UIUC School of Information Sciences

School of Information Sciences
Established 1893, as the Library Science Program at the Armour Institute in Chicago
Dean Allen Renear
Students 129 undergraduate, 853 graduate[1]
Location Champaign, Illinois, United States
Website ischool.illinois.edu

The School of Information Sciences, also The iSchool at Illinois, is a graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its Master of Science in library and information science is currently accredited in full good standing by the American Library Association. The school is also a charter member of the iSchool initiative.

The school offers [2] the Master of Science in library and information science (MS/LIS; comparable to the Master of Library and Information Science), Master of Science in information management (MS/IM), Master of Science in bioinformatics, a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS), and a PhD. Specializations available to MS/LIS students include Youth Services, K-12 School Librarianship, Special Collections, Community Informatics, Socio-technical Data Analytics, and Data Curation.[3] The School's PhD program in LIS, the oldest such program in the country, is primarily oriented towards interdisciplinary research.

Students seeking the MS/LIS or CAS degree can earn their degree as an on-campus student or as a distance student via the Leep online learning option. For doctoral students, at least one year of residency is required on campus. The MS/IM degree will be offered online beginning in Spring 2017.


The School of Information Sciences' MS/LIS degree has been ranked as the top library and information science (LIS) graduate program in the country by U.S. News & World Report since 1996.[4] In the Research and Markets' 2008-2009 Survey of Academic Libraries, Illinois was ranked the number one library and information science program in the U.S. and Canada.[5] The school is also ranked first in services for children and youth, second in digital libraries, and fifth in school media library in comparison to other U.S. and Canada library and information science schools.[6][7][8]


The program has its roots in the Library Science Program at the Armour Institute of Chicago created in September 1893 as part of the strong cultural movement following the Industrial Revolution to professionally educate men and women for the upcoming twentieth century and for the technical world.[9] The public library had come to be seen by most as a "university of the people," and those who were to become the "best librarians" were those formally educated in the trade.[10]

Seeking a director, Gunsaulus, the president of the Institute, asked Melvil Dewey to recommend the best person for the job. Dewey recommended Katharine Sharp, who was finishing up her library science degree program in Dewey's school in Albany, NY.[11] Once established, the school became the only library science program in the Midwest and the fourth in the United States.

Sharp, in turn, became the library school: "Her enthusiasm, her drive, and her unswerving dedication were the determining factors for the school during its formative years in Chicago as well as the following ten years when she directed the Illinois State Library School on the Urbana-Champaign campus." [12] The school in Chicago, operating off of a technical institute model, began taking on a university structure under Sharp's leadership. The Armour facility did not provide enough collection or classroom space that was needed, and finances were becoming tight. The University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin were interested in the program, and both universities offered to accept Sharp's program. Sharp chose the University of Illinois, and the program moved to Urbana.[13]

The initial location for the library science program was in Altgeld Hall where it remained until 1926. It then moved to the Main Library for the next fifty three years until 1979. The program then relocated to David Kinley Hall until 1993. An additional relocation went underway when the University purchased property from Acacia Fraternity's Illinois Heth chapter and moved the school to its current location at Fifth and Daniel Streets.[14]

The school officially changed its name to the School of Information Sciences in June 2016.[15]


The school is located on the corner of Fifth and Daniel streets in Champaign, Illinois. It is situated next to the Department of Speech and Hearing Science and across the street from the Department of Psychology. The building was formerly the location of the Acacia Fraternity and still has functional showers for both men and women along with three kitchens. A computer lab, known as the Learning Resource Lab (LRL), is located in the basement and available for student use 24/7 with card access. Other areas, such as the second floor lounge and the doctoral student area, serve as study spots for students. Wireless Internet access is also available in all public areas, and technology support is provided by the department's Help Desk on the second floor. The Help Desk is staffed by current iSchool master's students.

The building is also in close proximity to many campus libraries. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of three campuses of the University of Illinois system, has over 40 libraries; their combined holdings are among the largest in the United States and the world. One such library, The Center for Children's Books, which houses more than 16,000 youth trade books, is located on the bottom floor of the iSchool building.[16]

Research Areas

Research Centers

Student Activities

Student organizations at the iSchool include:



Coordinates: 40°06′28″N 88°13′53″W / 40.10778°N 88.23139°W / 40.10778; -88.23139

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