Prism: the Office for Accreditation newsletter, Spring 2015

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Spring 2015, Volume 23, number 1   ISSN 1066-7873

Laura Dare, editor

We welcome your comments and questions! Please contact us at

In this issue:


Prism Archive - previous editions of Prism, from Fall 2003 through Fall 2014
Best of Prism - selected articles from previous issues

Accreditation at a glance

64 ALA-accredited MLIS programs
59 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
15,197 Total number of students enrolled in ALA-accredited programs in fall 2014 *
6,735 Graduates of ALA-accredited MLIS programs during the 2013-2014 academic year *
  † As identified by the programs
* As reported by programs to the Office for Accreditation

News and announcements

Annual accreditation fee increase approved

An increase to the annual accreditation fee mentioned in the Fall 2014 issue of Prism has been approved. The annual fee to be billed this fall (2015) is $1,100. Accreditation fees cover just 20% of the cost of doing business; the remaining 80% is funded by ALA.


2015 Standards now available

The new revised Standards for Accreditation are available in several formats:


2015 Standards implementation schedule

The 2015 Standards for Accreditation were adopted by approval of the Council of the American Library Association on February 2, 2015. Implementation of the Standards is as follows:

  • Programs scheduled for a comprehensive review visit in spring 2017 or later will begin reporting to the 2015 Standards beginning with narrative reports due in December 2015. That way, the narrative reports can aid development of the Program Presentation.
  • Programs with comprehensive review visits in spring 2015 through fall 2016 will continue to report to the 2008 Standards until after the accreditation decision is made. A program in this category has the option to use the 2015 Standards upon written notification to the Office.
  • Programs placed on Conditional status under the 2008 Standards will continue to report to the 2008 Standards until after the next accreditation decision.


External Review Panel training at 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco

Date: Friday, June 26, 2015
Time: 8:00am – 12:00noon
Location: Westin St. Francis, Elizabethan A (335 Powell St.)

New and experienced External Review Panelist (ERP) pool members are invited and encouraged to attend a training session on the role of ERP members in the ALA accreditation process. Participation in training is a prerequisite for serving on a review panel.

Participants will learn about the comprehensive review process, hear from experienced panelists, and work in a group to analyze a sample Program Presentation. Mary Stansbury, Chair of the Committee on Accreditation, will present an introduction to the newly adopted 2015 ALA Standards for Accreditation. Special focus at this year’s training will be on Standard V: Administration and Financial Support and Standard VI: Physical Resources and Facilities of the 2008 ALA Standards for Accreditation.

Program heads who want to learn more about the accreditation process, the site visit and the role of the ERP in the review are welcome to attend as observers. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP and indicate that you’d like to observe the session.

Please RSVP to Laura Dare,, by June 5 and include “ERP Training” in the subject line. Registration is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis.


ALA accreditation appeal process training at 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco

Date: Friday, June 26, 2015
Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Location: Hotel Nikko, Mendocino (222 Mason St.)

Experienced External Review Panelists (two or more on-site visits) are invited to attend training on the updated accreditation appeal process and policy. People who complete this training will be eligible to serve on an Appeal Review Committee. This training is also useful to people serving on review panels where the accreditation decision could result in an appeal (initial accreditation review or review of program on conditional status). Program representatives are also invited to attend.

The ALA accreditation appeal process is detailed in Section IV: Appeal Process of the Accreditation Process, Policies, and Procedures (AP3) manual.

Please RSVP to Laura Dare,, by June 5 and include “ERP Appeal Process Training” in the subject line.


COA open session at 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco: ALA Accreditation: External Review Process and Standards Update

Date: Sunday, June 28, 2015
Time: 4:30pm—5:30pm
Location: Moscone Convention Center, 228-230 (S)

Members of the Committee on Accreditation will discuss key aspects of the revised Standards, the implementation timeline, and updates to the external review process.


AASL-CAEP program review training at 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco

Date: Friday, June 26, 2015
Time: 12:00noon – 4:00pm
Location: Hotel Nikko, Peninsula (222 Mason St.)

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 June 5, 2015, and include “AASL-CAEP training” in the subject line.

Learn more about the AASL-CAEP program review process.


AASL CAEP Coordinating Committee meeting

Date: Friday, June 26, 2015
Time: 8:30am – 10:00am
Location: Hotel Nikko, Bay View (222 Mason St.)

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


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 qualifications, please complete the External Review Panel Member Information Form and plan to attend the training session on June 26 at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

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


COA announces accreditation actions

The Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association (ALA) has announced accreditation actions taken at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, IL.

Initial accreditation status was granted to the following program, with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2021:

  • Master of Library Science at East Carolina University.

Continued accreditation status was granted to the following programs, with the next comprehensive review visits scheduled to take place in fall 2021:

  • Maitrise en sciences de l'information at the Université de Montréal;
  • Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Continued accreditation status and release from conditional accreditation status was granted to the following program, with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2021:

  • Master of Library Science at Queens College, CUNY.
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 being visited in the spring 2015 academic term. The accreditation decisions will be made by the COA at its meeting at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

  • University at Buffalo, State University of New York
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Puerto Rico

The following institutions have programs that will be visited in the fall 2015 academic term. The accreditation decisions will be made by the COA at its meeting at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston.

  • Dominican University
  • Emporia State University
  • University of Hawaii
  • Long Island University
  • Syracuse University

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 the 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

Resourcing for effectiveness of comprehensive reviews

As energies turn from standards to process review, resourcing for best effect becomes the focus. Effective reviews—those that provide the best return for program and COA effort—require panels of faculty and practitioners adequate in number and background to undertake the project. For more than 15 years, programs that ask for an accreditation review have been prompted to comment on the size and composition of the panel. When provided, these comments are considered in formulating a list of three to six reviewers for the panel. The list is further informed by factors such as the number of faculty, students, and campus sites.

Review panels are aided by programs understanding the tremendous liberty afforded by the process and the Standards to present what is considered to be the best indicators of quality, including, as a dean recently suggested “faculty size and rank, employment rate of graduates, budget and resources and curricular coverage.”     

In 2010, the Office for Accreditation surveyed experienced reviewers regarding panel size. The survey results show that while reviewer inclination to accept an invitation to serve on a four-person vs. a six-person panel was likely, it dropped to less than half when it came to the prospect of leading one.

This is why the opinion of the panel chair weighs so heavily in determining the number of panelists needed. The chair is project leader and is emissary, serving as the main voice of and face to a program’s institutional leaders, and key link to information for Committee on Accreditation decision making.

Annual fee increase approved

An increase to the annual accreditation fee mentioned in this column last fall has been approved. The annual fee to be billed this fall (2015) is $1,100.  This maintains an ALA contribution of 80% to the cost of doing business.

Latest trends

The latest data from programs, trended and summarized, is available from the Reports and Publications page of the Office for Accreditation website under the Data on Program Performance section. Each program’s data is trended, including student-to-faculty ratios, enrollment, graduation and more. A summary tab at the far left of the spreadsheet provides some overall perspective on the change underway.

Learning outcomes statements: some practical advice

Review, assessment, and revision of student learning outcomes remain front and center in the newly adopted Standards. For a refreshingly different perspective on writing student learning outcomes, see the newest publication from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, encouraging use of ‘operational’ verbs to aid a more natural approach to assessing student performance.

Upcoming COA decisions on Initial accreditation status

Chicago State University’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science program is scheduled for its initial accreditation visit in spring 2016, April 4-5. The COA will make an accreditation decision at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference.

The University Southern California’s Master of Management in Library and Information Science program is scheduled for its initial accreditation visit in fall 2016. An accreditation decision is to be made at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

A list of programs with Candidacy status is now available on the directory page.

Opportunities to connect

Join me at the Committee on Accreditation open session, ALA Accreditation: External Review Process and Standards Update, at the ALA Annual Conference on Sunday from 4:30-5:30, location to be determined. Members of the Committee on Accreditation will discuss key aspects of the revised Standards, the implementation timeline, and updates to the external review process.

I invite you to give me a call at 312-280-2434 or drop me a line at I hope to see you in San Francisco-- you are more than welcome to get in touch to arrange a meeting with me there.

Follow the Office on Twitter @ALAaccred.

By Mary Stansbury, Chair, Committee on Accreditation, and Associate Professor and Chair, Department of School and Counseling Psychology, Research Methods, and Information Science at the University of Denver

Adoption of the revised Standards for Accreditation with ALA Council approval prompts the opportunity to thank the ALA Executive Board for its support and all of the members of COA who worked on the revision for over five years—you know who you are. Most recently, I’ve had the good fortune to work with COA members Elizabeth Aversa, Joan Giesecke, and Barbara Moran to finalize the revision for submission to Council. As always, the Office for Accreditation staff, Karen O’Brien and Laura Dare, contributed their vital perspective and wisdom. A debt of gratitude is owed to the constituent stakeholders who came forward to speak for the changes they wanted to see—your efforts were truly formative to the final document.

The 2015 Standards reflect a wide variety and depth of feedback from our many constituents. Based upon the feedback and using the considerable research on trends in regional and specialized accreditation standards so ably presented by Joan Giesecke, COA restructured and clarified the concepts that continue to be at the heart of the Standards. The restructuring and rewording were completed with these goals in mind: 1) the structure should reflect the intent of the standards; 2) the Introduction should be more clear; 3) assessment and evaluation processes and data are fundamental to all aspects of program quality; and, 4) clarification and simplification of the Standards will be useful to programs, reviewers, COA, ALA, and the general public.

To compare the 2008 Standards to the 2015 Standards, the Office for Accreditation has prepared a spreadsheet mapping the two versions.

COA has turned its focus to review of the accreditation processes, policies, and procedures with the revised Standards in mind and will consider several process and/or policy updates at its April meeting. For example, the 2015 Standards consist of five standards, reduced from six in the 2008 Standards. This change alone has implications for conducting external reviews.

In the course of the Standards revision process, I provided information to and received invaluable feedback from members of the ALISE Council of Deans, Directors, and Chairs (CDDC). As I and other members of COA gave presentations on the revision, dialogs were begun that will continue. While the Standards represent the values and practices of the field of LIS, it is the Master’s-level programs that are most directly affected on a day-to-day basis. The accreditation review process is an evaluative process, and, while it is certainly important for the field to have a variety of types of Master’s programs, it is also important to the profession and to the public to know if a program is meeting standards of quality.

When the COA draws attention to a particular issue, the program head may be understandably concerned. COA is not interested in or driven to catch programs in error. It is our job, however, to determine if the Standards have been met. The term “judgment” is sometimes—and unfortunately—viewed as too harsh a term for the review process. We all make professional judgments each and every day, though; simply put, we apply criteria to the evaluation of a process, product, or person and judge if that process, product, or person is meeting the needs of our constituents.

My term as COA Chair ends with the 2015 ALA Annual Conference. I want to thank the many deans, directors, chairs, and program faculty who were willing to be direct, honest, and courteous with me and the other members of COA. I also want to thank the external review volunteers—the unsung heroes who are so crucial to the effort. Thanks go to ALA staff and members of the ALA Executive Board for your commitment. I am grateful to my COA colleagues for their most enjoyable, intelligent company. This work is a team effort and I am confident that COA will continue to work to align its efforts with those of programs in collaborative and collegial ways.



Spotlight on process and policy: Meeting with the Committee on Accreditation to close the comprehensive review

By Laura Dare, Accreditation Manager, ALA Office for Accreditation

In each issue of Prism we focus on an aspect of process, policy, or procedure of ALA accreditation. A previous Spotlight column, The Committee on Accreditation: What goes on behind those closed doors? (Prism, Spring 2011), explored the work that the COA does throughout the year at its quarterly meetings. This issue’s column takes a look at what goes on at a specific, very important part of those meetings: the Committee on Accreditation meeting with a program head (Dean, Director, or Program Chair) before an accreditation decision is made at the end of a comprehensive review. If you have an idea for a future column, please send it to Laura Dare,

At the conclusion of a comprehensive review and prior to making an accreditation decision, the Committee on Accreditation (COA) meets with the program Dean, Director, or Chair (Dean) and the External Review Panel (ERP) chair to close the review. The meeting lasts approximately 45 minutes and is held at the ALA Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference directly following the site visit. The meeting is closed in order to facilitate candid discussion.

Before meeting with the Dean and ERP chair, the COA coordinates its questions related to the program’s compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. The questions are based on the Program Presentation (self-study document), the ERP report, the program’s optional response to the ERP report, and all interim reports since the previous accreditation decision.

What is the purpose of the meeting?

  • To provide the opportunity to the Dean to update the COA on program developments since the site visit or clarify information in the self-study or the program’s response to the ERP report;
  • To provide the opportunity to the ERP chair to clarify information in the ERP Report;
  • To provide the opportunity for the Dean to respond to questions from COA members that result from their examination of the comprehensive review documentation and reports leading up to the review. The purpose of the questioning is to confirm compliance with the standards.

Who attends the meeting?

  • The Committee on Accreditation. Any COA member having a conflict of interest with the program is not present for the meeting, deliberations, or voting;
  • The Dean of the program. Other representatives of the program or institution may also attend at the discretion of the Dean;
  • The chair or other designated member of the ERP;
  • Office for Accreditation staff.

What is the order of the meeting?

  • Introductions around the table, facilitated by the chair of the COA;
  • Brief opening remarks by the Dean (optional). The Dean may speak from electronic or printed notes;
  • Brief opening remarks by the ERP chair (optional). The ERP chair may speak from electronic or printed notes;
  • Questions from COA members to the Dean or ERP chair relating to specific documentation and its relationship to the Standards;
  • Closing remarks by the Dean (optional);
  • Closing remarks by the ERP chair (optional).

After the Dean and ERP chair leave the room at the conclusion of the meeting, the COA deliberates before making an accreditation decision. The COA communicates its accreditation decision in a letter to the Dean of the school and to the CEO of the institution. See AP3, Section I.15 Accreditation decisions and the Fall 2014 Spotlight column, How the Committee on Accreditation communicates with programs in the ALA accreditation process, for more information on accreditation decisions and the decision letter.

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


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 fallspring 2014 academic term.


  • Kenneth-Roy Bonin, Senior Fellow, Faculty of Public Affairs, Carleton University
  • Linda Lillard, Associate Professor, Department of Library Science, Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  • Margaret Maes, Executive Director, Legal Information Preservation Alliance
  • Anne Cooper Moore, Dean of Library Affairs, Southern Illinois University


  • Rachel Applegate, Chair, Department of Library and Information Science, Indiana University
  • Frank Cervone, Director of Information Technology, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Clara M. Chu, Professor, Department of Library and Information Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Gail Dickinson, Associate Dean, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University
  • Lesley Farmer, Professor, Librarianship Program, California State University Long Beach
  • Rick B. Forsman, Retired, University of Colorado Denver
  • Ross Gordon, Director, Information Management, Environment Canada
  • Vicki L. Gregory, Professor, School of Information, University of South Florida
  • Samantha K. Hastings, Director, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina
  • Mary E. Helms, Associate Director, McGoogan Library of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Robert P. Holley, Professor, SLIS, Wayne State University
  • Christine Jacobs, Chair, Information and Library Technologies Department, John Abbott College
  • Iris Lee, Head of Collection Services, Burns Law Library, George Washington University
  • Rae-Anne Montague, Assistant Professor, Library and Information Science Program, University of Hawaii
  • Edward O'Neill, Research Scientist, Office of Research, OCLC
  • Susan Roman, Dean Emerita, GSLIS, Dominican University
  • Dany Savard, Bilingual Reference Instruction Librarian, York University
  • Herman L. Totten, Dean, College of Information, University of North Texas
  • Vivian R. Wynn, President, Wynn Library Consulting



AASL-CAEP recognition news

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 2014 AASL recognition decisions

The following programs, which are part of NCATE- or CAEP-accredited education units, received AASL National Recognition or National Recognition with Conditions during the fall 2014 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).

  • Appalachian State University (NC), Masters of Library Science degree
  • Georgia College and State University, Master of Education degree in Library Media
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney, Master of Arts in Education with School Library endorsement
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha, Master of Science in Education with School Library endorsement

Fall 2014 reviewers

We extend our appreciation to the following program reviewers and auditors who served during the fall 2014 semester:

  • Anne Akers, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Library and Information Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Mary Anne Berry, Retired/Adjunct, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University
  • Judy Bivens, Associate Professor and Librarian, Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Naomi Caldwell, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Library Media Education, Alabama State University
  • Audrey Church, Coordinator, School Library Media Program, Longwood University
  • Sherry Crow, Assistant Professor of School Library Science/Educational Media, College of Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • Gail Dickinson, Associate Dean, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University
  • Lesley Farmer, Professor, California State University Long Beach
  • Roxanne Forgrave, MLIS Program Coordinator and Professor, Olivet Nazarene University
  • Dorothy Elizabeth Haynes, Director, School of Library and Information Science, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Rebecca Pasco, Professor and Coordinator, Library Science Education Programs, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Barbara Ray, Associate Professor, Northeastern State University
  • Holly Weimar, Assistant Professor/Acting Chair, Dept. of Library Science, Sam Houston State University


The next issue of Prism will be published in November 2015 Stay tuned!

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