Prism: the Office for Accreditation newsletter, Spring 2020

prism masthead

Spring 2020, Volume 28, Number 1 • ISSN 1066-7873 • Susana Stoll, editor
Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcomed. Please contact us at


ALA accreditation at a glance Fall 2019
News and announcements Previous issues
COA announces accreditation actions
From the Director of the Office: Outlook
Spotlight: Archives
In profile: Jean Donham
External Review Panelists acknowledged
AASL-CAEP recognition news


Accreditation at a glance

66 ALA-accredited programs
62 institutions with ALA-accredited programs
33 U.S. states (including Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) with ALA-accredited programs
5 Canadian provinces with ALA-accredited programs
42 ALA-accredited programs offering 100% online programs †
3 Programs with candidacy status
16,438 total students enrolled in ALA-accredited programs in fall 2017 *
5,993 graduates of ALA-accredited programs during the 2017-2018 academic year *

† As identified by the programs
* As reported by programs to the Office for Accreditation 


News and announcements

The Committee on Accreditation 2020 Spring Meeting has been delayed to May 1 as Committee members are pulled to additional duties to address the COVID-19 emergency. The Office will send Committee responses to each program on interim reports directly following the meeting. 

Annual fee increase effective October 2021

The 2021 fiscal year (September 2020 - August 2021) budget is submitted. Increases in operating costs mandate expense reductions and necessitate a 5% annual accreditation service fee increase to $1,212.75, to be billed October 2021. This applies to all programs with Continued, Conditional, or Initial accreditation status.  

Virtual training 

Virtual training for external reviewer panel service has been delayed to fall 2020 due to the cancellation of the ALA Annual Conference. Members of the reviewer pool and heads of programs will receive an invitation. If you'd like to attend, but are not in either of those categories, contact Susana Stoll and Karen O'Brien at

New external review panelists sought

Find out more about what’s involved in serving on an external review panel on the Resources for external review panelists webpage. If you are interested and meet the qualifications, please complete the External Review Panel Member Information Form. Recommendations to serve are welcomed. Please encourage application or send a recommendation to staff at

Especially needed are reviewers with expertise in: 

  • Archives and records management
  • Cultural heritage information management
  • Curricular review and redesign
  • Distance education
  • School librarianship
  • Public librarianship
  • Information science
  • Information technology
  • LIS graduate program administration
  • Service to diverse populations
  • French language skills
  • Spanish language skills


COA announces accreditation actions

At the COA meeting at the 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting

Continued Accreditation status was granted to the following programs (listed in alphabetical order by institution), with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2026:

  • Master of Science in Information Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Meets all standards. No issues cited for follow-up. 
  •  Master of Arts in Library and Information Science at the University of Arizona. Standards cited for follow-up reporting: III.9 (explicit documented evidence of ongoing decision-making processes in the evaluation of faculty), III.10 (examples of how the results of faculty evaluations are systematically used to improve the program and to plan for the future), V.10 (updates on physical facilities). 
  • Master of information at Dalhousie University. Standards cited for follow-up reporting: III.6 (faculty hold advanced degrees from a variety of academic institutions).
  • Master of Science in Information Science and Master of Arts in Information at Florida State University. Meets all standards. No issues cited for follow-up. 


From the Director of the Office: Outlook

By Karen L. O'Brien, Director, ALA Office for Accreditation

A time for agility with care

Efforts underway globally to address the COVID-19 pandemic have library and information professionals busier than ever. Reliable information is the key to managing this crisis. Online connectivity is proving to be more a boon than ever before - the major efforts in support of that have us all in even deeper debt to information professionals. It is a great relief to have most of the Spring comprehensive review visits concluded and everyone safe, with only one review visit delayed. 

Most of the inquiries the Office has responded to regarding the COVID-19 disruption are about a shift in grading from letter to pass or satisfactory/fail or unsatisfactory. This approach may have ramifications for assessment systems in which letters weigh heavily, but that is rare in graduate-level education and LIS education is no exception. 

Reporting, Response, and Disclosure

Interim narrative reports and statistics submitted by programs are under review by the Committee on Accreditation (CoA) in preparation for discussion and response at the Spring Meeting, which has been shifted online and delayed from April to May. The publicly available trended statistical data which includes ratios on faculty to students, minority enrollment, etc, will be updated with the most current data once the CoA has had the chance at its Spring Meeting in May to analyze it and respond to programs. Public disclosure of program performance is enhanced by the Student Achievement data that programs are providing, as reflected in the Directory of accredited programs, in accord with ALA-CoA policy section I.18.1

1) Retention rate, 2) Average time to degree completion, and 3) Percentage of graduates holding positions relevant to the degree within 12 months of degree completion (which may include further graduate study). Those three statistics are to be positioned first among a listing of any other data the program would like to include. This data is to be accessible no more than once click off the program landing page. 

ALA Headquarters Move

Preparations continue for a move to the new ALA Chicago headquarters location at 225 North Michigan Avenue. COVID-19 protection measures have delayed the move. 


Rollout of the new ALA Connect online discussion and collaboration platform continues. The CoA, external review panels, and training efforts will benefit, enabling a move away from email lists and Moodle approaches. The Office or Accreditation is becoming more capable than ever of hosting virtual meetings and can shift training to that mode. The CoA is presenting a June 3 webinar for ALISE members entitled Identifying Evidence for Use in the ALA Accreditation Process: Strategies for Success. 

Meaningful Engagement

Professionals with five or more years of work experience are encouraged to flex and build your knowledge with your dedicated colleagues by becoming a reviewer. Acceptance to the reviewer pool is not required to attend a reviewer training. Get in touch with the Office for Accreditation (Susana Stoll and me) at for more information. 

Good health!


Spotlight: Archives

By Susana Stoll, Associate Director, ALA Office for Accreditation

Most of our work in the Office for Accreditation focuses on the promotion and advancement of education in library and information studies through accreditation. An intensity of effort lately is on the preservation of records with the move to the new and much smaller ALA headquarters at 225 North Michigan Avenue (moving date pending due to the COVID-19 pandemic) as catalyst. 

The ALA Archives, housed and managed at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana since 1973, are a great resource for anyone interested in the history of ALA, library and information services, and the role that libraries play in society. Materials in the archives date back to the late 1800s, including materials from the first ALA conference in 1876, and encompass official documents from the ALA units and divisions, including office records, publications, and correspondences. Archived materials are in a variety of formats and include diverse mediums, such as videotapes, recordings, and films. There is also an open access repository, the American Library Association Institutional Repository ALAIR, which provides digital access to many materials. 

WIth ALA Library and Information Resource Center (LIRC) staff coordinating the effort at headquarters, 21 business units (Offices, etc.) and the Divisions have sent over 240 boxes to the archives since fall 2019 in preparation for the move. The Office for Accreditation has sent 22 boxes so far with still more materials to prepare. WIth the process for program review only recently made electronic, a lot of paper records are being reviewed for transfer. 

Materials that the Office is preparing for the Archives include documentation prepared by programs seeking Precandidacy, Candidacy, Initial, and Continued accreditation status; program Interim and Special Reports, and documentation related to the 1972 and 1990 revisions of the accreditation standards and procedures - a considerable range that puts the current work in support of programs, students, employers, and the public in a historical context. 

Take a time-traveling adventure to the ALA archives and ALAIR! You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook


In profile: Jean Donham

Jean Donham is an elite member of the External Review Panel (ERP)  pool, having served on several panels, more than once as Chair, and served on the ALA Committee on Accreditation (2013-2017). Dr. Donham co-authored the just released fourth edition of Enhancing Teaching and Learning: A Leadership Guide for School Librarians

Q. Describe your career path, including any interesting projects you’ve been involved with lately.

Donham: I began my career in librarianship as a school librarian in the Iowa City Community School District; I went on from my building-level work to serve as the district's coordinator for the library program. During that time, I studied School Administration at the University of Iowa, where I earned my PhD. I joined the faculty in the School of Library & Information Science after 19 years in the school district. My career did not end at UI, however, as I was drawn away from my tenured position there to became director of the library at Cornell College, a selective liberal arts college in Iowa at a time when the administration there was looking to "re-invent" the library. It was an amazing experience to lead that initiative. Ultimately, I retired from the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa. Now that I am retired, I have recently published the 4th edition of Enhancing Teaching and Learning, a Leadership Guide for School Librarians with ALA Editions.

Q. When, why, and/or how did you initially become interested in serving as a reviewer?

Donham: As a junior faculty member at the U of Iowa, I was fortunate to be mentored by Carl Orgren, the School's Director. Carl suggested that a good way to learn about LIS education was to serve as a reviewer. With that in mind, he and I went to ALA Annual Conference where I attended a training session for prospective reviewers. Not long after, I received my first invitation to serve on an ERP—you can imagine Carl's response when I entered his office to ask him whether it would be OK for me to take an assignment at the University of Hawaii! That experience hooked me, not just because of the location, though. While I would like to think that I contributed something as a professional, I gained so much from that first experience. One of the long-standing outcomes was a decades-long professional friendship with Violet Harada, who was on the Hawaii faculty. While I certainly was learning about LIS education, I was also beginning to grow an important professional network. Now, after many more site visit experiences and a term on CoA, I can state with confidence that the experiences have all been enriching as I see the variations in curriculum, meet impressive faculty, and develop associations with panelists from across the library profession. Meanwhile, I continue to hope that I am giving something back to the profession in this work. 

Q. What do you feel is the most important aspect of reviewer preparation for the comprehensive review?

Donham: A reviewer needs to commit time to study (not just read) the self-study and to think critically about what is said and what is left unsaid. A reviewer needs to bring a positive disposition, not judging too quickly, yet a critical eye for gaps that generate questions. It is important for a reviewer to perceive the process as a quality control on education for our profession, and to ask continually whether the program they observe is likely to produce professionals who will contribute meaningfully to the aims of the field. 

Q. You have been a reviewer for many years. What changes or innovations have you noticed over time about the accreditation process? What changes would you like to see?

Donham: When I began reviewing, we had far fewer aids. My recollection is that, after a training session, we were equipped with the Standards and sent off to do our work. Earlier, the chair and experienced panelists were key to my learning how best to do this work. Now, there are many aids available for panelists. The CoA website offers outstanding resources, including worksheets and recommended sets of questions for various constituencies, and other valuable resources. I recall the first time I chaired an ERP; it took me a long time to take the separate sections written by panelists and pull them all together into a single document that spoke with one voice. Now, the report template creates a more consistent style that has made that process much easier for the Chair. These improvements not only make the work less onerous, but they also increase our consistency from program to program—something very important as we see variations on the approach to the Standards from different institutions. I have just experienced my first virtual site visit—if this becomes a direction for the future, it will be important to develop policies related to virtual visits as well as resources aimed specifically at helping panelists in that format.

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the qualities that make a great reviewer?

Donham: I think there are several qualities that great reviewers have. Among them, first is open-mindedness. It is always tempting to compare the program before us with our own experiences with LIS education - either as faculty or as a student - but it is essential that we view the program in its own context and not allow reviewing to become a comparative process, but rather a process guided by the Standards. It is also important to be an active listener. Panelists spend two days and more engaged in interviews. It is crucial to remain focused and to listen actively, posing questions for clarification or elaboration as necessary to ensure we get the whole story. Another important trait of great reviewers is adherence to schedules. This becomes especially important once the self-study arrives and all team members counting on one another to stick to timelines. Finally, I would say great reviewers are respectful - of one another and of everyone they meet from the program. We are representing our profession in this work, and exhibiting grace, regard, and appreciation to host programs and to all members of our team casts a positive light on all of librarianship. 

Q. What advice would you give to new reviewers?

Donham: I encourage new reviewers to take advantage of the tools and counsel provided by the Office of Accreditation.  I also encourage new reviewers to attend training whenever possible. It is wise to get familiar with AP3, which is available on the accreditation website, in order to be apprised of the policies related to the process. It goes without saying that a new reviewer needs to read the Standards carefully and highlight the key phrases in each one. When assigned to a visit, look at the Accreditation website and examine all the aids that are provided for panelists. When the self-study arrives, go to work promptly, using the worksheet available on the website as a guide. On visits, listen carefully to experienced reviewers on the team, and ask questions of them.

Q. What are some of your hobbies and interests?

We have had Vizslas for decades and our current pair keep us busy. One is now 15 years old, so geriatric short walks several times a day are in order. The three-year old, on the other hand, is a retrieving fanatic - so lots of ball throwing. I am involved in various volunteer groups, one involving food insecurity and another philanthropic group where I chair the grants committee. I also have a very large perennial garden, and my husband owns a 300+ acre farm in central Iowa where he is engaged in prairie restoration - I am the photographer and cataloger for flower species as they appear there. And... I have two grandsons ages two and four who live in Minneapolis. We make frequent trips to see them!

Q. What are two good books you have read recently (one professional and one pleasure read)?

Donham: Professionally, I have become very interested in news literacy; I have been teachinga course on "fake news" for the University of Iowa Senior College and that brought me to read Fake News, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies by Donald Barclay - a fine overview of what is happening to our news. Personally, I just finished This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger - a fascinating Depression-era story of two orphan boys trying to find a better life for themselves away from the Indian School where they were placed. It is an inspiring story of fortitude and resilience. 


External review panelists acknowledged

External review panelists contribute substantial time and effort to the accreditation process to assure quality in LIS education. We extend our appreciation to the following panelists who served on accreditation reviews during the fall 2019 academic term.


  • Tracy Bicknell-Holmes, Dean, Albertsons Library, Boise State University
  • Ross Gordon, Director, Information Management, Information Management Directorate, Environment & Climate Change Canada
  • Iris M. Lee, Head of Collective Services, Burns Law Library, George Washington University
  • Joyce C. Wright, Associate Professor of Library Administration and Professor Emerita (retired), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • Kenneth-Roy Bonin, Senior Fellow, Faculty of Public Affairs, Carleton University
  • Cecelia M. Brown, Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma
  • Heting Chu, Professor, Palmer School of Library and Information Science, Long Island University
  • Prudence W. Dalrymple, Teaching Professor, Health Informatics (retired), Drexel University
  • Mirah J. Dow, Professor, School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University
  • Wooseob Jeong, Dean and Professor, School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University
  • Joyce M. Latham, Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
  • Courtney McDonald, Learner Experience and Engagement Librarian and Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries
  • Kate McDowell, Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Jinfang Niu, Associate Professor, School of Information, University of South Florida
  • Toby Pearlstein, Director of Global Information Services (retired), Bain & Company
  • Alma Ravenell, Head of Public Services, Library, University of Texas at Tyler
  • Nancy K. Roderer, Professor Emerita, School of Medicine, John Hopkins University
  • Dany Savard, Director, Open Scholarship, York University Libraries
  • Philip M. Turner, Professor Emeritus, College of Information, University of North Texas
  • Mary Elizabeth (Ma'lis) Wendt, Associate Director (retired), New York Public Library


AASL-CAEP recognition news

The AASL-CAEP Coordinating Committee continues its rollout of the new 2019 ALA/AASL/CAEP School Librarian Preparation Standards. All preparation programs must convert to the new standards by Spring of 2022. To support these efforts, the committee held a series of six webinars for faculty in school library preparation programs as part of their effort to support implementation of the new standards during March and April 2020. Additionally, with the cancellation of ALA Annual in June, the committee will begin providing virtual training for both program reviewers and program report writers in the fall of 2020. For more information and to view the archived webinars, visit the CAEP Accreditation page on the AASL website.

ALA policy B.9.2.2 states: "The master's degree in librarianship from a program accredited by the American Library Association or a master’s degree with a specialty in school librarianship from an ALA/AASL Nationally Recognized program in an educational unit accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is the appropriate first professional degree for school librarians." 

Fall 2019 AASL recognition decisions 

The following programs, which are part of a CAEP-accredited education unit, received AASL National Recognition or National Recognition with Conditions during the fall 2019 semester. National Recognition is awarded to education master’s programs in school librarianship that have been reviewed and approved by AASL's program reviewers using the ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians (2010). 
•    Georgia College and State University, The John L. Lounsbury College of Education, Library Media Specialist
•    Sam Houston State University, College of Education, School Librarian
•    Towson University, College of Education, School Library Media
•    University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Education, School Librarian, Master’s

Fall 2019 reviewers

We extend our appreciation to the following program reviewers and auditors who served during the fall 2019 semester:

  • Cassandra Barnett, Program Advisor for School Libraries, Arkansas Dept. of Education
  • Mary Ann Berry, Retired/Adjunct, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University
  • Judy Bivens, Accreditation Co-Director and MLIS Program Coordinator, Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Angela P. Branyon, Assistant Professor, Educational Technology and Foundations, University of West Georgia
  • Elizabeth A. Burns, Assistant Professor, Dept. of STEM Education and Professional Studies, Old Dominion University
  • Audrey P. Church, Professor and Graduate Program Director, School Librarianship, Longwood University
  • Patsy M. Couts, Professor, Advanced Professional Services, College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Central Oklahoma
  • Sherry Crow, Professor of School Library Science, Teacher Education, College of Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • April M. Dawkins, Assistant Professor, Department of Library and Information Studies, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
  • Gail Dickinson, Associate Dean, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University
  • Ramona N. Kerby, Professor, School Library Media Program, McDaniel College
  • Melanie A. Lewis, Assistant Professor in Media, College of Education, University of West Georgia
  • Vandy Pacetti-Donelson, Director of the Library, United States Sports Academy
  • Karin Perry, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University
  • Michelle Robertson, Instructor, College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Central Oklahoma


The next issue of Prism will be published in November 2020. Stay tuned!
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