Two Faculty Members Receive Full Tenure and Promotions


Two faculty members at the San José State University School of Information, Dr. Virginia Tucker and Dr. Mary Ann Harlan, will start the fall 2021 semester with full tenure and new titles of associate professor. Tucker has been teaching at the iSchool for more than 15 years, while Harlan joined the faculty in 2010.

Dr. Virginia TuckerFor Tucker the achievement means “recognition of three areas of my work over the last five years,” namely research, teaching, and service to the university.

Tucker’s research explores the nature of the search. She uses the threshold concepts theoretical framework to explore the search process from interface design to the information structures that underpin it, to how users experience searching and learn how to search. Tucker has contributed numerous articles and book chapters to the literature on searching, most recently “Search evolution for ease and speed: A call to action for what’s been lost,” (co-authored with Sylvia L. Edwards) in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.

Tucker also teaches several courses on the topic, including INFO 204 – Human Centered Design, INFO 202 – Information Retrieval System Design, INFO 246  – Information Architecture, and INFO 244 – Online Searching. “The research and teaching I do complement each other,” she notes. “My teaching improves through conducting research into information architecture, knowledge organization, and transformative learning; my research is informed by what I learn through teaching.” Tucker was honored with an Outstanding Professor award in 2018.

In addition to her research and teaching, Tucker has shepherded two PhD candidates through the iSchool’s Gateway PhD program; she is currently supervising a third, who expects to finish next year.

The tenure and promotion to associate professor affect Harlan on a personal level, she says, sharing, “I have a nascent project that I want to take some time with in terms of development and thinking. For me, there is a joy in some slow reflective work that I can turn over and over in my mind before publishing.”

Dr. Mary Ann HarlanHarlan’s research work centers on reading fiction, particularly in girlhood, and the information practices implicit in this activity. A rereading of The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle sparked her current exploration into the impact favorite books from childhood have on readers’ worldviews.  “This merges with diversity audits in school libraries, so a portion of this project is exploring the experiences and the decisions made by school librarians—not a ‘how to’ but a ‘why,’” she says.

The new associate professor has written a host of scholarly articles, papers, book chapters and books, addressing aspects of information practices in younger library users. In 2018, she published The Girl-positive Library: Inspiring Confidence, Creativity and Curiosity in Young Women, which one reviewer described as “an exceptional guide.”

Harlan, who in addition to her research has more than a decade of experience working in school libraries at the high school and middle school levels, also coordinates the iSchool’s Teacher Librarian program.

Both Tucker and Harlan were members of the first cohort of the Gateway PhD program and hold PhDs from Queensland University of Technology. Tucker received her MLS from the University of California, Berkeley and has a BA in Music Composition from Stanford University, while Harlan earned her MLIS from SJSU and holds a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.