Carol Collier Kuhlthau (born December 2, 1937) is a retired American educator, researcher, and international speaker on learning in school libraries, information literacy, and information seeking behavior.
Introduced in 1991, Kuhlthau's model of the Information Search Process (ISP) describes feelings, thoughts, and actions in six stages of information seeking. The model of the ISP introduced the holistic experience of information seeking from the individual’s perspective, stressed the important role of affect in information seeking and proposed an uncertainty principle as a conceptual framework for library and information service. Kuhlthau’s work is among the most highly cited of library and information science faculty and one of the conceptualizations most often used by information science researchers. The ISP model represents a watershed in the development of new strategies for the delivery of K-16 library and information skills.
Kuhlthau was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She received her B.S. from Kean University in 1959, Master's in Library Science (MLS) from Rutgers University in 1974 and her Doctorate in Education in 1983, also from Rutgers University. Her doctoral dissertation was titled "The Library Research Process: Case Studies and Interventions with High School Seniors in Advanced Placement English Classes Using Kelly's Theory of Constructs." She held several teaching and library positions before joining the Rutgers faculty in 1985 where for twenty years she directed the school library specialization in the Masters in Library and Information Science degree program that is ranked first in the United States by US News & World Report. During her tenure at Rutgers she was promoted to Professor II and chaired the Library and Information Science Department and retired as Professor Emerita in 2006. She was the founding Director of the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers where she continues as senior advisor. Her book Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services is a classic text in library and information science in the United States and abroad. Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century (2007), written with Leslie Maniotes and Ann Caspari, recommends learning environments where students gain deep understanding and also information literacy grounded in the Information Search Process.
- Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century with Leslie Maniotes and Ann Caspari (2007)
- Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services (2004)
- Teaching the Library Research Process (1994, 2004)
- “Inside the Search Process: Information Seeking from the User’s Perspective”, Journal of the American Society for Information Science (1991)
- American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) Research in Information Science Award, 2005 
- Association of Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Award for Professional Contribution Library and Information Science Education, 2004 
- Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Frederick G. Kilgour Research Award, 2002 
- Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award, 2000 
- American Library Association (ALA) Jesse Shera Award for Research, 1998 
- American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Distinguished Service Award, 2000 
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Award for Outstanding Contributions to the School Library Media Field through Publishing, and Teaching
- Guided Inquiry, Strategies for Teaching in the 21st Century, (IASL 2009 keynote presentation)
- Kuhlthau's Model of the Stages of the Information Process, reproduced from Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, retrieved December 3, 2006
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- "Kuhlthau's Vita- Rutgers University". Retrieved 20 January 2010.
- "Kuhlthau's Vita- Rutgers University". Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- "Carol Collier Kuhlthau- Rutgers University Profile". Retrieved 20 January 2010.
- Kuhlthau, Carol (2004). Seeking Meaning: a process approach to library and information services. London: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1-59158-094-3.
- "Review: Seeking Meaning: a process approach to library and information services". Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- "Research in Information Science Award". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "The ALISE Award for Professional Contribution to Library and Information Science Education". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology (LITA / OCLC)". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award Winners". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "LRRT’s Shera Research Awards Recipients". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Distinguished Service Award". Retrieved 9 December 2012.