Prism: the Office for Accreditation newsletter, Spring 2022

prism masthead

Spring 2022, Volume 30, Number 1 • ISSN 1066-7873 • Susana Stoll, editor
Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcomed. Please contact us at accred@ala.org

In this issue:  
ALA accreditation at a glance Fall 2021
News and announcements Previous Editions
COA announces accreditation actions
From the Director of the Office: Of Note
From the CoA Chair: Perspective
In profile: Jennifer Weil Arns
External Review Panelists acknowledged
AASL-CAEP recognition news

 


Accreditation at a glance

68 ALA-accredited programs
64 institutions with ALA-accredited programs
34 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 †
1 Programs with candidacy status
18,724 total students enrolled in ALA-accredited programs in fall 2020 *
 6,255 graduates of ALA-accredited programs during the 2019-2020 academic year *

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

 


News and announcements

2022 Proposed Revision to the ALA Standards

Ongoing review of the ALA 2015 Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies has culminated in a draft revision, released to the public on April 4, 2022.

The proposed revision and methods for feedback are available here: https://www.ala.org/aboutala/2022-update-ala-standards-accreditation-mas...

Once a revision is approved by the ALA Council, programs will be asked to begin responding to it in the next report. Programs that have already begun a comprehensive review cycle will remain responding to the same version of the Standards throughout the review. 

 

External Review Panel (ERP) and Appeals Training at 2022 ALA Annual Conference

Date: Thursday, June 23, 2022
Time: 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Washington Marriott at Metro Center (775 12th St NW), Jr Ballroom Salon 1
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. The first part from 3 pm to 4 pm will help attendees prepare to conduct a review. ERP members will share their experience and OA staff will present resources for use in the review process. LIS program representatives who are interested in learning more about the comprehensive review process are also encouraged to attend. From 4:15 pm to 5 pm, the training will focus on the appeal process.

Please RSVP to accred@ala.org, by June 17, 2022, and include “ERP Training” in the subject line.
 


COA announces accreditation actions

At the COA meeting at the 2022 Midwinter Meeting
Initial Accreditation status was granted to the following program with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2028. 

  • Master of Library and Information Studies at Old Dominion University. Meets all standards. No follow-up reporting required.

Continued Accreditation status was granted to the following programs with the next comprehensive review visit scheduled to take place in fall 2028.

  • Master of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa. Meets all standards. No follow-up reporting required.
  • Master of Library and Information Science at Valdosta State University. Meets all standards. No follow-up reporting required.
     

From the Director of the Office: Of Note

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

There is so much to celebrate about the amazing online virtuosity and a spirit of flexibility external review panels (ERP) and program personnel have exercised to keep reviews on schedule. One of the most amazing of those review panels was led by Jean Donham as Chair, leading  the first of the virtual visits during the pandemic. She and the administration of the program signed off on a memorandum of understanding about how the visit would proceed with the understanding that the Committee on Accreditation (CoA)/ Committee) might in the end also require an on-site visit once it was safe to do so. The virtual visit was conducted with such care by all that there was no need for a later on-site visit. Jean will be sharing about that journey at the ERP Chair Training scheduled for Thursday, May 19 from 1:00-1:50 pm CDT. To attend, please send an email to accred@ala.org with the subject line: ERP Chair Training Registration.

Jean will also at that training take attendees through use of the template for the External Review Panel Report. She was a lead developer of the template while serving on CoA, especially leading that effort on the CoA Subcommittee on Process and Planning. 

Most programs took the CoA offer of a one-year delay to the next visit due to the pandemic. That pause provided some room from its constant program  review charge from ALA: “To be responsible for the execution of the accreditation program” to focus on the Standards development aspect of its charge from ALA: “…develop and formulate standards of education for library and information studies for the approval of council.” That focus has resulted in a revision to the 2015 Standards which can be found, along with the link to the survey (open until May 13, 2022) to provide feedback, at https://www.ala.org/aboutala/2022-update-ala-standards-accreditation-mas.... Throughout the pandemic, the Committee has met virtually, not missing a single one of its quarterly meetings. New members that began their term in the fall have energetically engaged in the work and are set to tackle the spring meeting docket of reviewing reports interim to a comprehensive review:  statistical and narrative reporting. 

Comprehensive Fee Increase 
As reported last year at this time, beginning with review visits scheduled in 2022, the fee for comprehensive reviews has increased to $1,150. With reviewer expenses itemized in each billing, rather than built into review fees as with many other accreditors, the cost to programs is thereby significantly reduced by a virtual visit approach

Visits that have shifted in the pandemic to virtual mode have taught us how effective that approach can be. The former approach to review visits with some all members of review panels off-site is under consideration again.

Back to Meeting Face-to-Face
We are offering a general reviewer training on Thursday afternoon 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm during  the 2022 ALA Annual Conference in Washington , DC, at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center at 775 12th St NW (room to be determined-TBD) The Committee on Accreditation is scheduled to meet in person  to tackle five comprehensive reviews and conduct an open session on the Standards revision on Saturday, June 25 from 5:30-7:00 pm at the Marriott Metro Center hotel (room TBD). 

Meaningful Engagement
Professionals with five or more years of work experience are encouraged to flex their virtuosity with colleagues as external review panelists. It is the best pathway to appointment on the Committee on Accreditation— a way like no other to build your knowledge and team building skills. Apply to become a member of the external reviewer pool at https://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/resourcesforerp/becomereviewer/ER.... 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 accred@ala.org for more information. 

Good health! 

 


From the CoA Chair: Perspective

By Linda C. Smith, 2021-22 Chair, Committee on Accreditation (Interim Executive Associate Dean, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, lcsmith@illinois.edu)

I earned my M.S. in library science in June 1972, the same month that the Council of the American Library Association adopted the Standards for Accreditation 1972. The Introduction notes that “the many changes that have occurred in library service between 1951 and 1972 are reflected in the present Standards, while conversely, many features of the 1951 document, which have shown that they could stand the test of time, are retained.”  Fifty years later in 2022 (following subsequent revised standards published in 1992, 2008, and 2015), proposed revisions are once again under review (https://www.ala.org/aboutala/2022-update-ala-standards-accreditation-mas...).
Over this time revisions have been made in response to salient issues in higher education, the profession, and society at large.  For example, in 2008, “The most important issues at the time of the revision included: diversity, systematic planning, student learning outcomes, definition of the field, interaction with other fields of study and other campus units, distance education, globalization, management, multiple degree programs, values, and ethics.”  In 2022 standards revision needs to reflect such developments as the continued growth of online education (accelerated by the response of higher education during the pandemic); increasing emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion; variations in institutional contexts for library and information studies (LIS) programs; the varied career trajectories of graduates of LIS programs; and differentiation of faculty positions (e.g., professors of practice, tenured, adjunct). 
Goals for the proposed revisions of the 2015 standards include:

  • Foreground importance of student learning outcomes, consistent with the expectations of  the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and regional accrediting organizations
  • Identify standards that need to be revised or updated to reflect the current institutional context of LIS education and/or the needs of the profession
  • Place more emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion, making it clear what programs  should demonstrate
  • Revise standards that are difficult to interpret and/or not clearly written
  • Reduce redundancy
  • Omit standards that are not relevant to achieving educational quality
  • Make sections of each standard more explicit
  • More clearly differentiate between what should be covered under Standard I: Systematic  Planning and the remaining standards with respect to evaluation, decision-making, and improvement of the program and planning for the future
  • Transfer some sections to a different standard in order to create more coherent groupings  related to learning outcomes/curriculum; faculty; students; and administration, finances, and resources (infrastructure).

As has been the case since the 1992 revision, “The requirements of these Standards apply regardless of forms or locations of delivery of a  program.”  Online delivery of programs has significantly expanded access to LIS education, but students, employers, and the public at large must have confidence that such programs maintain quality by meeting the Standards.  

As a faculty member in an ALA-accredited program for more than forty years, I also recognize that: “The Standards stress innovation, and encourage programs to take an active role in and concern for future developments and growth in the field.”  Responses to the pandemic by our programs and by our graduates in the field reinforce the importance of innovation as key to resilience.  

Feedback on the proposed revisions can be provided through an online survey open through May 13, 2022 (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TMQ92H9) as well as through forums scheduled online and at the ALA Conference in June.  I will conclude my four-year term on COA at the conference and am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the profession in this role.  Thanks especially to Karen O’Brien and Susana Stoll of the Office for Accreditation, my fellow COA members, and the external review panelists who sustain the work of accreditation review.   

 


In profile: Jennifer Weil Arns

Q. Describe your career path, including any interesting projects you have been involved with lately. 
Unlike many people's career path, mine has not been straight forward. After receiving my MLIS from the University of California at Berkeley I worked in a variety of settings, including public libraries, special libraries, and research and government organizations. After a stint as the Director of one of the Regional US Environmental Protection Agency Libraries, I accepted a position at the U.S. General Accounting Office's New England location. While there, I moved from an Information Specialist to a Senior Evaluator, working on and leading evaluation projects in the areas of health, national defense, transportation, and information policy. After a great experience teaching at North Carolina Central University, I moved to the University of South Carolina in 2003, where I started and supervised the Doctoral Program until 2016. As an Associate Professor, I currently teach public library courses into which I stealthily (one of my Colleague's words, not mine) introduce information science models. I am currently working on an exciting USC- Charleston County Public Library experimental partnership based on our shared values: commitment to excellence in public service and dedication to actions that strengthen public libraries’ ability to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities where they are located. 

Q. When, why, and/or how did you initially become interested in serving as an accreditation external review?
I became aware of the review process by chance during my doctoral studies when Dr. Evelyn Daniel asked me to participate in assembling the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill evidence for their upcoming review. It was fun, instructive, and an excellent introduction to the University and the accreditation process.   

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the qualities that make an effective review panelist?
Yes. First thing: a panelist needs to be a good listener and an active participant. Secondly, they need to feel comfortable in their role, have good writing skills, and be a flexible and enthusiastic team member.  

Q. What advice would you give to new review panelists?
Plan to enjoy yourself. Attend training meetings and set aside a good bit of time. You'll need it

Q. What do you feel is the most important aspect of preparing for a comprehensive review - for programs and for reviewers?
From my perspective, the most important thing is familiarity with the Standards and the types of evidence that are useful in addressing them. When these are in sync, the review is seamless. 

Q. What advice would you give someone involved in working on a program’s comprehensive review for the first time-- for programs and for reviewers? 
Seek out experienced colleagues. They are likely to know what's worked in the past and what hasn't. Also stay in touch with the Office for Accreditation. They are wonderfully supportive and can often produce quick guidance and answers to knotty questions.

Q. Do you have any general observations about the accreditation process that you'd like to share? 
Yes. I honestly think being a review panelist is a great experience for anyone with an analytic bent who is interested in the field of education. But there are other aspects that make it particularly rewarding. For example, meeting and working with new colleagues. The week or two of shared experience often creates bonds that go forward. Detailed participation in the review process in any way also provides a better understanding of the culture and norms that govern universities as well as academic programs. If you are a panelist, you go home with a hat full of good ideas and new practices. Preparing your own review provides an unusual opportunity to look more carefully at what you do and why.

 Q. What are two good books you would recommend? 
I am a great Louise Penny fan, and now that I have forgotten what living with snow is like, I want to live in Three Pines Quebec. I recommend the first two novels in her Gamache series. 

 


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 2021 academic term.

Chairs

  • Mirah J. Dow, Professor, School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University
  • John B. Harer, Retired Associate Professor, Master of Library Science Degree Program, East Carolina University
  • Lynne McKechnie, Professor Emerita, Faculty of Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario

Panelists

  • Richard AmRhein, Professor of Library Science, Valparaiso University
  • Clément Arsenault, Vice-Dean and Secretary, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Université de Montréal
  • Clara Chu, Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Linda C. Cook, CEO, Edmonton Public Library, retired
  • John D'Amicantonio, Information Resource Officer (retired), U.S. Department of State
  • Peter Deekle, Dean of University Libraries (retired), Roger Williams University
  • Jean Donham, Professor (retired), University of Northern Iowa
  • Linda L. Lillard, Professor and Chair, Department of Information and Library Science, School of Information Sciences, Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  • Joe Mocnik, Dean of Libraries, North Dakota State University
  • Rae-Anne Montague, LIS Program Coordinator, Chicago State University
  • Laura Saunders, Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University
  • Dany Savard, Director, Open Scholarship, York University Libraries

New external review panelists sought
Find out more about what is involved in serving on an external review panel at http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/resourcesforerp/becomereviewer/ERP.... 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

AASL-CAEP recognition news

Fall 2021 AASL recognition decisions
The following program, which is part of a CAEP-accredited education unit, received AASL National Recognition or National Recognition with Conditions during the fall 2021 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. 

  • McDaniel College, School Library Media

Fall 2021 reviewers

We extend our appreciation to the following program reviewers and auditors who served during the fall 2021 semester:

  • Cassandra Barnett, Library Media Specialist, Curriculum Support, Arkansas Department of Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Mary Ann Berry, Retired/Adjunct, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University
  • Judy Bivens, Chair, Library and Information Science (MLIS) Program, Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Elizabeth A. Burns, Associate Professor, Dept. of STEM Education and Professional Studies, Old Dominion University
  • Audrey P. Church, Coordinator, School Library Media Program, Longwood University
  • Sherry Crow, Professor and Department Chair, Advanced Education Programs, Fort Hays State University
  • April Dawkins, Assistant Professor, Library & Information Science (LIS) Department, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Lesley Farmer, Professor, Librarianship Program, California State University Long Beach
  • Ramona Kerby, Professor, School Librarianship Program, McDaniel College
  • Vandy Pacetti-Donelson, Director of Library and Instructional Design, United States Sports Academy
  • Andrea Paganelli, Associate Professor and Grad Coordinator, School of Teacher Education, Western Kentucky University
  • Ellen M. Pozzi, Professor, Educational Leadership and Professional Studies, William Paterson University
  • Holly A. Weimar, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Library Science, Sam Houston State University

 
The next issue of Prism will be published in November 2022. Stay tuned!
Please send comments or feedback to accred@ala.org.