In an article titled “Trends in Accreditation” that appears in the May 2019 issue of American Libraries magazine, author Terry Weech explores the growth of the iSchool movement, and how he feels it has contributed in-part to pressure on the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation to expand its accreditation standards beyond librarianship.
The iSchools organization extends its appreciation to Dr. Weech. The organization welcomes discussion of the iSchools organization, and the roles our members play in the ever-evolving information field. As iSchools Executive Director Michael Seadle is quoted as saying, “The growth of the international iSchools group and the broadened definition of information science represent defining trends because they cut across disciplinary and national boundaries.”
However, Weeks draws an inference about our organization that could be misleading. He states the following: “In 2019, the iSchools membership directory lists 101 institutions worldwide, but fewer than 40 have ALA-accredited programs. The iSchools represent a population of schools in information studies in which LIS programs are a minority.”
To clarify, the iSchools are an international organization. The majority of our members are outside North America, and their LIS programs are thus not eligible for accreditation by ALA. If you consider only our eligible North American member-schools, a significant majority of that subset have ALA accredited programs.
In addition, a significant majority of our international membership have LIS programs; it’s just that these programs are not eligible to seek ALA accreditation due to their geographic location. They are nevertheless meaningful and vibrant programs. When taken as a whole, LIS programs are by no means “a minority” among the iSchools—in fact, these programs represent a significant point of commonality across the iSchools’ membership.
The iSchool movement began several decades ago in the United States when a number of schools that were offering degrees in the library and information sciences realized that their teaching and research programs had capacity to reach a broader audience of students and also prepare professionals for work beyond libraries.
The iSchools organization now includes more than 100 schools from all parts of the world. Scholars and researchers in iSchools are focusing their attention on enhancing the lives of people, the productivity of companies, the innovation cycles of industries, the design of technologies, the policies that govern technology and information use, information services to communities, and much more.