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UHM LIS Program Receives Full Accreditation from the American Library Association

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library and Information Science (LIS) Program received full continued accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA) for the maximum seven years. It’s the only accredited professional school for librarians and archivists in the state. This is the Program’s first accreditation since it merged into the new School of Communication and Information.

Dr. Rich Gazan, who has served two three-year terms as Program Director since 2015, shared that “We’re one of the smallest accredited programs, and one of our strengths is pilina—the relationships among students, staff, faculty and the professional community.” On behalf of the faculty, he expressed that, “We are very grateful that our community helped us tell our story, and demonstrated to the review team how we address the accreditation standards in our own unique ways.”

The program was first accredited by ALA in 1967 and has maintained accreditation since then, most recently in 2016. ALA accreditation is especially important for LIS programs since most libraries and archives only hire graduates of ALA-accredited programs for professional positions. There are currently 64 accredited LIS programs in North America.

The re-accreditation process began with LIS faculty writing a 178-page Self-Study addressing five standards: Systemic Planning, Curriculum, Faculty, Students, and Administration, Finances, and Resources, and submitting it to the ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA) in August 2023.

An External Review Panel, made up of five library professionals from across the United States and Canada, visited the LIS Program in October 2023. The team reviewed internal documents, such as the strategic plan, mission statement, meeting minutes, and examples of student work. They also observed classes and interviewed faculty, staff, alumni, current students, community librarians, and UHM administration.

The visiting panel reported that “during the site visit, students and alumni were unanimous in their praise of the program’s administrative policies and the consistent and steady support they received from beginning their applications to program completion.” The ERP’s final report and LIS Self-Study were reviewed by the ALA Committee on Accreditation before making their final decision.

In 2022 LIS merged with Communications, Communicology, Journalism, and the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution to form the School of Communication and Information (SCI). SCI Chair Dr. Hye-ryeon Lee expressed that LIS is an integral part of our new school, and that “we continue to look for ways to integrate teaching and research about the information and communication fields in order to best serve the people of Hawaiʻi and, we look forward to sharing the vision of the new school with the community in the inaugural Open House for the school scheduled for April 5, 2024.”

UH Mānoa Provost Michael S. Bruno congratulated the Program on the accreditation, especially in light of the successful transition into the new School of Communication and Information. He added that “Full accreditation is a reflection of the quality of the program and the dedication of the faculty to our students and our community.”