Wayne State University

History of the School

In the last 25 years, the curriculum offerings in library and information science have undergone a major change and expansion from the School's original focus training school librarians. Today’s SLIS students can select from a variety of specializations: academic libraries, health sciences, information science, law librarianship, organization of information, children’s and young adult services, public libraries, reference, school library media, and special libraries. Additionally, the infusion of technology in libraries has mandated an infusion of technology across the curriculum.

The School of Library and Information Science can trace its origins to 1918, when the Detroit Normal Training School began offering courses in school librarianship to elementary teachers in the Detroit Public Schools. After the training school became the Detroit Teachers College in 1923, the library science program grew. In the 1930s, the college offered future elementary and secondary school librarians a bachelor's degree with a minor in library science. In 1940, the Teachers College became Wayne University and in 1956 it became Wayne State University.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Library Science Department broadened and diversified its program to include both undergraduate courses and a series of continuing education programs. The American Library Association (ALA) accredited the Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree in 1967. Due to budgetary concerns, it was necessary to move the Department out of the College of Education in 1984, and it began functioning under the administrative jurisdiction of the Dean of University Libraries. The name was changed to the Library and Information Science Program in 1993. The LIS Program grew from 125 students in 1987 to nearly 600 graduate students today. As a reflection of the growth of the student body and expansion of its degree and certificate offerings, the Board of Governors approved the creation of the School of Library and Information Science in 2009.

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree is accredited by the ALA; the next regularly scheduled review takes place in 2016. The  Specialist Certificate in Library and Information Science was created in 1978; The Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration was established in 1986.  Both the Joint MLIS/MA degree and Graduate Certificate in Information Management were established in 2007; the Graduate Certificate in Records and Information Management and a fully-online MLIS option were established in 2008; the Graduate Certificate in Public Library Services to Children and Young Adults was established in 2009; the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Museum Librarianship was added in 2010; the Graduate Certificate in Urban Librarianship was established in 2011. 

The School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University is one of only two Master’s-only programs ranked in the top 20 library and information science programs (according to U.S. News and World Report). With a current enrollment of almost 600 students, our school is one of the largest master's programs in library and information science, as well as one the largest school library media preparation programs in the nation. Fifteen full-time faculty and over 80 part-time faculty facilitate online, face-to-face, and blended format courses in academic, public, special, and school libraries as well as archives and information systems areas.