Proposal: Library & Information Science

You'd have almost been better off merging Libraries with Books.

LIS deals more with the theory of how information is organized. Now, an MLS (Master of Library Science) is a required degree to work in most libraries, but when you call something LIS, you tend to be talking more about the theoretical things (how to catalog a book), rather than the practical stuff (how to deal with unruly patrons)

When I think 'LIS', I think about organizations like the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), not the American Library Association or even the Special Libraries Association. And don't get me wrong, I'm an ASIS&T member, and I affiliate more closely with them than ALA (also a member), but it's a much smaller community.

LIS as a whole also touches on lots of stuff that's being covered by other stack exchange sites:

  • English Language and Usage (necessary for thesaurus development)
  • Linguistics (ditto)
  • User Experience (Human Computer Interface, Information Architecture, etc.)
  • Project Management (although others fields also touch on this, there's whole aspects of 'information ecosystems' and issues with information & knowledge sharing between people)
  • Database Administrators (data modeling)

And for the other proposed ones:

  • Blogging and the Blogosphere (well, mostly analyzing it)
  • eBooks and ebook Readers
  • Translation (specifically, automatic translation)
  • Culture Exchange (mostly analyzing cultural differences, language differences, how information is exchanged, used, hoarded, etc.)
  • Semantic Web
  • Artificial Intelligence and Robots (well, the AI side)
  • Business Analysis
  • Distributed Systems (social networks & distributed information)
  • Human Resources (knowledge / skills management)
  • Presentations (presenting / sharing information)
  • Building Social Networks


okay, I'm tired of looking through the list.

My point is -- hardly any of this would be considered on topic with the original 'Libraries' proposal, which is what people signed up to support, but a case could be made to put 'em in LIS. If you look at the top 5 questions to define this group:

  • Can someone explain the Dewey Decimal System in layman's terms?
  • What [teen,pre-teen,adult] programs do you run at your library? (and are they well attended?)
  • Can you name a book that portrays step-families in a positive light rather than the typical “wicked stepmother” and/or “abusive stepfather” tropes?
  • How do you get non-library trained people (e.g., school administrators) to trust in your weeding?
  • Our significant weeding project is overwhelming the Friends and recycling or free giveaways raise taxpayer ire. What to do with discarded books?

... only one (the DDC question) falls under LIS.

I guess I should just be happy that you didn't change it to 'iSchool' like so many LIS colleges have.

  • Interesting ... I complained back when it was called 'Library and Information Science' not 'Libraries and Information Science', yet the question was edited, and there's no markings as such.
    – Joe
    May 2, 2012 at 22:13
  • lolz, +1 for the title, +1 more if i can for the mind provoking discussion.
    – alvas
    Sep 23, 2013 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


Sure, it's not the same, but I think both subject areas you identified could coexist on the site. It's not uncommon for a site to go beyond focusing on just the academic aspect of things. For example, on Programmers we talk both about software design practices (that's our theory) and working with other developers (that's akin to what you referred to as "practical stuff").

The example questions identified on Area 51 are just rough initial guidelines. This site has been in the proposal stage for a long time. Questions that have been suggested early on may or may not still be applicable (and some wouldn't be good fits for any Stack Exchange site anyway). How the site actually turns out will be largely defined through the private and the public beta periods.

If parts of other sites touch on LIS as well, that's okay. Some of the proposed sites you list may or may not even get into beta depending on how much they overlap with this one (if it goes into beta first). For the already existing sites, I think having a single site that could attract LIS experts would only be an improvement.

All in all, I think it's too early to say that this proposal has taken a turn for the worse or is unworkable.

P.S. Writers is another good example of a site that combines different kinds of topics: they accept questions about writing practices, MLA-style citations, and the publishing/editing process.

  • And your experience in the field is? I ask because this is a field that includes linguistics, classification theory and thesaurus/ontology design. How you name things matters. And it doesn't matter if something looks to be similar to someone on the outside -- these are two distinct communities which for the most part do not mix. Writers, publishers and editors do. The only reason I'm involved in both fields is because I volunteer with my local Friends of the Library chapter ... it has nothing to do with my day job.
    – Joe
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:29
  • And even within the 'LIS' field, we've been having issues at ASIS&T meetings these last few years as the way they've changed the submission process for papers means that there's more academic/theoretical stuff and less in the way of practical application. (and that's not even standard library practical application). The community has fragmented as the more practical IA/UX community has split off to run their own meeting. I'd compare this more like trying to start a group for programmers, but then renaming it to 'sysadmins'.
    – Joe
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:41

'Libraries' and 'Library & Information Science' are surely not the same entities. I won't say much about the differences between them, as already the above discussions are agreeable. I just would like to add that a formal education in LIS would help a person to better understand the libraries, information centers and data centers as to how they work and in what better ways the IT and ICT tools can be utilized.

Thank you.

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