US library and information schools: training and accreditation issues

Degrees and programs offered by various library schools in the United States, their modes. Analysis of the possibility of distance learning in the best accredited programs and courses offered in different versions. The role of ALA in library education.

Рубрика Культура и искусство
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US library and information schools: training and accreditation issues

The aim of this paper is to analyze the educational experience of the United States and adapt it to the Ukrainian system of education in the field of library and information sciences.

Accreditation of the American educational environment is understood as a voluntary system of evaluation of universities and their curricula. According to American scientists it is a collective process based on self-assessment and comparative analysis for improving the quality of education and public reporting. Accreditation ensures that university and their departments, branches, schools and programs meet the required standards and integrity. Accreditation is both a process and a condition. The process entails assessment of educational quality and continuous improvement of educational operations through the development and suitability of standards. The condition provides a mandate for society, indicating that the institution and / or its programs are adopted and implemented in accordance with the requirements to the quality of the educational process [4].

Higher education institutions in the field of librarianship are accredited by the Accreditation Committee of the ALA. The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world, providing association information, news, events, and advocacy resources for members, librarians, and library users. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Melvil Dewey is considered to be one of the founders of this organization. The ALA Constitution states the purpose of ALA as, «The object of the American Library Association shall be to promote library service and librarianship.» The authority of the Association in the United States is the result of its activity in all areas of library construction. In general, the key role in organizing the libraries of the US is performed by professional associations of librarians which represent a network of regional and branch library associations.

As a specialized accreditor, the American Library Association's (ALA) Committee on Accreditation (COA) accredits programs leading to the first professional degree in library and information studies, which is the master's degree.

Accreditation has several benefits. It assures the public that individuals who have graduated from accredited schools or programs have received a quality education. It assures students that accredited programs meet the standards of the profession that they seek to enter. Institutions of higher education benefit through self and peer evaluation and through the opportunity for continuous improvement. Accreditation does not, however, result in ranking of programs. Rather, it respects the uniqueness of each program while ensuring that all accredited programs meet the same standards.

The accreditation process involves the continuous assessment and evaluation of a program and the enhancement of the program's operations using standards. This process, through self-evaluation and peer review, is designed to foster collegial relations among educators and members of the profession. Accreditation indicates that a program demonstrates a commitment to quality and that the program seeks to continue that commitment.

In 1924 the ALA created the Board of Education for Librarianship to carry on the accreditation of programs of education for librarianship. The Board became the Committee on Accreditation (COA) in 1956.

The COA is a standing committee of the ALA. Its charge is «to be responsible for the execution of the accreditation program of the ALA, and to develop and formulate standards of education for library and information studies for the approval of Council» (ALA Handbook of Organization). In meeting this charge, the COA is guided by the following principles:

- The accreditation of library and information studies (LIS) educational programs is coordinated through a single agency that represents the interests of the members of the profession;

- Accreditation enhances the quality of library and information services through the improvement of the professional education available for librarians and related information professionals;

- The spirit of accreditation lies in its constructive and continual evaluation and assessment of LIS educational programs.

The COA has developed an accreditation process that seeks to achieve the following objectives:

To respond to the content and emphasis of the Standards.

- To incorporate suggestions of the LIS educational community and the LIS profession.

- To conform to good practices in the accreditation process in accord with provisions set forth by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

In 2004 this main Library Association accredited 58 educational programs offering full-time education in 56 universities of the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) is recognized as a premier institution, consistently named the top LIS school in the nation. GSLIS has earned its reputation by creating pioneering and innovative educational opportunities, including the oldest extant LIS doctoral program in the country (1948), award-winning Leep Online Learning program (1996), and an advanced degree in digital libraries (2005).

Today, GSLIS is a charter member of the iSchool Project, a community of schools interested in the relationship between information, technology, and people and committed to increasing the visibility of the field of library and information science. Founded in 1893, GSLIS helped establish and develop the methods used in the field of LIS. Today they continue this tradition by translating the core principles of library science - information organization, access, use, and preservation - to meet the needs of information society. This natural integration of library science and information science allows for opportunities to enhance and strengthen learning, teaching, and research: GSLIS understand that fluency with current technologies is important to all information professionals, from librarians, archivists, and museum curators to information architects, Web developers, and data managers [2].

GSLIS offers training programs to obtain the degree of Master of Science (MS), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and the certificate of training. The master's program offers students a choice of any form of education, i.e. traditional which is analogous to full-time education, «Learning on Fridays» which is similar to evening classes, and distance learning (LEEP). According to US News and World Report ranking of the best training programs in this field (LIS programs), this school in 2013 became Number One, gaining 4.6 scores out of 5 possible, School of Information and Library Science in University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with 4.5 scores was the second and the third was the Information School at University of Washington in Seattle with 4.4 scores [6].

For those librarians who want to pursue higher professional education by means of distance learning catalogs (or guides) of ALA accredited programs are offered. They are distributed both on the Internet and in the traditional hard copy edition. Those who want to learn can apply to the universities (addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are listed in the catalog) to clarify issues of various kinds. These directories do not assess programs as «better» or «worse». They review existing programs for professional training. These reviews are published in both professional and popular magazines.

«Library school» is a term which has been used to describe an institution of higher learning specializing in the professional training of librarians. The first library school in the United States was established by Melvil Dewey in 1887 at Columbia University. Since then many library schools have been founded in the United States. The University of Chicago Graduate Library School became the first library school to confer a master's degree in library science, which is now the standard professional degree, and later became the first to give a doctoral degree in the field.

Most library schools in North America offer graduate programs only. Accreditation of these programs is granted by the American Library Association. The bachelor's degree in Library Science (or Library Economics as it was called in early days) was, for the most part, phased out several decades ago. Librarians in North America typically earn a master's degree, typically the Master of Library Science (MLS) or the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). This degree allows one to work as a practicing librarian in public libraries, academic libraries, school library media centers, and special libraries, while many individuals with the MLS credential work with major library vendors. The degree is also applicable to related sectors such as publishing.

Master of Library Science programs are typically structured to offer a combination of required and elective courses in library science and information science. The required courses focus on core library skills such as cataloging, reference, collection development as well as related areas such as the philosophy underlying the profession, information technology and management. Elective courses may include information management, children's literature, genealogy and archives as well as specialized courses related to different types of libraries.

In recent decades, many schools offering librarianship education have changed their names to reflect the shift from print media to electronic media, and to information contained outside of traditional libraries. Some call themselves schools of library and information science (abbreviated to «SLIS», hence the term «SLISters» for their students), while others may have dropped the word «library» altogether. This trend began as early as the 1960s with the recognition that information and access to it was shifting to electronic resources with the development of telecommunications and computer networks and away from the traditional definition of librarianship. This shift led a number of library schools to change or broaden their mission to be more inclusive of information sciences across many disciplines including library sciences, archives, computer sciences and more, and led to the development by a number of schools of an iSchool organization, to advance the field of information as a whole.

The American Library Association (ALA) accredits master's programs in library and information studies across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Accreditation is achieved through a review process conducted by an external review panel of practitioners and academics that verifies that the program meets the Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies. In 2008 ALA developed standard requirements for accreditation «Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies» (Adopted by the Council of the American Library Association, January 15, 2O08), which were later re-released in 2012 and 2015.

Graduating from an ALA-accredited program provides flexibility in the types of libraries and jobs you can apply for and enhances career mobility. Many employers require an ALA-accredited master's degree for professional level positions, and some states require an ALA-accredited degree to work as a professional librarian in public or school libraries.

ALA-accredited master's programs can be found at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. These programs offer degrees with names such as Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Arts, Master of Librarianship, Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS), and Master of Science. ALA accreditation indicates that the program has undergone an external review and meets the ALA Committee on Accreditation's Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies.

The directory, available in four unique formats, provides information about library and information studies programs that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA Office for Accreditation publishes the directory annually, and provides the opportunity for programs to update their entries when information changes. This directory offers summary information only.

Most US libraries recruit only those library professionals that have been trained in programs accredited by ALA, and have an appropriate professional degree. This degree indicates a high level of training and meets the necessary standards in this area. If librarians attended and received a master's degree from unaccredited program, they have to undergo additional training on the program that is accredited by ALA.

There is no simple answer to the question: what are the requirements for students who come to study in universities on an ALA-accredited program? The answer is not simple because entry requirements are developed by the universities themselves, besides every school has its own individual training programs. Most programs presuppose the candidate should have a Bachelor's degree for admission (Bachelor's Degree «accredited by ALA»), and many universities take into account the number of scores after high school. Professional training programs in the field of library and information science are developed not only for Bachelor and Master Programs, but also for Postgraduate Programs, but the ALA Committee does not accredit this level. As for the identification of foreign degrees with American higher education library degrees, it should be noted that there is a relevant department which considers such issues in the structure of ALA, but mostly they are solved individually.

Considering the Master of Science Program with Library Science School of Information and Library Science in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which has initial accreditation we see that this degree requires satisfactory completion of the SILS Information Technology Competency Requirement prior to the start of your first semester as well as:

- 48 semester hours of graduate-level course work;

- 22.5 hours of required core courses;

25.5 hours of elective courses;

- Satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination;

- Satisfactory completion of a master's paper or project.

The required courses are:

- Human Information Interactions (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

- Information Resources and Services (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

- Resource Selection and Evaluation (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

- Organization of Information (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

- Overview of Research Methods (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

- Management for Information Professionals (3.0 credits) (suggested for third semester)

- Proposal Preparation and Presentation (1.5 credits) (suggested for third semester)

Master's Paper (3.0 credits) (usually final semester)

All incoming SILS master's students must have demonstrated competency for basic computer applications. All incoming SILS master's students must have demonstrated competency for basic computer applications.

Most of the required 48 hours will be taken within SILS. Many students enrolled in the library science program also elect to take one or more courses in other departments on campus (such as the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, or the Department of Computer Science) or at nearby universities (principally Duke and N.C. State).

Students without extensive practical experience are encouraged to enroll in the Professional Field Experience course. This structured practicum provides the opportunity for students to apply theoretical knowledge to an individually selected work environment.

Initial accreditation status of this program indicates that it has demonstrated compliance with the Standards for Accreditation and has been granted accreditation for the first time following a period of Candidacy status and comprehensive review. Initial accreditation applies retroactively for students who complete degree requirements 24 months prior to the date that Initial accreditation is granted.

This particular institution offers primarily face-to-face education with select online courses offered. While the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science offers primarily online education with some face-to-face courses required. And the third leading program in this area the Information School at University of Washington in Seattle has 100% online program available with such areas of concentration/career pathways within ALA-accredited programs:

Academic Librarianship

- Children's Services

- Digital Libraries

- Information Systems Design/Analysis

- Law Librarianship/Legal Information Services

- Management and Administration

- Organization of Information

- Public Librarianship

- Reference and User Services School Librarianship

- Special/Corporate Librarianship

- Young Adult Services

These facts demonstrate that distance education option in the lib - rarianship education nowadays is gaining more and more popularity and is offered along with the traditional mode. Students can choose the most suitable program and get their degree accredited by the ALA either in a face-to-face classroom or virtually.


library school education

1. Fylypova L. Ya. Opyt distantsionnogo obucheniya bibliotechnykh spetsialistov v universitetakh SShA // Nepreryvnoe bibliotechnoe obrazovanie: Biulleten / Tsentr prikladn. humanit. tekhnolohiy. - M., 2002. - №7-8. - C. 45-51.

2. Filipova L. Ia. Orhanizatsiia dystantsiinoho navchannia u Vyshchii Shkoli bibliotechnykh ta informatsiinykh nauk Illinoiskoho universytetu // Visn. Kn. palaty. - 2002. - N7. - C. 45-47.

3. Oleinik O.V. Distantsionnoe obuchenie v humanitarnykh vuzakh: problemy i perspek - tivy / O. V Oleinik, L. Ya. Fylyppova // Kompiutery. Prohramy. Internet. 2003: zb. tez dop. uchasn. mizhnar. nauk.-prakt. konf. - K.: IVTs Vyd-vo «Politekhnika», 2003. - S. 127-128.

4. Library&Information Studies: Directory of Institutions offering Accredited Master's Programs / American Library Association. - Chicago: ALA, 2010. - 33 p.

5. 2015 Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies [Elektronnyi resurs] / American Library Association. - Rezhim dostupu: // http://www. - Nazva z ekrana.

6. - ry-information-science-programs? int=grad:wid:pfbtm [Elektronnyi resurs]. - Nazva z ekrana.

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