Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Current Landscape of the School Librarianship Curricula in USA

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Current Landscape of the School Librarianship Curricula in USA

Article excerpt


With the availability of online resources and the advances in information and communication technology, the professional environment in library science has been greatly changed in the past two decades in the United States, a change that has directly and indirectly impacted School Library Media (SLM) and Library and Information Science (LIS) educational programming. To respond to the change, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) have revised the guidelines and standards for School Library Media (SLM) specialists (Garry, 2010; Stephens & Franklin, 2009). LIS programs have implemented major curriculum changes (Robbins, 1998), including the launch of iSchools to support an interdisciplinary approach to the field (Wiggins & Sawyer, 2010). These changes may impact most school library media programs since most American Library Association (ALA)-accredited LIS programs also offer school librarianship programs. In view of these changes a systematic examination of nationwide curricula components is needed.

While a few empirical studies of LIS curriculum in North America have been conducted (Beheshti, 1999; Markey, 2004), a review of the literature reveals that no attempt has been made to systematically analyze curriculum components of school library programs. Such a systematic analysis is needed, however, given the change in school library programs. This study examines the curriculum components of school library programs existing within ALA-accredited programs, AASLrecognized programs, and programs that have neither ALA accreditation nor AASL recognition.

Review of the Literature

In one of the first attempts to map LIS curricula into subjects, Beheshti (1999) analyzed the titles and descriptions of courses offered by the 44 ALAaccredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs and identified 57 major concepts with coverage intensity. The methodology was based on a hierarchical cluster analysis to create clusters of topics. According to this initial analysis, the four most intensive concepts were technology, management, organization of information, and searching and database development. Beheshti concluded that while the traditional LIS concepts were covered, newer concepts, such as database development, mathematical methods, non-print media, human-computer interface, and artificial intelligence, have also been incorporated into LIS curricula. Markey (2004) manually analyzed the LIS curricula of 56 institutional members of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). Her study showed that a typical set of core requirements is comprised of five courses: Organization, Reference, Foundations, and Management, and one course in either Research or Information Technology. She also identified a new trend, the focus on a user-centered approach to information delivery. Hall (2009) manually examined the core curricula of 55 ALA-accredited LIS programs, focusing on the required core courses, and found six main areas of emphasis: Foundations, Organization, Management, Reference, Research Methods, and Information Technology. He concluded that the core curricula have evolved "to meet the changing complexity of the information environment," but some areas such as information literacy and information ethics are not growing quickly enough (p. 66).

In examining the implementation of professional standards into LIS curriculum, various studies have reported contradictory findings. Comparing the LIS core curricula to the subjects listed in the 1976 International Federation of Library (IFLA) standards, Marco's study (1994) reported that no LIS program is required to cover all the basic subjects described in the standards. However, Irwin (2002), using the same IFLA standards, reported a quite different result, finding that the IFLA subjects are covered by LIS core curricula. McKinney's article (2006) examined 56 ALA-accredited LIS curricula against eight ALA core competencies and reported that 95% of the programs have courses that address all the core competencies, but only 15% satisfy all the proposed competencies through required courses. …

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