MLIS Program Reaccreditation by ALA
In June 2014, San Jose State University’s MLIS program was reaccredited for another seven years by the American Library Association. This is exciting news if you are a student, or are considering pursuing your MLIS degree through the SJSU information school.
According to Lisa Valdez, an instructor and staff member with the school who played a key role in the reaccreditation process, accreditation by ALA is an ongoing rigorous process involving continuous program assessment. Our school’s leaders continuously gather and analyze data regarding the curriculum, student support, use of technology, and training and support provided to faculty.
Although assessment is an ongoing process, the steps necessary to reaccredit the program began more formally in January 2013, as faculty and staff started gathering the documentation they needed to present to ALA and started drafting the school’s report to ALA known as the program presentation.
Representing the school’s exclusively online learning environment required a thoughtful approach, according to Valdez. Rather than describing classrooms and other on-campus resources, the report emphasized the school’s use of technology to create an engaging, interactive learning environment. “Our school’s faculty and technology team did an outstanding job providing information about our online learning environment and our use of technology,” said Valdez.
In the fall of 2013, the completed draft of the program presentation was submitted to ALA for initial review and feedback. After revising the report in response to ALA requests for clarification, the report was formally submitted to ALA in January 2014. An ALA external review panel visited the San Jose campus during March and met with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, both in person and virtually.
What does it mean to be accredited by ALA?
Here’s what the ALA has to say about the value of their accreditation:
Graduating from an ALA-accredited program provides flexibility in the types of libraries and jobs you can apply for and enhances career mobility. Most employers require an ALA-accredited master’s degree for most professional level positions, and some states require an ALA-accredited degree to work as a professional librarian in public or school libraries.
San Jose State’s MLIS program has been ALA accredited since 1969, and with the most recent reaccreditation, the program is fully accredited through 2021. According to ALA, accreditation serves to ensure educational quality, judged in terms of demonstrated results in supporting the educational development of students.
The full program presentation is a long one, but it does include some interesting information. For example, the report includes details about the technology utilized by students in our program as well as student demographics. The resources of the King Library are cited, as well as the multimedia resources available from the schools’ Colloquia series and Career Webinars. All these and more (!) are described and linked to in the 265-page report.
Not just faculty and staff worked on the reaccreditation report, but students also participated in the process. All students were invited to participate in a web conferencing session, where they talked to the ALA review panel. In addition, student assistants helped gather and organize the evidence presented to ALA.
The reaccreditation process was a lengthy, thorough, and collaborative process. According to Dr. Sandra Hirsh, the school’s director, many people provided school leaders with the information included in the report—advisory committee members, students and faculty were all involved in reviewing the draft and providing input. “It truly was a team effort,” said Hirsh.
What was your reason for choosing SJSU’s information school? Did ALA accreditation play a role in your decision?
Other interesting content:
Information School Mission and VIsion
image courtesy of: ddpavumba