1. Revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies

February 12, 2015 update:

The ALA Council approved for adoption the 2015 Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies on February 2 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

Brought forward into the new Standards with greater clarity is the emphasis on planning, assessment, and evaluation to sustain quality. The requirement to demonstrate how the results of evaluation are applied is now a culminating aspect of each of the standards.

The five-plus-year review process included three drafts issued for comment. The final, approved version of the Standards reflects suggestions from all sectors of the profession, including, most notably, employers of library and information studies program graduates, library and information studies program faculty and students, the ALA Council and Executive Board, and affiliated associations.

Implementation of the 2015 Standards begins immediately for programs with comprehensive review visits in spring 2017 and later. Programs currently in the comprehensive review cycle will continue to report to the 2008 Standards until after the accreditation decision is made.

January 23, 2015 update:
The Committee on Accreditation (COA) has approved the revision of the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. The COA will present this revision to the ALA Council for adoption at Council II on Monday, February 2, 2015, 10:00am, MCP-W375e/skyline.

October 25, 2014 update:
The comment collection period has ended. The ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA) will consider comments received as it prepares the final revision of the Standards. The COA will present the final revision to the ALA Council for adoption at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

August 1, 2014 update:
The ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA) has released a third draft revision of the 2008 Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies for comment through October 24, 2014. The draft provides further clarification and incorporates many of the suggestions received on the prior drafts, released May 14, 2014 and December 6, 2013. The draft is the result of more than five years of review involving research, analysis, and discussion among COA members and stakeholders virtually and face-to-face.

The 2013-14 COA Chair, Barbara Moran (Wilson Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and the 2014-15 COA Chair, Mary Stansbury (Associate Professor and Chair, University of Denver) met with the ALA Executive Board at the ALA 2014 Annual Meeting and received the recommendation to release a third draft for comment, given the time available before the fall 2014 COA fall meeting in November. At the fall meeting, the COA will consider any additional comments and prepare a version for ALA Council review for adoption at the ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting. That version will be available here, beginning Dec 5, 2014.

Comments on the third draft can be made directly on this page. In order to comment, enter a user name and email address in the Leave a Comment section (at the very bottom of this page). You are not required to enter any information in the website field. Your email address will not be visible to others viewing the blog, but your user name will. If you wish to remain anonymous, choose your user name accordingly. To prevent spam from appearing on the site, all comments must first be approved by the site administrator. There may be a lag time before your comment appears on the site. Comments may also be made by email to by email to accred (at) ala.org.



May 14, 2014 update:
The second draft of the revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Science, based on comment received since December 2013, is now available for review and final comment through October 24, 2014. Interested constituents are also invited to meet with the Committee on Accreditation to provide comment on the second draft revision at the ALA Annual Conference at 4:30pm on Sunday, June 29, 2014, in room N218 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

In this second draft, a new approach to the Standards will be immediately apparent by the changes to the structure. The Introduction is now presented in sections that explain purposes and scope, terminology, approach, and the philosophy of program review. Systematic planning has been placed front and center as Standard I; and the final standard, VI: Assessment and Evaluation, provides for program-level synthesis. This draft is a culmination of efforts for more than five years involving research and gathering of input and feedback.

At its fall meeting in November 2014, the Committee will take comments on the second draft into consideration as it prepares the final version for ALA Council review for adoption at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Comments received related to Accreditation Process, Policies, and Procedures (AP3) are under consideration separately.



December 11, 2013:
Throughout the standards-development process, the COA seeks, receives, and uses comments and suggestions from the communities of interest in both the United States and Canada. We welcome and encourage you to comment on the second DRAFT Standards.

The COA held a virtual town hall webinar on the first DRAFT revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies on February 20, 2014. You may view the recording here: http://ala.adobeconnect.com/p7rd84ts16n/.

Comments on the second draft can be made directly on this page. In order to comment, enter a user name and email address in the Leave a Comment section. You are not required to enter any information in the website field. Your email address will not be visible to others viewing the blog, but your user name will. If you wish to remain anonymous, choose your user name accordingly. To prevent spam from appearing on the site, all comments must first be approved by the site administrator. There may be a lag time before your comment appears on the site. Comments may also be made by email to by email to accred (at) ala.org.

The Committee on Accreditation will review commentary on the second draft at its fall 2014 meeting with the intent to bring a new version of the Standards to the ALA Council in 2015. Implementation of the new Standards by programs would begin with biennial narrative reports due in 2016 and with comprehensive reviews that have a site visit in 2018.


The comment collection period ended October 24, 2014. Thank you for your interest.


#1 Mandi on 05.08.14 at 1:46 pm

It seems kind of weird, but after graduating from library school I found that I hadn’t actually done very much rigorous research in a library. Perhaps LIS programs should have some kind of research requirement (maybe not a thesis, but something similar) that includes the help and guidance of an adviser.
I also felt really lost and confused as a new tenure-track librarian when it came to publishing the results of data collection (i.e. survey results, interview/focus group results). A little practice in this area in library school would go a long way. While I definitely agree instruction should be more emphasized in LIS education, publication is another aspect of earning tenure that can be very challenging without any training.

#2 Jean on 05.27.14 at 5:29 pm

I would agree that some required coursework on pedagogy, instructional design principles, group facilitation and public speaking would be all useful.

I graduated from my MLS program in early 1980’s. I have worked as a special librarian and later as a manager for first 25 yrs. for various employers. Now am completely immersed in only in electronic world and information management that excludes libraries. My current job is over 65% on business process analysis and change management with highly diverse client groups within govn’t.

I don’t agree that graduates must have / preferably worked in a library anymore. That’s too stuck in the past library paradigm. Our core formal trained skills are much more than this narrow requirement. Instead, graduates with work experience or coursework on marketing/outreach program/event planning/training for multiple client and stakeholder groups in any industry; business process analysis for any industry, project management and change management, would be all great work experience in addition to web design, social media planning and engagement. Even call centre experience would be great.

The courses that have served me best after graduation have been: management (I took several –general, academic and special libraries), systems analysis, statistical methods (my current job includes performance metrics for technical drawings review and geospatial information services –nothing to do with searching for info. But everything to do with improving information systems design, capture, statistical analysis reporting and client engagement.

Like other professions, there is often a big gap between academic world and practicing professionals.

Keep the program at a master’s level. One of the strengths of experienced librarians is their capacity to think broadly in a multi-disciplinary way, yet plumb dive deeply and suddenly….to find critical information in ways the client never considered. Our jobs demand exposure to multiple subject areas and understand the language, cultures of various disciplines embedded in the content we handle.

#3 Jennifer on 06.04.14 at 9:21 am

Posting again to agree with Mandi’s comment — I think research experiences are an important, and often lacking, part of a librarian’s education. This is true not just for the purpose of being able to produce publications, as Mandi notes, but also because it is preposterous that library schools are churning out librarians who may very well have no research skills of their own.

I’ve seen a fair amount written about students who make it through high school and college without ever being taught information literacy skills, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that this happens and that some of these students eventually show up at library schools — yet, my program never really addressed this except by assigning research papers (which don’t always teach the skills needed). We had students approaching graduation, preparing for comps, who hadn’t the faintest idea how to use a library database, how to evaluate sources properly, etc.

Some schools now look for certain levels of information literacy skills in their undergraduates. I would propose that library school graduates should be held to similar standards. Many of these students, despite their intended career paths, might very well end up having to instruct others in information literacy skills that they themselves lack. Unfortunately, it isn’t safe to assume that students have learned these skills beforehand, and while students need to take a certain amount of self-responsibility, this seems too crucial to too many LIS career paths to just let it go.

#4 LIBRES blog » Blog Archive » ALA Standards draft revision for comment on 06.27.14 at 1:52 am

[…] Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies available at http://www.oa.ala.org/accreditation/?page_id=326. Comments may be provided in a number of ways, including · Standards Review site at […]

#5 GPS on 07.23.14 at 8:39 am

At my inst of higher ed the need for Libraries and the need for Librarians with the Master’s degree is being called seriously into question. My institution is taking this view: Libraries as such have no accrediting body that oversees them, dictating “a certain number of librarians” should be maintained. Never mind the fact that Programs and fields of study have Library requirements, that are increasingly open to interpretation.

This is currently converted to mean, at my institution – no need for Librarians and Libraries. As compared to, for instance the CRLA (College Reading and Learning Assoc) which accredits tutoring operations on college campuses.

Some great comments here – I don’t know if ALA has the will or support to change, however.

#6 Fred Stoss on 08.04.14 at 12:19 pm

Required courses in teaching/pedagogy with increased attention given to library instruction/information literacy requirements and outcomes librarians today need formal instruction in how to be effective teachers/educators

Research–RIGOROUS–research in basic math and statistics for future use in quantifying budgets, collections, time(s), and other metrics (citation statistics, use stats, bibliometrics learn about Bradford’s Law, etc.; something more than “my educated guess.”

Presentation Skills: PowerPoint/Keynote–how to make effective slides and graphics; Posters–it is an art to make an effective poster, and that art does not mean using colored push-pins to plop enlarged sheets of your paper to poster board, it is that old axiom: K.I.S.S., Keep It Short, and Simple;

Writing: writing assignments should be progressively drawn toward the format, style and quality of the published, professional article_S_ for scholarly and trade journals, public relations pieces (write your PR piece for that in-class presentation you have to do), oral presentations for scholarly and non-scholarly communication (especially for addressing non-librarian bodies, such as funding agencies, legislative offices at all levels

Some level of interactions between adjunct faculty and other full- or part-time faculty, not necessarily of a strict supervisory role, but some level of mentoring; better training of adjuncts–who are EXTREMELY needed for teaching subject-related skills and growing needs in those information literacy/assessment/ outcome arenas.

In a lot and maybe a growing number of states, the subject-related Masters degree is required for permanent teaching certification, so the necessity of that MLS ALA-accredited degree is or may not be an option, however, in meeting the requirements for such a graduate level degree, graduate-level challenges must be demonstrated for testing and quantifying students’ abilities to meet rigorous academic standards.

It would be really, really, really nice to see some management-oriented class instruction for librarians seeking those position at some future point in time. What ever happened to those three or four Congresses on Professional Education that was ALA’s “Guiding Light” into the New Millennium? I remember attending #2 and #3 and then every GREAT idea was allowed to slip a way. Were there any final outcomes? I recall a lot of library school programs thought this would be a huge opportunity for them.

I’ll end here…

#7 Angela on 08.23.14 at 8:36 am

I agree with much of what others have said, particularly the need for more practical coursework and requirements for an internship or practicum. What is missing from the standards, and what is sorely needed in library school curriculum, is training in cultural competence and cross-cultural communication.

#8 Gail on 09.02.14 at 5:43 pm

MLS Students that are seeking teaching certification to work as school librarians need to have direct experience with classroom management. This is especially important for those librarians who were not formerly teachers prior to their MLS program. Prospective teaching librarians in K-12 schools need a formal internship experience that demonstrates ability to manage the classroom as well as to be able to effectively co-teach with content area teachers.

#9 Aline Soules on 10.20.14 at 11:52 am

My concern is that the standards, while lofty, are still not connected to the daily life of a librarian. For example, II.2.1 says “Fosters development of library and information professionals who will assume a leadership role in providing services and collections appropriate for the communities that are served.” I think that’s a great goal; however, it must be tempered with a number of other factors, such as these: 1. most of us do our own staff work, secretarial work, etc. and less of our lives are spent on “leadership”; 2. providing services and collections often means mundane activities such as fixing printers, dealing with other technology issues, and not professional work; 3. most of us are in medium to large organizations where “leadership,” true “leadership” is not possible. We are bound by many strictures–the organization and organizational politics. This means we don’t make decisions the way we should; we wait for others to do so for us (unless we rebel, which has always been my challenge).

Further, the curriculum description is necessarily general. As someone who has dealt with library school students who are taking or have taken their degrees in a number of our accredited schools, I can assure you that they are not prepared. These guidelines will not change that.

#10 Mike Marlin on 10.24.14 at 2:44 pm

Full disclosure: I am currently a visually impaired librarian working for a regional library in the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped network but once was a sighted librarian working in public and academic libraries. For decades those of us working with special populations have been continually surprised about the lack of knowledge concerning library services to people with disabilities among library practitioners. The concept of Universal Design” does not appear to catch more than lip service in LIS education, yet leveling the playing field is a concept bandied about throughout the Library Bill of Rights and all its interpretations. . With the stress on teaching and lauding emerging technology in libraries, and one of the huge accomplishments of our technological boom being access to information through assistive technology and adaptive hardware, I would really like to see a very strong recommendation for fundamental concepts of accessibility within Section 2 on Curriculum. In particular, I would amend 2.2.4 to read: [The Curriculum] Responds to the needs of a diverse and global society, including the needs of underserved and marginalized groups, and provides fundamental theory and practice for provision of library services to people with disabilities.

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