ASIS&T Position Statement on the ALA Accreditation Process and the Future Collaboration between ALA and ASIS&T in the Area of Graduate Professional Education
February 10, 2016
As a professional association that bridges the gap between information science practice and research, ASIS&T counts researchers and practitioners from a large number of diverse fields in its ranks, including information science, library science, computer science, management, and education. The ASIS&T membership is also enriched by the contribution of members who deal with information in other fields, such as law, medicine, linguistics, chemistry, humanities, history, and engineering, to name just a few. ASIS&T’s inclusive and evolving character reflects the current state of the information field, and its international and diverse membership plays an ever more important role in shaping the future of the field. As such, ASIS&T is concerned with the education of information professionals and with the accreditation process of Library & Information Science (LIS) programs by the American Library Association (ALA). ASIS&T’s ongoing interest in and commitment to professional education is supported by the Education & Professional Advancement Committee, which is charged with reviewing accreditation guidelines for LIS programs and monitoring accreditation changes.
Increasing interdisciplinarity and the imperative of creativity and innovation propel us in the direction of collaboration and partnership. With the field of information both composite and diverse, the development of accreditation standards should be a shared responsibility and a collaborative undertaking of several professional associations. ASIS&T is strategically positioned to contribute to the improvement of the accreditation process and, more specifically, to the development of more accurate and inclusive accreditation standards. ASIS&T’s extensive international reach and disciplinary diversity translates into a valuable contribution to the development of accreditation standards, which in turn reflects the dynamic nature and evolving educational expectations in the field. In this regard, ASIS&T makes the following statement.
It is imperative that accreditation standards be comprehensive and flexible enough to accurately represent educational requirements in multiple information fields, both in and outside of libraries, archives, and other longstanding information organizations. Accreditation must reflect the eclectic, diverse and pluralistic nature of the information field and must be fully applicable to an array of information professions. As a result, we call for the ongoing dialog between ALA and ASIS&T on accreditation issues.
The bedrock of professional education and professional accreditation is a fusion of values, ethics, and specific competencies. The latter includes field-specific knowledge and skills (e.g., computer science, library science, digital humanities) and transferable skills and attitudes (e.g., critical thinking, leadership abilities, creativity, problem solving, and so on). While the field-specific knowledge base varies from information field to information field, we call on ALA to recognize the commonality of professional values, ethics, and transferable skills in discussion and revisions of accreditation standards.
ALA has always conducted the accreditation process with the goal of “assuring quality, innovation, and value in library and information studies education” (http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/home). It is in the spirit of supporting this goal and the desire to take active part in this process that the ASIS&T statement is made.