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Message From Information Studies Chair

Michelle Caswell
Welcome to the Department of Information Studies

The Department of Information Studies is part of the School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Our top-ranked programs prepare our graduates to enter the fields of informatics, librarianship, archives, data management, preservation, special collections, and digital asset management in educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and companies.

If you are interested in our degree programs, you can find information here about applying. If you are an already enrolled student, you can find a list of our current courses. Alumni and employers can post listings of positions in an organization.

It is an exciting time to be engaged with information studies. Our roots are in the profession of librarianship, a field whose profile has expanded dramatically in the last hundred and fifty years. The American Library Association was founded in 1876, making it one of the oldest professional organizations in the United States. Plans for a School of the Library at UCLA were debated almost from the beginning of the founding of the Southern Branch of the UC system, now UCLA, in 1919. The School of Library Service was approved by the Board of Regents in 1958 and became the Department of Information Studies after a merger with the School of Education.

While librarians continue their commitment to public service and professional knowledge management, they also engage in advocacy in relation to information access, literacy, and privacy. Information professionals work across diverse populations to provide access to knowledge in analog and digital systems. They are on the front lines in promoting, sharing, and passing down knowledge across generations and within communities.

The range of skills required to manage information in an era of digital systems has expanded dramatically, and our students engage with data modelling, interface design, information organization and management as well as the care and preservation of analog materials (books, feathers, manuscripts) and intangible cultural heritage (rituals, dance, language).

Our students are dedicated to preserving cultural memory through work in museums, libraries, archives, and collections. Our program mission promotes social justice, diversity, and equity through informed and respectful appreciation of differences in cultural practices and recognition of the need for self-determination of communities with regard to their own cultural and evidentiary legacies.

Our programs are designed to prepare professionals for leadership roles in the contemporary world of information. Our faculty includes internationally recognized research professors and an equally talented pool of professional adjuncts drawn from the many institutions in the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

Every area of contemporary culture requires information specialists. While traditional work in museums, archives, and libraries continues to provide a major area of employment, work in areas of government policy and research, community-based archives, data systems for science, arts, and education, and work in every sector of entertainment, commerce, and public services continues to expand the need for expertise in the design and management of digital assets and systems.

Information professionals have expertise in stewarding a wide range of media. They are familiar with audio visual media from wax cylinders to microcassettes and MP3 files, images from illuminated manuscripts to animated gifs, audio-visual media in still photography, film, video from reels to cassettes. While books, paper archives, and analog materials still comprise a major portion of our cultural memory, rapid cycles of obsolescence in newer technologies pose their own challenges for educating the knowledge specialists of the future.

Among the iSchools, ours is distinguished by its range of programs and its critical ethical commitments. We are the only MLIS program that has a rare book school as a partner, the California Rare Book School, which runs intensive classes in all areas of special collections librarianship. We have a unique partnership in conservation with the Getty Institute. Through the UCLA Community Archives Lab, our faculty and students are deeply engaged with local community archives preserving previously-overlooked histories of Los Angeles’s diverse communities. The Digital Cultures Lab (DCL) offers a unique, people-focused analysis of new technologies as they spread across the world. Throughout all of these engagements, we are deeply committed to envisioning and enacting liberatory theories and practices towards building a more equitable society.

Our goal is to prepare students for leadership roles in their chosen professions while continuing the long tradition of public service to which we trace our beginnings.

For more information, please explore our Information Studies website. For more information on applying see: Applications. And for opportunities to support our activities through gifts and contributions see: Gifts and Support.

For other questions or queries, please feel free to contact us directly.

Dr. Michelle Caswell