UW News

May 8, 2003

Mini-course takes future librarians out to the ballgame

What may be the nation’s first university graduate course on Information In Sports is quietly introducing 30 future librarians this spring to, among other things, the infield fly rule.

The librarians-in-training even attended a Seattle Mariners baseball game together.

Mike Eisenberg, dean of the UW’s Information School and one of the two instructors in LIS598, said sports offers a perfect setting for probing information challenges, from research to competitive intelligence.

“While at first glance this topic might seem to be lightweight,” Eisenberg said, “sport is a central part of all human society dating back to ancient times.”

To student and sports fan Lelia Arnheim, sports and information could add up to a great career as a sports librarian.

“I went to so many NHL games as a child,” she said, ” that I thought ‘O Canada’ was the second verse of ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ ”

Among the jobs students may scout are reference posts at halls of fame, newspapers and networks and teams. The Special Libraries Association even has a Baseball Caucus.

However, a field with such avid clients poses special challenges, Arnheim said.

“If we provide misinformation,” she said, “we’ll definitely hear about it from someone.”

Even students with little interest in sports will find it enlightening to study organizational structures like baseball scorekeeping, said assistant professor Joe Janes, the other instructor.

The one-credit mini-course has been such a success that the school is considering making it a regular three-credit course.

And how many university classes pose the extra challenge of keeping mustard off your scorecard?