iSchool History

iSchool 1923The iSchool's roots extend back to the very first decade of the 20th century. Founded by Harriet Howe, Josephine Meissner, William E. Henry and Charles W. Smith, the library school was established as a response to the growing need, in the Western United States, for highly trained, well-prepared librarians. Prior to 1911, untrained librarians in the Pacific Northwest were trained through a six-week summer course offered at the UW. Howe and her other faculty colleagues established the Department of Library Economy in the College of Liberal Arts at the UW in 1911.

Over the course of the next 90 years, the school continued to play an essential role in the field of librarianship in the Northwest, as the school gained a reputation for producing extremely strong library professionals. The first Dean, William E. Henry, espoused a teaching philosophy that emphasized exposing students to experienced and open-minded instructors who embraced the challenges of the changing conditions in library service. While the school changed names several times in the next 90 years, this spirit continued to inform teaching in the field of librarianship at the UW.

Beginning in 2000, under the leadership of Professor and Dean Emeritus Michael Eisenberg and in response to changes in the ways people create, store, find, manipulate and share information, the school introduced a variety of new continuing education certificate programs and new degree programs, including the Online Master of Library and Information Science, the Bachelor of Science in Informatics, the Ph.D. in Information Science and the Master of Science in Information Management.

In 2001, the Information School became the newest independent school of the UW, known simply as the Information School, or the iSchool, for short. Also in 2001, the iSchool moved into its new state-of-the-art quarters in Mary Gates Hall. Throughout its history the iSchool has remained committed to preparing its students to thrive in the rapidly-evolving information field, with a growing emphasis on cutting-edge research that reflects the school's passion, vision and mission.

Learn more about the history of the iSchool by reading our historical timeline.