Main menu

Secondary menu

The Accreditor Peer-Review Experience

The Accreditor Peer-Review experience

Site visits by peer review teams can be quite intimidating for the librarian responsible for the self-study report. In large institutions only the Head Librarian or Dean of Libraries may be involved. In smaller institutions using a sole librarian, they are the contact person. In all cases, whether programmatic, regional or national accreditation, the librarian responsible should be thankful that they might be visited by a team with a professional librarian. This level of attention can be pretty much guaranteed at the regional level of accreditation, but not expected for other peer review site teams. For those teams, a subject matter expert or faculty member will probably volunteer to review the report and do the site interviews and report back to the team. That is one reason why writing the library’s section of the self-study report should balance library jargon with general terms and theories. Know your reader.

If the institution is online and offers its programs using online asynchronous learning management systems, there is the added need to ensure that the reviewer can get to the eresources to do an online evaluation or simulation research. You will need the IT team to set up demo log in capabilities. Be ready for queries by the reviewer to your email reference address.

All online institutions must have residential offices somewhere. They must. But not all have resident librarians at those offices, which is the case with most of The Virtual Librarian Service clients. We are embedded into the fibre or culture of the academic institution. But we are third party and have a signed Agreement of Service which makes sense, since all library service and all resources are delivered online. For peer review site team visits I attend meetings using AdobeConnect or some other meeting room software.

So, I have learned about accreditor peer reviewers from 2 viewpoints, one as the person on the site team visit and the other is as the recipient of site visits. That is the way it should be since you cannot volunteer to be a reviewer unless you are from an accredited institution. And because being a peer-reviewer takes time away from the office, usually you would volunteer your name and experience to your President or Provost, who must sign off on your name going forward to the accrediting body.

If your institution needs assistance with the library portion of your accreditation documentation, please contact me at

Melody Hainsworth, MLIS, Ph. D.