INTRODUCTION AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
1998 ALISE Statistical Report
[Editor's note]: For a complete listing of schools that submitted data for this year's report, please click the list of schools.
This volume is the nineteenth annual statistical report on library and information (LIS) education published by the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). Its purpose is to compile, analyze, interpret, and report statistical (and other descriptive) information about library/information science programs offered by schools that are members of ALISE. Although the purpose has remained unchanged since the 1980 inception of this report and the five sections of the report -- faculty, students, curriculum, income and expenditures, and continuing education -- are unchanged, the project has inevitably expanded as new data elements have been added. The focus has also changed to emphasize compilation and reporting of data leaving the analysis and interpretation to the author of the Summary chapter, readers of the report and subsequent researchers.
The present edition numbers 341 pages and reports information about 56 member schools offering degree programs in library and information science that have been accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association (ALA). Only three of the nine ALISE institutional members whose graduate programs are not accredited by ALA have chosen to provide information for this year's report. This information is reported separately in an appendix. No information was collected for the eight international ALISE affiliate members.
Howard White of Drexel's College of Information Science and Technology has written a sparkling analysis and commentary on the data reported here. He shows us, in his usual deft way, how to bring the data to life and make it tell a story. We hope other researchers will also find ways to mine and combine the data reported here and in earlier years to provide meaningful answers to answers about the past and future of LIS education.
We continue to make changes to the Report in response to past suggestions for improvement. A primary goal we have set ourselves is to convert the paperbased product you hold in your hands to an electronic database product. Comments on progress toward this goal and changes in the Report are provided below.
About This Report
Steady Progress on Database Development. Student data are now available in Acess97 database format for the 1996 Report and the recently completed 1997 Report. Faculty data reported in Part II of the Faculty section are also available in database form for this year only. Next year's plans include adding another year to the student and faculty databases and developing the income and expenditure database and possibly Part I of the Faculty section.
A comparison between the database version and the print version reveals a few minor differences caused by features of the database design. For example, we have programmed the system to calculate totals automatically. The calculated total can then be compared to the reported total as an error check. If a school only reports totals, then these have to be input manually. In addition, a discrepancy occurs (for one school in particular) where a non-standard formula to calculate FTE is used, that can result in an FTE greater than the actual number of students. Some schools also omit data which then have to be input as zeros to prevent calculation problems. A final discrepancy can occur relative to data format. The number of full time students is treated as integer data in the database but one or two schools provide a number with a decimal point. We have annotated the tables where these discrepancies occur.
Any researcher wishing a copy of the data now available in database format may request it directly from the editors (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). It can be made available on disk in compressed format at cost.
Availability of the Report over the Internet. As an aid to determining what data is available, the expanded table of contents showing all tables is published on the ALISE website (http://www.alise.org/pub_stats.html) for the 1997 and the 1998 publications. The data collection forms for 1998 and for the forthcoming year are also available on the web site.
Periodic Reporting of Infrequently Changing Data. In order to reduce some of the bulk of the Report, some data in the Curriculum section, which changes very little from one year to the next, will not be included in next year's published report. This information includes type of academic year division, number of weeks in a term, number of credit hours for various degree programs, joint degree programs, minimum and maximum time for completion of degree programs, methods of course reduction, residency requirements, credit transfer, fieldwork requirements, graduation requirements, and the like. Tables III-1 to III-29 will be collected and published on the web so that in subsequent years only changes will be reported in the printed Report and the web version will be corrected to show current status.
We will use the Curriculum section to explore changes happening in the growth of undergraduate and other Master's degree offerings, as well as a more detailed investigation of distance education, whether offered at remote sites or in electronic format. More analysis of existing curricula for the accredited degree program will also be possible.
Changes Not Made. At the urging of the Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association and several researchers, we considered adding placement data and surveyed the schools about their placement information needs and the difficulties in collecting placement data. The majority of responses indicated that the categories in the annual Library Journal survey fulfill the schools' perceived needs, although most schools expressed concern about the low response rate. As we do not see how to improve the response rate by including placement data in the ALISE statistics, we decided not to undertake this data collection effort at present.
We also did a pilot study of five schools who had agreed to provide student data both in the present aggregated way as well as on a disaggregated per student basis. The latter approach would allow correlations of data by various categories (e.g., gender, ethnic origin, age, graduation date, etc.) However, the results of the pilot test showed that collecting the data in this way would be difficult for many schools and would produce an order of magnitude more data points to be stored. We decided not to pursue this effort at this time, but analysis of this approach continues.
We also considered using the new OMB race and ethnicity categories in next year's data collection forms. The new categories are: White, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native (6 categories instead of the present 5). OMB's guidelines also allow respondents to check more than one category to indicate a multiracial background. Full implementation of this new category system is planned for January 1, 2003. It seems appropriate to wait until universities and schools adopt the new categories before asking for them in the ALISE data collection efforts.
Use of the Report. The 1998 Report presents a snapshot of LIS education. We believe the data provided here is of value to researchers, administrators, faculty, students and the LIS press. The data may be used to examine a single school by accumulating the data points throughout the Report. The data may be used to compare a school's relevant statistics to peer schools or to the field as a whole. In conjunction with the statistical reports from prior years, the data may be used to look at a single variable over time or a combination of such variables. Or the data may be used, as Howard White so ably demonstrates in this edition's Summary and Comparative Analysis, to consider the possible distinguishing characteristics of the best LIS programs and to ascertain the overall health of the LIS profession.
Acknowledgements. The Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association and the Association of Library and Information Science Education agreed several years ago to join together in the data collection effort in order to reduce the reporting burden on the schools and to improve the response rate. This collaborative effort has proven to be of great value.
The guidance of the Steering Committee for the Report (June Lester, chair; Mary Jo Lynch and Howard D. White) plus the advice of the authors of the Sections (Tim Sineath, Jerry Saye, Dan Barron, Fred Roper and Jana Varlejs) continues to inform planned changes to this statistical data collection effort. We are grateful to them. We welcome additional suggestions from deans and directors, researchers, the ALISE Board, and others who make use of the Report.