Rachael Clemens

PhD Candidate
School of Information and Library Science

University of North CarolinaChapel Hill
Phone 714.926.1098
Email rclemens@unc.edu
Curriculum Vitae


Human information behavior in the context of a personal crisis is the focus of my doctoral research agenda. This work examines the processes of human engagement with information in response to a negative life event. The underlying question of my work is: How does one pursue, search for, evaluate, avoid, dismiss and use information to make a decision and cope in response to a situation that is beyond the realm of everyday life, and is characterized as deeply meaningful, potentially stigmatizing and intensely personal with life-long impact?

Conventional methods of information seeking and information evaluation may be ineffective or unsuitable in coping with an unanticipated and unfamiliar context. Using a phenomenological framework I am exploring how individuals experience and make meaning of information through a personal crisis that carries profound impact.

The specific personal crisis context that I have selected for my doctoral research is that of birthmother, a woman who voluntarily relinquished a child to adoption. How does she seek information to aid in the decision-making process? What information is helpful? What barriers to information does she encounter?

I am currently collecting data for my dissertation entitled Human information behavior, coping and decision-making in the context of a personal crisis: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the voices of birthmothers on relinquishing a child for adoption.

Approved dissertation proposal here, comments, questions and suggestions are welcome!

I am recruiting participants for my dissertation research study. Please see this flyer more more details [pdf document].

You are eligible to participate in this study if you:
  • Have voluntarily relinquished a child through a formal adoption process since 1999 (in the last 15 years) in the U.S.
  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Are willing to share a detailed account of your child relinquishment experience through a personal interview
Your story will be treated as confidential; no information will be reported in a way that could reveal your personal identity. Participants will receive $75 cash. This study has been approved by UNC Institutional Review Board, Study #15-0259

If you are interested in participating, please contact me via email at: rclemens@unc.edu


  • User Education: For several years I have taught the graduate level User Education course at SILS, INLS 501. User education takes many different forms across a diverse array of information environments including academic and public libraries, school library media centers, archives and special collections, computer help desks, and all types of medical and special libraries. However the underlying purpose is universally focused on empowering users to effectively access and critically utilize appropriate resources and tools in meeting information needs. Information professionals need the expertise, skills, creativity and confidence to develop meaningful education and training experiences for users.

    In this course, we explore learning theory, pedagogy and instructional design, evaluation and assessment methods.

    This course provides an opportunity for students to explore, develop and evaluate instruction material and methods targeting an information context of their own interest.

    The most recent class website with syllabus and course schedule is available online at http://ils.unc.edu/courses/2013_fall/inls502_001/

  • Retrieving and Analyzing Information: For several years I have also taught the undergraduate course, INLS 200 Retrieving and Analyzing Information (recently renumbered to INLS 151), an introduction to and application of the processes that can be used in seeking information, evaluating the quality of the information retrieved, and synthesizing the information into a useful form. Learning outcomes include:
    • Consider the meaning(s) and role(s) of information and human information interaction
    • Develop an understanding of information retrieval principles and systems
    • Expand and enhance your information literacy skills by learning to:
      1. Clarify and scope specific information needs
      2. Strategize and construct effective information search plans
      3. Select appropriate information sources
      4. Conduct efficient search techniques
      5. Evaluate information resources for quality and usefulness
      6. Analyze and incorporate new information in response to the original need
    • Develop confidence and expertise in addressing issues of ethics and integrity surrounding the use of information
    • Learn about unique and specialized resources available through the University of North Carolina

    The most recent class website with syllabus and course schedule is available online at http://ils.unc.edu/courses/2015_spring/inls151_003/

A few other miscellaneous tidbits:

  • My family includes brilliant husband Dave (mechanical engineer at Porticos) and our precious 10-year-old daughter Linden Lea. Dave used to be involved with a great group at Rod Millen's shop while we were in California.

  • As a part-time potter, I work in the amazing community clay studio at the Carrboro Art Center

  • Linden and I have been taking guitar lesson with the amazing Eric Haugen in Carrboro

  • As a family we enjoy taking tennis lessons every week from Ron Rudin

  • In mid-2007 I left my position as Distance Education Librarian at California State University Fullerton. For six years I had the fabulous opportunity to work with the great group of professionals at the Pollak Library who let me try all sort of fun stuff and taught me even more. (I miss everyone)

    Working with the incredibly diverse student population in Southern California taught me new things about our society almost everyday: cultures, languages, accessibility, ethnicity, learning styles, social issues, ethical issues, religious issues, and one of the most visible aspects of our students - the ever-changing fashion styles of Southern California youth! If that doesn't capture the essence of diversity, I don't know what does.

  • Before Fullerton I worked at the Lexus (division of Toyota) U.S. headquarters in Torrance with the best PR folks in the business - and a got to drive some of the best cars in the business. I also got to work with amazing auto journalists from all the car mags, Car & Driver (I know how to pronounce Csaba Csere), AutoWeek, Road & Track - what an education

  • I taught English in Chengdu - a very large city in the Sichuan province of China in 1995 and developed a love and fascination of the Chinese culture and people

  • My sister Rebecca is a WAY COOL wildlife biologist and finishing her PhD at University of California at Davis on fishers in the Sierra Nevada mountains (fishers are small mammal carnivores - among the most adorable small mammals on the planet). Check out her work at: http://wittmer.wfcb.ucdavis.edu/rebecca_green.html

  • My folks have lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for 23 years. Dad is an electrical engineer, Southern Baptist minister and avid Ametuer Radio operator [callsign = KX4P, profile at http://www.qrz.com/KX4P]. Mom is a nurse who has spent several summers teaching English in China

  • At one time I was a potter and artist-in-residence at the Hollerfolk Gallery in Syria, Virginia. Now I spend a precious few hours each week in the clay studio at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro.

  • At various times I've had friends with names like Woodstock, Trailmix, Possum, Mongo, Hootie, and Goose - but remain terribly disappointed not to have had the honor of a designated nickname

  • To keep up with my husband I've become something of an auto enthusiast - reading the car mags, appreciating the engineering of a really good car, sharing opinions with anyone who cares, and following F1 racing.

  • My dream evening:  riding in a big old truck around WV back roads listening to country music and stories about the folks who live in the hollers

  • I studied piano for 12 years under such masters as Art Wheeler (Charlottesville), Tannis Gibson (UVA) Dr. Daniel Horn (Wheaton College Music Conservatory)

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URL of this page: http://www.unc.edu/~rclemens/
Last Revised: 05 December 2015
Rachael Clemens

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