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Rachel Ivy Clarke

Rachel Ivy Clarke

Assistant Professor

222 Hinds Hall | Phone: 315-443-2086

Please note: I am away from campus on research leave during Spring Semester 2020.


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 centers on the reconceptualization of librarianship as a design profession (rather than a scientific one) to facilitate the systematic, purposeful design of library services for the 21st century. 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.


The bulk of my current research focuses on reconceptualizing librarianship as a design profession rather than a scientific discipline. Design is a creative discipline that often seems magical and intimidating to outsiders. Yet design reflects unique ways of knowing and assessing knowledge, different from traditional science. My dissertation, “It’s Not Rocket Library Science: Design Epistemologies and American Librarianship” analyzes examples of artifacts created through American library history to argue that librarianship is truly a design discipline. Continuing work draws on the idea of critical design–the creation of provocative artifacts to challenge established assumptions–to reveal ways in which libraries can explicitly, rather than implicitly, demonstrate and empower the values that set them apart from other information service providers. I also explore ways of incorporating design epistemology into both formal and informal LIS education.


Like my research, my approach to teaching is rooted in design. I believe that learning—especially in educational settings for professional practice, like librarianship—is rooted in design concepts like participatory hands-on making (yes, even in online courses!), connecting abstract concepts with concrete skills, and reflective iteration to support ongoing improvement. I incorporate this philosophy into all the courses I teach, which typically include the following:

  • information organization and access
  • library catalogs and cataloging
  • thesaurus construction and vocabulary design
  • taxonomy and classification
  • reference and user services
  • research methods
  • histories of libraries and librarianship


Prospective PhD Students

Are you thinking about a PhD in LIS? I'm happy to talk with prospective students about the process and experience. I encourage you to read some of my papers to get a sense of my research methods and topics before sending me a brief email telling me about your research interests and how you see them overlapping with my work.

Current Master's and PhD Students

Current iSchool students looking to meet for advising purposes can schedule an appointment with me via this link:


Teaching History - 2020-2021
Semester Course Section Title
Fall 2020 IST616 M001 Info Rsces: Organiz & Access
Fall 2020 IST776 M001 Research Methods in IST
Teaching History - 2019-2020
Semester Course Section Title
Fall 2019 IST605 M001 Reference& Info Literacy Svces
Fall 2019 IST671 M400 Research Methods in Info. St.
Teaching History - 2018-2019
Semester Course Section Title
Fall 2018 IST605 M001 Reference& Info Literacy Svces
Fall 2018 IST671 M401 Research Methods in Info. St.
Spring 2019 IST800 M001 Design Meth. for Info Studies
Spring 2019 IST671 M400 Research Methods in Info. St.
Spring 2019 IST690 M401 Independent Study
Teaching History - 2017-2018
Semester Course Section Title
Fall 2017 IST605 M001 Reference& Info Literacy Svces
Fall 2017 IST600 M002 Foundation in Res Meth in IS
Spring 2018 IST604 M800 Cataloging of Info Resources
Teaching History - 2016-2017
Semester Course Section Title
Spring 2017 IST616 M800 Info Rsces: Organiz & Access
Spring 2017 IST604 M800 Cataloging of Info Resources
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