The School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC at Chapel Hill has received the maximum allowable accreditation period of seven years from the American Library Association (ALA) for its two professional degrees (master of science in library science and the master of science in information science).
The school’s library science (LS) master’s degree program has been continuously accredited by the ALA since 1934, shortly after the school was founded at UNC at Chapel Hill. SILS was one of the first two school’s in the country to submit an information science (IS) master’s program for ALA accreditation and the first school to receive a full seven-year IS accreditation.
"I am delighted that both programs received the full seven-year accreditation," said SILS Dean Joanne Gard Marshall. "It recognizes the excellence of the students, faculty, staff and alumni of our school. A lot of people put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring that the good work being done at our school was documented and demonstrated during the accreditation process."
SILS’ faculty and staff members worked for nearly two years, preparing a lengthy and very detailed written self-assessment of the school’s two master’s degree programs. A three-person ALA external review panel then visited the school in November and met with students, faculty, staff and alumni about various aspects of the school’s operations. Two additional off-site panel members were also involved.
The external review panel then prepared its own written report, which it submitted to the ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA). At the ALA’s recent annual meeting in San Antonio, Marshall appeared before the COA to address any issues the committee may have had with either or both of the school’s master’s degree programs. The committee then continued its consideration, having the option to not accredit the program, or accredit it for as many as seven years.
"The ALA’s accreditation process is very comprehensive. A seven-year accreditation period can no longer be taken for granted, even by the top schools," Marshall added. "The combined efforts of all members of the SILS community were required to demonstrate the continuing excellence of the school."
"We are committed to an open review of our programs and see the [accreditation] process as an opportunity for doing things even better," Marshall said. "It is an exciting time of growth and opportunity for our field and we are proud to be on the leading edge."
SILS, founded at UNC at Chapel Hill by librarian and educator Louis Round Wilson in 1932 as the School of Library Science, introduced its information science degree, and changed its name to reflect its expanded focus, in 1992. Today approximately 30 percent of the school’s 225 master’s degree students are candidates for an IS degree.
The information science degree is designed to prepare students to contribute to the design, development and maintenance of information systems and networks and to provide leadership in the development of new technologies and new applications relating to the delivery of information in many different environments. Graduates have gone on to work in a variety of organizations in the Research Triangle Park and across the globe.
The ALA is recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Education and by the U.S. Secretary of Education as the accrediting agency for graduate programs in library and information studies leading to a master’s degree. Additional information about the ALA review process can be found at www.ala.org.
The School of Information and Library Science, recently ranked number one in a U.S. News & World Report survey of library science programs, is home to approximately 250 graduate students, 70 undergraduates and 19 full-time faculty members. It prepares students to work with computer information systems and networks or for careers in library administration, acquisitions, collections management and other aspects of library and information work.
SILS offers master’s degrees in information science and library science, a certificate of advanced study, a doctor of philosophy in information and library science and an undergraduate minor in information systems.