholars who complete the program have career opportunities in schools, corporate settings, and government libraries.

PhD in Information and Library Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 24% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $586/credit (in state), $1,602/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Financial aid, research and teaching assistantship, fellowships, external awards

PhD in Information and Library Science Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Unofficial transcripts of previous education
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
8

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

University of Pittsburgh is one of the most prestigious public universities in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1787, the university has grown to include four regional campuses, 16 schools and colleges, and 645 degree and certificate programs. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-one, the University provides its students with an intimate and interactive learning experience.

PhD in Library and Information Science

The Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Science program prepares scholars for careers in education, research, and professional practice. Students will learn about archives and information science, school librarianship, and web-based information systems. The program requires a minimum of 54 credits of coursework and 18 credits of research and dissertation.

PhD in Library and Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 64% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,031/credit (in-state), $1,767/credit (out-of-state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Scholarships, awards, fellowships, assistantships

PhD in Library and Information Science Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree accredited by American Library Association (ALA) in a related field
  • Minimum of 3.5 GPA
  • Essay
  • Letters of reference (academic or professional)
  • Official transcripts
  • Writing sample
  • Resume
9

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC

Founded in 1801, University of South Carolina (USC) has 13 graduate schools offering over 250 graduate programs. USC is an R1 institution designated by the Carnegie Research Classifications. It has 56 graduate programs ranked nationally. USC has over 6,000 graduate students and is committed to the diversity and inclusion of African-Americans.

PhD Library and Information Science

The PhD program is research-intensive and trains students for jobs as academics and administrators in research institutes and universities. Admission to this PhD program is competitive. This 54-credit curriculum covers a broad range of topics, so students may do research in a number of areas with the aid of this program.

PhD Library and Information Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 68% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $599/credit (in-state), $1,257/credit (out-of-state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Sponsorships, awards, grants

PhD Library and Information Science Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Essay
  • Official transcripts from previous colleges and universities
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
10

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI

Founded in 1848, University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the leading research institutions in the US. It’s among the top schools for research spending and has Nobel Prize winners among its faculty. It has 13 schools and colleges, including over 160 master's and doctoral programs, and about 9,700 graduate students.

PhD in Library and Information Studies

The program is highly writing-intensive, with all students required to complete a comprehensive dissertation prior to graduation. Classes in this PhD degree program are small, with only a handful of students admitted each year. The program offers two concentrations, which include information studies and print culture history. PhD students may get a five-year fully funded scholarship.

PhD in Library and Information Studies Overview

  • Program Length: 3-5 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 57% (overall school acceptance rate)
  • Tuition and Fees: $12,220/year (in-state), $25,548/year (out-of-state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Scholarships, assistantships, loans, research and travel grants, fellowships

PhD in Library and Information Studies Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree in a related field
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • GRE scores
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation

Can You Get a PhD in Library Science Online?

Yes, you can also get a PhD in Library Science online. Some universities offer online programs for Library Science degrees that are flexible and convenient for working professionals. Some of the best online PhDs in library science are given in the below table.

Best Online PhD Programs in Library Science

School Program Length
Florida State University Online PhD in Information Self-paced
University of Alabama Online PhD in Communication & Information Sciences Self-paced
University of Missouri Online PhD in Information Science & Learning Technologies 6 terms
University of Oklahoma Online PhD in Information Studies 10 years
University of Washington Online PhD in Information Science 5-6 years

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Library Science?

It typically takes three to five years to complete a PhD in Library Science. This time is spent on earning coursework credits, conducting research, and writing a dissertation. The first year is usually spent on coursework, while the rest is spent on your research, thesis, and final defense.

Is a PhD in Library Science Hard?

Yes, a PhD in Library Science is hard because you have to work independently most of the time. Plus, the burden of meeting deadlines is only on you. In fact, taking a PhD in any subject is challenging to complete, as it requires discipline, dedication, and hard work.

However, the rewards of obtaining a PhD are many. With a Doctorate in Library Science, you can pursue a career in library science in the academia or research fields. You’ll also be able to command a higher salary.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Library Science?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), it costs an average of $19,792 per year to get a PhD in Library Science. The average cost to get a PhD from a public university is $12,410 per year. In comparison, the average cost of getting a PhD from a private university is $26,597 per year, according to NCES.

How to Pay for a PhD in Library Science: PhD Funding Options

You can pay for a PhD in Library Science through student loans, scholarships, or fellowships. Some students also apply for grants from their schools, the government, or private organizations. Others may work as research assistants or teaching assistants to help pay for their education.

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What Is the Difference Between a Library Science Master’s Degree and a PhD?

The main difference between a Library Science Master’s Degree and a PhD is that a doctoral degree is more of a research degree, while a master’s degree is a professional degree. A PhD prepares students for careers in academia or research. A master’s degree prepares students for careers as librarians or information professionals.

Another difference between these two is the program length. A PhD in Library Science typically takes three to five years to complete. A Master’s Degree in Library Science can be completed in one and a half to two years.

Master’s vs PhD in Library Science Job Outlook

The job outlook for both Master’s and PhD Library Science graduates is positive from 2020 to 2030. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job projections for librarians with master’s degrees will grow by nine percent . On the other hand, the job growth forecast for those with PhD degrees is 12 percent .

Difference in Salary for Library Science Master’s vs PhD

The difference between the salaries of master’s and PhD holders is not significant. According to the BLS, the median salary for PhD degree holders is $1,909 per week. The median weekly salary for those with a master’s degree as their highest educational attainment is $1,574.

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Why You Should Get a PhD in Library Science

You should get a PhD in Library Science if you’re looking for a career in academia or research. With a PhD, you’ll be able to teach at the university level and conduct research. You’ll also have the opportunity to work in high-level positions in libraries or information organizations.

Reasons for Getting a PhD in Library Science

  • More job opportunities. With a PhD in Library Science, you’ll have access to more job opportunities than with a master’s degree. You’ll also be qualified for jobs that require higher levels of education and experience.
  • Higher salary. If you have a PhD in Library Science, you can pursue higher-level positions and command a greater salary. Having a PhD will give you an edge in the job market and help you land the job of your dreams.
  • Research contribution. A Doctorate in Library Science gives you the opportunity to conduct research and investigate different library practices. You can contribute to the knowledge base in the field. Your research can be used to inform policy decisions and help shape the future of libraries.
  • High expertise. A PhD in Library Science makes you an expert in your field. You’ll be able to offer leadership and direction to library services. You’ll conduct research, manage projects, and help people find the information they need.

Getting a PhD in Library Science: Library Science PhD Coursework

A doctoral student reading a book in a library
Library science students learn about the latest technologies and trends in library management.

The coursework for a library science PhD program covers a broad range of topics including archival arrangement, information retrieval, and organization of knowledge. Students also learn about information technology and research in library and information science. Below are brief descriptions of each course.

Archival Arrangement

In this course, students will learn about the principles of archival arrangement. They will learn about different archival theories and practices, such as provenance and original order. They will also learn about how to arrange digital archives.

Organization of Knowledge

In this course, students will learn about different models of organizing knowledge, such as the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress Classification system. They will also learn about how knowledge is organized in digital environments.

Information Retrieval

This course covers different aspects of information retrieval, such as search engines and information literacy. Students will learn about different information retrieval systems, such as Boolean searches. They will also learn about how to evaluate and select information sources.

Information Technology

This course covers different aspects of information technology, such as hardware and software. Students will learn about different types of information technology, such as databases and digital libraries. They will also understand how to manage information technology projects in relation to library science.

Research in Library and Information Science

This course covers research methods and design in library and information science. Students will learn about different research approaches , such as qualitative and quantitative research. They will also learn how to develop research proposals and conduct literature reviews.

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How to Get a PhD in Library Science: Doctoral Program Requirements

The requirements to get a PhD in Library Science include a comprehensive exam, coursework credits, teaching practicum, dissertation process, and final thesis defense. It also requires getting taking a research methodology course and maintaining a required GPA.

1

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam is a written and oral examination that tests your knowledge of library science. You’ll be expected to answer questions about library theory, research methods, and information technology.

2

Coursework Credits

You’ll need to complete a certain number of credit hours to graduate with a PhD in Library Science. The required coursework credits vary by school, but most programs require between 36 and 60 credit hours.

3

Research Methodology

Most PhD in Library Science programs require a research methodology course. This course will teach you about different research methods. You’ll learn about how to design research studies, collect data, and analyze data.

4

Teaching Practicum

Many PhD programs in Library Science require a teaching practicum. This is an opportunity for you to gain experience teaching library science courses. You’ll be required to teach one or two classes during your practicum.

5

Required GPA

To graduate with your PhD in Library Science, you’ll need to maintain a certain GPA. The required GPA varies by school, but most programs require a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

6

Thesis

A thesis is required for a PhD in Library Science. Your thesis will be a research project that you complete during your time in the doctoral program. You’ll need to choose a topic, conduct research, and write a dissertation.

7

Final Thesis Defense

After you complete your thesis, you’ll need to defend it before a panel of faculty members and students. During your defense, you’ll be asked questions about your research. You’ll need to convince the panel that your research is valid and that your conclusions are sound.

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PhD in Library Science Salary and Job Outlook

PhD in Library Science salary and job outlook are good. With a PhD, you can become a postsecondary teacher, librarian, archivist, or library media specialist. The job outlook for these positions ranges from eight to 19 percent, which is as fast or faster than the outlook of other occupations. The demand for qualified librarians is expected to grow in the coming years.

What Can You Do With a PhD in Library Science?

There are many different types of jobs that you can get with a PhD in Library Science, including digital librarianship, archive manager, and information scientist. You can also be a postsecondary teacher and database administrator.

Best Jobs with a PhD in Library Science

  • Computer and Information System Manager
  • Database Administrator
  • Librarian and Library Media Specialist
  • Library Science Postsecondary Teacher
  • Archivist

What Is the Average Salary for a PhD in Library Science?

The average salary for a PhD in Library and Information Science is $55,000 per year, according to PayScale. However, the average annual salary for a PhD degree holder in any subject is $100,000. Ultimately, the salary of a library science PhD holder depends on the school they graduated from, the position they assume, and the experience they have, as seen in the table below.

Highest-Paying Library Science Jobs for PhD Grads

Library Science PhD Jobs Average Salary
Computer and Information System Manager $165,940
Database Administrator $98,860
Library Science Postsecondary Teacher $77,100
Librarian and Library Media Specialist $62,550
Archivist $50,120

Best Library Science Jobs with a Doctorate

The best library science jobs with a doctoral degree are those that are in high demand, have a positive job outlook, and offer a good salary. Some of the best jobs for library science PhDs are discussed below.

1

Computer and Information System Manager

PhD Salary: $165,940

A computer and information system manager is responsible for the overall planning, implementation, and maintenance of an organization's electronic data and information systems. They are also in charge of the security of an organization's electronic data.

2

Database Administrator

PhD Salary: $98,860

Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data. They make sure that users can access the information easily. DBAs develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure the database is used effectively. They also maintain and update the databases.

3

Library Science Postsecondary Teacher

PhD Salary: $77,100

Library science postsecondary teachers teach courses in library science in universities. They prepare and deliver lectures, create syllabi, and assess student learning. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers.

4

Librarian and Library Media Specialist

PhD Salary: $62,550

Librarians and library media specialists are responsible for library administration, including acquisition, cataloging, and circulation of library materials. They also provide reference materials and research services to library patrons. They may also develop and implement library programs.

5

Archivist

PhD Salary: $50,120

Archivists preserve historical records. They organize and store records, documents, and artifacts. Archivists also provide reference services to library visitors. They also protect the old records by making digital copies of them.

Is a PhD in Library Science Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Library Science is worth it. With a PhD, you’ll be able to work as a professor and researcher. You can also become a librarian, archivist, information officer, or library media specialist. If you’re interested in research, a PhD in Library Science will give you the skills you need to conduct research and write scholarly papers. Overall, a PhD in Library Science is a good investment.

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PhD in Library Science FAQ

What is the salary range of library science jobs?

Based on our list, the salary for library science professions ranges from $50,120 to $165,000 per year. This pay may vary depending on the role, tenure, and years of experience.

Is a Postdoc in Library Science worth it?

Yes, a Postdoc in Library Science can be worth it if you’re a knowledge-seeker and you want to further pursue your career in research and academia. A postdoc may give you an edge in getting a promotion in academia. If you’re a librarian, archivist, information specialist, or in any library science field other than academia, you’re not required to get a postdoc.

What are the four types of libraries?

The four types of libraries are public libraries, academic libraries, school libraries, and special libraries. Public libraries serve the general public. Academic libraries serve the students and faculty of colleges and universities. School libraries serve the students and faculty of K-12 schools. Special libraries serve specific organizations or groups of people.

Is library science in demand?

Yes, library science is in demand, with the job outlook for library science professions ranging from eight to 19 percent. There is a growing need for qualified librarians and library media specialists. This is due to the increasing use of libraries and the increasing amount of information that needs to be organized and accessed.

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Muhammad Junaid Khalid

About the author: Junaid is an experienced content writer who studied blogging and SEO content for seven years. He has earned certifications for WordPress, Digital Marketing, and SEMrush. He also runs his own tech blog that focuses on troubleshooting guides and product reviews. Junaid holds a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering and MS in Environmental Engineering, and he worked as a visiting lecturer at an engineering university.

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