To iSchool or not to iSchool?

Micah Geoff Johnson approached me about posting this survey here, and I thought it reflected many of the types of conversations we’ve had over the past few months, and especially related to Nicole’s post about non-traditional LIS work from yesterday. Actually, because of this post, I did a little research and discovered that FSU-SLIS, my school from which I am graduating in two weeks, is an iSchool and I had no idea. What’s in a name? When applied to library school, it’ll be interesting to find out. Feel free to answer in the comments OR by filling out the Survey Monkey linked below. Here’s Geoff:

A couple colleagues and I are working on a project to help understand the differences between traditional Master’s of Library and Information Science graduate schools and iSchools. An important part of our research is an understanding of the perceptions of prospective and current students and recent (or not-so-recent) graduates. If you could assist by completing the following survey and give any additional insight, it would be greatly appreciated.

If any of these questions seem unclear, worry not – we’re just looking for your opinion or your perceptions based on what you already know.

Note: In answering questions about your preferred school to attend, please assume all schools are equally easy for you to attend logistically (i.e. in terms of location, cost, etc.). For example, when question F asks whether you’d prefer to attend highly-ranked schools, don’t let the fact that you live far away from most highly-ranked schools (if you do) affect your answer.

Also, if you’re already in school or you’ve already graduated, please treat questions about such choices as though you had the decision to make again with the benefit of what you know now.

In the near future, you can expect a blog post on our findings.

Answer questions in comments or CLICK THIS SURVEY.

Are you:

  • A prospective Master of Library and Information Science/Master of Library Science/Master of Information Science Student
  • A current student at a school that describes itself as a school of Library Science or Library and Information Science
  • A current student at an iSchool or School of Information
  • An MLIS/MLS/MIS graduate
  • Just interested

If you chose option 1, 2, 3, or 4 above, please indicate where you go to or went to or intend to go to school.

If you were to make the decision again, or if you are currently making the decision,  would you select a traditional LIS program, or a program offered at an iSchool or a School of Information?

  • Traditional LIS
  • iSchool
  • There’s a difference?
  • I would choose a completely different field/program

How different do you think the curricula or course offerings in an “iSchool” or school of information are from a more traditional MLIS/MLS programs?

  • Not at all – same thing.
  • 90% the same – maybe two or three extra classes to make a school an iSchool
  • 50% the same – mostly the same stuff, but enough classes that I could be an “information professional”, not “just” a librarian if I so chose
  • 25% the same – some overlap, but a completely different experience

Please provide 3 words that describe traditional LIS programs:

Please provide 3 words that describe iSchool/information school programs:

Please choose the statement that most closely matches your feelings

  • I would choose a highly-ranked traditional LIS Program
  • I would choose a highly-ranked iSchool/School of Information
  • As long as it’s highly ranked, iSchool/Traditional LIS doesn’t matter
  • I prefer to attend any traditional LIS school – ranking is less important
  • I want to attend an iSchool – ranking is less important

5 replies

  1. This is especially interesting since I’ll also be a FSU student soon (yay!) and I don’t think I remember reading anything that identified them as an iSchool either. I would identify the program I’m in now as being more how I envision a ‘traditional’ MLS program, so I’m excited to see how the two environments differ. I’ve been pondering on the difference between iSchools and other LIS programs lately too–the places I most readily identify are iSchools are the ones that have made that a central part of their public image and research interests (i.e. Syracuse.) But someplace like FSU seems to ride the line between these, because faculty interests seem so diverse and some subjects I would consider outside the realm of the iSchool (i.e. library history) are still examined. I’m curious to see how other folks would define these and what impact it has on their choices!


  2. Hi-
    I don’t think I’ve posted here yet, though I read daily.
    I just graduated from a traditional LIS program. While I was in classes, several of my friends and colleagues were completing online programs so I had the opportunity to compare and contrast my in-class experience to their online experiences. It seems that the online programs were much more intense, though mine often seemed to carry a heavier workload. I think the decision to attend an online program or traditional program could probably be answered by the skills one hopes to achieve. However, the one thing my traditional program gave me in spades, the one thing completely missing from the online programs, was networking. I made so many connections at so many levels, both state- and nation-wide whereas all of my online compatriots were unable to network nearly as extensively.


  3. I honestly just thought iSchool was a general concept; I hadn’t realized all the iSchools were affiliated in any way!

    Anyway, I suppose identifying as an iSchool does show a commitment to technology and information science, but I’m still a little skeptical about whether the term is deeply meaningful.


  4. I wish there was another option on the last question! I didn’t care about my school’s ranking – it was more that I cared about the content of the program, specifically its practical, experience-based focus.

    Super-cool survey, though, and a really interesting thing to explore. I did a lot of research before hitting library school (#nerdbird) but never determined what made ischools different.


  5. Interesting survey, looking forward to the results! Come August, I’m attending a library school that offers both. While I was just talking about library school, I was planning to do the online program, but by the time I started my application, I had decided to take classes on campus, mostly for the networking.


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