Faculty Voices: Lili Luo, PhD, Associate Professor

Faculty Voices: Lili Luo, PhD, Associate Professor


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

I joined SJSU after I received my PhD in Information and Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007. Prior to that, I worked briefly at Peking University Library in China. I got my Masters of Information Management from Peking University.

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

When I was working at Peking University Library in 2002, I was involved in starting the library’s virtual reference service. I enjoyed that experience very much and thus decided to focus my PhD study on virtual reference. Overall, I am interested in understanding how reference and other human-intermediated information services evolve in the digital age. Virtual reference is part of that.

Describe your favorite or least favorite LIS school professor? What did you learn (or miss out on learning) that shaped you into who you are today?

My favorite LIS school professor was Dr. Yiming Wang at the Department of Information Management at Peking University in China. He was my masters’ thesis advisor. He was a very genuine and encouraging person, and he gave me good guidance on finding out what I wanted to do and how to pursue it. I will always be grateful for that.

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

We have a required course in our curriculum, research methods in library and information science. I teach it every semester. I firmly believe in the value of understanding how to conduct and apply research to improve LIS practice. One of the challenges I have experienced is to make a strong case about the benefits of practitioners mastering research methods. But it is getting better now. I am now involved in a project called Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). It is a three year project that provides training on research methods for academic librarians. I am a co-instructor in the project. I think it is a good sign that funders like IMLS are noticing the importance of research methods education and training for librarians, and are supporting it.

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?

LIS education needs to prepare students for an increasingly dynamic information environment. The knowledge and skills acquired in the MLIS program have a limited shelf life, and we need to help our students develop the life-long capability to be cognizant of changes and respond to them positively and effectively. There will also be a rising number of non-traditional careers that our students may consider outside of libraries and archives, and I think it is important that we help our students become aware of them and be prepared for them.

What’s your favorite Banned Book? Why?

The Great Gatsby is my favorite banned book. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a brilliant writer, and I was impressed with his skillful rendering of hollow dreams and hopes in the story of Gatsby. It is profoundly sad but so beautifully written.

Please view Dr. Luo’s faculty bio here.