About SLIS

David EichmannMessage from the Director
David Eichmann, Associate Professor

It’s been a whirlwind year at SLIS – particularly as we’re currently (early summer) in the final stages of the reaccreditation process with the American Library Association’s (ALA) Committee on Accreditation (CoA). This is an extensive exercise involving all of the faculty and staff, as well as many of the students and alums. So far the process has been quite positive, with the program presentation and the site visit by the External Review Panel (ERP) resulting in an ERP report very supportive of our work since our last reaccreditation seven years ago. I meet with CoA during the ALA meeting in Orlando on June 25 and we will be notified of the outcome in early July. To support this current cycle, and make our assessment activities far more iterative, we’ve fielded an open portal to our assessment data available through the “Program Outcomes” link on the SLIS home page (http://slis.uiowa.edu). One of my major goals in this process was to create a means to capture, visualize (check out the outcomes dashboard!), and assess alumni and employer perceptions regarding both importance of and satisfaction with the educational goals of the program. Now that we have this framework in place, we will be doing rolling assessments of newly graduated students and experienced alums as a means of maintaining the currency of this information.

Continuing on my CoA theme, the Council of Deans and Directors (of the LIS programs) voted at their last meeting in January to request through the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) that ALA identify seats on CoA designated to be representatives from the Council. Interestingly the ALA Executive Board had already voted last summer to designate one such seat to the Council. The end result of all this, and after a brief lapse of sanity on my part, is that I was elected by the Council and approved by ALA to begin a four-year term on CoA beginning this July. This should be an interesting experience, as many of our peer programs seek substantially better clarity on accreditation criteria, particularly under the new standards. Both ALISE and the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) are seeking improved communication regarding goals and expectations regarding accreditation in the rapidly evolving field of library and information science.

This rapid evolution is also reflected in the increasing visibility of the digital humanities in SLIS. Jim Elmborg is part of a team from Grinnell College and the University of Iowa that received a grant in the Spring of 2015 from the Mellon Foundation – “Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry” – fostering collaboration between a private liberal arts college and a major research university. The interactions between the students and faculty of the two institutions have been most interesting. This last Spring, I was part of a team including librarians from Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford awarded another grant from the Mellon Foundation – “Linked Data for Libraries (LD4L)” – where we will be exploring how libraries can exploit linked data (aka the Semantic Web) to fashion the next generation of library metadata. This project will be building upon the BIBFRAME initiative at the Library of Congress. The coming year looks to be as rich as the last!

Addendum, June 26, 2016:

I received notification today that the School has been reaccredited for a full seven years, with our next comprehensive review scheduled for spring 2023. The Committee on Accreditation identified no weaknesses in the program and no interim reports are required. This is great news and I congratulate Carol, Vicki and Chris, as well as the faculty, on a job well done!