Prism: the Office for Accreditation newsletter, Spring 2021

prism masthead

Spring 2021, Volume 29, Number 1 • ISSN 1066-7873 • Susana Stoll, editor
Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcomed. Please contact us at

In this issue:  
ALA accreditation at a glance Fall 2020
News and announcements Previous Editions
COA announces accreditation actions
From the Director of the Office: Outlook
From the CoA Chair: Perspective
In profile: Mary Gregoire, a CoA Public Member
External Review Panelists acknowledged
AASL-CAEP recognition news


Accreditation at a glance

67 ALA-accredited programs
63 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 †
2 Programs with candidacy status
17,173 total students enrolled in ALA-accredited programs in fall 2018 *
 6,138 graduates of ALA-accredited programs during the 2018-2019 academic year *

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


News and announcements

New external review panelists sought

Find out what’s involved in serving as an external review panelist at If you are interested or want to recommend someone, the External Review Panel Member Information Form is accessible from that page. 

Especially sought 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 Midwinter 2021 meeting

Continued Accreditation status was granted to the following program with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2028, reflecting a one-year extension to next visit offered to all programs due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. 

  • Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington. Follow-up reporting is required related to Standards I.1 (program's mission and goals pursued through implementation of an ongoing, broad-based, systematic planning process), 1.4 (evaluation of program goals and objectives involving those served: students, faculty, employers, alumni, and other constituents); 1.5 (explicit, documented evidence of its ongoing decision-making processes and the data to substantiate the evaluation of the program’s success in achieving its mission, goals and objectives); II.1 (The curriculum is based on goals and objectives, and evolves in response to an ongoing systematic planning process involving representation from all constituencies).


From the Director of the Office: Outlook

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

Online connectivity and sheer grit are proving the saving graces of staying informed about program quality. Even with the strains brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, all but a very few programs submitted interim reporting (due each February 15) on time. LIS program personnel and reviewers are clearly soldiering on with commitment. 

The Committee on Accreditation (CoA) hasn’t missed a beat since welcoming five new members last Fall, making decisions at the Midwinter Meeting in January and preparing for the Spring Meeting to respond to the annual statistical data, special reporting, and biennial narratives. In parallel, the Committee is making progress with two key projects underway: revision of the 2015 Standards and creation of a Self-Study template. 

Comprehensive Fee Increase 
Beginning with review visits scheduled in 2022, the fee for comprehensive reviews is increased by 15% to $1,150. This rate remains among the lowest among accreditors. Reviewer expenses are itemized in each billing, a more transparent approach than many other accreditors with lump sum fees. 

Visits that have shifted in the pandemic to virtual mode have taught us how effective that approach can be. Former approaches to visits with members of review panels off-site are again being considered as a default approach. 

Reporting, Response, and Disclosure
At this writing, CoA members are reviewing interim reporting from each program in preparation for its virtual spring meeting at which the reporting will be discussed and letters of response prepared. Its June meeting during the ALA Annual Conference will also be held online. With only one comprehensive review underway after the one-year delay granted due to the pandemic, the Committee will have the chance to progress further with Standards revision and  a template for the Self-Study. By the fall it is hoped that we will be back to meeting in person at the new ALA Chicago headquarters. 

Instability of the email list platform is requiring a pivot to the use of individual emails again and a shift to ALA Connect with an email list function. This works for our small groups (12 CoA members and five review panel members). For broader communication efforts other tools will be employed, including survey applications.  

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! 

From the CoA Chair: Perspectives

By Rachel A. Applegate, 2020-21 Chair, Committee on Accreditation (Assistant Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis, School of Informatics and Computing)

As vaccines roll out in this pandemic, so many of us remain working at home in isolation. After all, who needs an academic administrator like me to talk with face to face?  Even introverts are longing for normality.

A new normal is arriving. Among other things, the events of the past year have brought into clearer focus the essential importance of equity and inclusion, of social justice supported by freedom of information.  The International Federation of Library Associations is working on guidelines for LIS programs, and the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics is working on new language, each incorporate explicit attention to racial justice.  I anticipate an equally thoughtful review of this need within the ALA accreditation standards. In the 1980s— when I went through an LIS program many of my instructors were well-meaning to insist that we “not see race.” LIS educators and professionals finally get that such an approach is naive and ineffectual.   

Another part of the new normal is heightened awareness of the importance of the flow of information: from the blatantly practical like “who has internet?” to the horribly complex, “what does the internet say?”  LIS professionals are deep in the heart of helping our society grapple with this.  

My last Prism column in the Fall 2020 edition was more about programs, and accreditation as a process.  It’s important that programs and processes be robust and humane, but those are means to an end. The goal is a supply of energetic, active, clever, curious, and forward-thinking professionals.  The ALA Committee on Accreditation is consciously populated with both educators and professionals, in order to serve both process and purpose.  Thank all of you for bearing with us.  

In profile: Mary Gregoire, a CoA Public Member

Mary Gregoire is one of two public members on ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (CoA). Public members provide outside expertise and perspectives that assist in identifying accrediting issues to support and strengthen the work of CoA. 

Q. Describe your career path, including any interesting projects you’ve been involved with lately:  
I earned BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the fields of dietetics and foodservice management.  My career included administrative positions in operations (Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Rush University Medical Center) and academia (Chair of the Department of Apparel, Education Studies and Hospitality Management at Iowa State University) prior to my becoming the Executive Director of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.  I recently retired and am enjoying many retirement activities such as cross stitch and knitting that I didn’t have time to enjoy while working.  One interesting project I’m involved with is serving on the Accreditation Working Group that’s reviewing the American Library Association (ALA) Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) “Forward Together” Proposal and developing a response to the SCOE recommendations regarding COA and its structural position within/around ALA.

Q. How did you become interested/involved in higher education accreditation? What led you to serve on ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (CoA) as a public member?
I was involved in accreditation as either a faculty member or administrator of accredited programs during my career and worked on self-studies for my own programs, served as an accreditation program reviewer and was involved in helping develop new education standards.  This passion for program excellence led to my becoming the executive director of an accrediting agency.  After retiring, I wanted to continue my involvement in accreditation in a volunteer capacity, which led to my agreement to serve on the CoA when nominated as a public member.

Q: Public members are appointed to represent the public interest. How would you characterize the public interest with regard to the accreditation of MLIS programs?
As a public member, I try to view CoA work from the various perspectives of “publics” who are peripheral to MLIS program stakeholders. This would include the users of services provided by MLIS program graduates, faculty, and administrators in other departments on college campuses housing MLIS programs and populations who might not be aware of MLIS services.

Q: Do you have any tips or suggestions for future public members on COA (e.g., how to familiarize yourself with the field, how to prepare for COA meetings, etc.)? 
I found it very informative to read the CoA Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures and the Standards for MLIS programs before attending any of the CoA meetings. I also learned more about the field by reading the competencies that have been published for professionals working in the field.  CoA staff and members have been extremely helpful in answering questions and describing processes which were unfamiliar to me.

Q: External review panels serve as the COA’s eyes and ears during the comprehensive review site visit. As a public member, you read many ERP reports and met with many ERP chairs. As a result, do you have any thoughts on the qualities that make a great reviewer and advice you would give a reviewer on making the ERP Report useful to CoA?
External reviewers play a critical role in the program accreditation process and provide vital information that informs the accreditation decisions made by CoA.  What I have found to be examples of excellent reports are those in which the reviewers give specific examples that support how the standards were or were not met by the program. Consistency and clarity within reports is very important. If the reviewers were not able to find evidence to suggest a standard was met, being clear in stating such findings both in their documentation for that standard and in their summaries is useful.  


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 2020 academic term.


  • Ann C. Weeks, Professor of the Practice Emerita, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland


  • Catherine Arnott Smith, Professor, Information School, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Hong Cheng, Librarian, UCLA Library, University of California – Los Angeles
  • Dorothy Meany, Director, Tisch Library, Tufts University
  • Mary Stansbury, Director, MLIS @ Denver Program, University of Denver


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 upcoming months. 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 2020 reviewers

We extend our appreciation to the following program reviewers and auditors who served during the fall 2020 semester:

  • Judy Bivens, Chair, Library and Information Science (MLIS) Program, Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Elizabeth A. Burns, Assistant Professor, Dept. of STEM Education and Professional Studies, Old Dominion University
  • Kelly A. Carney, Assistant Professor of Library Media, Northeastern State University
  • Audrey P. Church, Coordinator, School Library Media Program, Longwood University
  • Gail K. Dickinson, Professor, Department of STEM and Professional Studies, Old Dominion University
  • Lesley Farmer, Professor, Librarianship Program, California State University Long Beach
  • Jenna Kammer, Assistant Professor, Library Science, University of Central Missouri
  • Nancy J. Keane, Library Media Specialist (retired), Rundlett Middle School
  • Ramona Kerby, Professor, School Librarianship Program, McDaniel College
  • Melanie A. Lewis, Assistant Professor in Media, College of Education, University of West Georgia
  • Andrea Paganelli, Assistant Professor, School of Teacher Education, Western Kentucky University
  • Karin Perry, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University
  • Ellen M. Pozzi, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Professional Studies, William Paterson University
  • Brenda F. Pruitt-Annisette, Coordinator, Media Services, Fulton County Schools Library
  • Terri Toland, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction/Library Media, Curriculum and Instruction, Arkansas Tech University

The next issue of Prism will be published in November 2021. Stay tuned!
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