In 1951, the American Library Association (ALA) Council approved new standards for accrediting library education programs. These standards shifted accreditation from the bachelor's degree to the master's degree, making the master's degree in library science the professional credential for entry into the profession. At the time, librarians believed this change would transform the practice of librarianship, the nature of library education, and the social standing of librarianship as an occupation.
In The MLS Project: An Assessment after Sixty Years, Boyd Keith Swigger examines the reasons the American Library Association enacted the change and looks at the consequences of this decision. Reviewing the last several decades, Swigger addresses a number of concerns: What were librarians' and library educators' arguments for changing the system of library education? What problems were they trying to solve? What were their objectives? Did the change in the structure of library education solve the problems perceived in the late 1940s? Have the objectives set then been accomplished in the half century since? What have been the intended and unintended outcomes of the change?
In his review, Swigger draws general conclusions about the MLS Project, the perception of librarianship, libraries, the developments of curriculums in library schools, and how librarianship compares to the new information professions. The MLS Project is an informative and critical evaluation that every librarian should read.
Boyd Keith Swigger is professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman's University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1981 and served as dean of Library and Information Studies (1991-2000) and dean of Professional Education (2000-2003). He has written and spoken frequently about education for librarianship and has played a role in creating innovative programs in distance learning and alternative certification.