Kentucky Libary and Information Science Degree Programs

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Updated on May 14, 2024
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Kentucky is home to large cities with vibrant city life, plenty of hiking trails and camping opportunities, and charming small cities and towns with plenty of community events and things to see. One of these towns is Elizabethtown, which inspired the setting of the romantic comedy Elizabethtown. The state enjoys all four seasons, and its summers are fairly hot and humid, but less so than other southern states. The largest cities in Kentucky offer unique activities and sports. For example, Lexington is known for its horses and the Kentucky Horse Park. 

There are excellent higher education options in Kentucky. The best, according to the US News Report, is the University of Kentucky. This university happens to be the only university in the state to offer a Master of Library Science through a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). ALA is an organization that has been around since before the 1900s, and they are still the most respected organization in library and information science. 

This article will walk through the programs in library and information science, how to apply, and what the qualifications are. Additionally, it will cover prospective librarian salaries and various career opportunities in Kentucky. The article also looks closely at Kentucky’s two largest cities and their opportunities for librarians and information specialists, as well as the process you must go through to become a librarian. 

ALA-Accredited Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) Programs in Kentucky

ALA, or the American Library Association, accredits master’s programs in library and information science that meet the information standards of modern society. They ensure the correct coursework is offered, that the faculty are qualified, and that technology is up to date. Kentucky offers one ALA-accredited program through the University of Kentucky. The university’s library science program has held accreditation since 1940. 

Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Kentucky

This program is offered fully online and is a 36-credit hour degree. It has an overall high ranking by U.S. News Report and the areas of concentration in youth services, library media, health librarianship, and health librarianship are highly ranked individually as well. The program can be done on the student’s schedule and can be taken part-time or full-time. Full-time students can be on the expedited track and finish the program in less than two years. The program also offers internship opportunities at the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, or other institutions in Washington, D.C. Additionally, students can study abroad for some credit hours during their master’s program.

The coursework includes introductory courses in information management, knowledge organization, information technology, data science, information systems design, and social media for information organizations. Additionally, the program includes the option to earn a certification in school librarianship for those who are looking into work in the Kentucky public school system. However, students must have a teaching certificate before earning the school media certificate. Students can also earn a certification in library science if they are earning a master’s degree in a liberal arts program.  

How to apply 

To qualify for the program, applicants need a 3.0 GPA or higher and an undergraduate degree from an accredited university. Applicants will need to fill out the online application and pay the processing fee. Three letters of recommendation are required and will be submitted in the application. Applicants also need to send in transcripts, an up-to-date resume, and a personal statement about their education and career goals and how this degree will help in the journey. 

How to Become a Librarian in Kentucky

To become a paraprofessional librarian in the public library system, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Paraprofessionals also need library experience or credit hours from a college or university in library science or human resources. The more experience and education a paraprofessional has, the higher the level of paraprofessional they are and what jobs they can have. 

Professional librarians in public libraries and most academic libraries need an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program. Librarians will need years of experience to move into management positions, and they will need management experience to move into administration. Many institutions want library directors and professors to hold a Ph.D. in library and information science. 

School librarians in Kentucky must have a teacher’s certificate, experience in the classroom, and a certificate for library media. The University of Kentucky offers a school library media certification track with the MLIS degree they offer. Typically, school librarians also have a master’s degree in library science. 

What Else Can You Do with a Library Science Degree in Kentucky?

One of the best and largest employers in Kentucky is Humana. They are on the Fortune 500 list and they are the fourth largest health insurance provider in the U.S. One position many graduates with a master’s in library and information science are qualified for is that of interface designer. They work with the company’s online presence and help with technical issues and information technology. They work with web design, graphic design, content, and infrastructure creation and management, and they may create software and provide other technical help. Other positions for information specialists include clinical informatics specialist, strategy advancement advisor, analyst, quality reporting engineer, and cloud solutions engineer. 

Kentucky has a rich history as well, and there are positions for those in research and archives with the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. They manage the state archives, and digital archives, and keep the reference room open to the public. Anyone can view the online archives and can come to the Archives Research Room to view public records and any information involving the state archives.  

Lexington Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

The University of Kentucky is the largest employer in Lexington, Kentucky, and they are also the only university that offers a master’s of library science in the state that is accredited by the American Library Association. The university has seven libraries and collections on campus, and they offer a myriad of services for students, faculty, staff, and the community. The William T. Young Library attracts students and faculty with technology and computer labs, reference question services, study rooms, and meeting spaces. Located in their lobby is the largest Starbucks in Kentucky. 

The Lexington Public Library also offers plenty of foot traffic and librarian positions. They have six library branches and two learning spaces. They have a large children’s and teen department that provides daily activities, services, spaces, and programs specific to each age group, as well as services and programs geared toward all ages. They also have art galleries, special collections, and various exhibits maintained by the library. 

Louisville Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

The Louisville Free Public Library is the largest public library system in Kentucky. This system is made up of 17 library branch locations, and within the system, they have 316,000 registered library users and countless other visitors. The library system employs over 330 staff members, and they work in various departments, including teen services, children’s services, administration, reference and genealogy, circulation, and more. They offer services and resources for parents, teachers, entrepreneurs, children, teens, young adults, and the disabled. Some of their services and programs include book clubs, storytimes, technology assistance, and various outreach services. 

The University of Louisville is the largest university in the city, and it has seven libraries and collections, including the Law Library, Music Library, Ekstrom West, and Ekstrom East. They also manage a vast collection of archives and rare books. The librarians serve the students and faculty in each department and offer services and resources to the community and staff. Some services include study space, meeting rooms, computer labs, online resources, print resources, and research assistance. 

Frankfort Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

Frankfort is the capitol city of Kentucky, and it is where the headquarters are for the Kentucky Historical Society. Frankfort is also where residents and visitors can enjoy the Old State Capital Experience, visit the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, and visit the Kentucky Military History Museum. The historical society stays busy and staffs over 40 positions, including researchers, archivists, curators, youth services program coordinators, marketing coordinators, museum program coordinators, editorial specialists, collections developers, digital archivists, and librarians. 

Frankfort also has a thriving public library called the Paul Sawyier Public Library, named after the painter. They even have a display of some of his original paintings. They also have large children’s and teen departments, and they offer state-of-the-art interactive displays in the children’s department. They also have technology services, meeting rooms, study rooms, outreach services, basic technology assistance, career resources, and so much more. They also offer a library of things where visitors and residents can check out crafting supplies, instruments, games, and technology. 

Salary Opportunities in Kentucky for Librarians

Kentucky has around 2,000 librarian positions, and the majority of these positions are in Lexington, Louisville, and other cities and large towns. Librarians make a mean wage of $60,740 annually. This is higher than most other surrounding states. Starting pay is around $38,000, and positions in administration can make just over $80,000 a year. 

Additional Links

To learn more about Kentucky’s public libraries, visit Kentucky Public Library Association’s website

To learn more about librarianship and its standards, visit

To learn more about Kentucky’s research libraries and career opportunities visit

Library Science Degree Programs in Other States