The School of Information Resources and Library Science educates students for the library and information professions. The program offers a Master of Arts degree, a fully accredited terminal degree for practice in library and information professions, and a PhD program for students wishing to pursue research in library and information science.
SIRLS also offers a fully online graduate certificate program in Digital Information Management and an undergraduate minor in Information Resources and Library Science with a focus on digital information studies.
The Master of Arts degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). ALA first accredited SIRLS master’s program in 1972/73; our last accreditation review in 2006 resulted in the maximum length of site review cycle—7 years. Our next accreditation review is in 2012. In addition, all of our programs are assessed by the University of Arizona through the Academic Program Review (APR) process.
Assessment of the school’s programs as well as student performance is ongoing from initial recruitment of students to their conferral of degrees. Assessment activities are both formal and informal. Data is collected from a variety of sources at a variety of points during the tenure of a student and the lifecycle of our programs. Results of assessment activities are reviewed and used to make improvements. Both processes and products are documented and archived for future use and reference.
- The ‘School of Library Science’ was founded within the UA College of Education in 1969 and conferred its first master’s degree in 1971.
- The master’s program was first accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1972.
- The school moved into its current building on the UA campus, called ‘the Pink Motel,’ in 1974.
- In 1985, the School moved from the College of Education to the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, later renamed the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS).
- In 1993, the degree we offered, the Master of Library Science, was replaced by the Master of Arts degree in Information Resources and Library Science. The School was also authorized in this year to confer the PhD.
- In 1996, our name was changed to the 'School of Information Resources and Library Science' or SIRLS.
SIRLS is committed to regular and ongoing assessment of our students and our programs. Moreover, we use the results of these assessments in strategic planning, decision making, and curriculum review and development.
We describe here our basic philosophy of assessment in terms of our central and most longstanding program, the Masters program. SIRLS faculty and students develop an evolving understanding of the creation, distribution, organization, management and use of digital networked knowledge and information resources and the professional, cultural, and societal issues arising in the changing technological and global environment of the 21st Century. While the education of library and information professionals at the master's level is SIRLS' primary educational focus, SIRLS makes smaller but important contributions to library and information education at the pre- and post-master's level, within the scope of its resources. For example, SIRLS recently began offering a Certificate in Digital Information Management ("DigIn"). We also recently revised our undergraduate minor in information resources and library science and began offering co-convened graduate/upper-division undergraduate courses focusing on digital information studies. And we are currently revitalizing our PhD program. We are in the process of developing analogous assessment plans for these other programs.
SIRLS provides education at the master’s level for the library and information professions focusing on services and technologies for the creation, organization, management, access and use of knowledge and information resources in libraries and other information settings and environments. Thus, our success is measured against a set of competencies that such professionals need to master. In addition to growing out of our mission and goals, the specific list of ten competencies that the faculty has developed correspond to the list of competencies developed by the American Library Association (ALA). (The ALA is the association that accredits our Masters program.)
Each course is designed with an eye to the specific competencies that that course will promote (and those competencies are noted on the syllabus for that course). Course instructors provide feedback on each student's performance in each course. This evaluation of coursework is the first level of student assessment.
The Plan of Study is the second level of assessment. In the first semester of the program, students produce a study plan in consultation with advisors. The goal is to produce a plan that addresses all of the core competencies and the individual student's career goals. It can then be used by the student and the administration to compare progress toward these goals throughout the educational process. This document is reviewed by the SIRLS academic advisor and his staff to insure that all requirements will be met by the time the student completes the program. (The list of required courses has been developed to insure that students will achieve all of the competencies.) After the student has completed 18 of the required 36 credits, the student submits the official Plan of Study form to be filed with the UA Graduate College.
The ePortfolio requirement is the third level of student assessment. In addition to the required coursework, Masters students are required to produce an electronic Portfolio. One purpose of the ePortfolio is to display a student’s skills and accomplishments to others (e.g., to potential employers). For example, it includes a selection of websites, presentations, papers, and other artifacts of learning that a student has produced in his/her courses. In addition, the ePortfolio includes a series of reflections that a student completes as s/he moves through the program. In these reflections, a student is asked to assess his/her achievement of the competencies. These ePortfolio reflections are then evaluated by a faculty member. (We are currently exploring additional ways to bring the results of this assessment back to the faculty as a whole.)
All of these evaluations are critical means of assessing the success of the students and the Masters program itself. They are used along with other assessment data in strategic planning, decision making, and curriculum review. For instance, we use this self-assessment to select future courses, practicums, and other learning experiences. See the Masters Assessement page some examples.