Yukiko Sakai

Yukiko Sakai photo


Associate Professor


Keio University



Graduation year:

"My best experiences at SILS were taking advanced classes especially for medical librarians and being involved in an active learning environment."

What was your educational and professional background before coming to SILS?

Since graduating from Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, with a B.A. in library science, I had been working for the university mainly as a medical librarian already for over 15 years. I attended a master's program offered by the university's School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) as a training program for librarians without a degree.

How has your career progressed since you graduated SILS?

In Japan, I was appointed as a head of the medical library's public services and worked hard focusing on enhancing instructional services at the medical school. Additionally, I have served as a committee member, chair and board member of the Japan Medical Library Association to consolidate its professional development programs and launch international programs. Concurrently, I pursued a doctorate in library and information science and gained a non-tenure track faculty position at SLIS.

In your current employment, what are your job duties and responsibilities?

As an associate professor at SLIS, I teach six classes per semester on average. The classes vary from computer literacy for first-year students to library assessment for librarians. Research is, of course, another of my responsibilities. I currently work on replicated research of the Value Study exploring the value of information in clinical settings based on the study conducted by a group led by Dr. Joanne Marshall.

What projects have gotten you most excited and/or what accomplishments have made you the proudest?

I am most proud of completing my Ph.D. research project on the readability of health information in Japanese text. The hardest part of the project was the experiment designed for high school students to evaluate such readability in March 2011. Many of the sessions of the experiment were canceled or postponed because of the school's schedule change due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, although the school was far from the devastated area. A schoolteacher was kind enough to rearrange the sessions and give me a chance to collect necessary data. I appreciate his support as well as the many people who helped me complete the project.

What were some of your best experiences at SILS?

My best experiences at SILS were taking advanced classes especially for medical librarians and being involved in an active learning environment. During my studies at SILS between 1999 and 2001, evidence-based medicine and consumer health information became topics of interest among medical librarians in Japan. Although I was an information science student, I was lucky to take classes on both topics and use the knowledge acquired at SILS to inspire Japanese medical librarians about new roles for implementing EBM and related CHI services right after restarting my career as a medical librarian.

In addition to the content of classes, I learned a lot about learning/teaching styles. What I experienced as a master's student at SILS was focused on active learning, such as an interactive class style, close communication with faculty members, group work and one-minute papers. When I was an undergraduate student in Japan, classes were usually one-way lectures. However, active leaning is now a key concept for Japanese educational reform. As a faculty member, my experience at SILS is useful to teach and encourage active learning.

What inspires or motivates you?

Professionally, senior librarians and faculty members have always motivated me. For example, before I decided to come to the U.S. for a master's program, one of the university librarians in the U.S. asked me about my goal as a professional. The career options that she suggested were university librarian or director of the medical library. At that time, I didn't imagine myself in a top administrative position, but her words inspired my goals, objectives and decision to come to the U.S to study.

Personally, my family members are always inspiring and motivating me. My husband was generous in allowing me to study in the U.S. for two years.

Is there any other information you would like to share, or any advice you would like to offer current or future SILS students?

I like the mixture of library and information science at SILS. I expect both LS and IS students to take classes outside of their focus and mingle. This would expand their professional opportunities.