May 25, 2019  

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Accredited, Fully-Online MLIS Degree Prepares Librarians across the Nation

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From California to New York, students from across the country are choosing The University of Southern Mississippi’s fully online Master of Library Science (MLIS) degree. Since 2002, Southern Miss has been offering the program online to meet the needs of students who cannot make it to campus.

The program, offered through the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), has options for students seeking to earn a Mississippi teaching license through the MLIS with licensure emphasis or those seeking the general Library and Information Science master’s degree. SLIS also offers two graduate certificate programs online, a Certificate in Archives and Special Collections and a Certificate in Youth Services and Literature, either of which may be earned with the MLIS degree or post-MLIS.

According to the director of the School of Library and Information Science, Dr. Teresa Welsh, the school works to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in professional roles in libraries, archives, and other information environments. “The MLIS allows us to graduate professionals that, through their roles as librarians, serve the information needs of their communities,” said Welsh.

Welsh notes that the role of the librarian has changed and is constantly evolving based on technology trends. “Today librarians work in two worlds, literature and technology. Our students learn collection development, library management, reference, and information science. But they are also learning about topics such as webpage design and evaluation, production of multimedia tutorials, and digital technologies.”

Dr. Catharine Bomhold advises the MLIS with school licensure emphasis. Bomhold says the licensure program is seeing increased interest by students seeking a connection with faculty.

“Even though the program is fully online, the students are able to meet faculty via video,” says Bomhold. “Our faculty support students along their degree progression.” Bomhold says students are able to interact as well, “We also offer synchronous online chats where students can interact and get to know one another. They are able to discuss assignments, support each other, and even create online study groups.”

The Southern Miss School of Library and Information Science has been accredited by the American Library Association since 1980. According to Dr. Tom Hutchinson, director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, accreditation is a key component to the desirability of the degree.

“Students are seeking value for their investment in their education,” said Hutchinson. “Through being an accredited degree, our MLIS students know the worth of their education and the impact it has on employers seeking knowledgeable employees.”

Accreditation is just one part of the quality of the MLIS program at Southern Miss, according to Vice Provost Dr. Amy Miller. “Our classes are taught by faculty who have a commitment to student success and maintain academic rigor. Students can rest easy knowing their faculty are using best practices in their online classrooms.”

Welsh says the field of library science is keeping up with the times and adapting to changing needs of the community. “Librarians are offering new services including makerspaces, science cafes, and even coding workshops,” said Welsh. “Through our online program, we are preparing librarians for the future needs of their communities and schools.”

For more information about the fully online MLIS program, visit https://online.usm.edu/programs/