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History of the School of Library and Information Science

As early as 1946: Undergraduate courses in library and information science are offered as a cooperative effort at Kent State University. The Department of Library Science is academically attached to the College of Education during its formative years, although it is administered by the University Library, with most instruction carried out by librarians. 

IMAGE: John Nicholson, University Librarian and Director, Department of Library Science, 1946-1959
John Nicholson, University Librarian and Director, Department of Library Science, 1946-1959


1949:
Graduate courses leading to the Master of Arts degree in library science are introduced.

1950: The first graduate class in library science receives degrees.

1960: The Department of Library Science is moved completely under administrative control of the College of Education, and an externally recruited chair is appointed with the explicit charge of seeking American Library Association (ALA) accreditation.

IMAGE: Guy A. Marco, Director, Department of Library Science, 1960-1966; Dean, School of Library Science, 1966-1977
Guy A. Marco, Director, Department of Library Science, 1960-1966;
Dean, School of Library Science, 1966-1977


1961-62: The master's degree program becomes the 33rd ALA-accredited program in the United States.

1966: The Department of Library Science becomes the School of Library Science, administered by a dean, a status it retains until 1994. 

The Center for the Study of Librarianship is founded in 1966 as a vehicle for supporting externally funded research, with much of the center's early support coming from the State Library of Ohio. 

1968: A post-master's certificate program is introduced.

1970: The events of May 4, 1970, have a chilling effect on the university as a whole. Despite the closing of the campus, however, library science classes continue to meet off campus in libraries, faculty residences and other facilities.

In the fall of 1970, the school moves from its original quarters in Rockwell Hall, the old University Library building, to its present location in the new University Library, which is officially dedicated on April 9, 1971, in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of library science education at the university.

IMAGE: A. Robert Rogers, Dean, School of Library Science, 1977-1985
A. Robert Rogers, Dean, School of Library Science, 1977-1985

1971: The Center for the Study of Ethnic Publications and Cultural Institutions in the United States is founded; it operates until the spring of 1995. 

1975: The school offers its first courses in Columbus as part of a cooperative venture with The Ohio State University.

IMAGE: Mary Kay Biagini, Interim Dean, School of Library Science, 1985-1986
Mary Kay Biagini, Interim Dean, School of Library Science, 1985-1986

1988: The Columbus program moves to the West Campus of The Ohio State University, and the first full-time faculty member for that site is appointed.

1989: Thanks to enrollment growth through the 1980s, by 1989 the number of master's students enrolled makes the program the second largest of all ALA-accredited programs in the country, with much of the program's growth attributed to the success of the Columbus program.

1991: The school is re-accredited by the American Library Association. Also in 1991, the name of the department is changed to the School of Library and Information Science.
IMAGE: Rosemary R. Du Mont, Dean, School of Library Science, 1986-1991; Dean, School of Library and Information Science, 1991-1994; Director, School of Library and Information Science, 1994-1995
Rosemary R. Du Mont, Dean, School of Library Science, 1986-1991;
Dean, School of Library and Information Science, 1991-1994;
Director, School of Library and Information Science, 1994-1995


1994: The School of Library and Information Science becomes a unit within the College of Fine and Professional Arts as part of a university-wide initiative to move independent schools into colleges. The position of dean is converted to that of a director who reports to the dean of the College of Fine and Professional Arts.

The physical facility in Kent is extensively remodeled in 1994-95 to provide expanded computer lab space, a student research center, new space for the Center for the Study of Librarianship and a digital classroom.

IMAGE: William Caynon, Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, July-Dec. 1995; Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2002-2003
William Caynon, Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, July-Dec. 1995; 2002-2003

1996: Kent State marks the 50th anniversary of professional library education and the 30th anniversary of the School of Library and Information Science.

Also in 1996, the collection supporting the Center for the Study of Ethnic Publications and Cultural Institutions in the United States is merged with the collections of University Libraries and Media Services.

During 1996-97, an experimental project in Northwest Ohio is initiated. The Northwest Ohio project, bolstered by an Ohio Board of Regents grant, provides funding for the construction of a distributed learning classroom at SLIS-Kent and leads directly to the OhioLEARN Project and the OhioLEARN M.L.S. Program, a specialized version of the Master of Library Science degree tailored for delivery via a distributed learning system. Students take most of their courses through the digital videoconferencing network made possible by the OhioLEARN Infrastructure Project with instructional sites at SLIS-Kent, the OhioLINK Training Center in Columbus, Jerome Library at Bowling Green State University, Langsam Library at the University of Cincinnati and Alden Library at Ohio University. Many of the students who began the OhioLEARN M.L.S. program receive their master's degrees in fall 2001. The OhioLEARN Project is a successful effort to make history by venturing into new geographic areas using an electronic videoconferencing network.

IMAGE: Danny P. Wallace, Director, School of Library and Information Science, Jan. 1996-2000
Danny P. Wallace, Director, School of Library and Information Science, Jan. 1996-2000

1997: The school is re-accredited by the American Library Association.

2000: The 25th anniversary of SLIS-Columbus is celebrated at Columbus Metropolitan Library in conjunction with the school's annual Alumni and Awards Dinner in April. That summer on the Kent Campus, library classrooms 317 and 319 are carpeted and furnished with new tables and chairs, thanks to a generous donation.

Also in 2000, the school receives university approval to change the name of the master's degree from M.L.S. (Master of Library Science) to M.L.I.S. (Master of Library and Information Science). The change in degree reflects the increasing influence of technology and information science on the profession.

2001: The Ohio Board of Regents approves the newly created Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM). SLIS serves as the administrative home of the new interdisciplinary IAKM degree program, which enables students to hone their information skills as they prepare for careers as cybrarians, cybermedia designers, information architects and knowledge managers.

Also in 2001, after a restructuring of the College of Fine and Professional Arts and approval of the Kent State Board of Trustees, SLIS joins the new College of Communication and Information (CCI). The new college unites four Kent State schools that share common interests: School of Communication Studies, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, School of Library and Information Science and School of Visual Communication Design. The new College of Communication and Information allows each school to explore partnerships and to draw from the strengths of the other schools.

In fall 2001, the school launches its 12-12-12 M.L.I.S. distance degree, a program designed students in areas of Ohio who otherwise might not be able to complete a master's degree at the Kent or Columbus locations. 

During the 2001-02 academic year, the 12-12-12 program, using both interactive video and Web-based courses, delivers classes to students in northwest Ohio (Bowling Green State University), southwest Ohio (Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County), and southeast Ohio (Byesville). 

2002: The successful 12-12-12 M.L.I.S. distance degree is continued and expanded, with courses at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Clermont County, and Ohio Valley Area Libraries (OVAL) in Wellston. The program is discontinued in 2011 with the launch of eDegree, a fully online degree program for the M.L.I.S.

The school's enrollment soars in 2002, topping 650 in fall semester, with 16 percent of the students earning their degree via the 12-12-12 M.L.I.S. Distance Degree program.

IMAGE: Richard E. Rubin, Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2000-2002; 2003-2010
Richard E. Rubin, Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2000-2002; 2003-2010

2003: The Reinberger Children's Library Center is dedicated and first used for classes. Monies from a $240,000 gift from the Reinberger Foundation of Cleveland allowed for the construction of the center, a state-of-the-art classroom and model library for future generations of librarians who plan to serve young readers. It is unique among American Library Association-accredited library schools.

2008: Ken and Sylvia Marantz of Columbus donate their collection of more than 25,000 children's picture books to SLIS. Located in the Reinberger Children's Library Center, the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art is dedicated in December. The collection is cataloged by illustrator and also includes posters, original artwork and character toys. 

Thanks to a generous $249,000 grant from the Reinberger Foundation of Cleveland, the Marantz Picturebook Collection occupies 1,800 square feet of newly renovated space and features compact shelving, display areas for rare books and collections, distance learning classroom, storytime area, and private study locations.

Also in 2008, the Columbus program relocates to the State Library of Ohio in the historic Jeffrey Mining Manufacturing Co. complex in Columbus' Italian Village. The newly renovated 6,100-square-foot facility includes state-of-the-art classrooms, conference and meeting areas, faculty and staff offices, and a computer laboratory.   

2009: The Center for the Study of Information and Religion is created to study how people use information in their religious behaviors and thinking. 

IMAGE: Donald A. Wicks, Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2010-2012

Donald A. Wicks, Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2010-2012

2010: A state-of-the-art Digital Laboratory is created to give students hands-on experience with digital library and digital preservation technologies. Using the specialized equipment, students learn to digitize manuscripts, books, photographs and slides, architectural drawings and other larger format visual materials, as well as more than 20 audio and video formats. Digitization is the conversion of analog information into digital information, which makes the data accessible to users because it can be made available online.

2010: SLIS received a federal grant for $552,908 to create a unique educational partnership between the school and the myriad educational, medical and cultural institutions in the University Circle area of Cleveland. The grant, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal funding for libraries and museums in the United States, will give 72 college undergraduates a hands-on introduction to the library profession, particularly in specialized areas with a shortage of qualified people (e.g., art, health sciences, music and other specialized academic areas). Included in the partnership are the libraries and archives of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Museum of Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra, Siegal College of Judaic Studies and Case Western Reserve University's nine affiliated libraries.

The Center for the Study of Information and Religion hosts its first fall symposium in 2010.

The Ohio Board of Regents approves a Ph.D. in Communication and Information in 2010, which encompasses all four schools within the College of Communication and Information, including SLIS. CCI accepts its first Ph.D. students that year, although the program officially begins in 2011.

2011: The school launches its first entirely online M.L.I.S. program, called eDegree. The eDegree is based on the proven and very successful 12-12-12 distance degree program that SLIS had offered for the previous10 years at locations around Ohio. With the launch of eDegree, SLIS discontinues the 12-12-12 distance program.

In addition to the launch of eDegree in 2011, SLIS creates a museum studies specialization, becoming the first M.L.I.S. program in the country with this field of study.

The school library media licensure program, which had been split between the College of Education, Health and Human Services and SLIS, moves entirely to SLIS in 2011. 

Also new in 2011 is the health informatics concentration within the M.S. in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program.

The Center for the Study of Information and Religion hosts its first international conference in 2011.

2012: The school is re-accredited by the American Library Association.

SLIS launched its first study-abroad course, Museum Origins, in Florence, Italy.

IMAGE: Tomas A. Lipinski

Tomas A. Lipinski, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.,
Director, School of Library and Information Science, 2013

2013: SLIS expands and doubles its space for teaching, research and student services. The remodeling project includes 14,000 square feet previously used by Audio Visual Services on the third floor of the University Library and the 12,000 square feet SLIS had occupied since the 1970s.

The renovations include the addition of MuseLab, a space for faculty and students doing projects on museological topics as part of the Museum Studies specialization. The first exhibition, which debuted in December for the School's grand reopening, was “For the Love of Religion: Exploring concepts of love embedded in the religious beliefs and practices of Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam,” a culminating experience project by M.L.I.S. student Emily O’Connor.

The Reinberger Children’s Library Center expansion allows for acquisition of several new collections, including more than 600 pop-up books donated by alumna Carol Davis and a collection of first-edition Beatrix Potter books and figurines from the late Margaret Alexander. The latter collection is housed in the new rare books room, Pris and JDub's Historical Children's Book Nook.

2013: Darin Freeburg becomes the first graduate of the College of Communication and Information's interdisciplinary doctoral program, with a focus of study in Library and Information Science. 

IMAGE: Jeff Fruit

Jeff Fruit
Interim Director, School of Library and Information Science
2014-present

2014: The School adds its first writer-in-residence, award-winning young adult and children’s author Angela Johnson, to share her expertise through participation in workshops, course lectures, conferences and symposia, and other school events and activities as appropriate. She also will use the Reinberger Children’s Library Collections for research and inspiration for her own writing.

The School launches a second study abroad course in International Children's Literature and Librarianship in Denmark.

Muselab unveils its exhibition "What's Real? Investigating Multimodality" in April. The exhibition is the result of a first-ever class project from undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Visual Communication Design and the School of Library and Information Science.

Photo credit: Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives. (Nicolson, Marco, Rogers, Biagini, Du Mont, Wallace, Caynon)

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