University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Information & Library Science
Established 1931
Dean Gary Marchionini
Academic staff 49
Students 408
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Campus University town

The University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, or more commonly known as SILS, is a graduate school offering Masters in Library Science (MSLS) and Masters in Information Science (MSIS) and Ph.D. degrees located in Chapel Hill, NC.[1] Also offered are dual degree programs coordinated jointly with UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School among others.[2] Currently, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Information and Library Science second among information and library science programs nationwide.[3] The School is home to 309 master's degree students, 60 doctoral students, 24 undergraduate majors, and 15 minors. Professional degree programs in library science and information science have been fully accredited by the American Library Association. There are 24 full-time teaching faculty members and about 25 adjunct and visiting faculty members associated with SILS each year.[4]



Wilson Library used to be known as the main campus library and was the official home of SILS until 1970, when it was relocated to Manning Hall. They would soon rename that very same library as Wilson Library, after Louis Round Wilson. Previously, Manning Hall used to be the home of the University's Law School. It was Louis Round Wilson that initiated the creation of SILS in order to "offer opportunity through sending out trained librarians for the South to tap the vast reservoir of human knowledge." A grant of $100,00 was offered to the school to enable them for three years and make permanent its conditional accreditation from the American Library Association. Ten years later, the ALA would later grant another $100,000 to the school. The first classes in the school officially began on September 17, 1931. In 1988, the school would officially change its name to School of Information and Library Science (being previously known as the School of Library Science).[5]

Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Curriculum History

Before the establishment of UNC-SILS, the University previously offered courses in library science, first during the summer terms in 1904 and then later on during the regular school term 2 years later. These courses wouldn't count for credit until 1909. The curricula of the schools started out as offering preparation in one of three fields in general library work, elementary and high school libraries, city and county public libraries, or college and university libraries. Some courses that were offered in 1931 (and that some are still offered today) include functions and use of libraries, cataloging and classification, administration of libraries, etc. Recommended electives came from other departments other than the school itself and would continue to expand to different departments and areas in the future. In 1932, the school was provisionally accredited as a type II (graduate) library school by the board of education for Librarianship of the ALA. Two years later it would be fully accredited for both type 2 and type 3 (undergraduate) library training, as well as getting membership in the Association of American Library Schools. The first class of students graduated on June 7 and that same year, Susan Grey Akers, the dean of the school, would go on to earn one of the nation's first PhDs in library science from the University of Chicago graduate library school. In 1947, the university approved the schools proposed master of school librarianship program and 3 years later the school officially offered the first courses in this program. This would later be discontinued in 1958. In 1941, the degree granted from the school would change from bachelor of arts to bachelor of science in library science. In 1951, the university approved the schools program leading to the master of science in library science degree. In 1974, the school would introduce a revised master's program, with a new 12 hour block of basic material required of all students. By 1953, the school presented its first candidates for the MSLS degree and two years later the bachelor of science in library science was discontinued by the schools administration board.[5]

In 2000, SILS became the first school to have its MSIS program accredited for a full seven years by the ALA. The schools MSLS program, continually accredited since 1934, also received full accreditation. The year after, the school announced the introduction of the dual master's degree programs with the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Public Health. In 2003, classes officially began for the newly approved BSIS undergraduate degree program. In addition, the Dual Degree programs began with the School of Nursing, the art department, and School of Government. Plus, institutions in Singapore & Denmark began SILS international program in information management. In this same year, the school also began a certificate program in bioinformatics and started to offer schools library media certification through distance education.[5]

Former Deans[5]

  • Louis Round Wilson (1931-1932)
  • Susan Grey Akers (1932-1954)
  • Lucile Kelling Henderson (1954-1960)
  • Carlyle J. Frarey (1960-1964)
  • Margaret Ellen Kalp (1964-1967)
  • Walter A. Sedelow, Jr. (1967-1970)
  • Raymond L. Carpenter, Jr. (1970-1971)
  • Edward G. Holley (1972-1985)
  • Evelyn H. Daniel (1985-1990)
  • Barbara B. Moran (1990-1998)
  • Joanne Gard Marshall (1999-2004)
  • Jose-Marie Griffiths (2004-2009)
  • Barbara B. Moran (2009-2010)
  • Gary Marchionini (2010–present)


In 1995, Manning would undergo renovations, including updating its large lecture hall and the information and technology resource center.[5] Today, SILS classrooms are equipped with computer projection and instructor workstations. SILS also maintains a wireless network with access points throughout the building. As part of the university library system, the SILS Library features advanced electronic capabilities and an extensive collection of materials. The Information and Technology Resource Center integrates a computer lab and electronic classroom area with extensive library collections and services.[4]


The SILS Library consists of over 99,000 volumes and approximately 1,300 serials titles are checked in every year. One of the collections SILS houses is the professional collection (Library of Congress classification), which consists of materials in information and library science, and related fields. The juvenile collection (Dewey Decimal classification), designed to support courses in children's literature, school librarianship, and children's librarianship in public libraries, consists of the Easy collection, juvenile fiction, juvenile non-fiction, juvenile historical (non-circulating), pop-up books, and audio-visual materials.[6]


Digital Project Repository

The SILS Digital Project Repository was created by information and library science graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (originally developed by SILS students Matthew Bachtell and Ying Zhang for Dr. Gary Marchionini’s Digital Libraries course). The DPR serves as an archive and showcase of student work. The “Pathfinder Digital Library”, as it was then called, housed two archived pathfinders and provided organized lists of externally linked pathfinders. The project was later taken over by SILS students Becca Cahill, Adam Webb, and Kristen Wilson, who renamed it the SILS Digital Project Repository (DPR) and expanded its scope to include portals, digital archives, and other HTML format projects. These students archived about sixty pathfinders and other projects during their administration of the site in hopes of preserving projects housed on impermanent student webspace. In the Spring of 2006 the DPR was adopted by Lori Eakin, Emily Riley, and Ellen Whisler and worked to collect detailed metadata for projects housed on-site and off-site in preparation for future development of the DPR.[7]

ibiblio, a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Center for the Public Domain, has been a vehicle for knowledge sharing since 1992, first as an original Sun Microsystems SunSITE, then as Metalab, finally resting on the ibiblio name in 2000. ibiblio is a free and vibrant exchange of ideas among a large community of contributors who share their knowledge across disciplines. It is one of the major distribution hubs for Linux software and has been a significant supporter of Linux development efforts since its inception.[8] In addition, it started the first internet radio stream by rebroadcasting WXYC, the UNC student-run radio station. It also takes credit for the first non-commercial IPv6 / Internet2 radio stream. The site, which enters its 19th year of existence in October, is run by the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, by director and UNC professor Paul Jones.[9]

National Science Foundation Logo

LifeTime Library

The program, LifeTime Library, is an online comprehensive file hosting site that is currently available to the school’s incoming students.[10] The program is designed to store documents and photos for students so they can have access to them forever.[11] Gary Marchionini, dean of the school, said LifeTime Library is the first program of its kind to be used by a university in the nation. With the program, students can permanently store and later retrieve computer files that are usually kept on hard drives and social media sites. The program’s data is stored on a series of disks managed by the school and other departments.[10] Two years in the making, the LifeTime Library has benefitted from research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and other prestigious sources. Users can fine-tune their libraries, setting up policies and new capabilities, and therefore Marchionini expects the libraries to provide new learning experiences for the school’s students. Eventually, researchers would like to see it synchronize with multiple devices. So far, the school has provided storage for the LifeTime Library, but Marchionini’s vision is for the project to be offered to all Carolina students. Business partners may be recruited to help with costs so that the LifeTime Library could continue to be free to students and alumni.[12]


This three-year, collaborative project seeks to develop an openly accessible, graduate-level curricular framework, course modules, and experiential and enrichment components and exemplars necessary to prepare students to work in the 21st-century environment of trusted digital and data repositories. To accomplish these tasks, this project brings together key international figures in digital preservation from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, and New Zealand, to serve on an Advisory Board. Repositories at UNC-CH will provide IMLS-funded Carolina Digital Curation Fellows hands-on application of the principles taught as they manage a wide range of digital objects, including public records, cultural heritage assets, teaching materials, and research data. These Fellowships will serve to integrate the curriculum and the experiential components, advertise the existence of the programs at SILS, and draw attention to the need for digital curation. Sustainability and updating of the educational products will be ensured through programmatic adoption at UNC-CH and widespread dissemination and use at other educational institutions.[13]


In October 2011, the National Science Foundation awarded nearly $8 million over five years to the DataNet Federation Consortium, a group that spans seven universities, to build and deploy a prototype national data management infrastructure. About half the award supports research and development at the school. This consortium (lead by The Data Intensive Cyber Environments research group in UNC-SILS) addresses the research collaboration needs of six science and engineering disciplines: oceanography, hydrology, engineering design, plant biology, cognitive science and social science. The infrastructure project supports collaborative multi-disciplinary research through shared collections, data publication within digital libraries and development of reference collections in archives.[14]

Collaboration with RENCI

RENCI at UNC Chapel Hill opened in summer 2007 in the new Manning Information Technology Services building located on South Campus. The site supports the use of visualization technology and advanced computational methods to explore issues in science, engineering, the arts, humanities and social sciences. This state-of-the-art facility gives RENCI the opportunity to collaborate with UNC faculty on new and existing multidisciplinary research projects. The institution works with scientists who study critical issues and form research teams that involve faculty members at universities across North Carolina and the U.S. and that are positioned to bring major research projects to North Carolina.[15] In October 2012, SILS professor & RENCI chief scientist Arcot Rajasekar is the principal investigator of one of eight new Big Data research projects receiving awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Rajasekar’s project, “DataBridge – A Sociometric System for Long-Tail Science Data Collections,” will use socio-metric networks similar to Linked In or Facebook to enable scientists to find data and like-minded research. It is expected to improve the discovery of relevant scientific data across large, distributed and diverse collections. The funds provided by NSF for the DataBridge project total $1.5 million.[16]


Undergraduate Program

SILS first offered a minor in information systems in 1997 and started a major in information science in 2003. UNC-Chapel Hill is the only university in the state of North Carolina offering a bachelor’s degree in information science and is one of only a handful of schools nationwide offering such a program. The Bachelor of Science in Information Science is designed to prepare its graduates for a variety of careers in the information industry, including information architecture, database design and implementation, Web design and implementation, and information consulting, as well as for graduate study. The major requires 30 credits hours worth of courses, as well as 4 approved electives and the completion of certain prerequisites before applying to the major.[17] The Minor in Information Systems provides students with an understanding of computing, multi¬media, electronic information resources, and the Internet that complements the student's major field of study. Students concentrate their studies in the junior and senior years.[18]

Dual Bachelor-Master's Program

Introduced in 2011, the Dual Bachelor's - Master's program is intended to enable Information Science (IS) majors to obtain both their BS and MS degree by early planning of an undergraduate program that integrates well with the graduate degree requirements for either a Master’s in Information Science (MSIS) or a Master's in Library Science (MSLS) within five years. Of the 24 iSchools in North America, only four offer an accelerated Bachelor's - Master's program of any sort; and other than these four iSchools, only one of the 58 programs accredited by the American Library Association offer an accelerated Bachelor's - Master's program.[19]

Graduate Program

  • The Master of Science in Library Science is a 48 credit hour, two-year program. The MSLS curriculum trains students in the collection, organization, storage, and retrieval of recorded knowledge for a variety of institutions and groups.
  • The Master of Science in Information Science Program is a 48 credit hour, two-year program. The MSIS curriculum trains students in the theory and practice of analyzing, organizing, representing and retrieving information.
  • The Post-Masters Certificate in Information and Library Science is a 30 credit hour program intended for students who already hold a masters degree and who want to specialize or focus on a particular area within information and library science.
  • The Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Science is a flexible and customizable course of study designed for individuals to work in academia and in high-level research centers.[20]


The Concentration of Study in Archives and Record Management (ARM) at SILS provides students with the knowledge and skills required to work in archives, special collections, historical societies, records management units within organizations and various other curatorial environments. The principles and practices of ARM are based on provenance, collection-level arrangement, and attention to context, all of which are becoming increasingly relevant with the massive explosion of information across all sectors of society.[21]

Kenan-Flagler Business School, one of the many school SILS students can obtain dual degrees from.

Other Programs

Dual Degrees

In addition to the programs above, SILS also gives students the opportunity to pursue two master's degrees simultaneously. Art History, Business Administration, Government, Health Policy, Law, Medicine, Nursing and Public History are the degrees that SILS students can pursue simultaneously with their master's degree from SILS. Students are required to apply to both schools separately, that they enroll in only one program in any given semester, that they confer with dual degree coordinators for both programs, and are able to "double count" up to 20% of credits across degrees. The goal of the dual degrees is to maximize learning, minimize course and content overlap, and provide students with a means to earn two degrees as efficiently as possible while maintaining the integrity and high standards of each degree and are designed to be completed in three academic years.[2]


The Post-Master's Certificate (PMC) is a post-master’s degree that is designed for practitioners who seek a continuing education program to enhance their professional development in Information and Library Science. The PMC is an hybrid program with residential and online components. The typical pattern begins with a two-week intensive kick-off offered during the first session of summer school on campus and then includes a set of courses taken online. he PMC allows students to customize their coursework depending on their goals. The main requirement of the program is successful completion of an additional 30 hours of coursework.[22]

SILS also offers several certificate of specialization programs that allow currently enrolled master's students to develop strength in predefined areas of concentration in information and library science. Completion of the requirements for a certificate results in an endorsement on the student's transcript. These certificates are intended for students enrolled in the master's program, as well as those with master's degrees, who wish to acquire expertise in addition to the normal master's degree, and receive recognition for this training. Programs include Aging, Bioinformatics, Clinical Information Science, Digital Curation, among other specialized programs.[23]

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

International Opportunities

The very first international summer semester in the Czech Republic, co-sponsored by Charles University, began in Prague in 2002 for SILS students.[5] Today, the school hosts seminars each year in London, England and Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic. Exchange opportunities are also available at schools in Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Spain and the Czech Republic.[4] The schools that SILS has formal study abroad agreements with are: Royal School of Library and Information Science in Copenhagen, Denmark, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, The Department of Library Science, Information Science and Book Studies at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, and the University of Carlos III in Madrid, Spain. In addition, UNC-Chapel Hill has formal university ties with approximately 75 other universities—many of them with library and information science schools—where SILS students can spend a semester studying abroad.[24]

iSchool consortium

UNC-SILS is a member of an international group of iSchools. The iSchools organization was founded in 2005 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st century. These schools, colleges, and departments have been newly created or are evolving from programs formerly focused on specific tracks such as information technology, library science, informatics, and information science. While each individual iSchool has its own strengths and specializations, together they share a fundamental interest in the relationships between information, people, and technology. The iSchools organization is governed by the iCaucus. Criteria for being recognized as an iSchool are not rigid, but schools are expected to have substantial sponsored research activity, engagement in the training of future researchers (usually through an active, research-oriented doctoral program), and a commitment to progress in the information field.[25]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b c d e f University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Information and Library Science (2007). Illuminating the Past: A history of the first 75 years of the University of North Carolina's School of Information and Library Science. Minneapolis, MN: PhotoBook Press.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Faculty research: digital innovation lab. (2012, Spring). Information & Library Science @Carolina, 77, 36. Retrieved from
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^

External links

  • UNC-SILS Homepage
  • Vimeo Page
  • Flickr Photostream
  • Facebook Page
  • Official Twitter Page
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