The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Schilling Room on the second floor of the UT Pan American University Library.
The degree, which also will be available via distance learning at Abilene Christian University, Midwestern University in Wichita Falls and Texas A&M University-Texarkana, is the first accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) to be offered through such a collaborative effort. The program was approved April 23 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
"The only accredited library science master’s degree programs in Texas are at UNT, TWU and The University of Texas at Austin, and it is very difficult for people in the Rio Grande Valley to participate in a program so far from home," said UTPA library director Dr. Elinor Folger Foster.
Efforts to bring an accredited library science graduate program to the area have been in process for many years, she said.
"I was asked to look into the issue when I got here (in 1993)," noted Foster, who has reviewed a number of options over the years. "It was decided for several reasons that a cooperative program would be a good idea, and we asked all the accredited schools to be involved.
"Last July, representatives from the three accredited programs visited here, and we came up with a proposal that was then reviewed and approved by the presidents of all the involved institutions."
Foster said that distance education provided the best alternative. Valley students in the new program will take two courses each semester on Saturdays via interactive television from UNT and TWU. They also will take elective courses at UTPA or through interactive television from UT Austin.
Students may choose to seek their degree from either UNT or TWU and will go through the regular admission process at that institution. Tuition costs will be those of the chosen degree-granting university, and distance learning fees will also be assessed.
Students must begin the program in the fall semester 1998 and will complete the degree in the spring semester 2000, according to Foster.
For more information, prospective students should contact either Herman Totten at UNT (telephone 940/565-3567, e-mail: email@example.com) or Dr. Keith Swigger at TWU (telephone 940/898/2602, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The new program, unique in its cooperation between public and private universities (Abilene Christian is a private institution), fills a projected need for librarians and information managers, according to a news release issued by UNT.
"Texas needs new librarians to serve the burgeoning population of children in school and public libraries," said Swigger, who is dean of the TWU library science school. "They’ll be called on to cope with new demands for information services, both in print and new electronic forms, and to replace the large group of librarians who are now retiring."
Swigger and Dr. Philip Turner, dean of UNT’s School of Library and Information Sciences, will conduct the informational meeting at UTPA, as well as sessions in Abilene on May 11, in Wichita Falls May 14 and in Texarkana May 20.
In addition to the accredited program that will be offered via a satellite hookup, Valley students will continue to have access to a non-accredited, traditionally delivered library science master’s degree program that has been offered at UTPA by Sam Houston State University for several years.
"The Sam Houston State program is mainly useful for school librarians, since public and college librarians need a degree program accredited by the American Library Association," said UTPA’s Foster.