Did you know that every seven years the iSchool must reaccredit its master of arts in library and information studies (LIS) program? All programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) go through a very formal and extensive review process.
This was our year, and it was an intensive and involved process. While the iSchool is a strong, highly ranked program, reaccreditation planning efforts started over two years ago. It takes so long because the iSchool embraces the opportunity to spend time reflecting and thinking about progress, accomplishments, and plans for the future.
“While it was a lot of work, in the end it was a very helpful and overwhelmingly positive process,” said iSchool Director Alan Rubel. “We don’t always get the opportunity to slow down to reflect and evaluate all that we are working on. The accreditation self-study and site visit gave us that opportunity. It helped us realize how much we have accomplished and better appreciate the strength of our students, program, and faculty. It’s clear that the program is healthier than ever and that it has a very bright future as well.”
To achieve accreditation, the iSchool was required to demonstrate high achievement on a wide and diverse set of standards, which set benchmarks for quality in the domains of curriculum, faculty, student affairs, planning, and administration.
“I’ve served as a site visitor for three other master of library science programs so far,” commented iSchool Professor Catherine Arnott Smith. “I can attest to the value not only of ALA accreditation but of the accreditation process in helping master of library science programs understand their goals and accomplishments as a school — and how to continually improve going forward.”
To earn reaccreditation, the iSchool provided a comprehensive written report and evidence documenting the work of the LIS program. Then independent, trained volunteers drawn from both academia and the information industry visited campus for several days to conduct an onsite evaluation. The iSchool’s site visit happened in October, when reviewers met with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as the head of libraries, dean of the College of Letters & Science, and the UW–Madison provost.
While the final site visit happened in late 2022, the department didn’t officially receive word of reaccreditation until late January. Thank you so much to all who participated in the process, including our alumni, stakeholders, UW leadership, and members of the ALA Committee of Accreditation.