After a respite of several weeks I am returning to regular posts on the SIG-USE mailing list, in an effort to stimulate community and conversation. My messages are geared to all enthusiasts of our specialty with students top of mind, and take the form of themes. The first theme (August-December, 2011) was The Literature and is archived on my website/blog; the next theme is The History of information behavior.
DO NOT yawn or press delete! Information behavior research has a rich history spanning one hundred years and it should be celebrated. In the upcoming posts I will not attempt any historical survey; that would be a massive undertaking. Instead, I will briefly highlight noteworthy happenings (one per post) within the information behavior tradition from the past century that all aficionados should appreciate.
At the get-go of this theme it is necessary to acknowledge and bemoan the dearth of historical materials on information behavior. There are countless scattered historical snippets embedded in theoretical, methodological, or empirical articles but few dedicated historical works with gravitas. In my opinion, it would be a great project for SIG-USE to enlist students to develop better historical resources, perhaps starting with timelines and bibliographies and then encouraging more sophisticated historical dissertations.
As a point of departure, I will first list the few historical writings of which I am aware. ARIST chapters (covered in Message #3) are not included because they address information behavior publications and trends over relatively short periods of time.
* Bates' article on "Information behavior" (Bates, 2010) in the Encylopedia of Library and Information Sciences opens with a long historical section; subsequent discussions of "technology" and the "range of topics" also follow historical arcs.
* Case's textbook Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Needs, Seeking, and Behavior includes a chronicle of "The History of studying information behavior" (Case, 2006, pp. 238-40) and also charts the growth of the information behavior literature.
* Rania Siatra was a student when she published an article in Libri,
"The Evolution of user studies" (Siatri, 1999) that "recounts the evolution of user studies by exploring key concepts in the field" and "shows the diversity and plethora of topics explored by various studies."
* A paper from the Conceptions of Library and Information Science conference, "Revisiting the user centered turn in library and information science" (Talja & Hartel, 2007), argues that early information behavior research was more sensitive to users in natural contexts than is claimed in the infamous ARIST chapter by Dervin and Nilan (1986).
Have I missed any substantial historical writings? If so, please chime in. Since my list was not generated by systematic searching it is surely quite incomplete. Perhaps this thread will be the start of a collaborative "History of Information Behavior Research" bibliography.
Stay tuned to learn about happenings in the past century of our research area that seem exceptional and history-making.
Jenna Hartel, Assistant Professor,
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
This final post on the introductory theme of “The Literature” turns attention to a resource containing a high concentration of articles on information behavior.
Information Research (IR) is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to “making accessible the results of research across a wide range of information-related disciplines.” It is privately published by Professor T.D. Wilson, professor emeritus of the University of Sheffield, with in-kind support from Lund University Libraries and the Swedish School of Library and Information Science.
The subject index of IR lists 65 articles on information behavior, not to mention others within the related topics of information need, information seeking behavior, and information use.
According to Professor Wilson, with whom I recently spoke at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in New Orleans, IR is associated with information behavior scholarship because it has published the proceedings of the Information Seeking in Context conference since 2004. (Students, this is a fantastic development; earlier proceedings were only available in an expensive and hard-to-come-by print volume.)
Here are quick links to the ISIC materials:
· Fifth ISIC conference, Dublin, 2004, Information Research, Volume 10, Number 1 and Number 2
· Sixth ISIC conference, Sydney, 2006, Information Research, Volume 11, Number 4 and Volume 12, Number 1
· Seventh ISIC conference, Vilnius, 2008, Information Research, Volume 13, Number 4
· Eighth ISIC conference, Murcia, 2010, Information Research, Volume 15, Number 4 and Volume 16 Number 1
In addition to the ISIC proceedings, through the years IR has been the site of important developments in our research community. The journal hosted an exchange between Professor Wilson and Reijo Savolainen about “the behaviour/practice debate .” As well, Marcia Bates’ writings that sparked a public exchange with Birger Hjørland have appeared in IR (see my prior post, Message #4 – Newsflash, for an overview of this issue). Information Research has also significantly expanded the information behavior specialty around the world by its open access, international editorial board and associates, and decision to publish articles in languages other than English.
The next theme is “The History” and will be a riveting survey of foundational publications on information behavior that all devotees of the topic should know and love.
The whirlwind of the ASIS&T annual meeting has passed. It was great to have SIG-USErs altogether at so many excellent sessions. This post forges onward through The Literature of information behavior and focuses on a resource that is very special to SIG-USE.
It is the handbook Theories of Information Behavior (Fisher, Erdelez, & McKechnie, 2005) or TIB, for short. A handbook is a reference genre that places emphasis on “how to” directions. The content of a handbook is much more concisely written than a journal article or encyclopedia entry. In this case, TIB contains succinct introductions to metatheories, theories, and models of information behavior. The preface states it is intended as “a researcher’s guide, a practical overview of both well-established and newly proposed conceptual frameworks that one may use to study different aspects of information behavior” (p. xx).
TIB is special because it was produced by SIG-USE in an unprecedented, grassroots, collaborative effort. The three editors Karen Fisher, Sanda Erdelez, and Lynne E. F. McKechnie are über-dynamic scholars in the heyday of their academic careers. Utilizing an early version of this SIG-USE mailing list they invited community members to nominate and then write-up theories for inclusion. Submissions were peer-reviewed and the collection was published by Information Today. Proceeds from the sales of TIB are channelled back into SIG-USE and its awards program.
The handbook opens with introductory statements by Marcia J. Bates, Brenda Dervin, and Tom Wilson. Next are entries on 72 individual metatheories/theories/models by an expert and/or enthusiast. Each short article addresses origins, propositions, methodological implications, use, related conceptual frameworks, and authoritative primary and secondary references. You will encounter oldies-but-goodies (Anomalous State of Knowledge, Berrypicking, Information Search Process, Sense-Making) as well as novel approaches (Symbolic Violence, Women’s Ways of Knowing, Bandura’s Social Cognition). Here are illustrated instructions from an editor on how to use TIB.
This is a great handbook for scholars, educators, students, and research-minded practitioners, too. When not on my shelf of information behavior books, it has a place on my desk.
Next week’s post is the last about The Literature of information behavior. We have reconnoitered a great encyclopedia, annual literature review, textbook, and handbook. What will be covered in the last post? Stay tuned! If you think any literature-related resource(s) has been overlooked, this SIG-USE mailing list is the place to squawk.
Fisher, K. E., Erdelez S., & McKechnie, E. F. (Eds.) (2005). Theories of Information Behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today.
A bibliometric* study by Milojević, Sugimoto, Yan, and Ding (2011) that examines the “cognitive structure” of library and information science (LIS) contains exciting news for the information behavior (IB) community. Their analysis of the terms used in the titles of articles in LIS journals over the past 20 years reveals that information behavior is establishing itself as a 4th major branch of LIS (see it illustrated). A similar conclusion was reached by Åström (2007) and Järvelin and Vakkari (1990), but the recent research is more sweeping and current. Many of us have intuited this development already and the strength of SIG-USE within ASIS&T is just one parallel indicator; still, it is great to have empirical evidence.
The paper offers additional insights into the publication patterns of IB scholarship. Interestingly, our work is distributed across the major academic journals, unlike other main branches of LIS whose research is concentrated in sources devoted to library science or information science. Further, our enterprise exhibits an “internal multidisciplinarity” that transcends the technological nexus of LIS to a “larger scope that can be described as processes, phenomena, and institutions that bring people, technology and written records together”(p. 1951). Bravo!
While information behavior research is experiencing a “surge” these developments are called “tentative” (p. 1950). When a slightly different analysis technique is applied to the data, IB disappears into the library science branch of LIS. Therefore, we cannot consider our ascendant status to be secure or permanent. Another matter (not addressed by the authors) is that concepts such as “information practice” and “information use” do not yet register as popular terms in the data, perhaps due to their relative novelty or an ongoing lack of consensus.
This study raises questions to ponder at the ASIS&T annual meeting in New Orleans next week during the workshop, SIG-USE business meeting (Monday, October 11, 11:30-12:30), and via informal conversations with each other. Is it time for a dedicated IB journal to concentrate and better organize our scholarship, as proposed by Michael Olsson at the 2010 SIG-USE business meeting? Should we seek greater consensus around nascent terms and concepts? What can SIG-USE and each of us do individually to help fortify our research area?
*A note to doctoral students of information behavior: Go bibliometric! I heartily encourage you to digest studies such as the one at hand or the classic co-citation analysis of information science by White & McCain (1998). (Reading the latter was a “eureka” moment during my own doctoral studies, when I came to understand the organization and purpose of information science.) Bibliometric research designs target literatures; are unabashedly quantitative and positivistic; and contrast sharply with more qualitative approaches prevalent in the information behavior realm. I can imagine that some SIG-USErs have an allergic reaction to research of this kind. But here are three reasons to embrace bibliometrics: 1.) It is the only original research method generated by LIS and should be a point of fluency and pride for all; 2.) Bibliometric studies provide a high-level view of the LIS landscape to more strategically locate your own research amidst various concepts, specialities, scholars, and journals; 3.) Anyone championing an holistic approach to IB can employ bibliometrics to establish the backdrop, that is, the literature, where information behavior unfolds (therefore bibliometrics is a natural complement to information behavior studies). Newcomers to bibliometrics who are attending the ASIS&T annual meeting in New Orleans may benefit from the panel Bibliometrics and LIS Education: How Do They Fit Together? (featuring Dangzhi Zhao, Howard White, Dietmar Wolfram, Jamshid Beheshti, Judit Bar-Ilan, and Jonathan Levitt on Tuesday, October 11 at 10:30).
Åström, F. (2007). Changes in the LIS research front: Time-sliced co-citation analysis of LIS journal articles, 1990–2004. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(7), 947–957.
Jarvelin, K. & Vakkari, P. (1990). Content analysis of research articles in library and information science. Library and Information Science Research, 12, 395-421.
Milojević, S., Sugimoto, C.R., Yan, E., & Ding, Y. (2011). The cognitive structure of library and information science: Analysis of article title words. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(10), 1933-1953.
White, H. D. & McCain, K. W. (1998). Visualizing a discipline: An author co-citation analysis of information science, 1972-1995. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 49(4), 327-355.
Our contemplation of “The Literature” of information behavior continues...
Nearly a decade ago, the first information behavior textbook appeared, Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior (Case, 2002), and is now in its second edition (Case, 2006). It is an important landmark and sign of maturity for a research area to generate a textbook, which is a reference genre designed to systematically introduce a topic to students or other non-expert readers.
The author of Looking for Information (for short) is Donald O. Case, a professor at the College of Communications and Information Studies of the University of Kentucky. He holds an MLS from Syracuse University and a doctorate in communications research from Stanford University. Dr. Case has been involved in the information behavior research specialty since the mid-1980s. I personally have valued his pioneering research into the information behavior of social scientists and humanists (1986), as well as historians (1991a, 1991b). While a specialist in information behavior, Dr. Case has broad interests across information studies and has served as a president of ASIS&T.
In the preface of the 2nd edition of Looking for Information, Dr. Case explains that he decided to write the textbook in the early 2000s when interest in the information behavior research area was growing. Both editions of the book are centered on studies of information behavior (more so than information retrieval or library use), focus on the last two decades of research, and take a person-oriented (versus systems-oriented) perspective. The current edition has 423 pages and is organized as 5 sections and 13 chapters; at Amazon.com you can see the table of contents.
Looking for Information has been very well-received by information behavior scholars. In 2003 the first edition won the ASIS&T “Best Information Science Book of 2002.” A long review of the first edition in JASIS&T surveys the content in detail, remarks upon Dr. Cases’ attempt at a neutral metatheoretical stance, and critiques his application of Sense-Making theory, concluding overall that the text is “ambitious,” “welcome,” and “useful.” (Savolainen, 2003). The more recent second edition was reviewed in Information Research and deemed a “valuable reference source for teachers and students alike” (Wilson, 2007). If you are currently a doctoral student in the information behavior area, you won’t regret having this item on your bookshelf (see mine!).
The next posting on “The Literature” engages a handbook, Theories of Information Behaviour (Fisher, Erdelez, McKechnie, 2005). In the meantime, the ASIS&T annual meeting is just around the corner (October 9-12, New Orleans). There are many great information behavior/SIG-USE events on the agenda. Especially, the keynote is by eminent information behavior scholar Professor Tom Wilson and there is a post-conference workshop on October 12, Where Your World Meets Mine: Information Use Across Domains.
See you in New Orleans!
Case, D. (1986). Collection and organization of written information by social scientists and humanists: A review and exploratory study. Journalof Information Science, 11(3), 97-104.
Case, D. (1991a). Conceptual organization and retrieval of texts by historians: The role of memory and metaphor. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(9),
Case, D. (1991b). The collection and use of information by some American historians: A study of motives and methods. The Library Quarterly, 61(1), 61-82.
Savolainen, R.(2003). Review of book Looking for information: A Survey of research on information seeking, needs and behavior, by D. O. Case. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(7), 695-697.
Wilson, T.D. (2007). Review of the book Looking for information: a survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior, 2nd ed. by D. O. Case. Information Research, 12(3).
I interrupt the previously scheduled message on “The Literature” of information behavior to draw attention to a debate unfolding in the broader realm of information science. [For new readers: my posts to the SIG-USE mailing list are written with students of information behavior foremost in mind.]
Recently Marcia J. Bates and Birger Hjørland have had an exchange in the pages of JASIS&T that continues a long-running public conversation between the two. It is exciting to witness senior scholars championing their ideas, which serve as excellent fodder for students to discuss late into the night.
Below is an introduction to the situation and then remarks on a few implications for the information behavior research community. While I am an admirer and former student of Professors Bates and Hjørland, this statement does not take sides, has been approved by both participants as accurate, and cannot substitute for careful reading of the original papers (to that end references and hyperlinks are provided).
Marcia J. Bates, professor emerita in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA), is the source of many breakthroughs in information science and information behavior specifically, in concepts such as information search tactics (1979) and berrypicking (1989); studies of the information behavior of humanists (1996); and as an editor and author of the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Bates & Maack, 2010). In her work, she seeks to illuminate information behavior in ways that integrate the biological, behavioral, and social elements of human interaction with information in he world.
Birger Hjørland, professor at the Royal School of Library and Information Science (Copenhagen, Denmark), is the architect of a socio-cognitive or domain analytic (Hjørland& Albrechtsen, 1995) perspective on information science. In this view information behavior is socially, culturally, and historically constructed (Hjørland, 2000). Hjørland’s writings of late (2011a, 2011b), as a series entitled “The Importance of Theories of Knowledge,” have sought to illuminate, critique, and strengthen the metatheoretical foundations of the field.
The debate between Bates and Hjørland is philosophical and multi-faceted. It concerns the nature of information (as objective and/or social – see Bates, 2005, 2006 and Hjørland, 2007, 2009); the role of information science metatheories (as competing or complementary devices); and the merits of two major metatheories (empirical behavioral research and socio-cognitivism/domain analysis). The most recent volley has explored these issues within the concept of browsing (see Bates, 2007, in press; Hjørland, 2011b, in press).
How is the public conversation between Bates and Hjørland relevant to the information behavior research community?
Followers of this debate are reminded of the importance of metatheory in information research and are exposed to two metatheories that may be used to orient scholarship. (The metatheories, empirical behavioral research and socio-cognitivism/domain analysis, are both influential approaches within the information behavior specialty.) And, readers are shown possible conceptions of “information” as physical, biological, social, objective, or subjective. These various renderings can deepen philosophical understanding of our central phenomenon and/or be used to operationalize a definition of information within empirical information behavior research. Further, these exchanges demonstrate how one concept – browsing – can be an epistemological and ontological hot spot, as can any information behavior notion. Finally, as observers of a public collision of minds we can refine our own communication and argumentation strategies.
Thanks to Professors Bates and Hjørland for these significant learning opportunities!
Other comments are welcome from members of the SIG-USE mailing list and beyond, especially remarks that engage these contested issues substantively (which was not the point here).
The next post, later in September, returns to the theme of “The Literature” of information behavior and features Donald Case’s textbook Looking for Information: Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior, 2nd ed.
[The reference list is in chronological (not alphabetical) order to better reflect the back-and-forth between the two authors]
Bates, M. J. (1979). Information search tactics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 30, 205-214.
Bates, M. J. (1989). The Design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface. Online Review, 13, 407-424.
Hjørland, B., and Albrechtsen, H. (1995). Toward a new horizon in information science: domain analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 46(6), 400-425.
Bates, M. J. (1996). The Getty end-user online searching project in the humanities: Report no. 6: Overview and conclusions. College & Research Libraries, 57, 514-523.
Hjørland, B. (2000). Information seeking behaviour: What should a general theory look like?. New Review of Information Behaviour Research,1, 19–33.
Bates, M. J. (2005). Information and knowledge: An Evolutionary
framework for information Science. Information Research, 10(4)
[available at http://InformationR.net/ir/10-4/paper239.html].
Bates, M. J. (2006). Fundamental forms of information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(8), 1033-1045.
Bates, M. J. (2007). What is browsing – really? A model drawing from behavioural science research. Information Research, 12(4) [Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/12-4/paper330.html].
Hjørland, B. (2007). Information: Objective or subjective/situational?. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology,58(10), 1448–1456.
Hjørland, B. (2009). The controversy over the concept of “information”: A rejoinder to Professor Bates. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(3), 643.
Bates, M. J. & Maack, M. N. (Eds.). (2010). Encyclopedia of library and information sciences, 3rd Ed. New York, NY: CRC Press.
Hjørland, B. (2011a). The importance of theories of knowledge: Indexing and information retrieval as an example. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(1), 72–77.
Hjørland, B. (2011b). The importance of theories of knowledge: Browsing as an example. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(3), 594-603.
Bates, M. J. (in press). Birger Hjørland's Manichean misconstruction of Marcia Bates' work. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Currently available in early view online.
Hjørland, B. (in press). Theoretical clarity is not “Manicheanism”: A reply to Marcia Bates. Journal of Information Science. Currently available in early view online.
This post continues to address “The Literature” of our research area and celebrates a second major resource: the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST) literature reviews of information behavior.
A special and important reference genre, the literature review is a survey of publications in a research area that summarizes major themes, developments, and findings. Literature reviews are time and effort saving devices for readers and the capstone of Shera and Egan’s “bibliographic pyramid” (1952) that underlies academic knowledge production. The authors of literature reviews are typically seasoned experts in a specialty or energetic younger scholars who use their dissertation literature review as a point of departure.
I have fond memories of my early days as a doctoral student at UCLA and diving headlong into ARIST chapters, eager to “get my mind around”the information behavior literature. Each chapter proved to be a snapshot of information behavior scholarship in its day. As I moved longitudinally through the ARIST series, I was able to make out the contours, evolution, and personality of the information behavior domain.
In his textbook on information behavior, Donald Case (2006, 238-243) provides a great overview of ARIST chapters. He states that ARIST is “the main vehicle by which interested scholars kept abreast of research on information behavior” (p. 239). Still, he critically observes that the series is a real “patchwork” with“redundant” coverage and “underdetermination” of relevant documents (p. 241); further, he asserts that each review is not standardized but shaped by the predilections of the author. Case also notes that the early ARIST chapters (1966-1990) focus on “information behavior” as a whole and later iterations target narrower topics as the speciality matured and diversified. (For a handy listing of early ARIST chapters from Case’s textbook, click here.)
Certain ARIST chapters mark important advances inscholarship that devotees of information behavior should know. Paisely (1968)introduced the idea of information behavior within several nested socialcontexts; the same approach was rediscovered decades later and became a mantra and banner over the “information seeking in context” movement and conference (ISIC). A spirited chapter by Dervin & Nilan (1986) was a call to action to focus on the human information user (versus the information system) and is probably the most highly cited work in the information behavior literature. More recently, Pettigrew, Fidel and Bruce’s (2001) contribution captures the increased methodological sophistication and diversity in our community. The latest comprehensive ARIST chapter on information behavior is a mammoth one by Fisher and Julien (2009), which invited the research community (via this mailing list) to nominate works for inclusion.
All SIG-USErs: Please share your thoughts on the information behavior chapters in ARIST. It would be especially interesting to hear from chapter authors: Brenda? Paul? Karen? Heidi? Others?
Thanks to Sarah and Lynn for stimulating responses to last week’s posting. Going forward, we consider another fine gateway into the literature: Donald Case’s (2006) information behavior textbook Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior 2nd ed.
Shera, J. & Egan, M. (1952). Foundations of a theory of bibliography, Library Quarterly, 22, 125-137.
If you missed my recent introductory post about this new SIG-USE mailing list initiative, you can check it out below (Message 1).
The first theme is “The Literature” of information behavior and today’s message focuses on a great resource, the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd edition (Bates & Maack, 2010), known for short as ELIS. [This ELIS is not to be confused with another beloved information behavior ELIS, “everyday life information seeking” coined by Reijo Savolainen (1995)].
Encyclopedias are designed as gateways to topics and literatures. I have personally slogged through many research projects only to learn later of a succinct and authoritative encyclopedia article that would have expedited my progress significantly. We are fortunate that one of the ELIS editors, Marcia J. Bates, was a pioneer of information behavior (teaching the first class on the subject at Berkeley in the 1970s); she has given information behavior generous treatment in ELIS. Dozens of leading information behavior scholars have made excellent contributions to this encyclopedia.
The articles in the ELIS print and online versions are arranged in alphabetical order by title, a traditional access strategy that scatters related topics. Fortunately, there is a separate “Topical Table of Contents” (TTOC) that restores the conceptual relationships between the articles (available as a PDF on Bates’ website and also available in both the print and online versions of ELIS). One can use the TTOC as a navigational device to the information sciences and information behavior, specifically. It would be time well spent for any newcomer to information behavior to peruse the ELIS TTOC just as one examines a road map to begin a journey. Here, using the ELIS TTOC, we will consider: Within the library and information sciences, where or how does information behavior fit?
Stepping back, the encyclopedia is structured around 11 topical categories: 1.) Information Disciplines and Professions, 2.) Concepts, Theories, Ideas, 3.) Research Areas, 4.) Institutions, 5.) Systems and Networks, 6.) Literatures, Genres, and Documents, 7.) Professional Services and Activities, 8.) People Using Cultural Resources, 9.) Organizations, 10.) National Cultural Institutions and Resources, and 11.) History.
There are 4 places where information behavior scholarship is concentrated:
Topical category 1, Information Disciplines and Professions, has a section on Information Science. There, Information Behavior is one of 6 major constituents of information science (alongside Information Architecture, Information Management, Information Retrieval Experimentation, Informetrics,and User Centered Design of Information Systems). This is where you can read the article Information Behavior (Bates) and related but narrower articles on Information Behavior Models (Wilson), Information Needs (Naumer & Fisher) and Information Practice (Fulton & Henefer). That should get you warmed up!
Topical category 2, Concepts, Theories, and Ideas, is the home of several major concerns and discoveries of information behavior research. Here you will find statements on the Information Search Process (ISP) Model (Kuhlthau), Information Overload (Tidline), Library Anxiety (Mizrachi), and Sense-Making (Dervin & Naumer), among others. Tip: read these before attempting to reconnoitre the subjects on your own.
In topical category 3, Research Specialties, a sub-section entitled Information Behavior and Searching serves as a banner over several research tributaries associated with information behavior, namely, Information Searching and Search Models (Xie), Information Use for Decision Making (Cokely, Schooler & Gigerenzer), Personal Information Management (Jones), and Reading and Reading Acquisition (Byrne), among others. There is also a well-stocked section on Information Retrieval, which is closely related to information behavior.
Finally, topical category 8, People Using Cultural Resources, showcases the prevalent socio-cultural approach to information behavior, also known as “information (seeking/use/behavior/practice) in context.” Here you can enjoy broad articles on the Internet and Public Library Use (Jorgensen) and Reading Interests (Sheldrick Ross). Narrower articles treat social worlds such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Information Needs (Keilty), Older Adults’ Information Needs and Behavior (Williamson & Asla), Students’ Information Needs and Behavior (Julien), and Youth Information Needs and Behavior (Gross), among others. There are also articles that address information behavior in various subject areas such as Area and Interdisciplinary Studies...(Westbrook), Arts...(Zack), Biological Information...(Shankar), Business Information...(Abels) and many more. [Doctoral students: set your sights on becoming an authority in an undocumented social world and then write the article for the next (4th) edition of ELIS.]
To close, within the library and information sciences ELIS casts
information behavior as:
* one of six major areas within the discipline of information science
* a unifying banner over a number of important concepts, models, and ideas
* a research specialty and site of several active research tributaries
* an organizing lens on information phenomena in social worlds
A tension underlies these multiple perspectives on information behavior within ELIS. Some represent the nomothetic (scientific) tradition that seeks abstractions and generalities, and others reflect an idiographic (humanistic) tradition that privileges texture and distinctions. Reading these articles altogether requires a nimble mind that can leap across the metatheories (or “isms”) of the information sciences.
All SIG-USErs: Your general comments on ELIS or this posting are
ELIS is just one way to see the literature of information behavior; complementary views will be presented in forthcoming posts. Up next: ARIS&T (Annual Review of Information Science & Technology) chapters on information behavior.
Bates, M. J. and Maack, M.N. (Eds.) (2010). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Ed. New York: CRC Press. (Also available in online form.) See also Introduction to ELIS, Topical Table of Contents (penultimate version), and Alphabetical Table of Contents.
Savolainen, R. (1995). Everyday life information seeking: approaching information seeking in the context of way of life. Library &Information Science Research, 17(3), 259-294.
I have volunteered to contribute on a regular basis to this mailing list in an effort to stimulate discussion and enhance a sense of community. For those who don’t know me, I am an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto and a SIG-USE member.
My postings will hopefully be of general interest to all participants in SIG-USE. However, they will be written specifically for students of information behavior within information studies. It seems a most important project for a SIG to develop its next generation. Students, please spread the word of this learning opportunity to your peers; ducators please rally your students into the list.
Given the above objective, and to organize the process, I will focus on themes and write 4-6 postings per theme at a rate of about one message per week. Since mine is not the definitive perspective on information behavior, I will count upon the input of others in our community to round out the view. All are encouraged to join the conversation.
The first theme is “The Literature” and will help newcomers enter the wonderful, shaggy literature of information behavior. During this first theme there will be individual postings on the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, an information behavior textbook, and an information behavior handbook. Later themes will be “History and Foundations,” “Metatheory,” “Major Concepts,” and “Methods.” The thematic approach may change if a better communication format emerges organically.
There is lively debate in our research area today about basic terminology: “information behavior” versus “information practice” and so on. This issue will be side-stepped for now; I will simply use “information behavior” as a banner for the research area well described on the SIG-USE website.
Jenna Hartel, Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information,
University of Toronto
Jenna Hartel, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto