Faculty Voices: Debbie Faires, Director of Online Learning

Faculty Voices: Debbie Faires, Director of Online Learning 


What were you doing before you joined SJSU’s School of Information?

Before I began teaching at the school, I was a student in the program. Prior to starting graduate school, I had been a busy mother, piano teacher, and accompanist. I wanted to return to school and began SJSU’s MLIS program on the advice of a friend who was a student in the program. I enjoyed my classes very much, and I was fortunate to work as a student assistant on projects related to online and blended classes.

What experiences led you to your professional area(s) of interest?

I discovered my love for working in the library environment because of the bad luck of being one of the last students to try to register as a new freshman at a large university. A few days before classes started, I joined thousands of other students in the process of manual registration on campus. All students had to come to the campus field house during their designated times and go to tables where they could pick up punch cards which represented the seats in each class they wished to take. Unfortunately, since I was in the last alphabetical group to register, I found that most of the seats were taken and there were no cards left for me. I was fighting back tears and feared that I would never be able to collect the required number of cards and leave the field house. Fortunately, I encountered an older cousin who had the same last name but was an upperclassman and had advice for me. “Take the class that introduces you to the library,” he counseled. “There are still seats available. You won’t get general ed credit but what you learn will benefit you in all of your future classes.” I took the class along with a motley assortment of rather obscure classes during my first semester. I loved the library class and started to work on a library technology degree. I eventually changed my major to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music and did not finish the associate’s degree in library technology but I loved all of my library-related classes.

Much of my current work involves the use of technology for communication and education. My most important experience in this area came about through volunteering at the elementary school my children attended. I led a project that involved building a web site. I studied HTML and gained valuable technology experience as I worked to carry out the project with the students. That experience was useful when I applied for the student assistant position at SJSU which led to later opportunities to teach Libr 240 and work on the school’s web site.

What do you find most challenging about teaching or researching your area of information science?

Technology is constantly and quickly changing, and it is a challenge to keep up. It is easy to get discouraged because there is so much to learn and re-learn. I have learned the value of collaboration with my students and colleagues who share wonderful ideas about the technologies they are using. Together we enjoy the thrill of discovery and continual progress.

Where do you see the future of LIS education and professional research going, and how do you hope to shape the evolution of LIS studies during your career?

I see continued adoption of technology for increasingly effective methods of facilitating teaching and learning. It is such an exciting time to be involved with LIS education. I hope to continue to work to improve the quality of the online learning opportunities the school provides, both for current students as well as the larger professional community.



Please view Debbie Faires’ bio here.