USC Libraries and the Marshall School of Business will launch a new online master’s degree of management in library and information science in May, making it one of the first programs in librarianship in the United States that is affiliated with a major business school.
According to Ken Haycock, research professor of management and organization at USC Marshall School of Business, the degree was launched after USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan approached James Ellis, the dean of Marshall to address the lack of leaders within the academy. Haycock was named the director of the graduate program.
“[Quinlan] wanted more people to exercise leadership within the academy,” Haycock said. “She was concerned that a program to create leaders for the libraries was not available and so she felt that the way the program would be configured would be with an emphasis in business, and that’s where the Marshall School of Business came in.”
The program aims to teach students the skills for effective information management. Haycock believes that skill will add value to any community.
“We are really looking to make students understand the whole life cycle of information and how it’s shared within the community,” Haycock said. “We think that our graduates will very much be able to add value in terms of information management.”
Admission for the program will be similar to most master’s programs, except there will be no GRE requirement.
Though the initial idea for the program was prompted by the need to produce more librarian leaders, Haycock emphasized that the program teaches skills that are useful outside the library, allowing graduates of the program to pursue careers in a variety areas.
“A good number of our graduates will want to work in the corporate setting, both for-profit and non-profit, so we know that our graduates’ careers will be much varied and quite interesting,” Haycock said. “They will be everything from family literacy coordinators to digital assets managers as well as library managers.”
Haycock said the interdisciplinary skills will serve them well in the future and also in other courses at the university.
“Students will have the ability to take a ‘user-centered’ approach to information management through team-based problem solving,” Haycock said. “They are going to gain a very strong knowledge of how information is generated, how it is evaluated and acquired, and how to package information for people so that it they can make good decisions. Our goal is to improve the quality of experiences that people have in the communities where they live and work.”
Students were generally positive about the introduction of the program. Kirubiel Ayele, a junior majoring in economics, considers the program to reflect the importance of information while bringing librarianship into the limelight.
“The program looks interesting. The power of information is vital,” he said. “This would also make librarianship more mainstream.”
Aydin Celebi, a sophomore majoring in industrial and systems engineering, is in favor of the program so long as it helps bring about change to the current system.
“I must admit at first I was skeptical about the idea. Still, when you look at the current system, there is massive room for change,” he said. “Even at USC, how many different searches do you have to do to get an academic journal? How hard is it to download an e-book version of a text? If this program helps push library managers to embrace the cloud and other technological advancements, then I’m all for this program.”