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What does “accreditation” mean to the information professions? And is it worthwhile?

This blog thread is for practitioners, faculty, students, and anyone else interested in accreditation issues as they affect the information professions.

Accreditation by the American Library Association (ALA) is a core element of many (but not all) information programs in North America, with the objective of ensuring that programs meet appropriate standards of quality and integrity (see ALA’s brief description of accreditation). There have been many conversations about the value, costs and challenges of accreditation over the years, with no definitive answer for what it means to the information professions. As information professionals, we need to make sure that accreditation reflects the needs and values of our field, our students, our programs and our employers.

We are pleased that ALA has two task forces looking at accreditation issues (see this announcement  and an update on their work). ASIS&T’s Education and Professional Advancement Committee (EPAC) is starting this blog thread to contribute to the discussion. We hope to raise awareness of accreditation issues in our professional and scholarly community; to that effect, we’ll be posting some historical information related to the professional debate around accreditation and drawing your attention to the latest accreditation developments.

To start the conversation, we invite you to respond to one or more of the following questions – or share your own thoughts, concerns and ideas:

  • What do you know about ALA accreditation?
  • How important are accreditation issues to you as a practitioner, student, faculty member or scholar?
  • What aspects of accreditation are relevant in your work?
  • Are there other credentials that information professionals are asked or expected to have?
  • Is accreditation necessary to practice in our field?
  • What professional body should be in charge of accreditation in today’s information environment?
  • Does accreditation have to involve programs focused on *libraries* and information science or any graduate program in the field of information science, broadly defined?
This is an open forum – you don’t have to be an ASIS&T member to respond. Whether you have a lot, a little, or no experience with ALA accreditation, please participate! We are interested in hearing as many diverse perspectives as possible. We look forward to hearing from you and engaging in a lively, productive conversation.
The ASIS&T Education and Professional Advancement Committee (EPAC)