Perceptions of online degrees in library science across the Arab world

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-06-2017-0049
Publication Date08 May 2017
Date08 May 2017
Pages317-330
AuthorCharla Chebl,Maroun El Rayess
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Perceptions of online degrees in
library science across
the Arab world
Charla Chebl and Maroun El Rayess
Department of Library, Notre Dame University-Louaize,
Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon
Abstract
Purpose This research paper aims to present a specic outline of the library decision makers’ perceptions
and the hiring patterns and acceptability of online library science degree holders in academic libraries across
the Arab world. It also investigates whether such degrees compare favorably with traditional degrees or not.
Design/methodology/approach This study data were collected using an online questionnaire, which
was sent out to 74 library managers in academic libraries across the Arab world. The libraries were selected
from the QS stars Worldwide University Ranking for the Arab Region 2015, which ranks the Arab world’s top
100 universities.
Findings The ndings reveal no signicant relationship between the hiring decision of library managers
and the degree type, whether earned through traditional education or online. The analysis notes different
factors inuencing the hiring practices and acceptability of online library science degree holders, the most
inuential factors being candidate skills, accreditation of programs and candidate experiences.
Originality/value To date, no study has investigated whether employers in academic libraries across the
Arab world perceive online library science graduate degrees “less than” or “equal to” those obtained through
traditional education. This study will contribute to the literature on the acceptance of online degrees in general
and in the library science eld in particular. The study is a signicant contribution to knowledge for students,
job seekers and employers alike.
Keywords Hiring, Employment, Arab world, Distance learning, Library science, Online MLIS
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
The internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) continue to
change how communities in our society interact with one another. Education is only one
of the many elds that was shaped by the internet and the ICTs where students and
instructors are no longer geographically dependent due to distance education programs
and the implementation of synchronous and asynchronous classes. Distance education
as dened by Mehrotra et al. (2001, p. 1) is “any formal approach to instruction in which
the majority of the instruction occurs while educator and learner are not in each other’s
physical presence”. Distance education does not substitute traditional education
programs; rather, it extends these programs and helps students overcome geographical
and nancial barriers.
People invest time, effort and money in distance education for a myriad of reasons. For
instance, the implementation of new technologies at the workplace, whether hardware or
software and the necessity of acquiring new skills and knowledge to remain competent, has
put considerable pressure on employees to keep abreast of the rapid changes in the library
science eld. People, therefore, choose distance education, as it enables them to work and
study simultaneously without quitting their jobs.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2398-5348.htm
Perceptions of
online degrees
317
Received 1 June 2017
Accepted 19 June 2017
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 5/6, 2017
pp.317-330
©Emerald Publishing Limited
2398-5348
DOI 10.1108/ILS-06-2017-0049

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