Cindy Aden

Cindy Aden

Teaching Professor
MLIS Program Chair

Cindy Altick Aden graduated from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations. Her focus was on languages, cultural communication and political science.

A year later Cindy completed a certification program from Stanford’s Mass Media Institute and became a reporter for the Palo Alto Weekly. She held subsequent newspaper jobs and freelanced stories for multiple weekly newspapers in the Northwest, serving as editor for two papers.

Cindy graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s in Library & Information Science and was recruited for the Library of Congress intern program where she started her library career serving Congress. She worked subsequently at the University of Washington as a reference librarian and as a collections selector at Suzzallo Library, as a reference librarian at Odegaard Undergraduate Library and as Head of Circulation at the Gallagher Law Library.

Cindy left academia to work for Kitsap Regional Library, a public library system, as Assistant Director in charge of Reference Services across the multi-branch system. After two years of commuting by ferry, Cindy was contacted by a start-up,, which was looking for a librarian. There she oversaw the cataloging and engineering teams and finally served as the program manager for all the product business sectors. Cindy was employee number 750, and she saw the company expand to 5 countries and over 10,000 employees by the time she left in 2004.

Cindy then worked for Corbis, Bill Gates’s image company, where she served as Head of Cataloging and addressed image management: discovery, metadata and preservation. OCLC then recruited Cindy for a position in Business Development, where she worked with Silicon Valley companies, like Google, Goodreads and Yelp, who wanted access to library data and to understand bibliographic metadata and discovery. Cindy served in that position for over 7 years, enhancing library discovery on the Internet.

Cindy became the Washington State Librarian in August, 2016. Issues like access to broadband, developing a statewide ebook platform, augmenting library catalog visibility, defending federal library funding and identifying new ebook models that benefit libraries and authors, have been some of her areas of focus.

In August, 2020 she became the third iSchool Distinguished Practitioner of Practice at the University of Washington. She is excited to bring together her experience with journalism, government, internet search and discovery and strategic partnerships, to guarantee libraries are always relevant to their communities.

Research Areas

Broadband access and the role of libraries
Strategic library partnerships


MLS, University of Washington, 1987
BA, Stanford University, 1978
Ensuring a Vibrant Future for LIS in iSchools (2023)Authors: Amelia Acker, Cindy Aden, Maria Bonn, Christopher Coward, Chance Hunt, Emily Knox, David Lankes, Michelle Martin, Marijel Melo, Ana Ndumu, Carole Palmer, Beth Patin, Brian Sturm, Mega Subramaniam, Andrea Thomer
Washington Tribes Gather at WLA to Envision the Future (2023)Alki: Washington Library Association Journal, vol. 39, no. 2Authors: Sandra Littletree, Cindy Aden
Centering Washington Tribal Libraries: Establishing the Foundations (2022)Alki: The Washington Library Association Journal, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 5-8Authors: Sandra Littletree, Cindy Aden
Practicing Strategic Metadata Management: Knowing your media and its market potential (2005)Journal of Digital Asset Management, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 236-240Authors: Cindy Aden
Career Alternatives: How to Expand Your Library Skills (1998)PNLA Quarterly , vol. 63, no. 1Authors: Cindy Aden
Library Services to Native American Populations (1995)ALKI, The Washington Library Association Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 24-25Authors: Cindy Aden
Continuing Education for Library Staff: Getting an MLS on the Run (1994)ALKI, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 10-11Authors: Cindy Aden
WLA Presidents—Barbara Tolliver and Randy Hensley (1993)Authors: Cindy Aden

Co-designing for Trust: Reimagining Online Information Literacies with Underserved Communities (2021)

Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF) (Total award: $5,000,000)Amount: $2,740,223Collaborators: Jason Young (Principal), Jevin West (Co-Investigator), Katharine Davis (Co-Investigator)

Co-designing for Trust: Reimagining Online Information Literacies with Underserved Communities (2021)

Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF)Amount: $750,000Collaborators: Jevin West (Principal), Emma Spiro (Co-Principal), Katharine Davis (Co-Principal)

Centering Washington Tribal Libraries: Building Relationships and Understanding Libraries From the Stories of Their Communities (2021)

Funder: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Amount: $82,000Collaborators: Sandra Littletree (Principal), Cindy Aden (Co-Principal)
Envisioning the Future of Tribal Libraries (2023)
2023 INFOcon–The Future of Information Science - Virtual
Centering Washington Tribal Libraries, Centering Relationality (2023)
2023 International Indigenous Librarians Forum - Honolulu, Hawaii
Centering Washington Tribal Libraries (2023)
INFOCom - Hybrid
Centering Washington Tribal Libraries: Lessons Learned from a One-Year Project (2023)
2023 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Co-designing for Trust: working with rural libraries on addressing misinformation (2023)
American Library Association - Chicago, IL
Co-Designing for Trust: working with rural libraries addressing misinformation (2023)
Next Library conference - Aarhus, Denmark
Countering Misinformation, Strengthening Democracy (2023)
NEXT Library Festival - Aarhus, DK
Envisioning the Future of Tribal Libraries: A Washington Tribal Library Convening (2023)
Tribal Library Convening Pre-Conference, Washington Library Association - Wenatchee, WA
Community, Connection and Content (2023)
Miami, FL
Tribal Broadband (2022)
SHLB AnchorNets - Crystal City, VA
Buy Now with Emily West (2022)
DPLA Monthly Book Talks - Virtual
The Future of Digital Equity & Libraries (2021)
American Library Association, Midwinter Conference - virtual
The Future of Digital Equity & Libraries (2021)
American Library Association, Midwinter Conference - virtual
Beyond our Doors: Connecting for a Broader Future (2019)
Washington State Library - Wenatchee, WA
Leadership for the Future of Libraries (2019)
Libraries Symposium at the ALA Midwinter Meeting - Seattle, WA
e-Book Summit: Libraries and e-Books (2018)
ALA, ASGCLA (Association of Specialized, Government & Cooperative Library Agencies) - New Orleans, LA
Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing your Library's Visibility (2014)
American Library Association - Las Vegas, NV
Eye to I: Visual Literacy meets Information Literacy (2007)
American Library Associate Annual Conference - Washington, D. C.
Mastering the Internet (2005)
North Suburban Library System - Wheeling, IL
Search Trends and Metadata Practices (2005)
Information Futures Institute - Seattle, WA
Trends in Searching (2005)
CARL User's Group Conference - Denver, CO
The Future of Libraries (2005)
Washington State Library Symposium on the Future of Libraries - Olympia, WA
Beyond the Horizon: Environment Trends in Context (2005)
OCLC Symposium - Orlando, FL
E-Commerce and Libraries; trends, challenges and opportunities (2004)
Library of Congress - Washington, D. C.
E-Commerce and Libraries: What Can They Learn From Each Other? (2004)
Washington Library Association/Pacific Northwest Library Association, Joint Conference - Wenatchee, WA
E- Commerce and Libraries: what can libraries leverage and learn from on-line bookselling? (2004)
Public Library Association 10th Annual National Conference - Seattle, WA
Envision Tomorrow’s Catalog: A View from Outside the Library (2003)
American Association of Law Librarians 96th Annual Meeting - Seattle, WA
Building Your Business to Last (2003)
Center for Publishing at New York University, Management Forum for Independent Publishers - New York, New York
Libraries and E-Commerce: What Can We Learn From Each Other? (2003)
New Mexico Library Association Annual Conference - Albuquerque, NM
Cutting Edge Catalog (2002)
New England Library and Information Network (NELINT) Annual Meeting - Worcester, MA
Supporting Networks Through Indexing and Metadata: The New Data Frontier (2002)
Special Library Association, Annual Conference - Los Angeles, CA
This is NOT an Option: Information and Technology Skills for Student Success (2002)
American Association for Community Colleges 82nd Annual Conference - Seattle, WA
The Future of Cataloging and Online Searching (2001)
American Library Association Annual Conference - San Francisco, CA
The Commercial Online Environment: Is It Building Expectations for Library Performance? (2000)
OCLC/WLN Pacific Northwest Directors Conference - Olympia, WA
Internet Training Program (1996)
Washington State Library - Olympia, WA