Best PhD-level Library programs in the United States?
October 22, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Asking for an advisee of mine who wants to pursue a career as an academic librarian. Where are the best PhD-level Library programs in the United States?
posted by media_itoku to Education (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The standard in the US is a Master's degree; the PhD is usually for people who teach library and information science at the graduate level.

US News has rankings every few years -- they may be available on the Web site.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2008

Adding the US News link.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:35 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Your advisee wants to apply to the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois. University of North Carolina comes in at a respectable second. But GSLIS is the place to go, especially for academic library work.
posted by deejay jaydee at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2008

I'm an academic librarian. The degree your advisee wants is an MLS or MLIS, not a Ph.D. A second master's degree (in pretty much anything) helps too.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:46 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks! To be clear, I think I may be using the wrong terminology (I'm in English) -- she wants to teach/research at the university level, i.e. follow the Professorial route. Keep them coming!
posted by media_itoku at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

If your advisee wants to teach / research at the university level in LIS, then as in any other area of graduate study she should identify which particular area of LIS she is interested in, then identify who does research in that area and then which school(s) they are in.

Not all ALA-accredited schools have Ph.D. programs, so your advisee should first check out ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education).

A Ph.D. in LIS is not necessarily required to be a professor in LIS. Many programs are interdisciplinary and have faculty with doctorates in fields such as Psychology, CS, or history. If one intends to teach LIS courses, it is highly recommended to have the MLS or MLIS degree, plus a doctorate in LIS or some related field. Because the MLS or MLIS is a professional degree, course requirements do not overlap much with the Ph.D. in LIS, and thus has to be obtained separately from the Ph.D. (coursework towards the LIS Ph.D. won't lead to the MLS degree in most cases).

The top U.S. News & World Report programs are also in general the top LIS Ph.D. programs, although they have different strengths. So UIUC, UNC-Chapel Hill, Syracuse, Michigan, Rutgers, are all fine programs. Toronto and University of Western Ontario in Canada have strong Ph.D. programs, too.

Your advisee should consider scheduling an appointment with a reference librarian and search databases such as LISA or LibraryLit and scan through recent research in the LIS field, and see what piques her interest, then investigate the authors of those articles, to find out where they teach. Then she can check out the web sites for those schools, to see whether the course requirements or department philosophy align with her interests.
posted by needled at 11:55 AM on October 22, 2008

To add another level of confusion: I have a MLS, am employed as an academic librarian, and I teach University courses and do research in librarianship (this last aspect is a requirement for advancement for all academic librarians at my institution). I teach to non-librarians and do research on issues in librarianship. A Ph.D. in library science would teach to students in the MLS program and do research on issues in librarianship. So, depending on where you work, you might be able to "teach/research at the University level" as a librarian or as a professor of library science (and each of these career paths has different requirements for advancement and different opportunities and constraints). If your advisee isn't sure which of these they want, s/he might want to set up an informational interview with an academic librarian to talk about these options.
posted by holyrood at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Ummm...deejay jaydee, not to pick on your or anything, but Illinois and UNC are tied for first place in the US News rankings, and having had lots of friends that attended both (full disclosure: I'm a Tarheel grad), the UNC program is generally more rigorous (includes both a Master's Paper and Comprehensive exam for graduation, unlike Illinois).

Not that you can go wrong with either...both are amazing schools.

That said, I'll echo a little bit of holyrood: even as "just" an academic librarian with an MLS, you can find Faculty level appointments at Academic Libraries that include both teaching and research as components of the job. I'm writing this sitting in San Jose airport after presenting at the Internet Librarian 2008 conference this past week, for which I traveled across the country and taught part of an 8 hour preconference workshop. I also just had an article published last week, my first book earlier this year, have two more articles/chapters coming out this year, and another book next. All this as "just" an academic don't discount that route.

I'd be happy to answer questions. Email in profile.
posted by griffey at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Since no one has mentioned it yet, The University of Texas at Austin School of Information (formerly the Graduate School of Library and Information Science) is also a top 10 program that has both masters and doctoral programs.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:07 PM on October 22, 2008

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