Standard II: Curriculum
Introduction to Degrees Offered
The School of Library and Information Science offers four degrees: the Master of Library Science, the Master of Information Science, the Specialist in Library and Information Science, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science. This presentation focuses on the Master of Library Science and the Master of Information Science degrees, for which reaccreditation is sought. The other degree programs contribute to the long-term success of the masters’ programs and the high quality educational environment the school provides. The post-master’s degrees help to attract and retain faculty whose commitment to research enriches the intellectual environment for all students and faculty; these programs are described briefly before a more detailed discussion of the master’s degree programs.
The Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science (Ph.D.), an interdisciplinary, research-oriented degree offered on the Bloomington campus, emphasizes the advancement and dissemination of new knowledge, both basic and applied. The Ph.D. program at SLIS is distinctive because it promotes social science approaches to understanding information and information technologies in human contexts, integrating the investigation of relevant knowledge from information science and the behavioral sciences with appropriate research methods. Because only nine courses are required, and working with the chair of his or her committee, each doctoral student is able to design an individualized program of study that can be tailored to meet the requirements of his or her specific research interests.
The Specialist in Library and Information Science (SpLIS) program is a post-master’s degree offered on the Bloomington campus; it provides the opportunity for concentrated study in a subject area of particular interest. SpLIS students, who have previously earned a master’s degree in library and/or information science, complete an additional 30 credit hours of graduate course work, of which at least half must be taken in SLIS. Students enter this program both to update their professional knowledge and to develop further their professional expertise. They work closely with their faculty advisors to design programs of study to meet their career needs.
The Master of Library Science (MLS) and Master of Information Science (MIS)
are the school’s two degrees provided at the master’s level; both are designed
to prepare graduates for careers as information professionals. The Master of
Library Science is offered on the Bloomington and the Indianapolis campuses;
the Master of Information Science is offered on the Bloomington campus. Both
master’s degrees offer a range of specialization and certification options. The
curricula for these programs consist of core and elective courses designed to
provide students with foundational perspectives and advanced options that
encourage depth and breadth in supplemental areas of knowledge. The programs
are designed to:
1. enable students to acquire the fundamental principles of librarianship and information science,
2. present students with a wide range of technological skills and functional understandings,
3. ground these in an appreciation for and understanding of the appropriate theoretical foundations of library and information science, and
4. support the broader aims of preparing information professionals to understand the resource needs of, and work effectively with, diverse communities of users. Students have five years to complete their masters’ degrees.
Current descriptions and syllabi for all SLIS courses are available on the SLIS website. Semester schedules dating back to Summer I 1999 are available as well, although not all the syllabi will be found, particularly prior to 2002.
Requirements for the Master of Library
The Master of Library Science degree requires completion of 36 credit hours of graduate course work in SLIS. In addition, each student must acquire the basic computer-based information skills needed both for SLIS courses and throughout a professional career. To demonstrate acquisition of this technical base, the student must complete (or receive a waiver for) SLIS 401 Computer-Based Information Tools before nine credit hours of SLIS course work have been completed. Although the three undergraduate credit hours do not count toward the MLS degree, S401 is a prerequisite for many of the graduate-level courses in the SLIS curriculum and a graduation requirement for MLS students.
• S401 Computer-Based Information Tools
FOUNDATION: (Each course is 3 credit hours, for a total of 15 credit hours)
Choose one course from each area:
Assist and Educate Users
• S501 - Reference
Develop and Manage Collections of Information Resources
• S502 - Collection Development and Management
Represent and Organize Information Resources
• S503 - Representation and Organization
• S504 - Cataloging
Manage and Lead Libraries and Other Information Organizations
• S551 - Library Management
• S552 - Academic Library Management
• S553 - Public Library Management
• S671 - School Media
Use Research Effectively
• S506 - Introduction to Research
• S519 - Evaluation of Information Systems
• S505 - Evaluation of Resources and Services
ELECTIVES: (21 credit hours) any 500- or 600-level SLIS course
Requirements for the Master of Information Science
The Master of Information Science degree requires completion of 42 credit hours of graduate course work in SLIS. From its inception, the MIS program has required more graduate credit hours because of the combination of theoretical and technical skills the students acquire. The decision to make this a longer program than the MLS was based on extensive faculty discussion and advice from potential employers and the MIS Advisory Board.The curriculum has been designed to provide a sound conceptual foundation for developing leadership-oriented careers in the information professions and enabling students to develop expertise in one or more specific areas, including the programming skills needed throughout a professional career.
Students who enter the MIS program are expected to have a basic level of computer literacy, meaning a familiarity with basic applications that will be used throughout SLIS coursework and which are taught in S401 Computer-Based Information Tools. MIS students are not required to take this course, but may take the class if they so choose.
The 3 credit hour programming requirement can be fulfilled with a variety of programming courses in SLIS, with a graduate level programming class in another school or department (requiring approval from the director of the program), or waived if a student has current and relevant programming experience.
PREREQUISITE: Technological literacy (or S401)
FOUNDATION (Each course is 3 credit hours, for a total of 21 credit hours)
• S510 - Introduction to Information Science
• S511 - Database Design
• S513 - Organizational Informatics
• S515 - Information Architecture
• S516 - Human-Computer Interaction
• S556 - Systems Analysis and Design
• Programming Requirement: SLIS S517 - Web Programming, S656 - Information Technology Standardization, two 1.5 credit programming workshops (such as PHP, AJAX, or Python), or a graduate level programming course in another IU department, with the approval of the program director.
ELECTIVES (21 credit hours): any 500- or 600-level SLIS course, up to 6 credits from other IU schools or departments
The curriculum is based on goals and objectives, and evolves in response to an ongoing systematic planning process. Within this general framework, the curriculum provides, through a variety of educational experiences, for the study of theory, principles, practice, and values necessary for the provision of service in libraries and information agencies and in other contexts.
Curricular Goals and Objectives and the Planning Process
Introduction and Overview
The goals and objectives for the master’s degree programs are derived from the mission of the school, stated succinctly in the SLIS Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan 2009-2014): The Indiana University School of Library and Information Science is committed to excellence and innovation in the education of information professionals, the creation of new knowledge, and service to a diverse society in a dynamically changing global information environment.
With respect to the curriculum, an overarching goal of the programs is to help students understand both the significance of information in contemporary society and the roles played by libraries, information organizations, information systems, services, and technologies in building and sustaining communities. Toward this end, SLIS faculty are committed to developing and delivering courses that, in the long term, will help our graduates influence professional thinking and practice across the information professions. The faculty will continue to provide intellectual leadership through innovative teaching, active service and original research. There is in place a continuous review and implementation process for revision and improvements to the SLIS curriculum.
Most relevant here is Strategic Objective #5: Offer a rigorous, relevant, and continuously updated curriculum. Libraries and the information professions are transforming in the 21st century and Library and Information Science education must proceed apace. It is clear that the global information society is upon us and much conventional wisdom about how to work with information and related technologies in this environment is challenged on a daily basis. It is imperative that these fundamental shifts in the information economy are taken into account in the LIS curriculum, so that SLIS graduates will have the knowledge and skills to secure employment in all sectors of the economy. “Critical thinking and adaptability will be keys to success in an age of continuous change, serial careers, and digital transformation” (Strategic Plan, 2009). In developing the curriculum, “we will ensure that our academic standards and grading practices are exemplary… [and] will monitor emerging trends in the wider marketplace and identify opportunities for developing” new courses, “new specializations and certificates, which will be launched in-house or on a partnership basis” (Strategic Plan, 2009).
- Eleven actions were described that have relevance for the master’s degree programs:
- Undertake biennial reviews of both the MLS and MIS degree programs to ensure currency and conformance of the core curriculum with professional expectations and market needs
- Explore approaches to learning outcomes assessment
- Develop new tracks/clusters within and across our degree programs to provide the background, skills and experiences that will allow our graduates to compete for jobs in the information professions
- Encourage faculty to revise existing courses and develop new courses and workshops to incorporate advances in technology and work practices in the information professions
- Provide students with conceptual and technological skills sets that are current and competitive
- Explore and encourage opportunities for service learning
- Make greater use of internships (local, national and international), service learning, and extra-curricular opportunities to augment basic professional education and training
- Strengthen ties to the professional and business community and increase interaction between our students, practitioners and the world-at-large
- Gather informal feedback from stakeholder and advisory groups
- Review and refine existing dual and joint degree programs
- Identify new program development opportunities on both campuses
- These were accompanied by nine selective indicators of progress
- Re-accreditation by ALA in 2012
- Employment rates and levels of remuneration of our graduates
- Number of internships completed
- Extra-curricular opportunities undertaken
- Number of new and revised course offerings in curriculum
- Positive comments in student course evaluations
- Number of service learning opportunities for students
- Successful launch of new dual/joint degree programs, certificates and/or specializations on both campuses
- Number of students applying to programs
The following sections discuss the goals and objectives of the two master’s degree programs and SLIS’s planning process as it relates to the curriculum, focusing primarily on the work of the Curriculum Steering Committee
MLS/MIS Goals and Objectives
Both the MLS and MIS degree programs have program-specific goals and objectives that were developed by the faculty and are periodically reviewed and approved by the faculty, the latest rounds of which were in spring and fall 2011. The main goals for the two degree programs are described below; full listings of goals and objectives are presented in Tables 2.4 and 2.5, where they are matched to required and elective courses the contents of which correspond to specific goals and objectives.
- The MLS program prepares students to take leading roles in libraries and other information organizations, contribute to the discussion of key policy issues, and keep abreast of technological trends. Upon completion of the MLS program, graduates are prepared to:
- Assist and Educate Users
- Develop and Manage Collections of Information Resources
- Represent and Organize Information Resources
- Manage and Lead Libraries and Other Information Organizations
- Use Research Effectively
- Deploy Information Technologies in Effective and Innovative Ways
- Approach Professional Issues with Understanding
- The MIS degree program prepares students for careers in designing, managing, or consulting about information technologies and services, in public, corporate, and nonprofit organizations. Upon completion of the MIS program, graduates are prepared to:
- Demonstrate understanding of research necessary for careers as information professionals
- Adopt socio-technical and user-centered approaches to studying and working with information and communication technologies (ICT)
- Work effectively within and across a variety of information settings and contexts
- Participate successfully and responsibly in the information professions
Curriculum Steering Committee and the Planning Process
Ongoing systematic planning that affects the curriculum is carried out primarily by the Curriculum Steering Committee (CSC); the Faculty Policy Council and other faculty members contribute as well, throughout the annual planning cycle. The curricula, including goals and objectives, are the subject of ongoing review and revision by the faculty with the assistance of student representatives from the MLS, MIS and Ph.D. programs serving on the Curriculum Steering Committee. The CSC typically meets once a month during the academic year to review proposals for new courses, consider new and revised specializations and dual degree programs, and discuss issues relevant to the curriculum of all SLIS degree programs, with the exception of the doctoral program (which is the responsibility of the Doctoral Program Steering Committee).
The dean appoints the Curriculum Steering Committee’s members and chair, taking into account each individual’s expertise and preferences as well as the needs of the school. The committee has proportional representation of faculty from both campuses, with four faculty members from Bloomington and two from Indianapolis; the chair is one of these faculty members. The MLS and MIS program directors and the associate deans on both campuses are ex-officio members of the committee. Four student representatives serve on the committee: one MLS student from Bloomington, one MLS student from Indianapolis, one MIS student, and one doctoral student. The committee’s primary responsibility is the development and review of all SLIS degrees (except the doctoral program); dual degree, specialization, and certification programs; and all SLIS courses (graduate and undergraduate, and SLIS courses that are cross-listed with other departments and/or with the doctoral program). Student members solicit general student comments on curricular matters annually in the spring through a face-to-face meeting in Bloomington and an online survey in Indianapolis; as of spring 2012, the survey will also be used in Bloomington in place of the meeting.
A typical review cycle begins with a faculty member (full time or adjunct) submitting to the committee a proposal for a new course, a new or revised specialization or dual degree program, or a policy change (such as raising the minimum acceptable grade for a required course to count toward graduation). An iterative process follows with comments and suggestions from the committee and responses from the person(s) submitting the proposal until the committee has decided that the proposal is ready to be brought forward (or it is withdrawn). The CSC chair then presents the proposal for faculty review and vote at a faculty meeting. A similar process is in place for policy revisions. The faculty as a whole review and vote on proposed policy changes, new courses, new and revised specializations and dual degree programs.
Since 2005, the Curriculum Steering Committee and the full faculty have approved 22 new courses taught under the L597/S604 Topics in Library and Information Science (3 credit) course heading, three new classes that received their own numbers, and 25 workshops taught under the L595/S603 Workshop in Library and Information Science (1.5 credit) course heading. The course numbering system was changed in Fall 2007, which is why courses are listed with L-numbers and S-numbers in this report. The Topics class number is typically used to test courses that are taught two or three times and, if there is sufficient student interest, then receive their own numbers. This approach grows the curriculum deliberately, over time. Workshops are typically offered until the instructor, often an adjunct who is a local professional or a doctoral student, decides not to teach them or student interest wanes. Workshops provide a way to respond quickly to changes in technology or practices in the information professions, giving students cutting edge skills, knowledge, and experiences. No more than six credits of workshop courses may count toward a SLIS master’s degree.
Table 2.1 New courses and workshops introduced since 2005
Minutes of the Curriculum Steering Committee meetings from 2005 through 2011 are available in Appendix 2.1
Other Sources for Curriculum Review and
The Faculty Policy Council meets regularly to discuss policy matters in SLIS. Some of the topics discussed at the FPC meetings have been relevant to the curriculum, such as long-term plans for distance education and student learning outcomes assessment; these issues are referred to the Curriculum Steering Committee when appropriate. (See Chapter 1, section on FPC)
One outcome of faculty participation in the SLIS planning cycle, coordinated by the associate dean (Bloomington) is the identification of suggestions for curricular changes (content and policy) and areas in which new courses, specializations, or dual degrees should be considered. The associate dean discusses minor changes with the faculty members involved. The dean and associate dean conduct an initial review of proposed changes with broader impact and recommend appropriate items to the Curriculum Steering Committee for discussion, review, and proposals to the faculty. (See Chapter 1: Planning on Two Campuses)
The curriculum is concerned with recordable information and knowledge, and the services and technologies to facilitate their management and use. The curriculum of library and information studies encompasses information and knowledge creation, communication, identification, selection, acquisition, organization and description, storage and retrieval, preservation, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, synthesis, dissemination, and management.
SLIS offers a wide and changing array of courses that, taken as a whole, covers the information life cycle as described in Standard II.2. With some 70 courses, most of which are offered annually and about 40 at least twice annually, and with a changing mix of technical and practically-oriented workshops, master’s degree students have many choices as they work with their advisors to chart a path toward their career goals. All courses are listed on the SLIS website and all current course syllabi are available by clicking through the course title. Each course page contains the description of the course from the school’s bulletin as well as the current and older syllabi. Full course schedules are available from 1999 through 2012, although older syllabi may not always be available. The required foundation courses for both degree programs are offered at least annually, with many offered two and three times and in multiple sections during the academic year.
Organization of the Curricula
The MLS curriculum, uniformly adopted across both campuses, and the MIS curriculum are continually reviewed and adjusted to prepare graduates to meet the challenges of the evolving information professions. Table 2.2 lists how the content areas in Standard II.2 are addressed in the programs’ core courses and examples of electives where these topics feature as well. This assessment is based on the courses’ stated learning objectives and contents. The table demonstrates that SLIS students on both degree programs have multiple opportunities to read about, reflect on, and work through problems and examples drawn from the entire life cycle of recordable information and knowledge.
Another way to visualize the broad professional preparation in the SLIS master’s programs is by mapping the ALA’s Competences to specific courses. The competencies are addressed in required classes, electives, and throughout the program as well as in extracurricular activities. Table 2.3 shows the coverage of these competencies in SLIS courses.
The master’s degree programs are also internally consistent, with required courses and electives designed to meet the program’s goals and objectives. Tables 2.4 and 2.5 map required and elective courses to the goals for each degree.
Courses and Other Learning Opportunities
Professional preparation and socialization for successful careers in the information professions require far more than formal exposure to course content during the hours a class meets. The SLIS masters’ programs are broad in scope and provide students with many types of opportunities to learn and experience more about their chosen career paths. Workshops, speakers, opportunities for service learning, active student groups, career panels, and résumé reviews, for example, occur throughout the academic year (and some extend into summers as well). Each component of the standard will be discussed in turn, to illustrate with extent to which MLS and MIS students can gain diverse and well rounded experiences while enrolled.
Standard II.3.1 fosters development of library and information professionals who will assume an assertive role in providing services
At the opening orientation sessions for each newly admitted cohort (January, June, and August) students are reminded that they are being prepared to become leaders in their chosen fields. In coursework, in sessions with professionals participating in career and résumé review panels, and in advising sessions, students learn about the importance of professional responsibilities and obligations to participate in and improve their local, regional, national, and (where appropriate) international organizations and communities. In several courses, students learn about the various codes of ethics that help define the information professions including the ALA Code of Ethics, the Association for Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, the American Society for Information Science and Technology Professional Guidelines, and the Society of American Archivists Code of Ethics for Archivists. SLIS students learn about and are encouraged to join one or more of the active student groups in the school (Appendix 4.1 lists SLIS student groups and chapters of professional associations). ( List 1: Examples of leadership develop-ment from SLIS course..)
The development of library and information professionals who will assume an assertive role in providing services also can be fostered through educational experiences outside the traditional classroom. Many SLIS students are able to gain practical experience from prior work or through employment in local libraries and information centers; an internship frequently offers an additional important opportunity to acquire first-hand, practical knowledge of a particular aspect of librarianship or information systems work. Students complete 18 or more graduate credit hours in SLIS before enrolling in the internship; this ensures that they have an adequate background to perform professional-level duties (with supervision). All SLIS interns are supervised by information professionals and complete at least 60 hours on the job for each credit hour earned. MIS students may take up to 6 credits of internship; MLS student take up to 3 credits unless they are in a specialization requiring additional internship hours. Internship guidelines are readily accessible to SLIS students as well as internship supervisors. Chapter IV, Student Participation in the Learning Experience, Self-designed learning provides statistics and examples of internship placements.
Service learning is another important pedagogical strategy for developing library and information professionals with a strong service orientation. According to Indiana University’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (2011),
By combining academic theory with practical real-life experience, service-learning provides students with a broader and deeper understanding of the course content, fosters their sense of civic engagement, and sharpens their insights into themselves and their place in the community. The concept is a simple one: students provide service in their community that is directly connected to their academic coursework and the community provides an educational experience for the student.
SLIS faculty have arranged service learning opportunities for many years and several SLIS courses provide students with the chance to put their skills and knowledge into practice for a wide range of clients—from for-profit businesses, to non-profit organizations, to state library systems. This service learning orientation toward class projects that contribute to the larger community is evident in List 2: Examples of class projects that contribute to the larger community.
Standard II.3.2 emphasizes an evolving body of knowledge that reflects the findings of basic and applied research from relevant fields
SLIS faculty members are among the most productive researchers in library and information science and are committed to integrating current research into their courses. This includes their own work and relevant research from LIS and cognate disciplines. It is important that students become accustomed to reading, appreciating, and making use of research in their work lives and understand that research relevant to their professions is part of a continually evolving tradition. (List 3: Examples of relevant research ad- dressed in SLIS courses.)
Standard II.3.3 integrates the theory, application, and use of technology
A major theme throughout the SLIS masters’ curricula is the importance of understanding, theoretically, empirically, and practically, the complex relationships among people, information, the technologies they design and use, and the social and organizational settings in which people use them (libraries, public and private sector organizations, homes, out in public). Discussions about theories, applications, and uses of technology are integral in many courses. (List 4: Examples of integration of technology from SLIS courses.)
Standard II.3.4 responds to the needs of a diverse society including the needs of underserved groups
This relates to theme II.3.2 because the body of knowledge about people, information, and technology evolves in concert with the changes occurring in technological and global society. Whether considering the implications of Library 2.0 and 3.0 for the delivery of information services or for collection development, or understanding the ways information and communication technologies influence complex organizations, SLIS faculty are continually responding to major shifts in the information professions in their research and teaching. This theme is present in S505 Evaluation of Resources and Services, S510 Introduction to Information Science, S512 Information Systems Design, S532 Information Architecture for the Web, S556 Systems Analysis and Design, S552 Digital Libraries, and S685 Electronic Records Management, all of which have been briefly described above. In addition, consider List 5: Examples of consideration of needs of diverse society from SLIS courses.
Standard II.3.5 responds to the needs of a rapidly changing technological and global society
The welcome message on the SLIS website reads, “Where others see barriers and boundaries we see opportunities for interaction and integration.... we’ll expect you to critically evaluate the research literature of the field, demonstrate your analytic skills and justify the positions you take.” (http://slis.iu.edu/) SLIS students see these opportunities in many courses; List 6: Examples of responses to a rapidly changing field from SLIS courses.
A relevant program responding to the needs of underserved populations is the Indiana Librarians Leading in Diversity (I-LLID) MLS Fellowship. In June 2008 the State Library announced receipt of a $1 million grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for recruiting and educating 30 ethnically/racially diverse students for this fellowship project (see Chapter IV Nature of the Student Body).
Standard II.3.6 provides direction for future development of the field
Fields advance in several ways; for LIS, two of the most important are the publishing of research that has practical as well as intellectual relevance and its incorporation into the preparation of students who shape the information professions through leadership and service. SLIS faculty are engaged in a wide range of research that provides direction for future development of the field including, but not limited to: library ethics, the mapping of scientific growth and development, the evolution of information science as a discipline, the analysis of social networks, accessibility of e-reader technologies, the analysis of open access practices, the development of digital libraries, studies of the library workforce, the role of information and communication technologies in personal health records, and the quality of online question and answer sites compared to traditional library reference services. Much of this work, as well as research by other eminent scholars in the field, is incorporated into SLIS classes, connecting students with cutting edge research in library and information science. This approach helps students to become critical readers of research and also provides them with a sense of the future directions in our field. In many classes, students use current and classic research in library and information science and cognate fields in weekly readings and as for their assignments and term projects. Examples can be seen, for instance, in the reading lists and assignments in the syllabi for S506 Introduction to Research, S510 Introduction to Information science, and S516 Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, described above. (Course syllabi are available online.)
Students who seek to study topics that are not currently provided in regular courses have the opportunity to work more closely with faculty on independent study courses, either S601 Directed Readings or S602 Directed Research. These independent studies are customized to fit students’ needs. Each year, many of these independent study projects, as well as projects from other classes, result in workshop, conference, or journal papers and publications Chapter IV, Student Participation in the Learning Experience, Self-designed learning provides examples of topics addressed through directed readings and directed research.
Time must pass before the career trajectories of graduates become clear. There are, however, some early indicators. In recent years, several graduates have distinguished themselves as ALA Emerging Leaders (17 SLIS alumni have been so honored since the program began in 2007) and as Library Journal Movers and Shakers (15 SLIS alumni in the past 10 years). Graduates have become leaders, holding senior administrative positions in public, academic, school, special, and government libraries. Many other graduates have made successful careers in academia, industry, government, and the not-for-profit sector. Examples of positions SLIS alumni have held are found on the MLS alumni and MIS alumni pages.
Standard II.3.7 promotes commitment to continuous professional growth.
SLIS seeks to remain one of the top-ranking programs in the nation; faculty and graduates influence professional thinking and practice and SLIS students have numerous opportunities to understand both the significance of information in contemporary society and the roles played by libraries, information systems, services, and technologies in building and sustaining communities. Students learn about the importance of life-long learning and continual growth and development in their professional careers in two ways. The first is through classwork and the second is through activities taking place outside of class. (List 7: Ex- amples of commitment to professional growth from SLIS courses.)
Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to participate in one or more of the active student chapters of professional organizations and other student groups. Nine organizations have active student groups at SLIS, including the student chapter of the American Library Association, which won student chapter of the year for 2011, having previously won in 2005 (see Chapter IV, Student Organizations and Policies on Student Affairs for the list of all student groups). Student organizations provide networking, scholarship, conference, and job placement information and receive modest funding from SLIS. All of the groups have faculty advisors, but it is the students who organize and present the group’s professional and social activities. Professional activities have included an annual career panel, co-sponsored by several of the student groups, technology talks, workshops and demonstrations, résumé review sessions, and panel discussions with professionals.
The Chi Chapter of Beta Phi Mu offers an annual Award for Student Scholarship. The award-winning work is available from the chapter’s website as the award description notes; student work nominated in 2010 and 2011 is available as a supplement to this review for reaccreditation.
Description of Changes in the Curriculum Since the Last Accreditation Review
No major changes have been made to the MLS curriculum since the last accreditation review. The faculty reviewed the MLS curriculum during the 2007-2008 academic year and agreed to keep the MLS curriculum unchanged (see Appendix 2.2 for the notes from these meetings).
The review considered core areas for the program and determined that the six stated in the program goals were accurate and adequate reflections of needs current at that time. The participants then considered course options for fulfilling these goals and decided to retain the current mix of required course or choice between a limited number of course options. Students’ abilities to complete well-planned programs of study and the needs of employers were primary considerations.
The MIS curriculum has changed since 2005. The MIS Program Director led a series of faculty open meetings that culminated in a revised MIS curriculum, reflecting recent changes in workforce. Table 2.6 shows how the curriculum was changed.
Table 2.6 Comparison of MIS curriculum before and after 2007
Specific courses and workshops that have been added, renamed, or removed from the curricula are described in the discussion of Standard II.7]
The curriculum provides the opportunity for students to construct coherent programs of study that allow individual needs, goals, and aspirations to be met within the context of program requirements established by the school and that will foster development of the competencies necessary for productive careers. The curriculum includes as appropriate cooperative degree programs, interdisciplinary coursework and research, experiential opportunities, and other similar activities. Course content and sequence relationships within the curriculum are evident.
General Information on Course Scheduling
In their 2005-2006 review of course numbers, titles and prerequisites, the SLIS faculty aimed to provide a structure that would make the recommended sequencing evident (see Developing New Courses, Renaming and Removing Courses from the Curriculum). As a result, students generally have a sense of the requirements and options for their studies and a notion of how the pieces will fit together. Faculty advisors, ready online access to syllabi, advice from fellow students and adjunct faculty, and schedules for upcoming semesters also assist students in planning their programs of study.
SLIS Bloomington maintains a long-range schedule of course offerings to assist in student planning. Students at both campuses can view schedules for current and upcoming semesters (Bloomington courses and IUPUI courses); students taking distance-delivered courses from the Indianapolis campus have a reliable schedule of online courses.
Course prerequisites also provide structure and guidance. Table 2.7 shows how introductory and required courses provide a basis for more advanced electives.
Joint Degrees and Specializations
SLIS offers an exceptional array of joint or dual degree programs to support the student who wants to pursue subject content expertise while working toward a master’s degree in library science or information science. SLIS capitalizes on the unique strengths of Indiana University by partnering with other high profile departments and schools on the IU campuses to offer a master’s degree in a particular content area in combination with the master of library science or information science. These programs offer advantages to students with subject-area backgrounds or interests.
Specialization options within SLIS also provide ways for a student to focus on a particular aspect of information studies and have that area of specialization reflected on the transcript. Table 2.8 lists and links to the descriptions of the dual degrees, specializations, and certificate programs available to SLIS students. It also shows the number of graduates in each area since 2005.
In general, joint degree programs combine the core requirements of the MLS or MIS with those of the other degree program, frequently specifying certain elective courses within the specialization area. SLIS’s joint degree programs typically require fewer total credits than would be necessary if the student were to pursue the two degrees separately. Although admission to a dual degree program requires separate admission to both SLIS and to the department or school responsible for the second degree, initial application for specializations is made through SLIS. Both degrees must be awarded simultaneously.
The dual MLS/MIS degree program combines the librarianship focus of the MLS degree with the technological information management focus of the MIS. The dual MLS/MIS requires 60 credit hours of coursework, including the core courses for both the MLS and the MIS programs.
Joint degree programs and specializations assist in recruiting students, especially in areas such as music and art librarianship, where opportunities for employment are very competitive. For example, MLS students in the music specialization work with librarians at Indiana University’s renowned Jacobs School of Music; recent graduates have accepted positions as music librarians at the Interlochen Center of the Arts and the University of Oregon. Students who specialized in rare books and special collections have positions as: Assistant Curator, Modern Books and Manuscripts, Harvard University; Catalog Librarian, Yale Center for British Art; and Rare Book Cataloger, Folger Shakespeare Library. Graduates with the specialization in art librarianship have recently accepted positions as Art and Design/Information Literacy Librarian, Louisiana State University and as Catalog/Reference Librarian, Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Some students are interested in both SLIS masters’ degrees to prepare for the myriad and changing demands of the information professions. The Master of Information Science/Master of Library Science dual-degree program allows completion of both the MIS and the MLS with 60 credit hours of course work rather than the 78 hours required if the degrees were taken separately. In addition to the SLIS S401 prerequisite, students complete: 15 credits of MLS foundation courses, 21 credits of MIS foundation courses, and 24 credits of electives selected in consultation with the student’s advisor. Students in the joint MIS/MLS program anticipate employment in libraries and information centers where knowledge of technological information management and resource delivery is required. Recent placements include a reference librarian at a regional library, a taxonomist at a medical device manufacturer, and a learning resources coordinator at an academic library.
Dual master’s degree programs are valuable to students pursuing careers as academic librarians. Because many academic institutions seek librarians with subject expertise, the combination of the MLS and an advanced degree in a specific subject area can give the graduate an advantage in securing an academic library position.
The school has strong recruiting relationships with academic advisors and subject librarians in these areas. For example, students with art history backgrounds may come to SLIS even if they do not formally focus in art librarianship or with the dual MLS/MA Art History. They may have heard of our reputation through alumni connections at ARLIS/NA. The numbers in Table 2.8 show how many people graduated in each dual degree or specialization but do not fully reflect the synergy and importance of the relationships with these other units for recruiting and retaining students.
In addition to the formal, university approved dual degree and specialization programs connected with the masters’ degrees, SLIS offers coursework and advising support to meet the guidelines for the state-approved certification programs in School Library/Media (27 credit hours plus S401) and Public Library (9 or 15 credit hours plus S401). Because SLIS does not award the certificates, there is no record of how many students pursue these tracks.
Each SLIS student is assigned a faculty member as his or her academic advisor upon admission. At Bloomington, important first contacts are Director of Admissions and Placement, Rhonda Spencer, and Admissions Services Coordinator Jill Clancy. Administrative Assistant Stephanie Binney fills this role for Indianapolis students. SLIS administrators (dean, associate deans, and program directors) are also sources of advice and counsel. Specialization advisors provide guidance on their areas to any interested student; they are assigned as faculty advisors to incoming students who express interest in the specialization and to students who choose the specialization after they begin their studies.
An extensive orientation book and beginning-of-semester, in-person orientation provide initial and general advising for MLS and MIS students. The Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses have their own orientation and booklets for master’s students and their websites have generous amounts of information. All SLIS students are advised upon admission to contact their faculty advisors, but some make initial course selections with the information easily available online and consult advisors after they have matriculated. The degree requirements, in particular, are helpful as admitted students begin planning their courses of study (MLS; MIS). Chapter IV, Programs of Study discusses advising and support in more detail.
As students progress through their programs, they also consult example career paths
(which include recommended SLIS courses), compiled with advice from alumni,
particularly recent graduates. The MLS example careers include:
• Academic Librarian
• Public Librarian
• Reference Services
• Bibliographic Instruction
• Children and Young Adult
• Collection Development and Management
• Cataloging / Technical Services
• Library Systems/Automation
• Government Documents
• Law Librarianship
• Health Sciences
Table 2.9 shows the essential and recommended courses for students interested in these career paths.
- MIS students prepare for an impressively wide array of careers, with the result that recommending generally advisable paths through the curriculum is difficult. The MIS career page describes several example careers and discusses how these connect with the MIS degree requirements. Areas of potential employment identified are:
- Policy making; Social Implications of Information and Information Technology
- National policy
- Standards and regulations
- International regulations
- Consumer protection
- Consulting; Counseling
- Education; Training
- Continuing education
- Instructional systems; computer-aided instruction
- Distributed education
- Long-range planning
- Product development
- Information Dissemination
- Selective dissemination
- Agenda setting
- Electronic Publishing
- Mass communication channels
- Business Entrepreneurship
- Marketing and Sales
- Market research
- Policy making; Social Implications of Information and Information Technology
Table 2.10shows with required and recommended courses for students interested in these career paths.
When a program includes study of services and activities in specialized fields, these specialized learning experiences are built upon a general foundation of library and information studies. The design of specialized learning experiences takes into account the statements of knowledge and competencies developed by relevant professional organizations.
In addition to concentrations made possible by the selection of core and elective courses, SLIS offers eleven formalized specializations for students interested in particular areas of the information professions. The nine specializations within the MLS and two within the MIS are:
- Specializations within the MLS:
- African Studies Librarianship
- Archives and Records Management Specialization
- Art Librarianship Specialization
- Chemical Information Specialist
- Children’s and Young Adult Services Specialization
- Digital Libraries Specialization
- Library Technology Management
- Music Librarianship Specialization
- Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship Specialization
- Specializations within the MIS:
Example: Focus on Rare Books and Manuscripts Specialization
The Specialization in Rare Books and Manuscripts is a long-standing and consistently popular specialization, with 30 graduates in the past 5 years. What began as the Specialization in Special Collections was approved by SLIS faculty in March 1998. In April 2005 it was divided into specializations in Archives and Records Management and in Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Specializations are structured so that they include 1) the required courses for the master’s degree, 2) courses core to the specialization, and in some cases, 3) elective courses, which are chosen by students in consultation with their advisors. Table 2.11 shows as examples the MLS specializations in Archives and Records Management, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Music Librarianship.
The Specialization in Rare Books and Manuscripts is fortunate to address an area in which a professional organization has developed and published its statement of knowledge or competencies. A number of specialization courses correspond to various sections of the document on “Competencies for Special Collection Professionals,” prepared by the Task Force on Core Competencies for Special Collections Professionals under the auspices of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL/ALA.
Joel Silver, Assistant Director and Curator of Books at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, directs the Specialization in Rare Books and Manuscripts. He spearheaded the development of the specialization, advises students, and assists in course scheduling in this area. Mr. Silver’s courses on Rare Book Librarianship (S583), Descriptive Bibliography (S684), and Reference Sources for Rare Books (S683) are mainstays for students in the specialization. Other librarians from the Lilly Library also make their expertise (and the Library’s collections) available to students in this specialization. Lori Dekydtspotter, Rare Books Cataloger, teaches History of Libraries (S580); Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts, teaches Manuscripts (S584) and The Book to 1450 (S680); Erika Dowell, Public Services Librarian, teaches The Book 1450 to the Present (S681). Various outside specialists have been recruited to teach Preservation (S582), most frequently Jacob Nadal, SLIS graduate and now Preservation Officer, UCLA Library.
Specializations typically require a three-credit-hour internship (180 hours of on-site work) in the area of the specialization. Many students in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship specialization have completed internships at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, where they worked on projects related to collection development, cataloging, reference services, digitization, exhibitions, and conservation. Arrangements have also been made for students to do internships at other institutions, including the Indiana Historical Society; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Morgan Library and Museum; and the Watkinson Library, Trinity College. Rare Book and Manuscripts students have also done internships with well known antiquarian bookselling firms, including Maggs Bros. Rare Books (London) and James Cummins Bookseller (New York).
Some students in the related Archives and Records Management specialization have interned at, for example, the Smithsonian Institution; the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York; a regional archives of the National Archives; Yellowstone National Park archive and museum; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and a Native American tribal archive.
The curriculum, regardless of forms or locations of delivery selected by the school, conforms to the requirements of these Standards.
The Master of Library Science is offered in two locations and many required and elective courses are offered in more than one mode (face-to-face, web-based, and two-way interactive video and audio). Oversight by the faculty as a whole and the Curriculum Steering Committee helps to maintain consistency in the offerings and conformity with the ALA standards. The most important quality control device is individual faculty members’ commitment to providing a strong, broad-based preparation for SLIS students. Chapter I describes the school’s extensive integration through committees and governance; this support underpins curricular consistency for the MLS.
Since 1990, SLIS has taken advantage of evolving telecommunication capabilities, initially relying on a one-way video, two-way audio system and now using Virtual Indiana Classroom (VIC) and Polycom technologies (for two-way video and audio). These closed system broadcasts allow a faculty member to interact with students in classrooms across the state, with both visual and audio modalities. Most of the distance education courses have migrated to web-based delivery using the Oncourse course management system developed at Indiana University and nationally available as Sakai.
Almost all the school’s distance education offerings originate on the Indianapolis campus; Bloomington offers a small number of specialized electives—such as S604 Topics: AJAX and S621 Audio and Video Sources; until recently, SLIS participated in a consortium that offered courses in archives and record management (via VIC) such as S585 Records Management; S604 Topics: Technology Issues in Archives; S604 Topics: Public Programming for Historical Organizations & Archives; and S604 Topics: Advanced Appraisal for Archives.
Many students on the Indianapolis campus are part time and many commute long distances to reach the campus; therefore, SLIS Indianapolis offers more distance-delivered courses to meet students’ needs. From fall 2010 through summer 2011, nearly half the SLIS Indianapolis credit hours were from distance-delivered courses (51% in person, 49% web and VIC courses). All but one of the required courses for the MLS degree are available online or via VIC with synchronous broadcasts to VIC classrooms at Indiana University campuses in Gary, South Bend, Fort Wayne, and New Albany. The SLIS strategic plan includes offering the MLS fully online by 2014, pending approval by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education.
Eight courses have been offered via VIC (S401 Computer-based Information Tools, S501 Reference, S502 Collection Development and Management, S504 Cataloging, S551 Library Management, S554 Library Systems, S571 Materials for Youth, and S671 School Media).
Twenty courses are offered online using web-based delivery (S401, S501, S504, S532 Information Architecture for the Web, S533 Online Searching, S551, S553 Public Library Management, S571, S574 Information Inquiry for School Teachers, S603 Workshop: Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults, S603 Workshop: Grant Methods for Educators and Librarians, S603 Workshop: High Tech Learning, S603 Workshop: Flash, S603 Workshop: Teaching and Learning at a Distance, S604 Topics: Consumer Health Informatics, S604 Topics: Leadership Forum, S621 Audio and Video Sources, S622 Resources and Technologies for People with Disabilities, S640 Seminar in Intellectual Freedom, and S671). These courses are primarily taught by full-time faculty at Indianapolis.
SLIS Indianapolis also offers hybrid courses that combine online content with traditional (face-to-face) learning. S401 Computer-based Information Tools and S505 Evaluation of Resources and Services are offered in this format.
Maintaining Consistency in Distance
Distance education has been a topic of discussion among SLIS faculty members since 1997, when former SLIS Dean Blaise Cronin chaired a university committee to review distributed education. Faculty Policy Council minutes record discussions of moving to web-based delivery (from VIC) beginning in 2007-2008 (see Appendix 1.2 for the meeting minutes). The development of the school’s strategic plan (2008-2009) provided additional opportunities for discussion as part of the decision to make online delivery of the MLS a strategic objective.
Quality assurance for online and VIC courses is exactly the same as the evaluation processes used in face-to-face courses. Students complete the same course evaluation questionnaire at the end of each semester to ensure that students’ feedback will be incorporated into the school’s planning activities. An example of how student feedback induced changes in course delivery came with the Archives and Records Management Specialization. SLIS participated in a consortium to offer advanced topics courses via VIC. However, the lack of interaction with some instructors and the difficulty in coping with different semester calendars at the various schools impeded students’ learning. As a result, the specialization director is working with the associate dean to increase the number of electives offered on site.
The curriculum is continually reviewed and receptive to innovation; its evaluation is used for ongoing appraisal, to make improvements, and to plan for the future. Evaluation of the curriculum includes assessment of students' achievements and their subsequent accomplishments. Evaluation involves those served by the program: students, faculty, employers, alumni, and other constituents.
As described in Chapter I, information is gathered from formal and informal interactions with various constituencies interested in keeping the curriculum up to date. The school’s planning cycle (Appendix 1.5) identifies the associate dean, Bloomington, and ultimately the dean, as the funnel to synthesize comments from advisory boards, alumni, employers, internship supervisors, prospective students, and others. Reports and suggestions are reviewed each spring and incorporated in the State of the School report, discussed at faculty meetings, referred to the Curriculum Steering Committee, or handled directly with the faculty involved, as appropriate.
Evaluation of Teaching
Students enrolled in each course that SLIS offers are asked to evaluate the course at the end of each term. The survey instrument, based on one used since the 1980s, includes 18 Likert-scale questions and three open-ended questions. In pursuit of efficiency, the Bloomington course evaluation (both Likert and open-ended questions) was conducted online in Fall 2004. The response rate plummeted, so the paper version of the Likert questions (which can be answered on a scan sheet) was revived in Spring 2007; the open-ended questions continue to be handled online. Because the paper-based course evaluation is conducted during class time, the response rate is generally high. These questions relate to teaching methods, instructor effectiveness, course content, and assignments. In Bloomington, the associate dean reviews all course evaluations and the dean reviews evaluations for courses taught by full-time faculty members. Even though the evaluations relate to specific courses and instructors, this review provides information for the school’s planning activities discussed in Chapter I.
The Indianapolis program uses a paper evaluation form with Likert and open-ended questions. In face-to-face classes, students have time during class to complete the evaluation. Students in distance-delivered courses receive the evaluation forms with pre-paid return envelopes. The executive associate dean reviews all evaluations for SLIS Indianapolis courses and summarizes the information for the dean so it can be incorporated into the planning activities.
Some untenured faculty members have peer review of their teaching. At Indianapolis, this is required for their tenure dossier. Peer review of teaching is discussed further in Chapter III.
Assessments by the Curriculum Steering Committee
The Curriculum Steering Committee oversees the master’s degree curricula. The committee reviews new course proposals and curricular changes as needed. During Spring 2011, the committee charged faculty members who teach the MLS and MIS core courses with reviewing course content for consistency and preparing learning objectives that connect with the program goals and apply to the course as offered in both Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Each spring, the student members of the Curriculum Steering Committee host an open forum for student discussion of the master’s programs. The student conveners prepare a written summary of the discussion for the Curriculum Steering Committee (including the two associate deans who serve as ex officio members). The student-only events provide advice and feedback on course selection, course scheduling, and teacher effectiveness. In 2008, the Indianapolis students implemented an online survey instead of an open forum, as a way to increase participation. In Spring 2011, students in Bloomington also replaced the face-to-face forum with an online survey. In 2011, 75 students in Bloomington and 90 in Indianapolis responded to the surveys. These participation rates are significantly higher than the number of people who attended the face-to-face open forums in the past. Written summaries were given to the associate deans for both campuses, the directors of MIS and MLS programs, and the dean. The results of the surveys in Spring 2011 were also discussed with SLIS Alumni Board members.
Major accomplishments resulting from these surveys over the past two years include modifications of the schedule of course offerings, addition of new courses, creation of a career services office in Bloomington, and increased communication with adjunct faculty. Students by and large comment favorably on the career services provided as SLIS Bloomington, the expanded course offerings at both campuses, and the opportunity to take distance-delivered courses from SLIS Indianapolis.
Assessment of Student Learning
In 2009 and 2010, the Curriculum Steering Committee, faculty meetings, and Faculty Policy Council deliberations devoted considerable time to questions of assessing student learning at the program level. In order to examine how well SLIS is achieving student learning objectives and to meet the standards for accreditation by the American Library Association, the school has determined that student learning outcomes assessment will be undertaken in line with its Logic Model of Program Evaluation (see Appendix 2.3) and using the following strategies:
1. The process of outcomes-based assessment will involve students in the MLS programs on both campuses and in the MIS program on the Bloomington campus. The review will include data from all students taking core courses in either degree program.
2. Measures of understanding when students begin and when they complete a core course (e.g., pre- and post-tests) will be used for core courses in the MLS program on both campuses and for core courses in the MIS program on the Bloomington campus. These assessments will be conducted at least once every five years for the five graduate-level core course areas: Each year, data collection will focus on one goal and its respective core courses.
3. In addition, students graduating from the Indianapolis campus will submit ePortfolios. The ePortfolio will consist of items selected by the student from work completed in core courses and in electives that address program goals. Students may include projects, papers, and tests, including pre- and post-tests shared with the Bloomington campus. Through careful advising, the student will be aware of which elective courses address program goals.
Multiple measures will be employed for data triangulation and because of differing campus expectations. Note Outcomes and program goals common to both campuses will be measured; and data gathered by these means will be used for program improvement on both campuses. For example, findings from the review of ePortfolios can assist in determining which program goals should be assessed more frequently.
Note: Bloomington campus guidelines require that student accomplishment be a demonstrated result of the instruction provided, hence the use of pre- and post-tests. Indianapolis campus guidelines use the language “processes for assessing student learning related to these outcomes,” requiring summative measures of student accomplishment of program goals. The ePortfolio has been specifically designed and tested with students, instructional technologists, and assessment personnel at the Indianapolis program to meet the evaluation requirements of the IUPUI campus as well as its geographically dispersed student population.
During summer and fall 2010, three courses (S502, S503 and S506)—two courses from Bloomington and one course from Indianapolis—piloted several variations on the pre- and post-test approach to assess student learning. The goals were to test the assessment methods and to discover what information would be gained. The participating faculty members reported on their experiences and findings for the Curriculum Steering Committee. The committee recommended, and the faculty approved, expanding the pre- and post-tests of student learning to three additional courses (S501, S516, and S510) on both campuses in Fall 2011. Over the summer the instructors for these courses devised assessments plans, in consultation with Lisa Kurz from the Center for Teaching and Learning.
In addition to the school-wide experiment with pre- and post-tests, SLIS Indianapolis faculty members conducted a pilot test of student learning outcome assessment using ePortfolios in the fall of 2010. These faculty members discussed their findings with the Curriculum Steering Committee; notably, they identified weaknesses with technology among the students who participated in the pilot and agreed to incorporate more advanced technology use in the future (see Copeland’s paper in Appendix 2.4 for example).
Developing New Courses, Renaming and Removing Courses
from the Curriculum
Special topics courses allow students to select electives that focus on emerging trends, connect directly with their areas of professional interest, and develop technical skills. Courses covering material new to the curriculum or reflecting special interest and expertise are typically offered as workshops or special topics courses. Students may count up to six credits of workshop courses (S603 - Workshop in Library and Information Science) toward the master’s degree; special topics (S604 - Topics in Library and Information Science) may be repeated as needed. Recent examples of workshops include: grantwriting, storytelling, podcasting, text processing with perl, and Internet marketing. Special topics addressed have covered: legal issues in libraries, audio preservation, advanced appraisal for archives, consumer health informatics, and social networking technologies and libraries. A list of special topics courses taught since 2005 is available (see Appendix 2.5)
In 2005 the Curriculum Steering Committee proposed a renumbering for all SLIS courses, moving from L-numbers to S-numbers. The intent was to give required courses lower numbers and to make relationships among courses more evident. The faculty revised the proposal and approved the renumbering in Spring 2006. Now, for example, the foundational nature of required courses such as S501 Reference and S502 Collection Development and Management is readily evident to incoming students. Another example is that reference/sources electives are clustered in S520s and S620s. In addition, during the renumbering efforts, over 50 courses were renamed (see the list below) to communicate the course content to students more effectively. The new courses numbers have been in effect since Fall 2007.
Since 2005, fifteen new courses have been added to the curriculum. Most were originally offered as topics courses and subsequently integrated into the regular curriculum. The migration of topics courses into regularly-taught elective courses is an important mechanism by which SLIS capitalizes on faculty strengths to keep the curriculum up to date. In addition, some courses are no longer relevant to current professional practice; eleven such courses have been removed from the curriculum since 2005. (List 8: SLIS courses added, removed, renamed.)