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)

One comment

  1. LIS Faculty says:

    I am a faculty at a program that is in the process of being re-accredited by ALA. The problem with the current process is that although ALA puts forward standards, it has chosen to operationalize them in certain ways that is not transparent to programs. For example, the following from Standard III.1:

    “Full-time faculty members are qualified for appointment to the graduate faculty within the parent institution and are sufficient in number and in diversity of specialties to carry out the major share of the teaching, research, and service activities required for a program, wherever and however delivered.”

    Through phone conversations with the office of accreditation has revealed that this means that 51% of courses must be taught by full-time faculty. If you don’t have 51%, your program can be considered out of compliance and your accreditation is jeopardized.

    The other major difficulty is that COA has focused almost exclusively on “systematic planning and evaluation” such that you have to back-up every assertion with data collection and analysis. This can very onerous, and it draws attention from things that are actually more important, such as job placement and the success of graduates after leaving the program.

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