Guidelines for Professional Library/Information Educational Programs – 2012

by Kerry Smith, Gillian Hallam and S.B. Ghosh on behalf of IFLA’s Education and Training Section


Fourth revised draft, 2012

These guidelines were ensorsed by IFLA’s Professional Committee in August 2012.

Note: Translations of the Guidelines can be found at the bottom of this webpage.  (

Executive Summary

These guidelines replace the last significant revision in 2000 and incorporate the inclusion of material in library school curricula that reflects the developments in the provision of library and information services in the 21st century.  They set the framework for the necessary objectives for library and information educational programmes: the requirements of core and useful curriculum elements to be included in teaching programmes, the faculty, staff and student requirements for these programmes and the need for the programmes to be well supported by information and other resources.


Library/information educational programmes have a long and distinguished history. In the past, they have focused on developing physical collections of books and other materials in library buildings staffed by people who have learned to select, acquire, organise, retrieve and circulate these materials. Today library information educational programmes extend beyond the physical collections and buildings to the virtual world of the Internet. Today the  concentration is on information provision to users in a variety of contexts, public, private and third sector; users who may not be necessarily able or willing to enter the library building or environment. Collaboration with partners within the sector – archives, museums and records management – is increasingly evident, so inclusion in programmes of an awareness of common issues is appropriate. Educational programmes are offered at the technical level, at the graduate and professional level, and at the research and doctoral level. The guidelines offered here primarily address the graduate and undergraduate levels, both of which lead to  professional qualification.

The last significant revision of these Guidelines was in 2000.  Since then many issues have confronted the profession of librarianship, not the least of which has been the embedding of the Internet and other digital technologies and all they bring with them into the daily lives of many of our communities.    This has brought a thrust by some library schools to adopt an iSchool philosophy in competition with the more traditional, yet  still valid, library educational approaches of colleague schools, often in the same country.  Additionally, it has become apparent that many of the instructional and knowledge bases that education in librarianship needs to also cover the boundaries of other kindred professions, for example in archival, museum and records management studies.  There was also a need to address the omission of  indigenous matters in the knowledge base of educational programmes.

The IFLA Education and Training Standing Committee appointed sub committee to oversee the development of another revision of the document.   The members were Professor Gillian Hallam, Professor. S.B. Ghosh and Associate Professor Kerry Smith.  That revision is presented below.

Associate Professor Kerry Smith, FALIA
Convenor, IFLA SET Guidelines sub committee, July 2012


The aim of these Guidelines is to provide library and information studies/science (LIS) schools around the world with a set of guiding principles of preferred practice to use when establishing and running their educational programmes.  The Guidelines provide a framework for review and improvement in these programmes as well as design new programmes, and can be used as a practical tool for comparison.  They should also be used when designing new educational programmes for the library and information service sectors.

It is recognised that some countries will have wider educational standards that need to be adhered to, and that professional associations within the discipline areas in different countries will also have educational policy statements that LIS schools need to adhere to, particularly for accreditation purposes.  It is expected that the principles in this set of Guidelines will form the basis for such national accreditation requirement.


The Guidelines comprise:

G1 The larger framework
G2 Core elements to be covered in LIS programmes
G3 Curriculum
G4 Faculty and staff
G5 Students
G6 Support
G7 Instructional resources and facilities.

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The Common Pool Conundrum


The above given equalization of qualifications had been set by the Kerala Public Service Commission for the appointment of  Librarians, Grade IV,  in the Department of Municipal Common Service. (See the latest Notification, Gazette Date: 15/09/2012 and  Category No: 476/2012 – 479/2012).

It is evident that this over simplification of facts along with the negligence shown towards establishing quality Libraries in the State by the administrators is the root cause of the deplorable state of ‘Common Pool Libraries’ in Kerala.

Download the notification for Librarian, Grade IV

Download the notification for Librarian, Grade III

Deprofessionalization and the library blogosphere

A very relevant and thought provoking article by  Rory Litwin on Library Juice Blog published on March 4, 2012

Librarianship as a profession is, as we all know, threatened. The threat can be identified most directly as a reduction in public support for government institutions, especially those institutions or their components considered “less essential.” Where librarians feel that our jobs, or our job prospects in the case of new librarians, are threatened, we have a personal stake in the fate of libraries, which in our discourse with the public can put the taint of self-interest on our arguments for the value of what we do. But for most of us, it is not so much a matter of protecting our jobs but protecting our ability to do the kind of work that we believe in. That passion for the profession serves us well in making the case to the public about our role, where our personal stake may not.

In terms of the question of public support for libraries, our belief in the values of the profession is an essential rhetorical tool. However, it is only one piece. The other piece is professional expertise. Our expertise as librarians is part of a dynamic where the threat to libraries is being felt in a less direct and less noticeable way, which is the process of deprofessionalization.

Library administrators and funding institutions have an interest in the deprofessionalization of librarianship in two ways – economic efficiency and control. Library support staff, who are being trained up to take on most responsibilities now handled by professional librarians, cost libraries less in wages. Because they are not a part of a profession that makes a claim to autonomy in the workplace, and not guided by a professional code as well as by management directives, they are more subject to direct management by their supervisors. That is to say, they are workers with bosses where librarians tend not to have bosses in the same way, tending rather to occupy roles in their organization where management is partly a collegial process. It goes without saying that library administrators want the ability to determine what happens in the libraries for which they are responsible, and therefore have interests that are in tension with those of their professionals on the staff.

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Why Public Libraries lost its charm and kicked out from the race with the Internet?

“Libraries are suppose to be open seven days a week but many times they are either closed or the staff is not willing to help me find a book that I need”.     

When Richa Gupta, a student in Delhi, says this about the present condition of libraries in the national capital, including the famous Delhi Public Library (DPL) System, the librarians and library administrators all around  the country should listen and think over it. The fading charm of once indispensible Public Libraries in India is definitely a matter for serious discussion. The expectations of the net generation users from libraries are very much different and dynamically volatile. How Library Professionals can cope with this pressure of unforeseen changes and demands in the field of information, technology and media will eventually decide the future of Librarianship in the country.

Read an interesting report on the “Declining popularity of libraries” appeared on Deccan Chronicle (Jan.30 2012).