Libraries exist to provide access to recorded information and knowledge in all of its formats. To accomplish this mission, librarians acquire materials—including books, audio and visual recordings, digital resources, and periodicals—hand organize them for ease of access. They educate library users in strategies for finding needed information. Librarians encourage reading for pleasure, education, information, and inspiration; and they facilitate the creation of communities of readers. Librarians are strong advocates for all people's right to read and to inform themselves. A library can serve as an intellectual commons for a particular community, enabling people to come together around areas of mutual interest. In fact, libraries serve as the focal points for communities of many kinds—imagined communities as well as ones that are geographically determined (national, state and public library service areas) or institutionally based (in school, academic and corporate settings).
The library studies specialization at UCLA stresses the development of leaders for the profession and a commitment to the core values of the profession as articulated by the American Library Association:
- Education and Lifelong Learning
- Intellectual Freedom
- The Public Good
- Social Responsibility
In addition to learning about values and ethics, this specialization also enables students to gain the competencies recommended by other professional associations, such as the Special Libraries Association and the California Library Association, and to begin to engage in activities of professional associations, emphasizing regional, ethnic, national and other concerns. UCLA supports strong student chapters of the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association, and has its own Activist Librarians and Educators group and Diversity Recruitment and Mentoring Committee.
Within the library studies specialization, students learn the functional activities associated with the profession 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. When they graduate they will have the basic professional skills expected of all beginning librarians as well as an understanding of the dynamic nature of the field and the challenges and opportunities it presents.