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

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.

25 comments ↓

#1 Lizzie B on 12.13.13 at 1:40 pm

As someone who has worked in academic libraries as a middle manager for 12 years and someone who is currently getting my MLS, I will say this.. Library school SHOULD elevate a student’s knowledge and capabilities past what a very good paraprofessional learns on the job. The vast majority of LSISs do not. Too many library professors have been so removed from the day to day workings of a library that all they can offer is antiquated theories which rarely are reality in a library. But since accreditation requires more full time professors and less working ones, library schools will remain stuck in the past.

“Theory over practice,” that idea was fine when the main practice was learning (on the job) print resources, like indexes and other print-only resources which are redundant now. Principles, theory, and values could be interwoven into the curriculum but should NOT be the sole focus. It used to be that those things were all that could be taught besides cataloging and basic reference skills because most skill needed to be taught on the job due to individual libraries holdings. Times have radically changed since then. Now if you look at ALA JobList most jobs require (as a base) far more sophisticated experience than anyone will get in a library school. Seems to me LSISs are doing their students a disservice by not giving them REAL skills which will make them better library workers past what good paraprofessionals already know .

Classes on project management, accounting/budgeting, web design, marketing/fundraising/development, class design (since 80% of all academic librarians teach), and real classes on emerging trends- all that is seriously needed to make fantastic librarians who will contribute to our changing field. Unfortunately, accreditation standards place a higher emphasis on theory over practice.

Our profession is more sophisticated than the past. Our jobs are more technical and forward thinking but library school isn’t. If we continue to think about past practices, we will be left behind and be irrelevant in this ever changing technology-rich world we live in. All programs should be more forward thinking and less concerned about the past which will never come back.

If ALA doesn’t change standards then schools will not see the value of changing their programs- the bland status quo will remain and new librarians will not be equipped to handled the real world technology which they will face the second they try to find a job.

#2 Amy on 01.15.14 at 10:41 am

I am of the opinion that the library profession could learn quite a lot from the teaching and engineering professions. In both of those professions a masters degree is not required to be considered a professional worthy of a salaried position in their fields. Many teachers and engineers do choose to get masters degrees as well, because they may then command a higher salary and take on higher level positions, but it is not required just to get a foot in the door.

At present the library field, as a profession, is demanding masters degrees for entry level professional positions where the work involved simply does not require that level of education! Sure, if I want to be an academic librarian, or the head of a department, and especially a director of a library, I should get a masters degree. But I could easily do the job I am doing now with an undergraduate degree in library science and my work experience alone. Instead, the ALA is demanding that people go into debt to get a masters degree in a low-paying field, all so we can be considered “professionals”.

There is very little I gained in my grad school education, apart from letters to put after my name, a network of other librarians and $20,000 in student loan debt (on top of what I already owe for undergrad). If Library Journal’s statistics are correct, I can only hope to ever earn about 15% more than what I’m being paid now if I reach the highest levels of my chosen specialty. That’s a lot of money to have spent for very little reward – except that I LOVE what I do.

However, just because I love what I do, doesn’t mean that it should cost so much time and effort to do it. ALA should seriously consider accrediting BA LIS programs, not just masters programs. Keep the masters – but leave it for those who are especially ambitious or who actually need it to do the work in their chosen specialty. Not all of us do, and those who don’t also tend to get paid less, so we have a much lower reward to be earned from pursuing the MLIS degree.

It is possible to be a professional librarian, who takes librarianship seriously and has ambitions and experience valuable to the library community WITHOUT a masters degree in the field. Please, let’s consider that option!

#3 Emily on 02.04.14 at 10:29 am

I was shocked not to see anything about learning theory, pedagogies, teaching, or even public speaking under the Curriculum standard (specifically 2.2). As a librarian, an increasing part of our jobs involves instruction of some type and it’s vital for MLIS grads to receive some training in their curricula. I know this is an upward trend in academic libraries and imagine public and other types of librarians have a need for learning how to be effective teachers, even informally. Thankfully my institution (Pitt) had a course in instruction that was the most helpful of all my classes. I think we’d be doing future graduates a disservice to not include learning about instruction as a core part of the curriculum.

#4 Sharon McQueen on 02.04.14 at 7:30 pm

The ALA Executive Board passed by motion (January 24, 2009, Document 2008-2009 EBD#12.30), “That the ALA Executive Board supports the report of the Presidential Task Force on Library Education and refers recommendations 1-10 to the ALA Committee on Accreditation and requests a response by 2009 Annual Conference.” The 2009 Committee on Accreditation (COA) response to the Final Report of the Presidential Task Force on Library Education states, “The Task Force recommendations raise many important issues.” These many important issues have not been adequately addressed in the DRAFT revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies.

#5 Emma on 02.05.14 at 8:46 am

As an academic librarian, who came to the profession with a teaching background (taught in a classroom for over ten years), I am very confident in my skills to teach to one person or groups of people on the services that the library provides. But, from what I see in many new graduates who have the MLS degree is that they were never given the proper training in teaching or technology that is needed for libraries today or in the future.

The young graduates (under age 30) who have the knowledge and experiences in technology that they bring to the position knew technology from growing up in a technology society. The MLS curriculum doesn’t prepare the students for any or the needed skills for a library in the future. And, as you know, academic and public libraries are becoming so different from what they were even five years ago. If we don’t change along with the expectation from patrons, then we have put ourselves out of the market. But who’s fault is that?

The librarian’s role has changed from what people think librarians do. Many think we “read”all day and the general public does not always know that there are numerous jobs a librarian does during the day. But, why should a librarian have to work over 5 years in a library to learn all those skills. These necessary skills should be taught in the college/university before the student graduates.

I would suggest that the ALA board, who approves of the curriculum for colleges and universities that are offering an MLS program and graduating new librarians, look at a few schools that are successful in properly training their graduates. One example, I can think of, is the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I was surprised to know that the program at UNC requires each student going for the MLS to be in a rotation of departments for several weeks. Their learning and experience in every department of the library helps them to understand the workings of a library and how that particular department supports the library. This personal experience may even help the student decide where they would like to work once they graduate.

I am sure that there are other locations that have a wonderful program and their curriculum is outstanding as well. If I was in your shoes, I would give incentives to the colleges that have unique and creative ways of teaching MLS students. ALA get out from your office or constant meetings, go out and visit a few colleges that have innovative ideas to see what is being done there so that curriuclum can be changed. And, then move forward in your thinking and lets make this profession alive again.

Just my opinion!

#6 Zary on 02.11.14 at 1:22 pm

I suggest rigorous requirements on internship.

#7 Jennifer on 02.12.14 at 3:34 pm

I second Zary’s comment. Given not only the often-theoretical nature of LIS education but also the extreme difficulty in obtaining professional positions without prior work experience, it seems strange that the standards would not consider internships, practica and other practical experiences a requirement for accredited programs. I am a recent MLIS grad, and was fortunate enough to have had a fellowship which included work experience; however, as this was not required or even emphasized by my program, many classmates graduated without substantial experience and have subsequently had difficulty finding employment.

#8 J. Nadal on 02.14.14 at 12:26 pm

III.5 is hard to parse. Is the intention that non-PhD Faculty or faculty who have a distinguished professional record are welcome by COA? If so, grouping this under “scholarship” sends a mixed signal. I’d suggest striking “scholarship”, and eliminating the parentheses to make the sentence read “…appropriate research, creative, and professional activities that contribute…”

Glad to see the change in V.1

#9 Sara on 02.17.14 at 12:48 pm

I agree with a previous comment about looking to education for a model and accrediting bachelor’s degrees. I would also suggest using social work as a model. In each case, you can start with a bachelor’s degree and certification. In order to move up the ranks professionally, you’ll probably have to get a master’s degree eventually, and a master’s degree can also serve as an entry point for people making a mid-career change. At the same time, any LIS degree should include more rigorous practical experience AND theory. We can take examples from education and social work there, as well – students learn psychology, statistics, and must fulfill practical requirements. The educational models are out there for us to emulate if we have the courage to do so.

#10 GJG on 02.17.14 at 1:19 pm

Where to begin…
Jennifer is correct; it is a disgrace that *anyone* can graduate with an MLS without having worked in a library (or other germane institution, web development would be acceptable for people interested in this) during the course of pursuing their degree. Reforming this aspect of library school education would go a long way towards addressing the glut of similarly-qualified grads who flood the job market every year. While there is theory in librarianship, ultimately, it is a profession – a trade. Few trade schools worthy of the name allow graduates out on the market without non-classroom experience.

#11 Sara on 02.17.14 at 1:46 pm

I agree with the above comments. As a more recent MLIS grad (May 2012) I found that my work in a related field was VERY helpful in acquiring a position after library school. I was lucky to have started volunteering at a local institution before starting MLIS classes, I was then offered a temporary position with the same institution while I was in school. I found that pairing the theoretical work in my evening classes with the practical work I did during the week really helped solidify the knowledge I was gaining. My program did not require an internship, but one of my elective classes did – it was in that class that I was able to get a second perspective on the profession outside of my day-to-day work.
Getting situated in a career was also made easier by the networking that my job and my internship provided. I learned about professional organizations that I could join through my “field” work – while those same organizations were not emphasized at all at school.
I understand that practical experience can be hard to come by, but don’t most institutions have libraries? How hard would it be to tell students that before they graduate they need to spend one semester or a practicum working in the school library doing cataloging, reference, and instructional work?

#12 Nancy Roderer on 02.20.14 at 2:15 pm

In general, I think the revisions clarify the existing standards and do a good job of bringing in the emphasis on assessment that is occurring in our field and in others. I particularly like the added emphasis on applying the results of assessment.

A small point: the following seems a bit out of date in leaving out online education.

…” location of the offering of a program or its components, or the means by which a program or its components are delivered, e.g., satellite, closed circuit television, ”

This did lead me to review the aspects of the standards that are specific to online and remote program delivery and they seem appropriately updated to me.

#13 Eileen Abels on 03.11.14 at 2:46 pm

I believe that the changes to standard 1: Systematic Planning and Standard 6: Assessment and Evaluation help clarify the importance of both planning and assessment.

However, I would like to see changes to Standard 1.2 and the sub-standards, 1.2.1 – 1.2.10 which are too detailed and may even be confusing. 1.2.1 seems to give a good overview of the field. Some of the topics seem too specific and not all of the 10 items are at the same level. Especially troublesome is 1.2.4 the value of teaching and service to the advancement of the field. Most programs interpret this to mean that teaching and service are important to the programs rather than focusing on the fact that this is reflected in student learning outcomes. Other problematic sub-topics in my opinion are: 1.2.4, 1.2.6, 1.2.7.

I think that 1.2.8 and 1.2.10 could be combined.

Overall, I do think that 1.2 needs to be revisiting and reworked.

#14 Colleen Burgess on 04.22.14 at 9:22 am

In terms of curriculum, I would encourage an expanded focus on technology, digital literacy, and e-learning within MLIS studies. IT workshops, technology courses, and opportunities for technology enrichment within the program should be emphasized, so that new grads will be skilled in meeting the needs of digital natives and future generations.

II.3.5 responds to the needs of a rapidly changing
technological and global society

#15 Michael Rodriguez on 04.24.14 at 10:58 am

Much of the text in these revised accreditation standards seems to accept good intentions in lieu of programs’ actual success. Regarding online programs, that students should “have access to professional organizations and extramural activities” is a weakly phrased mandate. Access is one thing; feasibly and convenience are another. LIS schools need to make a conscious effort to engage distance learners beyond class assignments. Particularly in schools with an on-campus cohort, online students tend to be excluded from organizations and activities. It does not have to be this way (Google Hangouts, anyone?).

Here are some other suggestions for the accreditation standards. (1) LIS programs should require an internship or practicum from those students not currently employed in a library or related setting. (2) Schools should offer electives in IT, digital humanities, instruction, and other increasingly critical components of librarianship. (3) Accreditation standards in general should be made more rigorous to enhance the degree’s reputation, reduce the glut in the job market, and ensure that everyone who graduates from these programs has the skills and the perspective not only to gain professional employment but also to become a valuable member of the profession.

#16 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.

#17 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.

#18 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.

#19 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 […]

#20 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.

#21 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…

#22 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.

#23 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.

#24 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.

#25 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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