Rachel Ivy Clarke

Associate Professor
222 Hinds Hall
Phone: 315.443.2086
Rachel Clarke

Formerly the cataloging librarian at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Rachel Ivy Clarke is currently an associate 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 Ph.D. 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.

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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 Ph.D. Students

Are you thinking about a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. Students

Current iSchool students looking to meet for advising purposes can schedule an appointment with me via this link: http://calendly.com/rclark01