Kent State SLIS offers multiple pathways to licensure for school library media specialists
The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at Kent State University now offers multiple pathways for students to obtain the K-12 school library media specialist licensure.
Students who already have a valid Ohio teacher’s license may enter the 39-hour course of study leading to the Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) degree and multi-age licensure in school library media. Graduates will be prepared to work in all types of libraries including school libraries.
Students who already hold a teaching license may also enroll in a non-degree K-12 licensure-only program in SLIS. They would then be qualified for positions in a school library, but not in other types of libraries.
Students who do not have an initial teaching license may enter a dual degree program to obtain a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and the MLIS-plus K-12 school library media licensure. This option confers the initial teaching license while also preparing students to work in all types of libraries. It includes professional educational requirements, library science and instructional technology courses.
Previously, the school library licensure-only program and initial teaching licensure option were administered by the College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS). SLIS will now assume administrative responsibility for all the pathways to school librarian licensure.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone, especially the students,” SLIS Assistant Professor Meghan Harper, Ph.D., said. “Now, instead of having very similar programs in two different colleges, SLIS will house all the pathways to the K-12 school library media licensure. Students who earn the MLIS and the K-12 licensure will have more career options available to them.”
Dr. Harper added that the split program at Kent State was atypical compared to other institutions that offer this program in the United States. Kent State’s M.L.I.S. program has offered the school library media specialist licensure program for more than 40 years.
Classes for the K-12 school library media specialist program are available completely online, making them accessible anywhere, anytime, which is especially important for full-time teachers who may be considering a career change. However, all students also will have to complete a practicum in a library. The average time to complete the program is two years when taking two courses per semester.
SLIS Professor Carolyn Brodie, Ph.D., said the role of the “school library media specialist” is much broader than what most people think, as it involves embracing and teaching with all the new technologies available.
“A school librarian works with students in a school library/media center, of course,” she said. “But the school library media specialist takes a very active role in teaching information literacy skills, collaborating with teachers on lessons, assisting with curriculum resources and integrating technology into the curriculum.
“This professional also has an administrative role in managing all aspects of the school library such as developing the collection and making resources available to staff and students.”
Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science offers the only Master of Library and Information Science degree program in Ohio that is accredited by the American Library Association, and one of the nation’s few master’s degrees in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management. The school is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s top 20 graduate schools, and its youth librarianship program is ranked 13th. It is one of the largest library schools in the country, with nearly 700 students enrolled.