Kate McDowell

Associate Professor

PhD, Library and Information Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Research focus

Storytelling as information research; data storytelling; social justice storytelling; health misinformation storytelling; and what library storytelling can teach the information sciences about data storytelling.

Honors and Awards

  • 2022 ASIST Outstanding Information Science Teacher. This international award recognizes and honors excellence in teaching in information science through sustained and unique contributions, impact on students, innovative and imaginative methods, and professional and research activities related to teaching excellence.
  • 2018 Excellence in Online and Distance Teaching Award, University of Illinois. This annual campus-wide award recognizes faculty members and instructors who have demonstrated sustained excellence and innovation in online and/or distance teaching and contributions to student learning through innovative uses of technology. 
  • List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students, University of Illinois. Listed every semester taught for at least one course from fall 2007 to the present.
  • 2012 Centennial Scholar Award, GSLIS, University of Illinois. $5000 award to support research and scholarship for 2012-2013.
  • 2010 Donald G. Davis Article Award, Library History Round Table, American  Library Association.  Recognizes "the best article written in English in the field of United States and Canadian library history including the history of libraries, librarianship, and book culture" for the prior two-year period, 2008-2010.  


Kate McDowell regularly teaches both storytelling and data storytelling courses. She researches and publishes in the areas of storytelling as information research, social justice storytelling, and what library storytelling can teach the information sciences about data storytelling. Her projects engage contexts such as libraries, non-profit fundraising, health misinformation, social justice in libraries, and others. Dr. McDowell has worked with regional, national, and international nonprofits including the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO, part of WHO) and the Public Library Association (PLA). Her nationally-funded project Data Storytelling Toolkit for Librarians with co-PI Dr. Matthew Turk is under development. Her storytelling research has involved training collaborations with advancement with both the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Illinois system (Chicago, Springfield), storytelling consulting work for multiple nonprofits including the 50th anniversary of the statewide Prairie Rivers Network that protects Illinois water, and storytelling workshops for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). She formerly served as interim associate dean for Academic Affairs and assistant dean for Student Affairs and has led multiple transformative projects for the School.

Office hours

By appointment, please contact professor

Publications & Papers

Book chapters:  
McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling, Young Adults, and Three Paradoxes.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, Second edition, Anthony Bernier ed., ALA Editions, 2019.

McDowell, Kate. “Evolution in Children’s Science Books, 1882-1922.” In Culture of Print in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine, Greg Downey, Rima Apple, and Stephen Vaughn, eds., University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.  

McDowell, Kate.  “Which Truth, What Fiction?  Librarians’ Book Recommendations for Children, 1876-1890” in Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America, Adam R. Nelson and John L. Rudolph eds., University of Wisconsin Press, 2010, 15-35. 

McDowell, Kate. “Hidden in Plain Sight: Storytelling Epistemology and Envisioning Young Adults. For Transforming Young Adult Services, second edition, ed. Anthony Bernier, 2018 (in press).
Journal articles:
McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling Wisdom: Story, information, and DIKW.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, special issue on Paradigm Shift.
McDowell, K. (2021, October 19). “Storytelling as information part 1: The S-DIKW framework.” Information Matters. Vol. 1, Issue 10.
McDowell, Kate. (2021, October 19). Storytelling as information part 2: Future S-DIKW research. Information Matters. Vol. 1, Issue 10.
McDowell, Kate. “Teaching ‘between:’ Reflections on learning inter-organizational collaboration.” Education for Information 35:2 (June 10, 2019): 149-153.
McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling: Practice and Process as Non-Textual Pedagogy.” Education for Information 34:1 (January 2018): 15-19

McDowell, Kate. "Tell Me a Story: Why advancement professionals need to listen for stories," Currents Magazine (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), September/October 2018 (in press).

McDowell, Kate. "Paradoxes of Storytelling in Librarianship." Journal of New Librarianship (2018) p. 32-37 (10.21173/newlibs/4/7) 

McDowell, Kate and Elizabeth McGreal Cook. "Using 'storytelling thinking' for advancement." Journal of Education Advancement and Marketing 1, no. 4 (Spring 2017).

McDowell, Kate. "Open Wide the Doors: The Children's Room as Place in Public Libraries, 1876-1925." Library Trends 62, no. 3 (Winter 2014): 519-529.

McDowell, Kate. "Children’s Voices in Librarians' Words, 1890-1930." Libraries and the Cultural Record 46, no. 1 (2011): 73-101. 


“Storytelling and the Information Sciences: Explorations and Applications“ six-lecture series, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, National Chung Hsing University, Taipei City, Taiwan, (June 20-26, 2021)
Data Storytelling: Advocating for the Library and Community,” webinar in the Census Data Literacy project, Public Library Association, February 2, 2022
Anti-Infodemic Storytelling: Evidence and Response” for the Misinformation Research Symposium, Center for Social and Behavioral Science, November 12, 2021
Storytelling: From story times to epistemological divides. 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Center for Children’s Books, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. March 3, 2021.

Data Storytelling: Structures and Strategies. Sponsored by Library UX Chicago. May 4, 2018.

Storytelling, Data, and Listening, or Telling the Story of Your Organization. Corporate Showcase, sponsored by School of Information Sciences. April 24, 2018.

Storytelling Your Career workshop for graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, sponsored by the Graduate College, University of Illinois, March 2, 2018.

Storytelling Paradoxes: Reevaluating library wisdom for effective organizational storytelling. iSchool Research Showcase, November 8, 2017.

Storytelling Your Career workshop for James Scholars, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, October 24, 2017. 

Storytelling Your Career workshop series for the MBA, College of Business, Business Instructional Facility, September 1, 2017 and September 8, 2017.