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Who’s Teaching Your Classes?
A First-year iSchoolers Guide to the Profs

By Jack Baur

Another Fall term means another group of students coming to the Information School, chock-full of hopes for the future, anxieties about classes, and questions about their ongoing scholastic careers. We here at the Silverfish are sympathetic to your concerns, and to help ease you into the program, we have (attempted) to interview all of the professors teaching classes your first term. What you will find are a variety of teaching styles, interests, and approaches to the world of information. Also palpable is the deep concern, respect, and support for students as they make their way through their respective programs.

So, courtesy of the Silverfish (and with great thanks to the profs who were willing to play along), here’s your first chance to get to know these fine teachers, and your first taste of the intellectually rich and incredibly rewarding world you are about to enter.

In no particular order:


Name: Mike Crandall

Time at the iSchool: 2 years

Education: MLIS, University of Washington 1986; BA in Geology, Pomona College, 1969

What does he teach?

Information Architecture; Organization of Information and Resources; The Information Management Framework, Stakeholders; Information and Technology (MSIM Capstone course); Management of Information Organizations. Subjects of interest—all the above, plus study of how information and information technologies can be most effectively used to help underserved populations around the world (my current research focus)

What is your favorite class to teach at the iSchool? Why?

Organization of Information and Resources—it’s the underpinning for so much of information work, in any setting, and it’s the most foreign to most of our students in the MSIM program, so it’s fun to watch the growth and change in their understanding of what information is all about.

What was your favorite part about going to library school?

Learning—the opportunity to explore and study areas I knew I wanted to learn more about, but also being exposed to whole new areas of study that I wasn’t even aware of, or thought I wasn’t interested in before finding out what they were really about.


Name: Allison Carlyle

Time at the iSchool: Since 1997

Education: BA History & English, Albertson College (Idaho)

What does she teach?

LIS 530, 533 mostly. What subjects do I find most interesting? Cataloging, of course.

What is the strangest/most memorable experience you have had as a librarian?

On one of my first days working at the Beverly Hills Public Library as a children’s reference librarian, a father (later I found out he was a prominent plastic surgeon who lived in the neighborhood) came in with his 2 children very late to story time. I had been instructed not to let anyone in that late, so I told him that they couldn’t go in. He started having a temper tantrum in front of me. I’d never experienced a parent in meltdown, so I just stood there, wondering what to do. My boss came up, and very gently said how sorry she was, and (in an oh-so-sweet manner) said that she would be happy to phone his house every week a half an hour before story time so that he could get his children there on time. She was so sincere he couldn’t tell whether she was truthfully offering the service or was giving him the message in a very subtle way that he is old enough not to have temper tantrums and to get his children to story time on time (it was the latter). In any event, he calmed down immediately and always thereafter came in on time, without the offered phone call. Sorry to say, it was not the last time he had a temper tantrum in the library, but what can you do?

What classes do you think every student should take before leaving the iSchool?

See my website on this topic:


Name: Mike Eisenberg

Time at the iSchool: 9 years

Education: BA in History/Education, Master’s of Library Science, Certificate of Advanced Study in Library and Info Science, PhD in Information Transfer.
What does he teach? Intellectual Foundations of Informatics; Information Literacy; Information and Technology in Sports; Library and Information Management in Schools; Management

Do you have a ritual for when you sit down to grade a stack of papers?

I have a scoring guide worked out in advance. So, I start with a few papers and grade according to the guide. Later, I will circle back and re-evaluate the first few to make sure I am being consistent. I tend to write a lot of comments, some are meant as rhetorical. Students sometimes take these as criticisms, but they are not. I treat grading as a teaching/learning experience. I am trying to help students learn through their assignments.

What piece of advice would you want to offer to incoming iSchool students?

I know it’s a cliché, but don’t get hung up on grades! Delve into the content and explore your ideas. Don’t be afraid to approach an instructor asking to do something a little different – if that better meets your needs. In my master’s program, I was fine with getting 3 “B’s” because I wanted to spend my effort in other courses. Since I eventually became a full professor and dean, I don’t think those grades hurt me too much.


Name: Raya Fidel

Education: Bsc - Math (major), Physics (minor); MLS - Library science; PhD - Information Science

What does she teach? IMT 510, LIS 515, INSC 501.

How would you characterize your teaching style?

I try to design courses that help student to learn how to work in a particular area, rather than focus on absorbing information. I am rigorous about the academic content and analysis but open minded about ways student express themselves (as long as it is civil, of course) and their opinions.

What piece of advice would you want to offer to incoming iSchool students?

Students have a golden opportunity to learn and investigate areas in which they are interested. You don’t want to miss it. Don’t worry about grades; if you invest thought and creativity in your work, good grades will follow. Most importantly, enjoy your studies and your relationship with your classmate and the larger iSchool community.


Name: Joe Janes

Time at the iSchool: Since 1999

Education: Undergraduate degree in mathematics, MLS and PhD all from Syracuse

What does he teach?

I teach primarily in the area of information resources and services, search, also research methods; I’m particularly interested in what makes search work, what makes it effective, and how it can be used effectively in a professional setting.

How would you characterize your teaching style?

Relaxed, but purposeful. I often find myself on tangents, either in response to questions or things that are happening. Like any good reference librarian, I’m fascinated by almost everything, and make connections easily, so we often go down roads even I hadn’t intended, which can be among the most interesting times in a class—and also why I always welcome lots of good, thoughtful questions. I do have things I want people to think about and learn (though students do much more learning than I do teaching, I hope); these sort of expeditions round that out nicely, I find.

Do you have a ritual for when you sit down to grade a stack of papers?

Getting started is always the hard part; once I get momentum, it usually flows pretty well. I shuffle papers to make sure I’m reading in a random order, I always read and comment on every paper before assigning a grade, but I do put them in piles by how I feel about them right after reading. Snacks are very important, too; I always lay in a supply of trail mix during the last week of the quarter for fuel.

What is the strangest/most memorable experience you have had as a librarian or a professor?

Many years ago, when I was teaching at Michigan, I had a student try to lead a popular revolt against a midterm. I arrived in class to find him at the front of the room, telling the class that they didn’t have to stand for this, that they could rise up together and throw off the yoke of oppression or some such thing. When I got there, we sort of stared at each other and then he sat down. The revolution fizzled right there, but it was fun while it lasted.

What piece of advice would you want to offer to incoming iSchool students?

Have fun, think hard, and take charge of your own education. If you’re waiting for us to tell you what to do or think, you’re going to waiting a looooong time. If you’re in graduate school, you’re now the most important person in your educational world, and the more initiative and effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.


Name: David Hendry

Time at the iSchool: I joined the iSchool in autumn 2002.

Education: I have a PhD in computer science from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.

What does he teach?

I teach information system design, classes on how to identify user needs and wants and classes on how to design and implement systems. I teach undergraduate and graduate classes.

How would you characterize your teaching style?

I like teaching with relatively open-ended, authentic projects which capture the complexity of the real world and prompt us to design and implement solutions.

What piece of advice would you want to offer to incoming iSchool students?

Ask hard questions. Propose your own answers. Expect your answers to change as you progress through your studies.


Name: Cheryl Metoyer

Time at the iSchool: I have commuted to the iSchool for the last four years, to teach on the weekends.

Education: Ph.D. in Library and Information Science, Indiana University

What does she teach?

I teach the following courses: Human Aspects of Information Systems, Information Seeking Behaviours, and Ethics, Imagination and Leadership.

Do you have a ritual for when you sit down to grade a stack of papers?

I sit down with a glass of milk and a stack of chocolate chip cookies.


Name: Matt Saxton

Time at the iSchool: 7 years

Education: I did my graduate work at UCLA: MLS and PhD in Library and Information Science

What does he teach? I teach in the area of reference & information services, research methods, and instructional methods

How would you characterize your teaching style?

I think graduate education is often a form of guided self-instruction. I like to introduce students to writings, theories, issues, and then have them sink their teeth into it and chew on it for awhile. When I share my opinions, I want students to analyze those as critically as they would all the other thinkers we are examining. I also want students to share and draw upon their own personal experiences to assess the relevancy and validity of what's being discussed in class.

Do you have a ritual for when you sit down to grade a stack of papers?

Yes, first I line up all the bottles, then set out two crystal glasses... No, seriously, I read through them in sets of 10, comment as I go, and then review my comments to assign a grade. For a stack of 35 papers, I will block out 15 hours over the course of a week, and then finish up any grading remaining on the weekend.

What is the strangest/most memorable experience you have had as a librarian or a professor?

Seeing Dr. [Trent] Hill walk into the iSchool office wearing a biohazard suit is definitely memorable, but not necessarily that strange or out of character.

What was your favorite part about going to library school?

Fieldwork - I loved being on-site and putting my learning into practice.

What classes do you think every student should take before leaving the iSchool?

Beyond the core requirements, I encourage students to follow their nose - take the courses that sound the most interesting or exciting to you personally, and don't forget to see what other departments are offering as well - make the most of your time here at UW.


Name: Trent Hill

Time at the iSchool: At iSchool since 2000

Education: Educational background: A.B. Duke University (Philosophy), 1985; Ph.D. Duke University (American literature), 1994; MLIS, UW iSchool, 2002.

What does he teach?

I teach courses in information behavior, document representation and metadata, and instruction and pedagogy. I find them all interesting; the most interesting subject is the one I’m teaching right now, whenever “now” happens to be.

What piece of advice would you want to offer to incoming iSchool students?

Since many incoming graduate students are entering the professional masters programs, I’ll direct my advice to them: When I notified two of my closest professional mentors and friends (who had jobs in very different professional settings but had gone to the same LIS program – not ours!) that I had been accepted at UW and would be coming here, they both told me that I would probably find “library school” boring, but that at the end I’d have the credential I’d need to get a job. Well, while they were right about the last part, they completely missed the boat on the first. I found the iSchool to be an intellectually engaged and engaging place and a real model of collegiality on all levels, both among and between students and faculty, so much so that, seven years later, I’m still here and loving it. My advice, then, would be that graduate school isn’t just about professional preparation, but it’s an intellectual adventure as well, and if you can remember that and take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves to you here, you’re in for the time of your life.

What was your favorite part about going to library school?

My favorite part about going to “library school” was the moment I understood the difference between a library school and an information school and felt profoundly glad I was in the latter and not the former…. :)


Name: Jacob O. Wobbrock; friends call me Jake.

Time at the iSchool: I'm in my 2nd year for 2007-2008.

Education: B.S. Symbolic Systems, Stanford University, 1998; B.S. Computer Science, Stanford University, 2000; Ph.D. Human-Computer Interaction, Carnegie Mellon University, 2006

What does he teach?

I teach INSC 570 for the Ph.D. students, IMT 540 for the MSIM students, and INFO electives. Most of my teaching focuses on human-computer interaction, interaction design, user experience design, user interface design, and the like.

How would you characterize your teaching style?

Informal and project-based.

Do you have a ritual for when you sit down to grade a stack of papers?

I avoid stacks of papers by assigning projects instead. :)


September 24, 2007
Vol. XII Issue 1

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