Prism: the Office for Accreditation newsletter Fall 2013

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Fall 2013, Volume 21, number 2   ISSN 1066-7873

Laura Dare, editor

In this issue:


Prism Archive - previous editions of Prism, from Fall 2003 through Fall 2013
Best of Prism - selected articles from previous issues


Accreditation at a glance

62 ALA-accredited MLIS programs
57 Institutions with ALA-accredited MLIS programs
33 U.S. states (including Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) with ALA-accredited programs
5 Canadian provinces with ALA-accredited programs
ALA-accredited programs offering 100% online programs †
2 Programs with candidacy status
1 Programs with pre-candidacy status
18,116 Students enrolled in ALA-accredited MLIS programs in fall 2012 *
8,049 Graduates of ALA-accredited MLIS programs during the 2011-2012 academic year *
  † As identified by the programs
  * As reported by programs to the Office for Accreditation 


COA announces accreditation actions

The Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association (ALA) has announced accreditation actions taken at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL.
Continued accreditation status was granted to the following programs:
  • Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta
  • Master of Library Science program at the University of Maryland
  • Master of Science program at the University of North Texas
  • Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Pittsburgh.
The next comprehensive review visit at each institution is scheduled to occur in 2020.
ALA accreditation was withdrawn from the following program:
  • Master of Library Science offered by Southern Connecticut State University.
The decision to withdraw accreditation was appealed by the program, and the program retained its conditional status pending the outcome of the appeal. On Oct. 27, 2013, the ALA Executive Board concurred with a recommendation of an Appeal Review Committee to uphold the decision to withdraw accreditation.
The effective date of withdrawal is October 27, 2013. Any student who was enrolled in the program before the withdrawal of accreditation and who completes the degree requirements within twenty-four (24) months after the withdrawal date is considered to have graduated from an ALA-accredited program. In the event that the end of the twenty-four-month period falls within an academic semester or quarter, the student has until the end of that semester or quarter to complete the program and graduate in order to graduate from an ALA-accredited program (Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures (AP3), I.14.3).
Information on accreditation statuses and types of reviews can be found in Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures (AP3), third edition, Section I.
The following institutions have programs that are being visited in the fall 2013 academic term. The accreditation decisions will be made by the COA at its meeting at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Ottawa
  • Valdosta State University
  • University of Washington
The following institutions have programs that will be visited in the spring 2014 academic term. The accreditation decisions will be made by the COA at its meeting at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Oklahoma
  • San Jose State University
  • University of Texas at Austin
ALA accreditation indicates that the program meets or exceeds the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies, established by COA and adopted by ALA Council. The accreditation process involves rigorous, ongoing self-evaluation by the program and verification of evidence through an external review. COA evaluates each program for compliance with the Standards, which address mission, goals and objectives; curriculum; faculty; students; administration and financial support; and physical resources and facilities.
The MLIS directory provides a complete list of programs accredited by ALA. Individuals who would like more information about a particular program should contact the program.
The ALA COA is a leading force in accreditation, having 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.

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

Accreditation is iteration

In the big picture and in a word, accreditation is iteration: step-by-step interrelated processes. Engineers, project managers, dancers, and LIS program personnel and external review panelists preparing for an accreditation visit will easily relate to the concept. The results of accreditation review indicate achievement as well as failure, as in any learning process. In that sense, accreditation provides a methodology to examine whether an organization, such as an academic program, is learning.

One of the most crucial of these iterative accreditation processes is standards review, by which the Committee on Accreditation (COA) itself learns about what needs to be addressed in the next version of the Standards. The Standards review process interrelates with program review (comprehensive and interim reporting), and is conducted via surveys and meetings, and by comparative analysis of other accreditor standards. COA Chair Barbara Moran offers more on this in the Perspective column of this issue.

The COA is finalizing a draft revision of the Standards that will be made available at the Standards Review site in December. Many who have commented on the 2008 Standards over the past five years will see their influence in the draft. Comments will be collected from the release of the draft in December 2013, though October 3, 2014. The Committee will work to bring a new version of the Standards to ALA Council at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Direct solicitation of comment on the draft Standards revision will be made by email from and at conferences. The first opportunity at conference will be on Friday, January 24 at the 2014 Annual ALISE Conference. COA will also facilitate a discussion at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia on Sunday, January 26, at 4:30 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Ongoing interactive public discussion in writing will be available at the Standards Review site. All are welcome to comment on the draft to

COA autumn renewal for the work ahead

Autumn brings revitalization to COA as new appointees roll on to change up the dynamics. This year we welcome Candace Wells and Jean Donham. Candace, appointed as a public member, is Professor Emerita at Wichita State University, where she was involved with the NCATE accreditation process, developed reports submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education, and was an active member of the Association of Teacher Educators. Jean brings both library practitioner and academic experience as Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, as well as ALA accreditation experience through her service on many External Review Panels.

The work ahead includes COA initial accreditation decisions on programs at the University of Ottawa (Canada) with the visit conducted this fall, East Carolina University with a visit scheduled for fall 2014, and a review visit at Chicago State University in spring 2016.

People fluent in Spanish or French are being sought for upcoming reviews. Please nominate yourself or others for panel appointment by sending a message to

LIS faculty member chosen keynote for accreditor conference

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) met in Baltimore on September 8-10. Keynoting was one of the LIS profession’s own, Bruce Kingma, LIS faculty and Associate Provost at Syracuse University, who spoke on the topic of academic innovation and entrepreneurship. Bruce explained how useful accreditation is to change processes, especially those involving external constituents.

Opportunities to connect

I invite you to give me a call at 312-280-2434 or drop me a line. I hope to see you in Philadelphia for the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting -- you are welcome to get in touch to arrange a meeting with me there.

By Barbara B. Moran, Chair, Committee on Accreditation, and Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

As the newly appointed Chair of the ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA), I look forward to working with many of you during the upcoming year. I have been a faculty member and administrator in LIS for over 30 years and during that time have been involved in many aspects of both regional and specialized accreditation; however, most of my experience has been with ALA accreditation. Within my own institution I have been involved in preparing for five ALA accreditation site visits. I have served on External Review Panels (ERPs) since 1995 and have been a member of COA since 2012. My own experience has shown that despite the time and effort that goes into accreditation, the process is valuable. I’m sure that most of you would agree.

It is worth noting that the origins of accreditation are rooted in a desire for a system of quality assurance independent of governmental oversight. Most other countries beyond North America depend on government ministries. Our system of accreditation is a voluntary effort that is only successful because of the work done by many individuals including faculty, administrators, visiting panels, and groups such as the COA.

Accreditation has been a formal part of LIS education since 1923 when the ALA Board of Education for Librarianship (BEL) was formed and made responsible for the organization’s accreditation program. In 1956 BEL was succeeded by the Committee on Accreditation, which was established as a standing committee of ALA with the still-existing charge, “To be responsible for the execution of the accreditation program of ALA, and to develop and formulate standards of education for library and information studies for the approval of council.”

Just as LIS education has evolved to meet the needs of a changing profession, so have the Standards. There have been six sets of ALA standards for accreditation: the standards of 1926, 1933, 1951, 1972, 1992, and the current standards, which were adopted in 2008. The earliest sets of standards were quantitative and prescriptive; over the years the standards have become less prescriptive and more qualitative in line with evolving accreditation practices and as a result of the increasing diversity of LIS programs and their missions. The standards have changed but their purpose has remained the same: the standards establish the criteria that are used to evaluate all programs being considered for initial or continuing accreditation.

The Standards are revised on a five-year cycle, and one of the major objectives of the COA over the next year will be the finalization of a revised set of standards. As part of the revision process, the COA Subcommittee on Standards Review has been reviewing and drafting a revision based on input gathered from the many constituent groups concerned with ALA accreditation. Draft language will be considered at the November meeting of the COA. A draft revision will be released for public comment in December. There will be opportunities to interact with COA members about the proposed revisions at the January ALISE and ALA conferences in Philadelphia, with a program at ALISE on Friday, January 24, from 2:00pm until 3:00pm, and another at ALA Midwinter on Sunday, January 26, from 4:30pm until 5:30pm. Members of the Subcommittee will be on hand to discuss the process used in making the revisions, to describe the projected timeline for implementation, and, most importantly, to get feedback from stakeholders about the proposed revisions.

Accreditation is a collegial process and the COA needs your input into the revision of the Standards that will guide LIS accreditation during the upcoming years. If you are planning to be in Philadelphia, please try to attend one of these sessions to provide the COA with your insights. There will also be other opportunities to provide feedback, including a dedicated web space (

The Committee on Accreditation is committed to maintaining open lines of communication with communities of interest and increasing transparency in its procedures. Its members cannot do their work in isolation nor can they draw up standards in a vacuum. We always seek feedback from members of ALA divisions and committees such as the Committee on Education; from individuals who have served on ERPs; and from LIS deans, directors, faculty members, students, employers, and practitioners. We are interested in your views on all aspects of accreditation, but right now our primary focus is on the standards revision. We want to be sure that the standards we are proposing will serve the LIS community well in the future. Please contribute to the conversation and let us hear from you.

Spotlight on process and policy: Responding to inquiries about accreditation and ALA-accredited programs

By Laura Dare, Assistant Director, ALA Office for Accreditation

In each issue of Prism we focus on an aspect of process, policy, or procedure of ALA accreditation. This issue’s column takes a look at how the Office for Accreditation provides information about ALA accreditation in response to inquiries. If you have an idea for a future column, please send it to Laura Dare.

"Which is the best MLIS program?" "Should I enroll in a program that has conditional status?" "Am I allowed to hire a person who doesn't hold an ALA-accredited degree?" "Why isn't there an accredited program in my state?” These are typical questions asked of Office for Accreditation staff.

One of the primary responsibilities of the Office for Accreditation is to provide information about the ALA accreditation process, policies, and procedures, as well as the accreditation status (both historical and current) of specific graduate LIS programs. We receive a variety of inquiries – from prospective and enrolled students, from employers, from programs seeking accreditation, and from the press. The information they’re seeking varies, but our responses are based on information that is documented and publicly available on the Office for Accreditation web pages.

Accreditation has been evolving for over 100 years; it is by definition a process and a resulting official status. The process is well-developed and complex, and the categories of accreditation status are many; neither is easily understood.While most people who contact us think that accreditation is important, many know little about it. Responding to their inquiries is a bit like providing reference service in a library; we must first conduct a reference interview to help them determine their real information need. Then we provide the information, explaining clearly and without a lot of specialized terminology, referencing the sources used.

The sources we use most often in response to inquiries are the Directory of ALA-accredited MILS programs, Accreditation Process, Policies, and Procedures (AP3), and the Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies. Students who are considering enrolling in a master’s program are referred to the Guidelines for Choosing a Master's Program in Library and Information Studies so they can determine for themselves which options are best.

It is also important to note what we do not provide in response to inquiries. We do not advise or make recommendations. We do not rate programs or offer opinions on which is “the best.” We don’t advise on job prospects, career planning, or whom to hire; instead, we may, as appropriate, refer those inquiries to ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR). Because correspondence between the Committee on Accreditation and programs is held in confidence (see AP3, Section I.20, Confidentiality and disclosure), we’re not able to provide specifics on why an accreditation action was taken. We refer such inquiries to the specific program, as policy requires.

It may seem as though the constraints on the information we’re able to provide would frustrate the people asking for help. On the contrary, most people tell us that the information we’ve given is extremely helpful and that they now have the tools to learn more on their own, if needed. In the case of inquiries from prospective MLIS students, we like to think we’ve also given them an example of good service from an information provider – a key strength of our profession.

As always, we in the Office for Accreditation are happy to provide more information on the accreditation process. Contact us at


News and announcements

New email address for the Office for Accreditation! is the new general email address for the Office for Accreditation. Due to a shrinking budget, we’re relying on temporary workers to help with administrative tasks, including sending email reminders and requests for information updates. Because those messages may be sent by several different people, we thought it best to have a recognizable email address. Please be sure to add to your list of safe senders. Of course, you can still reach Karen O’Brien at and Laura Dare at, and the entire office staff at


External Review Panelist update project

The Office for Accreditation is in the process of updating our internal External Review Panelist (ERP) database. Requests for updated information are being sent from to each member of the pool. When you receive the email, please review the information in the attached profile and return it along with your current CV or résumé to our office. This project is being handled by part-time temporary staff, so please be patient if it takes us a little while to respond. Thank you for your cooperation.


External Review Panel Chair training at 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia

Date: Friday, January 24, 2014
Time: 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Location: Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, Logans 1
External Review Panelists who have participated in two or more on-site visits are invited to attend training for ERP Chairs. The session will prepare attendees to lead an external review of MLIS programs seeking accreditation. The session will include a panel discussion, featuring experienced ERP Chairs and Office for Accreditation staff. OA staff will present resources for Chairs to use in the review process. People who are currently assigned to chair a review are strongly encouraged to attend.
Program heads who want to learn more about the site visit and the role of the ERP Chair in the review process are also encouraged to attend.
Please RSVP by January 3 to Laura Dare,, and include “ERP Chair Training” in the subject line.

New External Review Panelists sought

The Office for Accreditation seeks experienced library and information professionals to participate in the accreditation process as External Review Panelists. We are particularly in need of librarians and educators with specializations and experience in the following areas:

  • Archives and records management
  • School librarianship
  • Public librarianship
  • Information science
  • Information technology
  • LIS graduate program administration
  • Service to diverse populations
  • French language skills
  • Spanish language skills

Find out more about what’s involved in serving on an External Review Panel. If you are interested and meet the minimum qualifications, please complete the External Review Panel Member Information Form and plan to attend the training session on June 27 at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

If you know someone who might be interested in serving as an External Review Panelist, please encourage him/her to apply, or send a recommendation to Laura Dare.


COA program at ALA Midwinter Meeting: Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of LIS Master’s Programs

Date: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Time: 4:30pm-5:30pm
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center, PCC-201 B
Join the Committee on Accreditation (COA) in a discussion of the draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. Members of the COA will highlight changes in the proposed draft and will present information on the standards review process, including the research methodology. Attendees will have the opportunity to make comments and ask questions regarding the implications of the draft standards. This program is part of the ALA News You Can Use series.

AASL/CAEP (formerly NCATE) program review training at 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia

Date: Friday, January 24, 2014
Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center, PCC-202 A
New and experienced reviewers and program report writers are encouraged to attend this session to learn about the CAEP (formerly NCATE) program review process, the 2010 ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians, report preparation and review, and appropriate assessments. All programs submitting an initial report must now use the 2010 standards.
Reviewers who have not been trained on using the 2010 standards must attend this session in order to be assigned to review a program using those standards. 
Please RSVP to Laura Dare,, by January 3, 2014, and include “AASL/CAEP training” in the subject line. 
Learn more about the AASL/CAEP program review process.

AASL/NCATE (CAEP) Coordinating Committee meeting

Date: Friday, January 24, 2014
Time: 11:00am-12noon
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center, PCC-202 A

Members of the AASL/NCATE (CAEP) Coordinating Committee are strongly encouraged to attend. The meeting is also open to interested conference attendees.


Update on the transition of NCATE and TEAC to CAEP

The CAEP 2013 Standards for Accreditation of Educator Preparation were adopted on August 29, 2013. CAEP requires that educator preparation providers (EPPs) seeking accreditation complete a self study and host a site visit, during which site visitors determine whether or not the provider meets CAEP standards based on evidence of candidate performance, use of data in program self-improvement, and EPP capacity and commitment to quality. 

Dr. Audrey Church, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program at Longwood University, was appointed by the CAEP Board of Directors to the State Partnerships and Content Areas Committee. The Committee will develop policies and procedures for reviewing specialty area studies, develop and oversee CAEP's role in the review of specialty area studies, review and approve state partnership agreements, develop policies for CAEP's partnership agreements with the states, and make recommendations to the board on issues under the Committee's purview. It is great to have school librarianship represented at the policy-making level. Congratulations, Audrey!
CAEP staff is currently working on guidance for EPPs on CAEP policies, guidelines, and transitioning to CAEP. This is expected in January.
A new CAEP website ( is expected to be launched in January 2014. CAEP Program Review staff is working on content for the new website, including new forms and new resources. Until the new website is available, program reviewers should use the existing NCATE website for information and resources related to program review.
Dr. Stevie Chepko will join CAEP as the Vice President of Program Review, replacing Monique Lynch, who left CAEP last summer. Stevie was a long-time member of the NCATE Specialty Areas Studies Board and was most recently Department Chair at Winthrop University. She has also provided consultation to K-12 school systems on curriculum development and EPPs on edTPA assessment plans and data analysis.

External Review Panelists acknowledged

External review panelists contribute substantial time and energy to the accreditation process to assure quality in LIS education. We extend our appreciation to the following panelists who served during the spring 2013 academic term.


  • Eric Albright, Director, Hirsh Health Sciences Library, Tufts University
  • Elizabeth Aversa, Professor, SLIS, University of Alabama
  • Marilyn Irwin, Associate Professor, SLIS, Indiana University
  • Christine Jacobs, Chair, Information and Library Technologies Department, John Abbott College
  • Linda Smith, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Programs, GSLIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • George Abbott, Librarian Emeritus, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse University
  • Richard AmRhein, Chief Information Officer, Valparaiso University
  • Clément Arsenault, Professeur agrégé, Directeur de l'EBSI, École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’information, Université de Montréal
  • Stephen T. Bajjaly, Director and Professor, SLIS, Wayne State University
  • Rosann Bazirjian, Dean of University Libraries, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
  • Rick J. Block, Metadata Librarian, Seattle University
  • Hong Cheng, Librarian, UCLA Library, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Clara M. Chu, Chair, DLIS, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Judy Dunn, Assistant Dean, Academic (retired), FIS, University of Toronto
  • Gail Dickinson, Associate Dean, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University
  • Donna Dziedzic, Executive Director (retired), Naperville Public Library
  • Edward Erazo, Associate Dean, Communication Department, Broward College
  • Lesley Farmer, Professor, Librarianship Program, California State U Long Beach
  • Rick B. Forsman, Retired, University of Colorado Denver
  • Melissa Gross, Professor, SLIS, Florida State University
  • Samantha K. Hastings, Director, SLIS, University of South Carolina
  • Jami Jones, Associate Professor, DLS, East Carolina University
  • Joyce Latham, Assistant Professor, SIS, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
  • June Lester, Professor Emerita, SLIS, University of Oklahoma
  • Mary Niles Maack, Professor, GSEIS, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Margaret Maes, Executive Director, Legal Information Preservation Alliance
  • Anne Cooper Moore, Dean of Library Affairs, Southern Illinois University
  • Susan Weaver, Director of Library Services, Kent State University
  • Ma'lis Wendt, Associate Director (retired), New York Public Library
  • Cabot Yu, Project Lead, Electronic Information, Citizenship and Immigration Canada


AASL/NCATE recognition news

Spring 2013 AASL recognition decisions

The following programs, which are part of NCATE-accredited education units, received AASL National Recognition, National Recognition with Conditions, or National Recognition with Probation during the spring 2013 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 Programs for School Library Media Specialist Preparation (2003) or the ALA/AASL Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians (2010).
  • Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Teacher Education, Master of Education in School Library and Information Technologies
  • Southern Arkansas University, College of Education, Master of Education in Library Media and Information Specialist
  • Towson University (MD), College of Education, Master of Science in Instructional Technology - School Library Media track
  • University of Central Oklahoma, College of Education and Professional Studies, Master of Education in Library Media

Spring 2013 reviewers

We extend our appreciation to the following program reviewers and auditors who served during the spring 2013 semester:
  • Susan Allen
  • Mary Berry
  • Judy Bivens
  • Rosemary Chance
  • Gail Dickinson
  • Audrey Church
  • Patsy Couts
  • Sherry Crow
  • Lesley Farmer
  • Roxanne Forgrave
  • Dorothy Elizabeth Haynes
  • Cynthia Houston
  • Angel Kymes
  • Linda Lillard
  • Rebecca Pasco
  • Carolyn Starkey
  • Linda Underwood


The next issue of Prism will be published in April 2014. Stay tuned!