This volume is the twentieth 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. The Statistical Report is published by ALISE as a service to the Association membership. A Database is produced as a means of collecting the data systematically and making it available to researchers and administrators in a manipulable format. Together, the Report and Database support the mission and goals of ALISE through the provision of empirical data on the state of LIS education in member schools and by documenting trends in curriculum change, funding, continuing education, and other aspects of LIS education.
Changes continue to be made in the Report. With the support and approval of our Steering Committee (June Lester, chair; Mary Jo Lynch and Howard D. White), we have developed a strategic plan for the Report and Database. The plan states that the ALISE Statistical Report is a service to the Association membership (not a revenue generator), that it will be published on the Web, and that the Database will operate in a data service mode with the capability of specialized report generation. Among a number of other items, the plan includes suggestions for database use in a service mode and recommends policies on electronic publishing. Response to the recommendations in the plan by the ALISE Board is still pending.
About This Report. The present edition numbers 287 pages and reports information about the 56 member schools offering degree programs in library and information science that have been accredited by the Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association (ALA). As only two of the nine ALISE institutional members who do not offer a master's program accredited by ALA have chosen to provide information this year, information about these schools will not be provided. No data are collected for the eight international ALISE affiliate members.
In this edition, Elizabeth Aversa of the University of Tennessee's School of Information Sciences, the author of this year's Summary and Comparative Analysis chapter, provides a guide for deans and directors on how to use the data in the Statistical Reports to a program's best advantage in marketing, budgeting, and planning. Due to COA's recent announcement that it will use the Statistical Reports along with the external review panel report and other evidence in making its decisions, she notes that it is more important than ever that program administrators "be thoroughly familiar with the School's current and present time series data," and we might add, make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the figures reported.
Steady Progress on Database Development. Student data are now available in Access database format for the 1996-97, 1997-98, and the recently completed 1998-99 academic years. Faculty data reported in Part II of the Faculty section is also available in database form for the most recent two years. Part I Faculty data and the Income and Expenditures section will be available the following year. Efforts this year have focused on experimenting with web-based data entry forms. We are testing the feasibility of electronic submission of data directly into the database using two candidate software programs -- Cold Fusion and ASP. This entry method would provide additional error checking possibilities and reduce the data entry burden on the authors and editors. The process is not yet smooth and will take more experimentation over the following year but we are optimistic.
The database conversion process is complex, in large part because we are converting what has historically been prepared for a print format. Not all the data that have been collected in the past lends itself to time series format. We anticipate that the ALISE Statistical Database will encompass most of the data now reported in the student, faculty, and income and expenditure chapters. Data in the curriculum and continuing professional education chapters may be published on the Internet in a more permanent format with changes made as schools submit so that the published version will always be the most current one.
Any researcher or administrator 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 for cost. A database service is also available whereby key variables can be selected and specialized tables created for a selected set of peer schools can be produced for a particular purpose. An example of this service was provided to the KALIPER project this past year. Key variables included: numbers of full and part time faculty, faculty positions lost and created, doctoral disciplines of new assistant professors, enrollment by program by full and part time student status and gender of students, degree hour requirements, joint degree programs, entrance requirements, courses offered away from the home campus, required and elective courses taught by regular and adjunct faculty, cross-listed courses, curriculum and course changes. To discuss data needs, contact one of the editors.
Internet Availability. Expanded tables of contents for the 1997, 1998 and soon 1999 are published on the web (http://ils.unc.edu/ALISE/). Complete reports for the first two years are currently available via this site. The 1999 report will be available shortly. Data collection forms are also available. The 1999 Internet version will include some tables that are not available in the printed format -- primarily tables III-1 through III-29 from the Curriculum section. These tables describe academic year division, academic hour and credit hour requirements for various degree and certificate programs, residency requirements, exemption and transfer policies, fieldwork and thesis options, requirements for graduation. In the future we envision providing additional information and features, such as graphics and color, that cannot be made available easily or economically in the printed version. We anticipate a complementarity between the Internet and printed versions. For example, we are considering commissioning occasional in-depth analyses of particular areas, such as some of the curriculum aspects listed above, on a periodic basis for the print version while the Internet version will report the current status.
Dynamic Error Correction in the Internet Version of the Report. With the great volume of data submitted by schools and presented in the Report, errors are likely to appear. In some instances the authors or editors have identified errors after publication of the Report or schools have encountered errors as they review the publication. In other cases, schools that failed to submit data when originally requested would now like to include it retrospectively. In order for the ALISE membership to have available to it the most accurate reporting of data possible, we are creating a dynamic version of the 1999 edition of the Report on the Internet. Errors or omissions in the printed edition that we identify or that are reported to us will be corrected on the Internet version. These corrections will be indicated in red so that they will be easily identifiable. In cases where the correction results in changes to totals or averages, these data will also be adjusted and flagged by color as well. A footnote will show the original data. Thus, although this printed version of the Report provides the most accurate information possible at the time of publication, the Internet version will be definitive in terms of accuracy.
ALISE Institutional Members without COA-Accredited Master's Degrees. The Report has historically included data from schools who do not offer a Master's degree accredited by the American Library Association. In the past decade the number of schools in this category who have submitted data for the Report has declined to the point where only two schools typically provide data. Sam Houston State University has been most faithful in providing these data each year. The second school contributing data has varied from year to year. We have solicited the schools and have been informed by some that the small size of their programs and the ways they are structured make it difficult for them to produce the kind of data we request. Given the minimal value of reporting data from only two schools, we have decided no longer to provide these data in either the print or the Internet version of the Report. Our Steering Committee concurs. As a result, beginning in 1999 data collection instruments will not be sent to these schools.
Use of the Report. The 1999 Report presents a snapshot of LIS education. We believe the data provided here are 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. It may be used to draw attention to competitive emphases and benefits of particular programs, as Elizabeth Aversa so ably points out in this year's Summary and Comparative Analysis chapter. It may also be used to examine key variables over time or combinations of such variables. Howard White, in the 1998 Summary and Comparative Analysis chapter, demonstrates how the data may be used to consider distinguishing characteristics of the "best" LIS programs as reported in rankings like those provided by the US News and World Report. And the data help all of us monitor the overall health of LIS education.
Acknowledgments. The partnership with the Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association in the data collection effort reduces the reporting burden on the schools and improves the response rate. This collaborative effort has proven to be of great value and mutual benefit.
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, Dan Barron, Fred Roper and Jana Varlejs) continues to provide valuable assistance to the editors. 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.