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It’s Not Rocket Library Science: Reconceptualizing American Librarianship as a Design Field

Emergent Research Series Emergent Research Series
For thousands of years, libraries and librarians have made artifacts to enable access to and use of information resources—everything from cataloging rules to sensory storytimes. Yet despite this focus on creation, American librarianship has positioned itself as a social science. Although many different scientific approaches have been used in the field, few since the beginnings of the 20th century have approached librarianship as if it was not a science at all. In recent years, a well-established record of research has demonstrated that design is a fundamentally different epistemological approach to science. While science observes and describes the existing world with the goal of replicability and prediction, design creates artifacts intended to solve problems and, ultimately, change the world from its existing state to a preferred state. This presentation will discuss the implicit role of design in librarianship and its effects on user services and professional values, culminating in a provocative reconceptualization of contemporary librarianship as a design field, with recommendations for explicitly incorporating this new perspective into library research, education, and practice.

Formerly the cataloging librarian at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Rachel Ivy Clarke is currently an assistant professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Her research focuses on the application of design methodologies and epistemologies to facilitate the systematic, purposeful design of library services and education. Her multiple-award-winning dissertation argues that librarianship is more appropriately viewed as a design field rather than a scientific one. Current projects include the IMLS-funded Designing Future Library Leaders, which investigates the integration of design methods and principles in graduate level library education, and The Critical Catalog, an OCLC/ALISE funded project using critical design methodology to provoke the exploration of diverse library reading materials. She holds a BA in creative writing from California State University, Long Beach, an MLIS from San Jose State University, and a PhD from the University of Washington.
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When and Where

Map Hatcher Graduate Library - Gallery

April 2019

10:30am - 12:00pm

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