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Library and Information Studies Program Earns ALA Accreditation

By Mindy Ayala-Diaz

Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education and Professional Studies has earned initial accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA) for its Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program. ODU is the first institution of higher learning in Virginia to earn the prestigious recognition.

Initial accreditation by the American Library Association for ODU's MLIS degree is an indication of program quality and commitment and demonstrates the program's compliance with the ALA Committee on Accreditation's "Standards for Accreditation of Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies."

"This initial accreditation from the American Library Association is a significant milestone for our program and for prospective and current students, recent graduates and employers," said Sue Kimmel, graduate director for the program. "An ALA-accredited degree is considered the standard for many professional positions in the library and information field. It gives graduates more employment flexibility and career mobility."

The road to accreditation has been a multi-year process, spearheaded by program leaders and faculty in the college. Initially approved by the provost, president, Faculty Senate and Board of Visitors, the MLIS degree was authorized by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) and first offered in the fall 2019 semester. Since then, 92 students have graduated from the program, with 150 currently enrolled. The MLIS was granted candidacy by the ALA's Committee on Accreditation in 2019, and program leaders commenced work on a rigorous self-study culminating in an external review panel visit in October 2021.

"We are proud of the extraordinary work of our MLIS faculty to develop a program worthy of ALA accreditation," Interim Dean Tammi Dice said. "With a comprehensive curriculum, prolific scholars, innovative approaches to student engagement, and now, ALA accreditation, ODU's MLIS program provides exceptional career readiness to students seeking professions in library and information studies."

The ODU MLIS is an online program taught by faculty with more than a decade of experience delivering high-quality distance education modeled on flexible delivery of content. Mindful of the risk of isolation in online and asynchronous coursework, the model also includes a focus on developing a community of practice where students interact with each other and faculty through public sharing of work, partner and group projects, and the presence of faculty in discussions, office hours and responsive interactions with students.

The program has established a focus on leadership, social justice and authentic practice. This focus is exemplified by the requirement that degree candidates complete an internship. Recent internships have included placements with Old Dominion University's Perry Library, Augusta County Public Libraries, Library of Virginia, Madison County Piedmont Environmental Historic Preservation Site, and Pensacola Genealogy Branch Library.

The Master of Library and Information Studies program at Old Dominion University is accredited by the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation, with the status of initial accreditation. The next comprehensive review visit is scheduled for Fall 2028.

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