Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Inspiring Achievement: Stonebraker Aims to Help Students Realize Dreams

March 15th, 2019

Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies
Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies

The Marshall and Susan Larsen Leaders Academy in the Krannert School of Management provides an ideal place for Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Associate Professor Ilana Stonebraker to teach Purdue students.

The Academy, according to its website, “provides high-achieving students with enhanced academic opportunities and learning experiences to help them become top performers in the world of business.” The program creates “a culture of achievement”—a phenomenon that Stonebraker, as an instructor of the Management 110 course offered to students in the Academy, not only fosters and sustains in her teaching, but also one she takes to heart in the pursuit of top performance in her own chosen field.

In Fall 2018, Stonebraker was among 12 faculty members inducted into the Purdue University Teaching Academy as a new Teaching Academy Fellow. She is the first ever Libraries and School of Information Studies faculty member to be inducted into the elite program, which recognizes Purdue faculty for their outstanding and scholarly teaching in graduate, undergraduate, or engagement programs. This recognition is just one among many honors Stonebraker has racked up over the last couple of years. In June 2018, she was one of 10 individuals selected by the Tippy Connect Young Professionals (TCYP) in the organization’s annual Top 10 Young Professionals Under 40 Award program. Last summer, she was recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) Library Instruction Roundtable as an author of one of the Top Twenty Library Instruction Articles of 2017. (She was recognized for the same thing in 2016 for a different article.) In early 2017, she was named a “Mover & Shaker” in Library Journal’s annual roundup that honors individuals making significant impacts in libraries and in education around the world. Last fall, too, she was elected to the Tippecanoe County Council (representing District 1).

While the accolades are rewarding, she noted, it is her work—like teaching the highly motivated students in the Larsen Leaders Academy—that really inspires her.

“I like to figure out where students are and help them build bridges to achieve their dreams, to help them imagine and then try things they never would have imagined themselves doing before,” she explained. “One of the ways I do this is through encouraging them to explore the ways they use information in their decision-making processes.”

Stonebraker has been at Purdue since 2012, and she has been teaching in Krannert since 2013. In addition to her teaching course load, she serves as one of Purdue Libraries’ business information specialists in the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics. She also researches how individuals use information in their studies and in their work and applies the knowledge she gains from that in her teaching.

“That is how I introduce myself to my students. I tell them, ‘I teach information literacy, and I research how people use information. Based on that, I can teach you skills that others cannot teach you here at Purdue,'” she explained. “Knowing how to use and apply information is increasingly important in a 21st-century economy. People in business, particularly, need to know how to use and apply information quickly. That is basically data analytics.”

Stonebraker is among several Libraries faculty who either teach or co-teach credit courses at Purdue in a variety of departments. She proudly points out that librarians tend to be highly engaged instructors who have been developing and practicing effective active-learning techniques and approaches to instruction for many years (perhaps even before “active learning” became an important practice in education).

“Librarians make interesting teachers because we think systematically about problems. Our brains are set up for inputs and outputs,” she added. “Our default is active learning. You can’t really teach students how to research and use information without actively engaging students in research and information use activities.”