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.

Courses currently teaching

Office hours

By appointment, please contact professor

Publications & Papers

Chapters in Books  
2024   McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling as/in Misinformation.” In Governing Everyday Knowledge Commons, Melissa Ocepek and Madelyn Sanfilippo eds., Cambridge University Press (in press).

2019   McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling, Young Adults, and Three Paradoxes.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, Second edition, Anthony Bernier ed., ALA Editions.
Articles in Journals
2023   McDowell, K. “Library Data Storytelling: Obstacles and Paths Forward,” Public Library Quarterly, August 10, 2023

2023   McDowell, K. (2023, April 6). “Storytelling dynamics and misinformation: The bad S-DIKW framework.” Information Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 4.

2023   Brooks, Ian; D’Agostino, Marcelo; Marti, Myrna; McDowell, Kate; Mejia, Felipe; Betancourt-Cravioto, Miguel; et al. “An anti-infodemic virtual center for the Americas.” Rev Panam Salud Publica (March 10, 2023).

2023   McDowell, Kate. “Book Stories: 20 Years of Library Book Plate Celebrations.” College and Research Libraries (January 2023).

2022   McDowell, Kate, and Nicole A. Cooke. “Social Justice Storytelling: A Pedagogical Imperative.” The Library Quarterly 92 (4) (2022): 355-78 (October 2022).

2021   McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling Wisdom: Story, information, and DIKW.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (March 16, 2021).

2021   McDowell, K. “Storytelling as information part 1: The S-DIKW framework.” Information Matters (October 19, 2021).

2021   McDowell, Kate. “Storytelling as information part 2: Future S-DIKW research.” Information Matters (October 19, 2021).


“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.