School of Library and Information Science Receives National Accreditation, Celebrates 50 Years of Accreditation
The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at Kent State University has received continued accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. The announcement came from the ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) after the organization’s midwinter meeting in Dallas.
The ALA COA has evaluated educational programs to prepare librarians since 1924. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes ALA COA as the authority for assessing the quality of education offered by graduate programs in the field of library and information studies. Currently there are 63 ALA-accredited master's programs across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and three programs seeking initial accreditation. Most employers in libraries and other information professions 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.
Stanley Wearden, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information of which SLIS is a part, said, “I am very pleased that SLIS has been reaccredited. This is a tribute to the excellent faculty in the school. I want to acknowledge the hard work of Athena Salaba, Ph.D., associate professor, who chaired the self-study committee, and Don Wicks, Ph.D., interim director of the school. Without their leadership, this could not have happened. Finally, it’s important that we express our gratitude to the ALA Committee on Accreditation, a dedicated group that invests many hours in the accreditation process. Their guidance is invaluable in our pursuit of excellence.
SLIS at Kent State began offering graduate courses for a Master of Arts in library science in 1949, and then received its first ALA accreditation in 1961-62. With that, it became the 33rd school in the nation and the second in Ohio (after Case Western Reserve University) to offer an accredited graduate degree in library science. In 2000, SLIS received university approval to change the name of the master's degree from Master of Library Science (M.L.S.) to Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.), reflecting the increasing influence of technology and information science on the profession.
Today, SLIS at Kent State has the only ALA-accredited M.L.I.S. program in Ohio. (CWRU closed its library school program in 1986.) Courses are offered in Kent, Ohio; at the State Library of Ohio in Columbus, Ohio; and in a fully online M.L.I.S. option. With more than 650 graduate students, SLIS has one of the largest programs in the country. The school ranks among the top 20 library schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, and its children’s librarianship program ranks 13th. For more information about the school, visit www.kent.edu/slis.
ALA accreditation indicates that the program has undergone a self-evaluation process, has been externally reviewed and meets the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies, established by the ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) and adopted by ALA Council. COA evaluates each program for conformity to theStandards, which address mission, goals and objectives; curriculum; faculty; students; administration and financial support; and physical resources and facilities. The Standards can be found at http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/standards.
The accreditation process occurs every seven years, unless evidence persuades COA that the review should be conducted at an earlier or later date. The COA requires accredited schools to submit annual statistical reports and biennial narrative reports.