Monday, May 14, 2018

The History of the Library and Information Studies Department at UNCG

Formal library education at the North Carolina College for Women (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) was initiated in 1928, by Charles H. Stone, a competent young library educator and director with a library science degree from University of Illinois. Stone had already demonstrated educational and managerial aptitude through the founding of a library science program at the Peabody Institute. In 1928, Stone was appointed director of the college library and administer of the department of Library Science.

Charles H. Stone
The department would offer accredited undergraduate work from 1931-1933. This program was the first of its kind in North Carolina and the second in the south, offering courses that included book selection, cataloging and classification, youth literature and storytelling, library history and administration, reference and bibliography, and government documents. Yet by 1933, the state of North Carolina decided to consolidate library education at the Chapel Hill campus.

The 1931 Undergraduate Library Science Class

In the 1962-63 academic year - the last year that the school was officially a woman’s college - a university committee, which had been formed several years prior in response to federal legislation affecting education, decided to formally restore library science education at UNCG. In 1965, the developing program was approved to offer a Master’s degree in Library Science (MLS), although it was not yet accredited. This program continued until 1982, when the American Library Association (ALA) accredited a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at UNCG.

Two remarkable librarians who helped direct and develop the program towards accreditation were Mary Frances Kennon Johnson (1962-1979; Chair 1978-1979) and Cora Paul Bomar (1969-1979; Interim Chair 1986-87). This was largely done through the emphasis of an expanding array of technology and media. Dr. Keith Wright (Chair 1980-86) was the department Chair during the pivotal academic year of 1981-1982 when accreditation was earned. He contributed to the program’s success by hiring more faculty and establishing strong practicum programs, which partnered with local educational organizations.

Cora Paul Bomar
Under the leadership of Dr. Marilyn Miller (1987-1995), the department - now titled Library Science and Instructional Technology - continued its progress. Miller (MLS, PhD - University of Michigan) was a notable advocate and prolific researcher, writer, and speaker on librarianship, with a focus on school library media programs. In 1988, she oversaw the founding of the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA), the 21st student chapter of ALA. In 1992-1993, still directing the LIS program, Miller served as ALA’s president, thereby bringing visibility to the department. Coursework under Miller’s leadership emphasized educational technology, especially microcomputers, as complementary to the standard library curriculum. In the 1993-1994 academic year, the program became Library and Information Studies. In the same year, and still under the leadership of Dr. Miller, the department was approved to offer a complete MLIS degree as distance education, which continues to develop and serve diverse learners today.

Marilyn Miller  
Currently, as the oldest LIS program in North Carolina, UNCG’s LIS department is housed within the School of Education, where it continues to offer an accredited, graduate-level degree program featuring courses in both hybrid (combining face-to-face and distance learners) and fully online formats. With such a long and rich history of library and information education at UNCG, we expect continuous developments in research, education, and service from the LIS department.

[This blog is the result of research conducted at the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at The University of North Carolina - Greensboro (UNCG), by LIS practicum student Anthony Arcangeli, in the creation of an exhibit which highlighted the history of library education at UNCG.]


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