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Graduate School of Library and Information Science - University of Illinois


Get to know Michelle Chronister (MS '09), user experience and accessibility consultant

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:00:10 +0000

(image) Michelle Chronister is using skills she learned at the iSchool in her job at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), researching how people use their digital products and figuring out how to improve the user experience.

Where do you work and what is your role?

I recently started working as a user experience and accessibility consultant at IMLS, which is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. In this role, I conduct user research to better understand how people use their digital products and then translate the findings into concrete actions for improvement. It’s an iterative and never-ending process! 

Prior to working for IMLS, I was the content branch manager in the Digital Communications Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I led a team that was responsible for the content, design, and experience of and other priority agency websites, including,, and 

What do you like best about your job?

I like knowing that the work I do directly impacts the public and contributes to more positive interactions with the federal government. It also gives me great satisfaction that what I’m doing specifically at IMLS makes it possible for libraries to provide better services to their communities.

How did the iSchool help you get to where you are today?

I was active in the ALA student organization and attended the ALA Annual Conference through the Student-to-Staff scholarship. ALA placed me with the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table, and this experience prompted me to apply to the Presidential Management Fellows program and pursue a federal career. 

Once I started working for the federal government in the digital space, I drew heavily upon my iSchool classes in information organization and access as well as a user experience course. These courses provided a solid foundation for my career and have allowed me to expand my expertise into areas I never considered when I was a student.

What advice would you like to share with iSchool students?

Take advantage of the opportunities available to you as a student! Get involved in student groups, apply for programs specifically developed for students (such as ALA Student-to-Staff), ask questions, and use your student status as a way to start conversations.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have a toddler, so my spare time is limited, but when I do have time to myself, I enjoy writing fiction and poetry, reading novels, and baking. I make an excellent coffee cake.

iSchool names program directors

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:13:17 +0000

The iSchool is pleased to announce the appointment of program directors for its master’s and doctoral degree programs. Assistant Professor Nicole A. Cooke is program director for the MS in library and information science (MS/LIS), and Assistant Professor Jana Diesner is program director for the PhD in library and information science. Cooke and Diesner join Professor Michael Twidale, program director for the MS degree in information management (MS/IM), in providing leadership for the iSchool’s highly regarded degree programs.

“Program directors play a critical role in the overall coordination of our academic programs, working with other faculty and staff in such areas as curriculum development, recruitment, academic advising, and career services. The iSchool is fortunate to have such talented faculty in these new positions, and I look forward to working with them to further enhance each of our degree programs,” said Linda Smith, associate dean for academic programs.

Cooke holds a PhD in communication, information, and library studies from Rutgers University. She is an expert in human information behavior, particularly in the online context; critical cultural information studies; and diversity and social justice in librarianship with an emphasis on LIS education and pedagogy. Cooke is the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award as well as 2016 recipient of the ALA Equality Award. She is the author of Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (Libraries Unlimited, 2016) and co-editor with Miriam E. Sweeney of Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom (Litwin Books/Library Juice Press, 2017).

Diesner holds a PhD from the Computation, Organizations and Society (COS) program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. She is an expert in network science, natural language processing, machine learning, and human-centered data science. A 2015-16 faculty fellow in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois, Diesner is a research fellow in the Dori J. Maynard Senior Research Fellows program, which is a collaboration of The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Her research has been published in academic journals, including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology; Scientometrics; Big Data & Society; and Journal of Informetrics.

Twidale holds a PhD in computing from Lancaster University. He is an expert in computer-supported cooperative work, collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums, user interface design and evaluation, information visualization, and museum informatics. He holds joint appointments at Illinois in the Department of Computer Science, Information Trust Institute, and Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership. Twidale is a frequent speaker at scholarly conferences, and his research has been published in books and academic journals, including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology and International Journal on Digital Libraries.

Presenting You: Elevator Pitch 102

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 22:23:11 +0000

Join the ALA Conference Committee and Becky Hodson for an interactive workshop on developing your elevator pitch. During the session, we will explore the elevator pitch framework within the contexts of networking, interviews, and conferences. To make the most of the session, please come prepared, having reviewed your resume/CV or portfolio.

Questions? Contact annaio2 [at] (Anna Oates).


Room 126


ALA Conference Committee

Event Date: 

Fri, 03/03/2017 -
12:00pm to 2:00pm

Brunner joins iSchool faculty

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:35:02 +0000

The iSchool is pleased to announce that Robert J. Brunner has joined the faculty, effective January 1. Professor Brunner holds a joint appointment with the Department of Accountancy in the College of Business. He has affiliate appointments in the Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Physics, and Statistics Departments; at the Beckman Institute, in the Computational Science and Engineering program; and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). He is also the Data Science Expert in Residence at the Research Park at the University of Illinois. 

From 2003-2016, Brunner served as a member of the faculty in the Department of Astronomy. During this time, his research interests started to shift into the area of data science.

"Around seven years ago, I realized new graduate students did not have sufficient skills to work in my group. As a result, I began adding informatics to the curricula in astronomy to bring them up to speed, eventually creating a new course in which graduate students from a variety of scientific and engineering departments enrolled. This experience led to the eventual creation of two new courses under the informatics rubric, to teach data science more broadly," said Brunner. 

"With the explosive growth in the interest in data science across campus, I feel a natural home in the iSchool, and I am looking forward to strengthening my existing collaborations while also building new ones."

Brunner earned his PhD in astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University, working on the development of the science archive for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He spent five years as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology before coming to the University of Illinois.

"A highly accomplished scientist, Robert is a leading figure in data science at the University. In this area, he teaches some of the largest courses on campus, conducts critical research, and provides leadership for major initiatives. His contributions will ensure that the iSchool remains at the forefront of developments in this important emerging area. We are delighted that he has joined us," said iSchool Dean and Professor Allen Renear.