iSchool Alumna Wins iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award


Dr. Rachel Ivy Clarke, ‘08 MLIS, is the recipient of the iSchools 2017 Doctoral Dissertation Award for outstanding work in the information field. Her research reconceptualizes librarianship as a design discipline rather than a social science.

A San José State University School of Information alumna has been recognized by the iSchools organization for outstanding work in the information field for her doctoral dissertation.

Dr. Rachel Ivy Clarke’s research dissertation, “It’s Not Rocket Library Science: Design Epistemology and American Librarianship,” reconceptualizes librarianship as a design discipline rather than a social science.

“Traditional scientific ways of knowing are rooted in observation and description of the existing world, with goals of replicability and prediction,” the 2008 Master of Library and Information Science graduate said. “My examination of librarianship through a design lens reveals insight that traditional scientific approaches overlook, especially regarding the core values of librarianship and the ways they are subtlety embedded in library artifacts, sometimes even communication value positions opposite to the intentions of librarianship.”

Nominations for the iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award were solicited from more than 80 participating schools worldwide and judged by a selection committee drawn from leading international schools, according to the organization.

The award committee said that Clarke’s research “reveals new insights and interpretations of library work” and that “the topic of this dissertation is novel and original and the findings provide significant implications for future library and information science education and library practice.”

Clarke said she “really didn’t expect to win” the award. “I was floored!” she exclaimed. “There are so many good dissertations every year and such a variety of topics across the field of information science. I am really happy to see the iSchools recognizing the importance of librarianship in this space, and the need to change the way people think about libraries and the people who work in them.”

Clarke will receive a prize of $2,500 and a travel allowance to accept the award at the iConference in Wuhan, China, in March 2017.