MLIS Areas of Specialization

The MLIS program’s specializations give students the opportunity to design programs of study tailored to specific career objectives. Independently of their choice of specialization, students can pursue their interests in any type of information-related activity, institution, medium, service, system, etc. Five specializations have been approved:


Archival Studies. Courses in this area explore the full spectrum of archival materials (e.g., paper and electronic records, manuscripts, still and moving images, oral history); the theory that underlies recordkeeping, archival policy development, and memory-making; and the historical roles that recordkeeping, archives, and documentary evidence play in a pluralized and increasingly global society. In addition to covering traditional archives and manuscripts theory and practice, this area of specialization addresses the dramatic expansion of the archival field. Advanced seminars and an outstanding array of internship opportunities prepare students to play leadership roles in archives and manuscripts administration, records management, archival education and training, preservation, digital curatorship, recordkeeping policy development, archival systems design, electronic records management, and digital asset management.


Informatics. The field of informatics is premised on the observation that successful integration of information services into society requires a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which information technologies function as vehicles of power and social action. Students who complete this specialization will be uniquely well equipped to design modern information services, including digital libraries, data repositories, metadata services, and search engines, in a wide variety of institutional contexts such as community archives, cultural heritage, e-commerce, electronic publishing, and government. Courses explore theories of information-seeking behavior and information use; user-centered approaches to information system design; human-computer interaction; database design and management; and information policy, including intellectual property, informational privacy, and internet governance.


Library Studies. Students selecting this specialization learn about the functional activities associated with the profession of librarianship, such as collection development, public services, cataloging and classification, service to children and young adults, and outreach to underserved populations. Students may also take classes that prepare them to work in a particular type of library, such as public, academic, or corporate. The specialization stresses the core values of the profession as articulated by the American Library Association: access; confidentiality and privacy; democracy; education and lifelong learning; intellectual freedom; preservation; the public good; professionalism; service; and social responsibility. When students graduate, not only will they have the basic professional skills expected of all beginning librarians, they will also have an understanding of the dynamic nature of the field that will enable them to develop as leaders for the profession.


Media Archival Studies. The Media Archival Studies (MAS) specialization focuses on the full range of historical, contemporary, and emergent media-making contexts and formats and the unique challenges they pose, from 19th-century optical devices through classical Hollywood cinema and the emerging sound, image, and video formats of today. Students in this specialization explore how theories and concepts of archival practice are most effectively applied to the particular needs and characteristics of all kinds of recorded media. This broad-based approach to media making, description, preservation and management encourages students to develop a highly adaptable professional skill set that allows them to keep pace in an environment of constant technological change. Classes and seminars are complemented with opportunities for practicum and internship experiences at world-class archives, major motion picture studios, and technical service providers in Los Angeles and beyond.


Rare Books / Print and Visual Culture. This specialization provides a foundation in the history of literacy technologies, from early writing and manuscript culture through print and digital format, and addresses contemporary challenges for thinking about digital scholarship and special collections. It engages in active discussion of the ways legacy collections meet diversity initiatives in expanding horizons for scholarship and research. Drawing on archival science, bibliography, digital humanities, and librarianship, courses explore the professional and historical aspects of activities in rare books, print history, and visual resources, including ongoing scholarship about the nature of literacy, cataloging and metadata, intellectual property, the politics of publishing and distribution, and the creation and use of digital and digitized special collections.