School of Library and Information Science relocates in Columbus

Katie Huntley

Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science program in Columbus is ready to begin a new chapter.

Kent’s program, which is the only American Library Association accredited master’s program in Ohio, is set to move its Columbus branch from The Ohio State University’s Mount Hall to the State Library of Ohio in mid-May.

The move from Mount Hall will give the program room to grow.

“The State Library gave us the opportunity to double our space,” said Richard Rubin, director of Kent SLIS.


The State Library of Ohio offers a vast collection of public information including federal and state documents, census data and rare books. Some of the amenities available to students of the School of Library and Information Science program in Columbus will include:


• Military rosters

• Topographical maps

• Ohio agricultural reports

• U.S. patents

• Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code

• Presidential papers

• House and Senate journals

• Congressional records

Physical Facility

• New computer labs

• Multifunctional classrooms

• Wireless Internet

• Small-group meeting rooms

• Faculty offices

• Free parking

The space will increase from about 3,000 to 6,100 square feet and will not only centralize the location of the program, but also offer new technology and free parking for students and faculty. SLIS had leased the Mount Hall space from The Ohio State University for 30 years.

“We have had a very long and beneficial relationship with OSU,” said Ruth Smith, public relations coordinator for SLIS. “This move will help (the program) grow and increase the students’ opportunities in central Ohio.”

The Columbus branch now serves between 125 and 150 students. With the expansion, enrollment has the capacity to reach anywhere from 200 to 225 students, Smith said.

“We are really hoping in the next few years to expand by about 30 students,” Smith said. “This move will create increased awareness of our program.”

The relocation and renovations have cost Kent State approximately $400,000, Rubin said. However, the school will not pay rent to the State Library for the first four years. Instead, it will make in-kind contributions of items that are mutually beneficial to the school and the State Library.

“We (SLIS) really have a relationship operating on good faith with the State Library,” Rubin said. “I think it’s fantastic – it’s a win-win situation.”

A large portion of the cost of renovations was gained from the school’s distance learning program. Since the introduction of distance learning within the program in 2000, the classes using online content and interactive video have been convenient for the average student and profitable for the program, Rubin said.

State-of-the-art computer labs at the State Library will be available to make distance learning easier from Kent for the part-time students, Rubin said.

Students will also have greater opportunity to help make library resources available on the Internet, projects called digitization and open source solutions. These activities will be available in Fall 2008 as a specialization within the master’s program.

The relocation will also make history.

According to the SLIS, there has not been a library science school associated with a state library since Melvil Dewey’s School of Library Economy at the State Library of New York in 1889.

The State Library of Ohio offers substantial library collections, Rubin said.

“This move will broaden opportunities for exposure, provide a fertile area for joint research between students and State Library staff, and a mutual opportunity for growth,” Rubin said. “We have been working on this for more than two years and still a lot of i’s have to be dotted and t’s have to be crossed.”

Classes are scheduled to begin this summer.

Contact libraries and information services reporter Katie Huntley at [email protected].

Digitization of libraries

Beginning fall semester, the School of Library and Information Science will offer two options of study in digital librarianship.

The first option will be a specialization in its Master of Library and Information Science program in digital librarianship. The second option will be for students who already hold an MLIS degree and would like to earn a certificate of advanced study in digital librarianship.

These specializations will focus on making resources available and maintaining them on the Internet.

The specialization of digital librarianship will train students to plan a library and the system of how to digitize and preserve the information, said Athena Salaba, assistant professor in SLIS.

Marcia Lei Zeng, professor of SLIS, said that in response to the growing need for a faster and more convenient way of getting information, programs in digitization appeared around the nation.

“The purpose was to bring more to education in order to bridge the gap of available resources between rich and poor colleges,” Zeng said. “Students learn how to make information available open and freely.”

Since Kent State’s program is the only accredited library master’s program in Ohio, it hears from students all over Ohio about digitization.

“All the jobs have a need for this specialization,” said Yin Zhang, associate professor in SLIS. “People with this degree do not have to work in a library situation – companies, museums and non-profit organizations have archives that need to be collected. This specialization teaches a whole model that can be applied to any organization.”

Information about the program and its

courses can be found at