The School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma was formally established in 1929, but the program began to develop in 1919 in response to the newly established Oklahoma Library Commission. The Commission found that it was unable to meet statewide needs for trained librarians and called on the state's professional librarians for assistance.
Jesse Lee Rader, Director of the University of Oklahoma Library, presented an experimental non-degree program for the training of librarians at the University in Summer 1920, with two faculty and five students.
The summer program grew and in 1929, thirty years after the founding of the University of Oklahoma, the School of Library Science was formally established in the College of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Rader was appointed to serve as Director while continuing his duties as Director of the University Library.
The first degree program offered was the Bachelor of Arts in Library Science. A Master of Library Science and a Master of Arts in Library Science were first offered in 1954. Both master's degree programs were conferred accreditation by the American Library Association in 1956. The School continues to offer the only accredited library and information studies program in Oklahoma.
A Master in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) degree replaced the two original master's degree programs in the 1980s. The School name was changed to the School of Library and Information Studies in 1990 to reflect the expanding role of the School in the information age. In 2001, the School initiated a Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies.
From 2017, the School has undergone significant expansion of its academic programs, adding a Ph.D. in Information Studies in 2018, and graduate certificates in Archival Studies, Digital Humanities, and Data Analytics for Information Professionals. An accelerated master's program allowing students to complete a combined Bachelor of Arts and MLIS degree was also added. In 2019 and 2020 the School began offering a Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology on both the Norman and Tulsa campuses. Several of the new degree programs are driven by faculty expansion into data science and technology teaching and research areas.
- Current Director: Dr. Susan K. Burke; 2016-
- Dr. Cecelia Brown; 2010-2016
- Dr. Kathy Latrobe; 2005-2010
- Dr. Danny Wallace; 2000-2005
- Dr. June Lester; 1993-2000
- Dr. Robert D. Swisher; 1988-1993
- Dr. Sylvia G. Faibisoff; 1982-1988
- Dr. James S. Healey; 1975-1982
- Dr. Frances L. Carroll, Acting Director; 1974-1975
- Dr. Frank Bertalan; 1965-1974
- Mr. Melville Spence, Acting Director; 1964-1965
- Mr. Gerald Coble; 1959-1964
- Dr. Arthur McAnally; 1951-1959
- Jesse Lee Rader; 1929-1951