School of Information Sciences - Library and Information Science Program

Resources & Services: Reference

Fall Term of Entry only.

Reference services are central to the mission of contemporary libraries. Identifying and retrieving highly relevant information is critical to the productivity of individuals and organizations. The task is made difficult because the information environment is so large and so complex. The knowledge and skills needed to be successful in providing reference services have always been formidable; now, reference librarians must take into consideration  technological advancements (such as the Internet and the World Wide Web), the exponential growth in the volume of available material, and the increasing diversity of the library’s clientele.  Reference work is arguably the most demanding and rewarding of librarianship’s specializations.

According to ALA’s Reference and User Services Association, reference staff “recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs.”  The Reference area of interest here at the iSchool will provide students with working knowledge of a wide array of reference sources and services in areas such as government documents, social sciences, science and technology, law, health, and humanities. This course of study will enable you to analyze users’ needs to determine what information is appropriate; to make useful judgments about the relevance, trustworthiness, and quality of sources; and to assess methods for delivering the desired information. Reference librarians are sought after by public, academic and special libraries.  Students will take the four required courses in the MLIS degree program.

Recent iSchool graduates have found reference library positions with:

CORE courses

Prescribed courses (12 credits)

Electives (12 credits)

Some suggested electives include (but not limited to):


To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the Projected Course Offerings.

Click here for the current plan of study.


Elizabeth Mahoney, Lecturer


For more information about this area of interest, please contact our Student Recruitment Coordinator at or 412-624-3988. 

Strong Foundation

The blend of theory and application at the iSchool distinguishes its graduates in the job market, giving them a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical experience.