You can read it here.

22 downloads 9460 Views 2MB Size Report
phones to their technological arsenal, people can constantly check their profile ...... example, the game Shadowrun (Boyle, 2008) puts the player into a dystopian  ...




T BLE /CONTENTS 10 18 26 31

from the


This issue was an education both





for us and all the people who made it

rubric inspired by one used by

possible. We discovered new

Professor Ricardo Gomez and his

research subjects like measuring

TAs in LIS 570. We also received

ASD accessibility in library services

special guidance from Professor

and information overload in the

Helene Williams, our advisor and

online dating scene. Students

cheerleader. Finally, none of this

learned first-hand about the peer

would have been possible without

review process, a new experience for

the leadership of Mia Klaus, who

our reviewers as well as authors who

coordinated peer reviews, contacted

took their comments into

the reviewers, and made sure the


process ran smoothly.

This has also been our most

This issue of Circulation is a

difficult issue to put together to date.

reflection of the broad spectrum of

Fortunately for us, though, there are

research areas in the iSchool and the

more people than ever who stepped

dedication that fuels them. Our


up and made it possible! A team of

writers reveal both their passion and


iSchool students dedicated their time

curiosity on every page. We hope

to reviewing every article that you

that Circulation continues to be a

will read in this issue. They were

forum for students to express their

Erin Gordenier, Ashley Farley, Brian

ideas and research—and we hope you

David, Bree Norlander, and Audrey

will be inspired in your own research







Becky Ramsey Co-Editor-in-Chief MLIS Candidate 2 

Lorberfeld. We provided them with a




how users deal with the

Boundless Love, Endless Possibilities

The Illusion of Unlimited Choice in Online Dating Leizel Jackson Case , MLIS

of unlimited choice

It is interesting to think about how my parents’


story would play out today. A limited dating market

The search for a significant other is often a major

surely played a part in their coming together. At the

priority in a single person’s life. When faced with the

time, placing a personal ad cost money. As my

challenge of finding a suitable romantic partner,

mother did not have an interest in advertising for

people often turn to a third party, family,

pen pals, she had limited options with foreign pen

matchmakers or their social circle. In recent years,

process information

pals. My father was limited by which publication he

people have introduced the internet into this process

purchased for a list of pen pals. Additionally, had

relying on science to help them find the perfect

they put up profiles on dating websites and viewed

match. In the past, people were often limited by

each others profiles, they probably would have come

geography when finding potential partners. Even

to the conclusion that they had nothing in common.

with newspaper personal ads, people were limited in

On the surface they didn’t. My mother was a recent

ability to reach potential partners by newspaper

make decisions about

college graduate and my father was an auto-worker.


She liked the BeeGees and dancing; my father liked

My parents were an unlikely pair who met

the Eagles and never danced. However, they were

through a personal ad and luck. My father who lived

great partners and balanced each other out . Would

in Ohio answered an ad for a woman in the

they have chosen to meet each other when faced with

Philippines who was looking for a husband who lived

thousands of potential partners online?

abroad. The woman who had placed the ad was a

With the advent of the internet, people can find a

friend of my mother’s. After exchanging a few letters

partner on the other side of the globe with a click of a

with my father, this friend decided she wasn’t

button and can have an entire romance

interested in him, but thought my mother might be

online. Interest and rejection are conveyed nearly

and passed on his address. It worked out for the

instantaneously, and with the addition of smart

best, because after corresponding for three years,

phones to their technological arsenal, people can

they fell in love and remained happily married until

constantly check their profile views and messages on

my father passed away in 2009. 4 




the go or download dating apps. With online dating,

with user. Dating sites refers to “web sites that

sampling booth with 24 jams; on the next Saturday,

relationship too high? What if the prospect of finding

the options available for a romantic partner seem

primarily focus on offering the user opportunities to

they did the same but with just six jams.

an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a

endless; there are thousands, if not millions of online

form a relationship that has the potential to become

daters out there all over the world. However, this

a dating and perhaps a long-term committed

seem to like the idea of having a lot of choices:

which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the

perception of endless possibility in online dating

relationship, such as marriage (Finkel et al, 2012,

More customers approached the 24-jam booth

dating track? (2013)". Slater found that a number of

raises a number of questions: do seemingly limitless

p.7).” The term also applies to apps that serve the

than the six-jam one. But people visiting the 24-jam

executives at dating companies felt that "the rise of

choices in mates make it easier to find a romantic

same purpose. However, his paper focuses on sites

booth tended to try only one or two jams—the same

online dating will mean an overall decrease in

partner? How does the perception of unlimited

and apps that are geared towards relationships

number as people in the six-jam group. When it

commitment(2013)." When Slater interviewed Gian

choice affect an online dater’s decision on who to

rather than sexual encounters. The illusion of

came to buying jam, people in the hella-jams

Gonzaga, a relationship psychologist at eHarmony, a

date? Does this perception of unlimited choice affect

unlimited choice is the perception by the user that

condition shut down, exhibiting what researchers

site that focuses on bringing together online daters

commitment? Are the choices of romantic partners

there is an endless number of potential partners due

call choice paralysis; only 3 percent bought any

seeking long-term relationships, he “acknowledges

truly unlimited?

to the numerous options presented to them in the

jam, whereas 30 percent of people in the six-jam

that commitment is at odds with technology. ‘You

world of online dating.

booth took home a jar.

could say online dating allows people to get into

And this study dealt with jam! Imagine how

relationships, learn things, and ultimately make a

Online dating and the illusion of unlimited choice is an information problem. How users deal with the illusion of unlimited choice affects how they process

Choice Overload

information and make decisions about romantic

Faced with seemingly unlimited choices when it

partners. This paper will explore how perceived

comes to potential partners, people may become

unlimited choice affects users and why choice is

overwhelmed and find themselves facing choice

really not unlimited.

overload. The choice overload hypothesis is defined as “although the provision of extensive choices may


sometimes still be seen as initially desirable, it may also prove unexpectedly demoralizing in the end

For the purpose of this paper, online daters are people seeking a romantic partner using online

(Iyenger and Lepper, 2000 p. 996).” Hu (2014)

dating sites or apps, or those using social media for

summarizes one of the studies:

the purpose of finding dates. An online dater is not a

It may seem liberating to live in a land of infinite

person who seeks potential partners via more

choices, but research in decision-making suggests

established means such as meeting through friends

otherwise. In a classic study, Stanford researchers

or family; through venues such as bars or social

set up shop at an upscale grocery store chosen for

events; or through personal advertisements in

its “extraordinary selection” of items, including 300

printed media. The term is used interchangeably

types of jam. One Saturday afternoon, they set up a

mouse means a future of relationship instability, in

In a study of jam, They found that people did

much more anxiety online daters must feel when

better selection,’ says Gonzaga. ‘But you could also

evaluating user profiles, especially when they are

easily see a world in which online dating leads to

looking for a potential life partner. Choice overload

people leaving relationships the moment they’re not

has relevance in the world of online dating because

working—an overall weakening of

dating sites that give online daters a limited number


of matches may be more successful in uniting online daters.

The Illusion of Choice

However, when faced with seemingly infinite

Is choice truly unlimited on a dating website?

choices, online daters may feel more regret over their

One of the reasons that romantic possibilities seem

decision of who to date. Blummer and Kenton point

endless is because there are so many sites, and many

out that “too many choices produce ‘bad decisions’ as

of them claim thousands of users. In truth, however,

well as anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction (as cited in

as Bridges states "...we have no idea how many active

Schwartz, 2004, 2014).” They may always wonder

members are signed up with how many online

just what else is out there. Slater raises these

services, how many online services (of all types) are

questions in his article, "A Million First Dates,"

in operation, how many are legitimate and so

"...what if online dating makes it too easy to meet

on. Very little regulation of these companies or their

someone new? What if it raises the bar for a good

operations has been implemented…(20, p 4)"




variety of other causes, including a lack of

Additionally, as Amy Webb found out when she thought she finally found the perfect match after

understanding of the information environment in

figuring out how to game the system, “…I’ve done it!

which one is working (Bawden & Robinson, 2009 p

I have just found the Jewish Prince Charming of my

184).” In addition to information anxiety caused by the

family's dreams. There was only one problem: He

References Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal Of Information Science, 35(2), 180-191. Blummer, B., & M. Kenton, J. (2014). Reducing Patron Information Overload in Academic Libraries. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 21(2), 115-135.

didn't like me back. And I guess the one variable that

abundance of perceived choice, people creating the

Bridges, J. (2012). The illusion of intimacy: problems in the world of online dating. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

I haven't considered is the competition.” For online

algorithms have not yet figured out the optimal

daters, the person they are interested in may not like

formula to match people together on online dating

Finkel, E.J., Eastwick, P.W., Karney, B., Reis, H.T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: a critical analysis from the perspectives of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66.

them for any number of reasons.

sites. What makes people fall in love may never be quantified, but information professionals can

Some online dating sites have tried to limit the dating field by giving people a limited number of

minimize choice overload that online daters may face

matches. For example, eHarmony only allows you to

by contributing to research on information seeking

see profiles of people that they think you are

behaviors of online daters and offering ways to

compatible with; there are also mobile apps like

improve the search process of online dating sites.

Coffee Meets Bagel, which only allows you to see one profile per day. More research should be done on


whether limiting the number of profiles users can

The illusion of unlimited choice in online

view allows online daters to find romantic partners

dating may have an impact on how online daters

more efficiently.

choose potential romantic partners and may have an effect on commitment in relationships. Furthermore,

An information problem?

Hu, J. (2014, October 12). Drowning in jam: “how to conquer decision fatigue.” Slate. Retrieved from http:// decision_fatigue_ego_depletion_how_to_make_better_decisions.html Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (2000). When choice is demotivating: can one desire too much of a good thing?. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology, 79(6), 995-1006. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.79.6.995 Slater, D. (2013, January 2) A million first dates. The Atlantic. Retrieved from archive/2013/01/a-million-first-dates/309195/ Schwartz, Barry. 2004. The paradox of choice: why more is less. New York: Harper-Collins. Webb, A. (2013) How i hacked online dating. TED transcript. Retrieved from amy_webb_how_i_hacked_online_dating/transcript?language=en Fisher, K.(2014). Lectures for INFX 598. Retrieved from Five laws of library science. Wikipedia. Retrieved from

online daters may be restricted in their choices because it is difficult to tell how many profiles are of

The illusion of unlimited choice is an information problem because it is related to information

people actively searching for dates, and people the

overload. When faced with too much information on

online daters are interested in may not be interested

potential partners, online daters may not make the

in them. Ultimately, perceived unlimited choice can

most optimal decisions. When faced with so many

cause choice overload and information anxiety. Just

choices, they may feel information anxiety, “a

as there is a book for every reader, there is also a

condition of stress caused by the inability to access,

good match for every online dater. Information

understand, or make use of, necessary information.

professionals can help to figure out how best to

The cause of this may be either information overload

navigate the seemingly limitless options and bring

or insufficient information; it may equally be due to

these online daters together.

poorly organized or presented information, or a 8 




O for a Muse of Fire

Making Sense of Actors’ Information Behavior

Fisher’s information grounds theory. With their

feelings may have on any given stage of their ISP

focus on social and affective contexts of information

(Kuhlthau 1991). This emotional context is important

seeking and use, these theories and the models that

in understanding the information behaviors of

describe them can be applied to the behaviors central

actors, as there is a significant emotional component

to the acting profession.

to their work. Kuhlthau’s theory fails to be a good fit

Cathy Hardin , MLIS

blocking); attending rehearsals with a director, stage

“We’re actors – we’re the opposite of people!”

manager, and other actors; making choices to

Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

develop a character that may sound, move, and Actors, like other artists, are often referred to as a

behave differently than the actor herself; and

special breed. The arts are regularly under attack in

consistently reproducing his performance for each

the United States, whether from business managers

presentation during a play’s run. In this analysis, I

concerned with art’s bottom line (Stubbs 2012) or

focus on the class of actors with which I am most

censors concerned with artists’ bottoms (Nelson,

familiar: actors working in regional, professional

2013). Thus, actors’ quixotic commitment to a life of

theaters (not film, not Broadway), primarily in the

suffering for their art makes them noteworthy to and

United States. In the theater, where working in

set apart from “normal” people. This is not to say we

ensembles is inevitable, successful actors are often

aren’t drawn to them at the same time. The fact that

extroverted individuals who thrive in a collaborative

most humans understand the concept of

environment. In short, actors are highly social

“Hollywood” is a testament to our bipolar fascination

creatures whose lives and professions typically occur

and even obsession with actors, even as we may

in the public eye, and whose behaviors are highly

chide non-celebrity actors for making a questionable

influenced by the social context of the theater

choice of profession.


It is clear then that actors are a unique group

In this analysis, I will review a number of

with requirements for membership that are definable

theories of information behavior in an attempt to

and observable. Actors are those individuals who

identify those that best fit actors as a group. The

regularly participate in professional or amateur

majority of actors’ professional experiences are best

productions of live theater. This participation

described through the lens of Brenda Dervin’s sense-

includes auditioning for roles; being able to

making theory, Elfreda Chatman’s theories of life in

memorize dialogue and movement (referred to as

the round and normative behavior, and Karen


for the creative process of actors, however, as it emphasizes a linearity of search with a purposeful

Preparation and Performance

quest for a specific piece of information that ends

“How do I be a Canadian Prince of Denmark?” –

with attaining and using the information, thus

Michael R. Olsson (2010)

completing the process (Pettigrew, Fidel, & Bruce 2001).

As actors begin work on a play, they encounter a

Belkin’s (1980) theory of anomalous states of

wide range of events that require them to pursue new

knowledge (ASK) is an attractive one to apply to an

information. Typically, an actor will begin this work

actor’s process of delving into the world of a play or a

alone, reading and re-reading the script to begin

character. With its description of a search process

memorizing and creating a personal sense of who the

that begins with a feeling of missing information that

character is. As rehearsals begin, actors continue the

may be difficult to quantify, the ASK theory is in

work of memorization, memorizing their dialogue as

many ways a better fit for typical actors’

well as developing and memorizing blocking in

conundrums. Often, an actor will recognize that he is

concert with the vision of the play’s director. The

missing a piece of information necessary to truly

creation of character is further enhanced as actors

understand his character’s actions (and thus improve

work together and form relationships with each

his performance), and yet not be able to identify

other both as themselves and as their characters

what the missing element is. In Noises Off, a farce

(Trumbull). Through all of these processes they will

that lampoons actors and the theater itself, the

encounter information that is relevant to the process

character of Frederick is an actor playing the part of

but that they did not seek out in a purposeful

Philip in a fictional production. Frederick captures

manner. There are several theories that can be

the experience of an ASK perfectly in one scene when

applied to this process with greater and less success.

he complains to his director that he doesn’t

Kuhlthau’s information search process (ISP)

understand why Philip carries his luggage offstage to

theory incorporates affective and cognitive aspects of

an illogical location, “I just don’t know why I take

the search process such as the effects that users’

them…all the same, if you could just give me a reason





one of his interviews:

I could keep in my mind…” (Frayn 44-5). Although

memorize dialogue is asking one’s self, “What am I

trying again. Mace and Ward (2002) support this

he can’t explain why it is important, Frederick senses

saying?” This is perhaps the most fundamental level

proposition. From their study of artists creating

an ASK in the scene, and hopes to have it resolved by

of making sense, to define the meaning behind one’s

works of art, they developed a model that “is

everything they had on As You Like It. And I was

seeking additional information. Thus, Belkin’s theory

words. From there, an actor may begin to ask “Why

dynamically interactive with multiple feedback

reading one…it made me so angry I threw it across

can see us through the initial phase of an actor’s

am I saying this? Why am I doing this?” and begin to

loops” (182) and shows creativity occurring across a

the room! And then I went ‘Wait – anger’s good. It

process in identifying gaps in knowledge, but

develop and test likely explanations during

span of time “rather than being actualized at a single

means you must know something. Why does it make

becomes less useful in describing an actor’s

rehearsals (Trumbull). This positions actors as

point in time” (189).

you angry?’ And that was a really big breakthrough

continuing process of seeking out the information

theorists, and aligns their behavior with another

needed to resolve these anomalies.

assumption of Dervin’s (1999) methodology: that

example of the importance Dervin places on all

individuals are, by nature, developers of theories. As

experiences used in sense-making. She emphasizes

It is clear from these examples that actors are

play, from memorizing dialogue to developing

a production nears its opening night, actors may

the roles of social context and emotions, which are

actively engaged in a process best described by sense

characters, is best analyzed through the sense-

become more focused on questions such as “How do

inherent to the collaborative process of acting.

-making methodology. Actors continuously bridge

making methodology developed by Dervin (1992),

I convey this to the audience?” This moves them into

Olsson’s (2010) interviews showed that actors saw

knowledge gaps in diverse ways in which emotional

and vice versa. In his 2010 study of actors making

another aspect of sense-making in which

their sense-making as a social endeavor and

and social contexts assert at least as much primacy as

sense of Shakespearean texts, Michael Olsson

“information” is considered as a verb and it is

described interactions with others (actors, directors,

cognitive methods of seeking and knowing.

embraces this idea, noting that actors’ focus on an

reasonable to expect multiple outcomes, seeing

technicians) as being the most useful sources of

ongoing, often-changing, sense-making journey

outcomes as a part of rather than the end of a

information. In particular, he found that informal

highlights the holistic nature of sense-making

process. There are many ways to play any role, and in

exchanges with colleagues were looked to as more

methodology in a way that other information

fact throughout the run of a live performance, actors

favorable for character development than formal

behavior studies have neglected. In fact, Dervin

may slightly modify their performances,

sources of information. Similarly, in their study of

(1999) might have been describing actors and acting,

experimenting with character choices, and

the research process of students at California

limited only to the time they spend in rehearsal and

rather than sense-making, when she wrote

experience new outcomes within their performance.

Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Gatten and Bryant

performance. Because actors are typically under

(2010) found that students viewed the research

contract for single productions at a time, they must

Actors’ process of constructing the world of a

This is not to suggest that constructing the world

Sense-Making thrusts itself between chaos and

I went to the university library…and got out

for me. (Portia, actor) (250)

Actors’ sense-making process is also an excellent

Professional Development “There’s no people like show people” Irving Berlin, Annie Get Your Gun Actors’ professional social interactions are not

order, structure and person, facts and illusions,

of a play is a linear process with momentary

process as a highly social one and prized personal

constantly work to develop connections with theaters

external worlds and inner, universals and

information gaps that are tidily bridged and moved

interactions as part of this process. Actors also spend

and other professionals who they hope to work with

particulars. Sense-Making posits reality as ordered in

past. As Dervin posits about humans, actors are

a significant amount time focusing on the emotional

in the future. This networking, as well as the shared

part, chaotic in part, evolving in part. Sense-Making

rather “involved in a constant journey through sense-

aspect of sense-making. Because their goal is to

experience of working in the field, creates a

assumes a human being that is also ordered in part,

makings and sense-unmakings” (1999, 731). The

present emotionally complete and believable

community that clearly exemplifies Savolainen’s

chaotic in part, evolving in part. (730)

rehearsal process is just that: a process, at times

performances, they take great note of how emotions

(2009) synthesis of Chatman’s and Fisher’s theories.

torturous, of exploring ideas for characters, noting

influence their understanding of a role.

At each step of the process, actors engage in

what works and what is still missing, and trying,

sense-making. The first step in beginning to


It is relatively simple to identify actors as a small

Olsson (2010) includes a fascinating quote from





world population. They are frequently viewed by the

bit flamboyant. As seen in Olsson’s study, actors also

often constants as well. Actors often describe

non-actor general public as an insular, and often

exhibit behavior in line with Chatman’s (2000) fifth

themselves as being their own instrument, artistic

“To all the dumb chumps and crazy broads—past,

eccentric, group. They share a common but

and sixth proposition of life in the round: they will

journeymen bringing their tools with them wherever

present, and future—who thirst for knowledge and

specialized language and culture, which create

rarely seek out information from sources outside

they go: their voice, their body, their mental abilities.

search for truth…”

legitimized others that define the boundaries of

their world. This behavior was also found by

One can also imagine actors like hermit crabs:

behavior within their world (Chatman 2000). The

Medaille (2009) when she interviewed professional

carrying their information grounds with them like

acting community also fulfills Chatman’s other

theater artists about their information seeking

homes on their backs and setting them up wherever

propositions that make up her theories of life in the

behaviors. She found that 89 percent of respondents

they go. Thus, rehearsal halls and dressing rooms

to provide a wealth of data for studies of information

round and normative behavior. Through their

learned of new job opportunities through colleagues

become information grounds as each group of actors

behaviors. Not only do they represent a small world,

specialized knowledge of plays and stagecraft, and

and friends within the theater community.

move into these spaces for the process of mounting a

as defined in Chatman’s work, but in the profession

performance. Although these spaces are not

of acting, individuals are constantly initiating and

Upon first encountering the lives of professional

the commonality of practices used to create


Garson Kanin, Born Yesterday The community of actors is uniquely positioned

performances, actors have created a worldview which

actors, one is likely to note a certain nomadic quality.

expressly designed for the purpose of sharing

continuing sense-making activities in a way that

they take largely for granted.

Not unlike the travelling troupe of actors enlisted by

information, actors often report that some of the

other professions do not. If we consider that each

Hamlet to unseat a king, modern actors often move

most insightful information they receive comes by

person, throughout their life engages in behaviors to

artists, one will often find actors segregating

from one job to the next, at theaters across the

way of casual conversations with their peers. This is

make sense of their everyday life, then consider the

themselves to enthusiastically “talk shop”, and many

country, rarely staying in residence for longer than

especially true of inexperienced actors having the

actor’s process. Each time they begin a new

actors will admit they find it difficult to socialize

the run of a single play. This vagabond lifestyle may,

chance to interact informally with more seasoned

production they are essentially delving into the life of

outside their social milieu. They share a specialized

on its surface, seem to lack the rootedness it takes to

professionals, listen to their tall tales, and learn from

a new person (character) and must engage in sense-

professional language that can be difficult, if not

form communities that can foster information

their experiences.

making for a new set of everyday life circumstances.

impossible, for an outsider to decipher. Actors can

grounds. However as Savolainen (2009)

spend hours discussing beats, and blocking (neither

demonstrates, information grounds need not solely

constitute small worlds and information grounds as

information-seeking process. It may not serve any

of which have anything to do with fighting another

be defined by physical space. In fact, Fisher, Landry,

both spatial and social. Actors’ small worlds include

specific information need to find out how a woman

person), and their most recent productions of

and Naumer (2007) define an information ground as

an expectedly limited range of physical spaces. When

in the 18th century would lace a corset, but an actor

“Godot” or “R and J”, using a kind of agreed-upon

a people-place-information trichotomy, in which

not in a rehearsal space or in the theater itself, actors

playing such a character may still encounter this

jargon unique to their community. Within this

individuals’ perspectives play a significant role in

often identify “the bar”, a specific and singular bar

piece of information and that knowledge may help

worldview, certain behaviors and social norms are

forming such “locations.” While actors are rarely in

that is typically adjacent to the theater, which is the

the actor feel she has a more informed

expected and valued, both expectations relating to

the same physical space for very long, one sees

only acceptable place for the actors and their friends

understanding of her character’s life. By further

work (how to prepare for auditions, rehearsals, or

continuity in the individuals themselves who often

to socialize. These spaces also are in line with the

study of this unique profession’s information

performances) and social settings. Common social

work together in different spaces and on different

definition of an information ground, as a physical

behaviors, researchers stand to develop a greater

behaviors for actors typically include being open to

projects over time. Additionally, while the locations

space in which information sharing is a secondary

understanding of the ways in which people interact

new experiences, being outgoing, and often being a

may be different, the types of physical spaces are

and often serendipitous event (Pettigrew 1999).

with information. It is comfortable to think of

Even when in social settings that include non-


Savolainen conceptualizes the factors that

To this end, actors often engage in a less-purposeful





information transactions as being clearly defined, a

ways. The study of actors then can be of great benefit

reference question resulting in an answer, an

to the literature that seeks to understand these

anomalous state of knowledge being resolved by new

behaviors, particularly the ways in which this

understanding. The reality, however, is aptly

interaction with information is an ongoing process

described by Dervin, Chatman, and Fisher as being a

with a very blurry (if any) beginning, middle, and

continuous process of learning, seeking, and


Nelson, Joe. “Removed paintings from San Bernardino County Government Center spur allegations of censorship.” San Bernardino County Sun, September 25, 2013. Accessed January 13, 2015. Olsson, Michael. 2010. “All the World’s A Stage – the Information Practices and Sense-Making of Theatre Professionals.” Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services 60: 241-52. doi: 10.1515/libr.2010.021.

absorbing information in an almost infinite variety of

Pettigrew, Karen. 1999. “Waiting for chiropody: contextual results from an ethnographic study of the information behaviour among attendees at community clinics.” Information Processing & Management 35: 801-17. doi: 10.1016/S0306-4573(99)00027-8


Pettigrew, Karen, Raya Fidel, and Harry Bruce. 2001. “Conceptual frameworks in information behavior.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 35: 43-78.

Belkin, Nicholas. 1980. “Anomalous states of knowledge as a basis for information retrieval.” Canadian Journal of Information Science 5: 133-43. Berlin, Irving. 1990. Annie Get Your Gun. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation. Chatman, Elfreda. 2000. “Framing Social Life in Theory and Research.” Keynote address at the annual Information Seeking in Context conference, Goteborg, Sweden, August 16-18. Dervin, Brenda. 1992. “From the mind's eye of the user: The sense-making qualitative-quantitative methodology.” In Qualitative research in information management, edited by Jack D. Glazier and Ronald R. Powell, 6-84. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Savolainen, Reijo. 2009. “Small world and information grounds as contexts of information seeking and sharing.” Library & Information Science Research 31: 38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2008.10.007. Stoppard, Tom. 2010. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. New York: Samuel French, Inc. Stubbs, Ryan. 2012. “Public Funding for the Arts: 2012 Update.” GIAReader 23. Accessed January 13, 2015. http:// Trumbull, Dr. Eric W. “Introduction to Theatre – The Actor.” Last modified January 4, 2008. eli/spd130et/acting.htm.

Dervin, Brenda. 1999. “On studying information seeking methodologically: the implications of connecting metatheory to method.” Information Processing and Management 35: 727-50. doi: 10.1016/S0306-4573(99)00023-0. Fisher, Karen, Carol Landry, and Charles Naumer. 2007. “Social spaces, casual interactions, meaningful exchanges: 'information ground' characteristics based on the college student experience.” Information Research 12: 291. Frayn, Michael. 2001. Noises Off. New York: Samuel French, Inc. 20off.pdf. Gatten, Jeff and Mike Bryant. 2010. “Rock the CASBAH: CalArts’ Student Behaviors and Habits.” Art Documentation: Bulletin Of The Art Libraries Society Of North America 29: 63-9. Kanin, Garson. 1945. Born Yesterday. New York: Gardenside Theatre. Kuhlthau, Carol. 1991. “Inside the search process: information seeking from the user's perspective.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 42: 361-71. Mace, Mary-Anne and Tony Ward. 2002. “Modeling the Creative Process: A Grounded Theory Analysis of Creativity in the Domain of Art Making.” Creativity Research Journal 14: 179-92. Medaille, Ann. 2009. “Creativity and craft: the information-seeking behavior of theatre artists.” Journal of Documentation 66:327-47. doi: 10.1108/00220411011038430.






You Can’t Backstab with a Ballista

game world creates a magic circle where its

information gaps require players to bridge them with

boundaries form a barrier between their knowledge

new knowledge in order to understand the game

of the real world and the fantastic social-information

world (Dervin, 1992; Harviainen & Lieberoth, 2012).

environment created for the game (Harviainen &

In this example, the sense-making exercise started

Lieberoth, 2012). The game master (GM) is both the

with other players expressing their

created by the game rather than what is found in the

designer and controller of the game world and the

misunderstanding of how the troll could throw his

real world (Harviainen, 2007; Harviainen &

information contained within it. Knowledge in the

coin faster than a speeding bullet in response to

Lieberoth, 2012).

game is subject to the GM’s imagination and will

being attacked by a street gang in the game world.

differ from the players’ understandings from outside

Initially, the troll player simply stated that their

of information seeking behavior in the real world

the game. As a result, players are often confronted

character was operating under the rules of the game

work within the magic circle of an RPG using

with gaps in information as the rules of the game

even if that did not make sense in the real world.

examples from my own experience as a player.

world clash with their own experiences from outside

Dervin’s Sense-making Theory (Dervin, 1992),

this magic circle (Harviainen, 2007).

Information Behavior in Role-playing Games Frank Branch, MLIS

Game Master: You’re going to backstab him with a ballista? Player: Uh huh. Game Master: With a fucking siege weapon. Player: Uh huh. Game Master: There has to be a rule against this. … There is nothing against it in the rules. … I can’t believe I am doing this … Well that’s 264 points of damage. You splatter Hunk all over the common room … (Rosenblum, 2002, 4:25 min.)

This paper explores how several existing models

This scene from “The Gamers” is common across

As described by Dervin’s model, these

and the information inside the game world. The

However, the information coming from the player could not be completely trusted because the player’s interpretation benefited their own character.

This divergence of knowledge creates the kind of

the living rooms of over two million avid role-players

Byström and Järvelin’s Theory of Task Complexity in

a month ("Tabletop Role-Playing Game," 2014). The

Information Seeking (Byström & Järvelin, 1995), and

dissonance Dervin describes, in her Sense-making

This created another information gap regarding the

popularity of role-playing games (RPG) has

Lihui et al. Sender-Receiver Framework of

theory, as an information gap (Dervin, 1992). For

credibility of the player provided information. The

skyrocketed with the advent of the massively multi-

Knowledge Transfer (Lihui, Xianjun, & Whinston,

example, the game Shadowrun (Boyle, 2008) puts

GM ultimately needed to provide additional

player online role-playing game (MMORPG). The

2005) can all be applied to the various parts of the

the player into a dystopian future where high

knowledge for the game to proceed. In this case, the

MMORPG has opened up the same kinds of

information-seeking behavior demonstrated by

technology and magic exists simultaneously. In this

rule book served as the ultimate authoritative source

immersive fantasy worlds that I experienced on the

players playing an RPG. The paper will then propose

world, there are trolls, orcs, elves, dwarves and magic

to confirm the player’s information. The troll player

tabletops of friends’ homes since I was fifteen to over

a new model that combines the relevant aspects of

powers existing in combination with objects from our

proceeded to throw his quarter according to the

fifty million players online (Schutte, 2012). These

these models into a single one providing a more

own world such as guns and computers. In one game

altered laws of physics in the game world. In terms

games form an information environment that

complete explanation of the information seeking

I participated in, a player created a troll character

of Dervin’s model, an information gap was created by

Harviainen describes as a magic circle. Inside the

behavior exhibited by those players. Finally, the

that with a magic power could throw a coin harder,

the difference between information about magical

circle commonplace knowledge, such as the laws of

implications for using this model to explain

further, and more accurately then an expert

powers versus knowledge of real physics; the gap was

physics, is not applicable; knowledge is controlled by

information seeking behavior in other environments

marksman could fire a pistol in either the real or

bridged twice by different sources, and finally the

the game; and you navigate the world using game

similar to those found in RPGs is reviewed.

game world. This situation is a good example of

information was used to kill a street gang. This example does reveal a couple of issues in

information gaps in action because the common

mechanics rather than your real skills (Harviainen,

Making Sense in RPGs

2007; Harviainen & Lieberoth, 2012). In these magical circles, typical information seeking and

RPG participants are constantly confronted with

giving behaviors are manipulated by the situations

gaps between their knowledge from the real world 18 

understanding of the laws of nature differs

applying Dervin’s model directly to RPGs. First,

drastically from what is experienced in the game

Dervin does not deal explicitly with situations where

narrative (Harviainen, 2007).

there is an asymmetric balance in power between the 19 




information giver and the information receiver that

to the players. Players often make their information

creates mistrust. In this example, was the player

needs more complex when simpler information can

lying? Given the magic circle effect in the game, how

be used instead (Harviainen, 2007; Harviainen &

would a player know? Dervin explains this with

Lieberoth, 2012). Byström and Järvelin’s Theory of

successive bridging attempts until sense-making is

Task Complexity in Information Seeking is often

complete, but that does not satisfactorily explain how

used to explain the choice of more complex

the information comes to be trusted by the other

information seeking behaviors over simpler ones.

players (Dervin, 1992).

The model illustrates how personal and situational factors can add complexity to apparently simple

Second, Dervin doesn’t explain why the troll chooses to explore throwing a magic coin when there

tasks by increasing the level of information needed to

is information about many other possible alternative

deal with them above what is needed to complete the

actions within the game. This example created

tasks (Byström & Järvelin, 1995, p. 197). For example, I played a greedy merchant

multiple potential tasks, courses of action, and potentially different information gaps for each. For

character in a campaign of the Star Wars Role-

example, the troll was a huge physically imposing

playing Game (Slavicseck, Collins, & Wicker, 2002).

character that could just as easily sliced the gangers

In the game, the players were escaping from a prison

head off with the razor sharp axe he was carrying.

ship and my character was confronted with a

RPG game sessions consist of many distinct choices

situation where I could choose to kill an injured

where multiple different information gaps appear

guard or leave them immobile while escaping. A

simultaneously (Harviainen, 2007). Why did the

simple analysis of the task reveals only the goal of

there were no consequences for evil enforced by

and not just looking at the objective situation alone

troll not pursue information about using their axe?

escaping the ship and a single situational factor of an

game mechanics. For me, the task was not to simply

(Byström & Järvelin, 1995).

How and why do players pursue some information

injured trooper with no ability to prevent the players

escape but to do so in the most evil way possible.

gaps and not others when presented with multiple

from escaping. Additional complexity can be found by using the

choices? Dervin’s model does not seek to explain any

However, the model does not explain any issues

The now more complex task required more

associated with an asymmetric balance of power in

information about the situation in order to be

the information exchange. In this example, the

of these questions (Dervin, 1992), but simply

Byström and Järvelin model’s full range of factors

completed. I had to find out how many Dark Side

information provided by the GM was deliberately

explains what happens once a choice is made.

including a person’s internal goals and motivations.

points (a measure of evil in the game) I would earn

inaccurate. The GM indicated I could earn two Dark

In this example, my personal factors and motivations

for unnecessarily killing the trooper, how long it

Side points by killing an injured man; it would take

contributed the additional complex information

would take, and if taking that time would affect my

me six extra turns to do it and there was no other

needs. I was playing a character immune to the

ability to escape and complete the original task. The

troopers around to stop me. The GM lied to me and

negative game effects of being evil that come from

Byström and Järvelin model explains this additional

then added more troopers to fight my way through

the Dark Side of the Force. I was trying to see how

complexity by dissecting all the factors involved in

as a punishment for my evil act.

bad the character could behave in the game when

the information need associated with a given task

The Importance of Tasks in RPGs The complexity of the information needed to execute a game task does not always correspond to the purely objective factors of the situation presented


The Byström and Järvelin model focuses only on 21 




additional factors that add complexity generated

ascertain the value of information being exchanged

aboard the ship. We were provided complete

found in a game’s magic circle (Harviainen, 2007;

from the information seeker. It fails to take into

before “buying” it. Their model proposes that an

blueprints, access codes, etc. by Mr. Smith, the

Harviainen & Lieberoth, 2012; Wooldridge, 2012).

account that the information sender might have a

economic game is played between the information

character the GM used to send information to the

However, the complexity these norms play in

similar set of factors that might lead them to mislead

receiver and sender in situations where one party has

players. None of the players believe the information

information exchanges can be explained by the

the information seeker when providing the

more knowledge about the subject than another. The

being provided was true and refused to investigate

personal factors found in Byström and Järvelin’s

information (Byström & Järvelin, 1995) or how a

receiver does not know enough about the subject to

because they were convinced the situation was a trap.


player might determine the accuracy of the

determine if the information being provided is valid

The GM needed to add value to the signal to get

information provided. In this example, the GM

(of high value) or invalid (of low value). As a result,

the players to accept the information and engage in

provided misleading information based on their own

the sender does more than simply package

the game narrative. The GM added additional

personal desire to punish a player for an evil act

information to be sent to the receiver, but must also

information to the original content about how much

explain part of the information behavior found in

when the game’s rules failed to provide any

add a signal about the validity of the knowledge

the weapons were worth, that there was additional

RPGs, none of the models do a complete job of

consequences to their character.

being transferred.

cash on the ship in a safe, Mr. Smith’s impeccable

explaining the complexity of information seeking and

reputation as a character in the game, and eventually

giving behavior found in the magic circle.

by the sender, such as their reputation, external

the combination to the safe in an effort to provide

Combining elements of each of these models into a

incentives or emotional pleas. The added value is

enough value for the players to accept the original

new model can explain this increased complexity.

intended to convince the receiver the information is

information about the yacht. In terms of the Lihui et

This new model can be broken down into a three step

of high value. The receiver will only accept the

al. model, the GM was increasing the signal by

information flow.

information when they perceived value exceeds some

adding incentives so the players would evaluate the

internal price they may not even be consciously

information as being of high enough value to “buy” it

information gap as the result of some dissonance

aware of (Lihui et al., 2005). A number of studies

(Lihui et al., 2005).

between the game world and the real one that

This signal consists of some investment of value

Asymmetric Information Exchange in RPGs It is not uncommon for GMs to lie about or hold back information from their players as in the previous example. The GM has a disproportionate amount of power in information exchanges inside a game’s magic circle because they act as the designer of the world, controller of the game, and arbiter of

have shown that both competitive and cooperative

the rules. As a result, the GM always has more knowledge than the players about the game’s world, its rules and its evolving story narrative (Harviainen, 2007). As a result, most information seeking and providing behavior found in RPGs is asymmetric in nature. Knowledge Transfer attempts to explain this type of information imbalance using Game Theory methods borrowed from the field of economics. They describe the transfer of knowledge to be a marketplace where information senders and receivers are attempting to 22 

A New Model Although each of the explored models can

First, the information seeker forms an

In this example, the players never accepted the

requires sense-making. The complexity of the

knowledge sharing is often dictated by this kind of

information as valid and declined to take on the

information needed to bridge the gap is determined

information exchange (Chua, 2003; Cyr & Choo,

game task. The Lihue et al. model accurately

by various factors including the task (e.g. escaping an

2010; Ghobadi & D'Ambra, 2011) and it occurs

predicted the GM’s signaling behavior in this

Empire prison ship), personal factors (e.g. a desire to

regularly in RPGs (Harviainen, 2007; Harviainen &

example, but failed to account for the social norms

play an evil character), situational factors (e.g. being

Lieberoth, 2012).

around consensus decision making. RPGs create a

jumped by a street gang) and social norms (e.g. the

strict set of social norms that are part of the bonding

need for player consensus before information is

Modern (Slavicseck, Grubb, Redman, & Ryan, 2002)

experienced while playing in the game world

actionable). To bridge the gap, the seeker formulates

where the GM had created an elaborate scenario

(Harviainen & Lieberoth, 2012). Models based on

a query by applying filters derived from these factors

aboard a yacht anchored in a marina owned by a

game theory often fail to account for the effects of

such as game rules (e.g. ability to throw a quarter

local gangster. Our player group was asked recover a

social norms on purely rational behavior, particularly

really hard), personal experiences (e.g. GM lying

cache of illegal weapons that were supposed to be

where social norms have chaotic inputs like those

about more troopers on the way) and proposed usage

For example, I was playing in a game of D20

Lihui et al. Sender-Receiver Framework of






of the information itself (e.g. to determine if they

should just leave the injured trooper) otherwise the

information environment with foreign social norms,

information markets, and complex tasks will benefit

should attack the yacht). The query once it is

information is assimilated by the information seeker

personal biases, and parties with unequal access to

from using a model that can more accurately explain

formulated is sent to the information giver in the

and the dissonance caused by the gap vanishes.

information. These information environments show

information behavior in these situations. Additional

similar cooperative/competitive characteristics with

research should be conducted using this model in

the magic circle of an RPG (Ghobadi & D'Ambra,

these situations to validate its approach, determine if

2011; Harviainen, 2007; Harviainen & Lieberoth,

there is broader applicability than just RPGs, and

form of one or more questions (e.g. How many Dark


Implications and Conclusion

Side points do I get if I kill the trooper?). Second, the information giver reviews the query

RPGs create a magic circle where knowledge

and packages up their knowledge in the form of

about the real world clashes with the rules of the

2012; Lihui et al., 2005). Any information

how based on this model information services can be

information to answer the questions. However, the

game world. Thus, players have information gaps

environment dealing with foreign world views,

improved in these environments.

information provided is never as straightforward as

that need to be bridged to play the game. Multiple

combinations of cooperative and competitive

the query would suggest. Instead the giver injects

existing models can account for the sense-making

additional complexity into the answer by adding

activity, information task complexity, or asymmetric

filters derived from additional factors such as

information exchanges found in these magic circles.

personal motivations (e.g. the desire for a story

However, they do not completely explain the

driven setting), situation (e.g. having storm troopers

behavior of information seekers and givers in RPGs.

in reserve if the player doesn’t make a quick get-

The proposed new model does account for this

away), and social norms (e.g. desire to have a game

information behavior by incorporating the relevant

free of personal conflicts). The information is then

elements from models by Dervin, Byström &

passed through those filters and a signal is added to

Järvelin, and Lihui et al. into a single flow of

increase its ultimate value such as reputation or

information within a magic circle. For example,


validity signals in the D20 Modern game; sense-

Third, the information and the signal is delivered

making of the magical powers in Shadowrun;

back to the seeker (e.g. it is legal for the troll to throw

personal factors adding to the complexity of

their coin according to the rulebook). The

information seeking in the Star Wars game; and even

information is then filtered using the same factors

how it is not against the rules to use a ballista in a

used to create the original query in an attempt to

bar fight are all found inside the information flow of

determine the information’s value and assimilate the

the new combined model.

knowledge it contains (e.g. does the player believe

Tabletop RPGs are not the only situation were

References Boyle, R. (2008). Shadowrun (4th ed.). Seattle, WA: Catalyst Game Labs. Byström, K., & Järvelin, K. (1995). Task complexity affects information seeking and use. Information Processing & Management, 31, 191-213. doi: 10.1016/0306-4573(94)00041-Z Chua, A. (2003). Knowledge sharing: a game people play. Aslib Proceedings, 55(3), 117-129. doi: 10.1108/00012530310472615 Cyr, S., & Choo, C. W. (2010). The individual and social dynamics of knowledge sharing: an exploratory study. Journal of Documentation, 66(6), 824-846. doi: 10.1108/00220411011087832 Dervin, B. (1992). From the Mind's Eye of the User: the Sense-Making Qualitative-Quantitative Methodology. In J. D. Glazier & R. R. Powell (Eds.), Qualitative Research in Information Management (pp. 6-84). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. Ghobadi, S., & D'Ambra, J. J. (2011). Coopetitive knowledge sharing: an analytical review of literature. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(4), 307-317. Harviainen, J. T. (2007). Live-action, role-playing environments as information systems: an introduction. Information Research, 12(supp.), 1-12. Harviainen, J. T., & Lieberoth, A. (2012). Similarity of social information processes in games and rituals: Magical interfaces. Simulation & Gaming, 43(4), 528-549. doi: 10.1177/1046878110392703 Lihui, L., Xianjun, G., & Whinston, A. B. (2005). A sender-receiver framework for knowledge transfer. MIS Quarterly, 29(2), 197219. Rosenblum, J. F. (Producer). (2002, Feb 24, 2014). The Gamers: Chapter 2. [Streaming] Retrieved from http://

there are no other troopers around). That knowledge

complex tasks and social environments can create a

Schutte, W. (2012). The Global MMO Market; Sizing and Seizing Opportunities. Retrieved Feb 24, 2014, from http://

is then reassessed against the original information

magic circle where the knowledge of a user’s world

Slavicseck, B., Collins, A., & Wicker, J. (2002). Star Wars Roleplaying Game (Revised ed.). Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast.

gap. If it does not bridge the gap or it is determined

conflicts with the understanding of the situation. For

Slavicseck, B., Grubb, J., Redman, R., & Ryan, C. (2002). D20 Modern Roleplaying Game. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast.

not to be of value then the process starts all over

example, businesses interested in the Chinese

again (e.g. the GM might be lying so the player

market often have to deal with a complex

Tabletop Role-Playing Game. (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved Feb 24, 2014, from


Wooldridge, M. (2012). Does game theory work? IEEE Intelligent Systems, 27(6), 76-80. doi: MIS.2012.108  25 




The Information Behavior of

Astrophysicists Gabbie Barnes, Dan Schrader, and Nicole Gustavsen , MLIS

“any research that is related to the field, but not tied

 A b s t r a c t

to a specific research question or problem.” Our goal

 Within the general subject area of the hard

being to understand how these professionals keep up

sciences, each field has a specific culture of

-to-date with one of the fastest-growing fields in the

information behavior which influences and is

hard sciences. We did not gather any data about the

influenced by the research that’s being done. In

information behavior of undergraduate astronomy

these rapidly changing times, fields must adapt their

students, nor did we gather data about how

research methods or fall behind, and perhaps no

astrophysicists research specific topics for projects.

scientific discipline is a better example of

Our user group is comprised of popular culture

successfully adapting to these changes than that of

icons such as Carl Sagan and Neil degrasse Tyson,

astronomy. One of the fastest-growing fields in the

but also everyday geniuses like those we interviewed.

hard sciences, modern astronomy is awash in

Astrophysicists ensure the safety of Earth, and

published research, and astrophysicists must learn to

consider human existence within the context of this

handle this information saturation or quickly lose

galaxy and ALL of the galaxies in the cosmos. Most

pace with the times and be left in the dust.

professional astrophysicists are connected somehow


to a research institute—either a university like the


UW, or a government agency, such as the National

The research question which we settled on, and

Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Our

which guided our work throughout the process of

research focused solely on the behaviors of faculty

conducting research and synthesizing results, was,

and professors within the Astronomy and Physics

“How do established astrophysicists at the University

department at UW, in order to make the research

of Washington (UW) keep up to date with

more practical for the purposes of our assignment.

developments in their field when they aren’t working

However, we believe that the general trends

on a specific project?” The focus of our analysis was

indicated in the literature review, as well as the

on the casual researching habits of practicing

results of our findings may be common to most

astrophysicists. We defined “casual research” as 26 

primary source of information seeking.

astrophysicists—more research is needed.

Sahu & Singh’s 2013 study of astrophysicists and


Literature Review

their information behavior found that, even with the

The information in this field is created and

majority of information being retrieved from

disseminated at an alarmingly rapid pace—what is

electronic resources, when it came to actual

written today can be obsolete information come

consumption, most of the participants preferred to

tomorrow. This is the nature of the speed at which

print out a physical copy. There are many limitations within the current

the galaxy is changing; therefore it can seem impossible to stay abreast of the most current trends

literature to be addressed in further study. First,

and conversations. In response to this overload,

current research does not differentiate between

astrophysicists have taken to a bottlenecked

specific disciplines within the hard sciences. While

information system to help facilitate the sharing and

understanding the behavior of the field as a whole

archival of this rapid-fire literature. It is important

has its merits, it does not account for the behavioral

to understand the information behavior of this group

nuances and varying information needs of each

because their solutions to information access,

group individually. Second, current research groups

retrieval, and storage may have profound effects on

students, faculty, and staff into one user group.

other fields and disciplines in the future.

However, clear distinctions between the research behaviors of individuals within a discipline based on

While the ways in which one can search for and access information has changed significantly over

academic rank may uncover significant differences in

time, the preference for interpersonal

behavior. Larger sample sizes and considerations for

communication in the field of astrophysics and

geography and culture may also increase the data’s

astronomy has steadfastly held its place at the top.

value. Following our own findings, further areas for

Interpersonal communication includes text messaging, attending conferences, face-to-face

research include: a user experience assessment of the

meetings (both in-person and mediated through

open access database interfaces, in addition to

video chat services), and informal email chains.

understanding effective systems for assessing

Cecilia Brown’s 1999 study of the information


behavior of scientists at the University of Oklahoma


found that monographs and print journals were the

Our fieldwork consisted of 3 distinct parts:

primary sources of information for scientists in most of the hard sciences. However, for our user group,

interviews, observation, and an online survey. The

interpersonal communication proved to be the

interviews were conducted with two faculty members 27 




from the University of Washington’s Astronomy

learn about new research than they do by searching

more than 11.2 million records covering publications

it can be verified and formally published. 

Department, and the Astrophysics subject librarian.

the internet for relevant information.

in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and the


arXiv e-prints” (SAO/NASA website, n.d.). This

Each of the interviews lasted 30-45 minutes-What makes astrophysicists vastly different from

conducted in the interviewee’s offices on campus. The observation was held at one weekly

most other user groups is the use of literature

employed by our user group in that it indexes peer-

departmental meeting that lasted for approximately

databases arXiv, Astrophysics Data System (ADS),

reviewed work, in addition to crowd-sourced,

one hour. The survey was distributed electronically

and VoxCharta, which act as open access e-print

endorsement papers hosted on arXiv.

and consisted of 25 multiple-choice, select-all-that-

archives. The most frequently used resource, arXiv,

apply, and fill-in-the-blank questions. We received

also known as Astro PH “is an openly accessible,

sources of information, serving the most basic needs

eighteen responses, representing 40% of the UW

moderated repository for scholarly papers in specific

of astrophysicists: quick distribution and open-

astronomy department.

scientific disciplines. Material submitted to arXiv is

access. To varying degrees, each database bypasses

expected to be of interest, relevance, and value to

the time-consuming process of formal peer-review,

those disciplines” (, n.d.). The site utilizes

utilizing more simple systems of up voting. The

The three main conclusions we drew from this

an endorsement system, which is not to be confused

entire system allows new research to reach the hands

research in answer to our initial research question

with peer-review, but does enables users to maintain

of astrophysicists more quickly and efficiently, while

were: (1) interpersonal sharing is vital, (2)

a relative level of credibility through crowd-sourced

maintaining at least a certain level of credibility until

experience plays an important role in research

quality control. Just anyone cannot upload to the

methods, and (3) the adoption of specialized

arXiv database unless another scholar--who has

databases has made sorting through the piles of

published on the same topic--endorses the

research being published every week a much more

contributor first. The second tool, VoxCharta, is a

manageable task.

companion tool for Astro PH developed at Harvard



University, aggregates papers from Astro PH and

Survey results indicated that the majority of astronomy faculty at UW considers interpersonal

asks users to “vote up” what they find most

communications at least somewhat important to

interesting in an effort to give credibility based on

their knowledge of the field. Personal interviews and

popularity. Our users used this tool primarily to act

observations confirmed this finding, with specific

as a democratic tool in choosing papers to discuss

examples of varying methods of sharing being either

during weekly literature review meetings. Lastly, the Astrophysics Data System “is a Digital

in-person or through some medium of technology. Similarly, survey results—supported by personal

Library portal for researchers in Astronomy and

interviews—indicated that as astrophysicists grow

Physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical

more comfortable within the professional culture of

Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. The ADS

their field, they rely more heavily on each other to

maintains three bibliographic databases containing 28 

Why it should matter to information

database serves as the most “official” e-resource

professionals how astrophysicists conduct casual research? The reason being that astronomy is one of the most information-intensive fields in the hard sciences, and the varying ways that astrophysicists

Together, these databases act as bottlenecked

have developed to deal with their information needs might help scientists in every discipline to conduct research—casual or otherwise—more efficiently and effectively. Astrophysicists aren’t information professionals by definition, but they can teach us a lot about solutions to information overload, a problem which is spreading to all academic disciplines and beyond, into the lives of everyone in the modern world.

References help. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2014, from Brown, C. M. (1999). Information seeking behavior of scientists in the electronic information age: astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, and physicists. Journal Of The American Society For Information Science, 50(10), 929-943. Hemminger, B. M., Lu, D., Vaughan, K. L., & Adams, S. J. (2007). Information seeking behavior of academic scientists. Journal Of The American Society For Information Science & Technology, 58(14), 2205-2225. doi:10.1002/ asi.20686 Jamali, H. R., & Asadi, S. (January 01, 2010). Google and the scholar: the role of Google in scientists' informationseeking behaviour. Online Information Review, 34, 2, 282-294. Jamali, H. R., & Nicholas, D. (2009). E-print depositing behavior of physicists and astronomers: An intradisciplinary study. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 35(2), 117-125. Jamali, H. R., & Nicholas, D. (2008). Information-seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers. Aslib Proceedings, 60(5), 444-462. Jamali, H. R., & Nicholas, D. (2010). Interdisciplinarity and the information-seeking behavior of scientists. Information Processing and Management, 46(2), 233-243. Sahu, H., & Singh, S. (2013). Information seeking behaviour of astronomy/astrophysics scientists. Aslib Proceedings, 65 (2), 109-142. doi:10.1108/00012531311313961 SAO/NASA ADS: ADS Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2014, from  29 




Investigating Neurodiversity in Academic Libraries

As students, getting acclimated to the information field involves understanding both research that has been done and also potential areas of

future inquiry.

Erica Trotter, Jenn Parent, Debra Pointer, Ashley Farley, MLIS

undergraduate degree, so it is essential to


understand how students with ASD interact with

There have been many studies on Autism

these resources. This study is a foundational effort to

Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but there is an apparent

expand knowledge concerning the information

lack of research that specifically investigates the

seeking behavior of individuals with ASD. Once a

information-seeking behavior of those on the

strong understanding is established, opportunities

spectrum (Anderson, 2014). Many universities,

may be uncovered for adaptive technologies and

including the University of Washington, provide

In this

therapies to improve any gaps found in library

opportunities for students with ASD to seek support

services or resources. This could lead to improved

for managing some areas of their disability in college,

teaching curricula, advising techniques, library staff

but it is unclear if they are marginalized in their use

training and adaptive technologies.

section, we identify three research areas ripe for future study. Will one

of academic libraries.

How do University of Washington

perspective that the affected students are in the best

of these be the next

undergraduate students with ASD utilize

position to reveal if gaps exist in library services. The

their academic library and library

lived experience of these students is the foundation

resources? How do these students perceive

for our work, and guides our research. This approach

their academic library and library

is best suited to qualitative methods because we are


exploring both actual patterns of behavior and the

big study?

Theoretical Perspective

This study is intended to address the following questions:

We are approaching this research from the

It is our view that the students’ perception of the

motivations that drive that behavior.

library directly affects their use of the library, so it is


important to investigate these issues concurrently.

The proposed study focuses on registered


undergraduate students of the University of Washington, Seattle campus, who are diagnosed with

The services and information provided by the

or self identify as falling somewhere on the autism

library are increasingly necessary to complete an 30 






and assistance in using resources available to all

has been monitored in children the number of

(Smith, 2007). Although there are organizations like


students. As little research exists in how students

children affected has more than doubled. In 2000, 1

the Association on Higher Education and Disability

with ASD interact with their university's resources

in 150 children were diagnosed with ASD, whereas

proposing numerous accommodations for students

our study is filling a very significant gap and could

by 2010 the rate increased to 1 in 68 children (CDC

with ASD (AHEAD, 1991) they are primarily

lead to creating ways to help ASD students perform

2014). This is a considerable jump from the 1990s

suggestions, meaning it is up to the college or

at their highest potential. Without a foundational

where there were only 31 documented cases per

university to interpret and determine what

study on how undergraduate students interact with

10,000 children (Nordin & Gillberg, 1996). This rise

“reasonable accommodations” need to be established

their university library and its resources it becomes

in documented cases may be attributed to

for their student population with ASD (Smith, 2007).

difficult for institutions to offer effective support for

considerable advances in early identification. Early

students. The results we obtain could satisfy gaps in

identification and intervention treatments of

supports needed by college students with ASD could

current literature as well as potentially inspire other

children with ASD will result in an increase of college

take the form of extended deadlines, extra time on

researchers to conduct similar investigations.

bound individuals with ASD (Wei et al. 2013).

exams, alternatives to group projects and

Literature Review

Currently, 35% of individuals with ASD have entered

assignments involving public speaking, separate

two- or four-year college programs (Shattuck et al.

locations for exams, tutors, note-takers or even

2012). A growing college population with ASD

coursework modifications (Gobbo and Shmulsky

necessitates the need for academic and personal

2012; Gelbar, Smith, Reichow, 2014). However, the

accommodations to aid in a successful educational

practical application of these supports remains


theoretical. Without considerable study into what

Our research also has some structural limitations. Since we are limiting our study to the Seattle campus of the University of Washington, we are losing the perspectives of students at the Bothell and Tacoma campuses. Furthermore, the potential sensitivities of our target population means that the measures we use to collect data (in this case a survey and an interview) must be carefully considered for tone, clarity, time, and environment, among other potential factors. Responses may be skewed if participants do not understand the questions or

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong

become uncomfortable and answer haphazardly in

developmental cognitive disability. In most cases the

an effort to end the process quickly.

cause is unknown. The spectrum is comprised of

We also face the ever-present limitations of time, space and funding. Training the interview team will

those diagnosed with autistic disorder, pervasive

take both time and resources. Finding an interview

development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-

space that puts our subjects at ease may impose

NOS), and Asperger syndrome. An individual with

constraints on our ability to conduct interviews.

ASD mostly exhibits deficiencies in social skills and

Because this research involves not only human

communication and can suffer from many symptoms

subjects but also a vulnerable population, we must

including hyperactivity, anxiety, and sensory

obtain Institutional Review Board approval. Finally,

sensitivities (CDC 2014). ASD is a single diagnosis,

we must actively work to eliminate any potential bias

yet because it is a spectrum disorder there are

in the research team due to either over or under

variations in severity and consistency of symptoms,

familiarity with the subject.

and each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses. Variability in symptoms leads to a need for a variety of techniques or therapies to be


implemented and made available to assist those with

Research has shown a rise in ASD diagnoses in

ASD in overcoming obstacles in everyday life.

all age groups and as these individuals attend college

The prevalence of autism is increasing at an

they might need an alternative approach to learning

alarming rate. In the relatively short time that ASD 32 

Authoritative studies have concluded that the

specific accommodations a university ASD

Accommodations are federally mandated for school age children through the Individuals with

population may require, the accommodations remain

Disabilities Education Act of 1975 (IDEA) which aims

general and may be out of sync with what the

to provide a free and appropriate public education

students need. Studies have not addressed if any

for disabled children that is equivalent to their non-

technological accommodations might be needed. Technological accommodations are common for

disabled peers with individualized supports (Iovanne et al. 2003). Once the student with ASD is enrolled in

those with disabilities through the United States

college or university they may also need to decide to

Access Board 508 Standards. These are in place to

receive support services through their disability

ensure access to technologies developed, bought,

resource office, as it most likely will be needed in

maintained or used by federal agencies. It is unclear

order to graduate (Wei et al. 2013). These supports

whether universities that receive federal funding fall

are also federally outlined in the United States

under this scope. Compliance with the standards by

Access Board 508 Standards ensuring access for

universities has been voluntary and not mandated,

adults with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities

which may be why there is a dearth of research on IT 33 




accessibility accommodations for ASD students at

undergraduate students in the library settings at the

universities. While a typical student at University of

University of Washington.

Washington is expected to learn and navigate various technologies in order to be successful without


technological accommodations, ASD students may

Our research helps to ameliorate a lack of

be being marginalized.

understanding of how undergraduate students with

Without needed supports there is a risk of

ASD use and perceive University of Washington

isolation and marginalization (Zager, Alpern 2010)

libraries and library resources. It can also be used to

(Adreon, Durocher, 2007). Inclusion in the college

impact practice within the University of Washington

environment is vital to the success of an ASD post-

library system as data gathered will be used to

secondary student and support is needed to ensure

identify areas for practical application of

socialization with peers due to their general lack of

accommodation practices which are not covered by

social and communication skills. It has been

the current ASD literature. In addition, this data will

determined that college success hinges on a student’s

be beneficial to all information

ability to engage in the college environment both

professionals. Although its primary significance

academically and through participation in organized

would be to academic librarians, we believe that the

learning opportunities and activities (Whitt et al.

data will give insight into missing or lacking services,

2008). Since library usage is key to a successful

skills, and tools for any librarians or libraries that

undergraduate experience at an university, research

serve ASD students. These insights will provide

is needed to determine what role libraries can play in

opportunities for other information professionals to

support of university students with ASD.

implement services or improve skillsets in areas that

Although research on ASD is expanding along

affect their service to ASD information

with the number of cases, research on ASD in college

seekers. Finally, this research study contributes to

context remains scarce. Most research has been

the ASD field literature by providing foundational

aimed at lower functioning ASD individuals and

data in an area that is under-studied. This study

those enrolled in early intervention programs

aims to be a starting point and model for other

through middle school (Gelbar et al. 2014). The

universities to conduct their own research and

majority of these students will most likely not be

contribute data towards filling the gap in the area of

attending a university. For those individuals with

ASD research around higher education-seeking

ASD that are higher functioning, this study hopes to


References Adreon, D., & Durocher, J. S. (May 01, 2007). Evaluating the College Transition Needs of Individuals with HighFunctioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42, 5, 271-279 Anderson, J. M. (2014). A qualitative inquiry into the two-year college experiences of students with autism spectrum disorder. Basit, Tehmina (Summer 2003), Manual or electronic? The role of coding in qualitative data analysis. Educational Research, 45, 2, 143-154 Gardiner, E., & Iarocci, G. (May 01, 2014). Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the University Context: Peer Acceptance Predicts Intention to Volunteer. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 5, 1008-1017. Gelbar, N. W., Smith, I., & Reichow, B. (January 01, 2014). Systematic review of articles describing experience and supports of individuals with autism enrolled in college and university programs. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 10, 2593-601. Gobbo, K., & Shmulsky, S. (January 01, 2012). Classroom Needs of Community College Students with Asperger's Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 36, 1, 40-46. Hart, J. E., & Whalon, K. J. (May 01, 2011). Creating Social Opportunities for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Inclusive Settings. Intervention in School and Clinic,46, 5, 273-279. Iovannone, R., Dunlap, G., Huber, H., & Kincaid, D. (September 01, 2003). Effective Educational Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 3 Logan, K. R., Bakeman, R., & Keefe, E. B. (January 01, 1997). Effects of Instructional Variables on Engaged Behavior of Students with Disabilities in General Education Classrooms. Exceptional Children, 63, 4, 481-498. Nordin, V., & Gillberg, C. (January 01, 1996). Autism spectrum disorders in children with physical or mental disability or both. I: Clinical and epidemiological aspects.Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 38, 4, 297-313. Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Cooper, B., Sterzing, P. R., Wagner, M., & Taylor, J. L. (January 01, 2012). Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics, 129, 6, 1042-9. Smith, C. P. (September 01, 2007). Support Services for Students with Asperger's Syndrome in Higher Education. College Student Journal, 41, 3, 515-531. Wei, X., Yu, J. W., Shattuck, P., McCracken, M., & Blackorby, J. (July 01, 2013). Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Participation Among College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 7, 1539-1546. Whitt, E. J., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Kuh, G. D. (July 01, 2008). Assessing Conditions to Enhance Student Success: How Six Campuses Got Started. About Campus, 13, 3, 9-18. Zager, D., & Alpern, C. S. (September 01, 2010). College-Based Inclusion Programming for Transition-Age Students with Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 25, 3, 151-157.

discover what supports are needed by ASD






Online Tutorials as Tools for Information Literacy Jessi ca Dawn Humphri es, Eri n Kennedy, Miri am Heard, Emily Yeaton, MLIS

Introduction Teaching technologies are continually evolving. minds and information that will educate them require continual evaluation and critique. The benefits of technological advances to the teaching profession have been apparent; however, to ensure promoting student learning, those who teach must take time to probe the appropriateness of technology’s use in the classroom. Since technology

instructions have students received outside of online

information literacies into their curricula (Houston

tutorials? How do students evaluate information they

16; Asselin 30). In particular, teachers lack the time

find during the online search process?

and necessary knowledge to impart these skills to their students (Purcell et al. 55). New strategies for

Prior to completing and analyzing our research, it

supporting teachers in information literacy

ocean of knowledge to find the information that best

Internet will have provided students with some

instruction, particularly in the absence of a

answers the questions being asked?

research skills. More refined techniques such as

collaborating library media specialist, could

using Boolean search terms and how to effectively

potentially bridge this skills gap among students. The literature reviewed contains a number of

interactive tutorials an effective instruction

evaluate online sources may need to be explicitly

tool for teaching high school sophomores

taught to students. Our goals are three-fold: (a) to

studies examining Internet search behaviors of

(age 15-16?) to search and evaluate web-

determine web-searching behavior of high school

middle and high school students. A survey to analyze

based information?

sophomores; (b) to evaluate the effectiveness of

Internet search strategies of high school students by

online tutorials on research and web searching; and

Scott and O’Sullivan found that students used only

tutorials are effective tools to teach high school

(c) to contribute to educational research in hopes of

basic search techniques to locate information (21).

students (ages 15-16) how to search for and evaluate

providing more resources to educators in the

The study revealed an inability among students to

web-based information. Previous research has shown

ongoing success of students.

create effective keyword searches, narrow searches,

We seek to evaluate and identify if online

these advances yield the utmost effectiveness in

shown that teachers struggle to integrate these

is our expectation that widespread access to the

Research Question: Are online,

The tools educators use to bring together young

growing up with Internet access? What existing

or determine the relevancy and reliability of the

that interactive tutorials have proven successful for

is ever evolving, the process of evaluation must

undergraduate students (Sachs et al.) and we hope to

mimic the tools it seeks to understand: it must be

find whether these results can be duplicated with

continually changing, developing and reflecting. Of all the new technologies currently available, the one that bears most reflection and evaluation is the Internet. The unprecedented scope for information storage and accessibility that the Internet offers provides both a huge opportunity and challenge to educators. The opportunities to improve learning have so many students had access to such boundless sources of information. Yet it is this vast scope that poses many challenges to the modern-day student. How does one begin to wade through the immense


by a 2009 study of ninth-grade students by

Middle and high school students’ lack of skill in

high school sophomores. Learning to effectively

finding and evaluating web-based information,

search the Internet is a skill that is becoming more

particularly as the use of Internet searches for

essential in today’s world. It is important that

information seeking has become prevalent among

effective searching and source evaluating skills are

this population, is a concern. In a 2012 study

taught to more than just those pursuing post-

conducted by Pew Research, it was found that

secondary education.

“teachers worry about students’ overdependence on

To discover the success of online tutorials in

that the Internet provides are clear; never before

information retrieved. These results are corroborated

Literature Review

Walraven, Brand-Gruwel, and Boshuizen, which concluded that students were concerned with finding information about a specific topic rather than assessing the information for reliability, with 82% of study participants admitting they rarely check information for accuracy (235). A 2014 study by Watson explored the criteria

search engines; the difficulty many students have

teaching sophomore students, many other questions

judging the quality of online information; [and] the

must be asked and answered. What do students’

general level of literacy of today’s students” (Purcell

searching patterns look like before, after, and

et al. 2). Despite acknowledging that instruction in

without an online tutorial? What sort of existing

using and analyzing electronic resources has become

knowledge have students gained from simply

a critical pedagogical issue, several studies have

high school students used to judge the relevance and reliability of web-based information. Watson determined that students sought the least challenging path to locate information, relying on the rankings of search engines to determine relevance. 37 




Watson noted that students used superficial criteria

time nor resources to adequately address

perform and evaluate web content when provided

will allow the researchers to observe the study

when evaluating the accuracy of information, such as

information literacy in their classrooms (29), a

with an online tutorial. Our results will follow on

subjects in their classrooms, eliminating the

the graphics of a website, URLs, and finding two

concern also noted in Pew’s 2012 study (Purcell et al.

questions and concerns noted in previous studies of

artificiality of a laboratory experiment. The use of

sources that agree (often with Wikipedia as a


high school students’ information literacy when

naturally occurring groups in the field strengthens

using the Internet.

the external validity of the study’s investigation of

Web-based tutorials present a possible solution

source). Alarmingly, he determined that students felt their intuition and “impressions of trustworthiness”

to these instructional dilemmas. A 2013 study

were sufficient criteria for incorporating information

showed that online, interactive tutorials have proven

into their projects (Watson 1401). These findings

successful in improving search practices and

echo the conclusions of a 2009 study by Julien and

information evaluation among college

Barker, which found that high school students

undergraduates (Sachs et al. 339). The study also

exhibited minimal understanding of “critical

noted that such tutorials have been used extensively

evaluation criteria such as authority, accuracy,

in public libraries, and have grown more effective

objectivity, currency, and coverage” (15).

with continued development, but did not include an assessment of their potential use in middle or high

Researchers have been working to identify

school settings.

effective methods for instructing students in finding

Throughout the literature and past studies, we

and evaluating information on the Internet. Asselin, Kymes, and Lam found that instruction was most

can gather that there is a distinct need to address

effective with frequent lessons guided by a teacher or

web-searching behavior early on in students to foster

librarian (Asselin, Kymes and Lam). Kules and Capra

effective search habits that the students will take

discovered in their 2012 study of college students

with them into later years. Previous investigation

that video training helped students utilize the facets

into the subject by our peers has resulted in the

of an online resource more (133). Barack’s 2014

overall discovery that college and high school

study found that students’ abilities to find and

students perform better when provided adequate

evaluate web-based information improved most

tools. As the focus of this study pertains to high

when they received instruction from both a teacher

school sophomores, our research aims to supplement

and a school librarian (14). However, these studies

past findings by providing insight into the search

do not offer suggestions for teachers who lack access

tendencies of high school aged students, specifically

to a certified library media specialist. Houston notes

sophomores. High school sophomores, given the

that teachers often have no training in information

rigor of their curriculum, will be required to conduct

literacy and find it difficult to articulate criteria for

research either independently, or as a group, at some

evaluating web-based information (14). A 2005 study

point in their learning. Our three-fold study will

by Asselin concluded that teachers had neither the

provide a breadth of knowledge as to how students 38 

online, interactive tutorial’s applicability in realworld settings (Wildemuth 94). Furthermore, the use

Research Methods

of already formed classes as the study’s units of

We will employ a nonequivalent control group

analysis will ease recruitment of subjects, the high

experimental design to determine whether an online,

school sophomore students, and ensure a relatively

interactive tutorial is effective in teaching high

stable study sample over the course of the

school sophomores to search and evaluate web-based


information for academic purposes. The research

A weakness of the nonequivalent control group

method will allow us to compare students’

design is the potential lack of functionally equivalent

information-seeking and evaluation behaviors across

groups as represented by the selected classes

two groups: an experimental group completing an

(Krathwohl 500). Because individual students will

online tutorial and a control group receiving no

not be randomly assigned to groups, there may be

supplemental instruction. The study sample will be

significant variation in the makeup of the classes,

drawn from two high school sophomore classes in

such as students’ past experience with web-based

one school, taught by the same instructor, with each

searches and socioeconomic status. The design’s use

class randomly assigned to either the experimental

of a pretest, or pre-treatment observation, will help

or control group.

to identify any variation between the experimental

As noted by Krathwohl, an experimental research

and control groups, and adjust our data analysis

method will provide the best evidence of a causal


relationship between the tutorial instruction and any improvement in students’ ability to find and evaluate


information on the Internet (501). While this design

Our aim in conducting this study is to provide a

does not offer the highest level of control achieved through random assignment of individual students

practical, applicable tool that will aid teachers and

into the experimental and control groups, it has

other educators in helping students learn to search

many attributes that make it particularly appropriate

effectively. We have found, in our literature review

for the study. A nonequivalent control group design

and preliminary efforts, that high school students





often exhibit behaviors when conducting online

studies with other groups would be helpful in


searches for educational purposes that lead them to

discovering the applicability and generalizability of

less trustworthy sources, or to evaluate trustworthy

such research.

Anderson, Stacy, and Emily Mitchell. “Life After TILT: Building An Interactive Information Literacy Tutorial.” Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning 6 (2012): 147-158. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

sources incorrectly. On the information thus far,

Second, we discussed earlier that similar

there is general consensus that these behaviors exist,

studies have been done with undergraduate college

and this lack of information literacy skills could

students, and part of our goal was to extend the data

affect the students’ education and ability to learn in

that has been gathered to include a younger group of

the future, both in further education and outside the

students. In addition, it seems potentially helpful to

bounds of high school or college. Our question,

continue extending that data to include middle

therefore, is how to go about solving this problem.

school, or even grade school students as well. Since

If our research concludes that the tutorial helps

the current generations of these students have grown

students learn to search in ways that will further

up with these Internet resources and have never

their education more effectively than the ways in

known school without them, they could exhibit

which they are currently searching, we believe we

search behaviors that other groups of students in the

will have accomplished something worthwhile. To be

past had never been able to access, and the findings

able to claim that the tutorial has been shown to be

of such studies could tell us more about the

helpful to some group of students, and could be

trajectory of Internet resource use by other, similar

helpful to others, is the eventual aim of this research.


This is not to say, however, that this research

As information professionals, we believe

would be the end of the line in this area of study. In

research of this nature to be of great importance. The

the future, we would love to see others build off our

path that information access and use has taken to get

research, particularly in a few key areas. First, our

to where it is now has been unpredictable in many

limited subject samples and methods could prevent

ways, leading to an under-serving of the information

applicability to other schools or populations of

literacy needs of the younger generation. In the

students, and the potential variance is significant.

future, it will be helpful to have a thorough

We acknowledge the possibility of questions such as

understanding of how students are likely to use the

whether the data would vary between socioeconomic

search tools provided to them, in order to figure out

groups, between grades, types of schools, location,

how to meet their needs and how those tools will

etc. To conduct similar experimental, tutorial-based

evolve over time.

Asselin, Marlene. “Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: An Examination of Trends in the Middle Grades.” School Libraries Worldwide 11.1 (2005): 17-36. Education Source. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Asselin, Marlene, Angel Kymes, and Virginia Lam. “A Critical Examination of Information Literacy Instruction During Grade 9 Research Projects.” Simile 7.4 (2007): 1-18. Library & Information Science Source. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Barack, Lauren. “Good Research Habits Pay Off.” School Library Journal 60.9 (2014): 14. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Houston, Cynthia. “Commonwealth Schools in the Information Age: The Status of Information Services in Kentucky Middle Schools.” School Libraries in Canada 26.3 (2009): 9-19. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Julien, Heidi, and Susan Barker. “How High-school Students Find and Evaluate Scientific Information: A Basis for Information Literacy Skills Development.” Library & Information Science Research 31.1 (2009): 12-17. ScienceDirect. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Krathwohl, David R. “Experimental Methods and Experimental Design.” Methods of Educational and Social Science Research: An Integrated Approach. 2nd ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 1998. 498-547. Kules, Bill, and Robert Capra. “Influence of Training and Stage of Search on Gaze Behavior in a Library Catalog Faceted Search Interface.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology 63.1 (2012): 114-138. Business Source Complete. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. Ping, Li. “Science Information Literacy Tutorials and Pedagogy.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 6.2 (2011): 5-18. Library & Information Science Source. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. Purcell, Kristen, Lee Rainie, Alan Heaps, Judy Buchanan, Linda Friedrich, Amanda Jacklin, Clara Chen, and Kathryn Zickuhr. “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World.” Pew Research Internet Project. 2014. Pew Research Center, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Sachs, Dianna E., Kathleen A. Langan, Carrie C. Leatherman, and Jennifer L. Walters. “Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Information Literacy Tutorials for Millennial Undergraduates.” Proving Value and Improving Practice: Assessment Strategies for the Small Academic Library. Spec. issue of College & Undergraduate Libraries 20.3-4 (2013): 327-351. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Scott, Thomas J., and Michael K. O’Sullivan. “Analyzing Student Search Strategies: Making a Case for Integrated Information Literacy Skills Into the Curriculum.” Teacher Librarian 33.1 (2005): 21-25. Education Source Publications. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Walraven, Amber, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, and Henry Boshuizen. “How Students Evaluate Information and Sources When Searching the World Wide Web for Information.” Computers & Education 52.1 (2009): 234-246. ScienceDirect. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. Watson, Curtis. “An Exploratory Study of Secondary Students’ Judgments of the Relevance and Reliability of Information.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 65.7 (2014): 1385-1408. Print. Wildemuth, Barbara, and Carol Hank. “Quasi-experimental Studies.” Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2009. 93-104.






Finding Gender Associations in Picture Books The focus of this study is the gendering of literature from a young age. The study will examine how children start to gender books, and what factors inform their decisions that certain books are more appropriate for one gender. Previous research has children. This study will gather data from preschoolaged children as they are forming their gender biases in literature.

While we acknowledge that book selections do not

gender, and can accurately apply their culture’s

happen in a vacuum and are tied to significant

gender expectations by the age of three (Freeman,

factors other than gender (e.g., race, class and

2007). External influences reinforce gender

culture), these other factors are not within the scope

stereotypes at young ages, as research on preschool

influences of peers, parents or teachers. Picture

of this study. To address these limitations, we will

toys has found (Cherney & Dempsey, 2010;

books refer to any book for young children with a

collect demographic data on each child’s family to

Weisgram, Fulcher & Dinella, 2014). Cherney and

visual narrative. Examples of gender-stereotypical

account for other variables, but further studies on

Dempsey found young children used color to assign

colors, themes and characters might include pastel

the impact of race and economics are recommended

gender to unfamiliar toys (2010). Weisgram et al.

and pink colors for girls, and bold or blue colors for

to gather a full scope of social factors involved in

(2014) not only found gender-specific toy marketing

boys; nurturing themes of love, romance and family

choosing books.

to preschoolers, but asserted that such practices hurt

What are common factors for children between 48 and 65 months of age, for determining a picture book is “for girls” or month-old children prefer books with gender -stereotypical colors, themes or characters? The age range is the youngest with dependable verbal skills, and reflects a common age range in a

directing them to build only skills and competencies

conforms to the aforementioned themes for each

experimental design that might introduce harmful

associated with toys for one gender.


stereotypes. However, the school environment

to any factor appearing to influence how a child designates a book as “for girls” or “for boys,” and may include colors, gender of main characters, or


Although sexism in picture books has diminished

setting could yield rich data, as well as commentary

(Worland, 2008), publishers are still finding success

observation and interview in this qualitative study,

about off-site influences, all of which can form a

by targeting books to either boy or girl readers

using a critical theorist paradigm. We operate under

foundation for future research and focused, safer

(Sellers, 2007), often indicated by color scheme. The

the assumption that our observations and values are


gender of the book’s main character is another

The importance of this study lies with further

important factor. In an Israeli study of coloring

that imposed gender stereotypes constitute a

awareness of the areas that may impact very young

books, children were found to make selections based

harmful false reality. We hope our findings may be

children in determining which books they choose to

on whether the book’s character was masculine or

used to neutralize or minimize gender stereotyping

read, with an aim to correcting or neutralizing

feminine, regardless of color scheme (Karniol, 2011).

of books at the youngest age possible.

influences that impose gender stereotypes, at as early

Other variables not necessarily related to gender, but

an age as possible. It is our hope that this research

that can influence a child’s book selection, are the

are only studying preschool-aged children in Seattle

could eventually inform teachers’ approach to

placement of the book in the library and whether or

metropolitan classroom environments. Factors that

literacy, media marketing to children, and the

not the child is familiar with the subject, series, or

may contribute to determining if books are “for girls”

programs that libraries endorse and create for

author (Reuter, 2007).

or “for boys” may vary greatly between different


Significant limitations of this study are that we

pre-Kindergarten classroom. Common factors refers

children’s social and cognitive development by

causation since ethical considerations preclude an

subjective within the context of social behavior, but

“for boys”? To what extent do 48-to-65-

Finally, we will not be able to determine

for boys; as well as main characters whose behavior

We will use combined methods of field

Our Research Questions are as follows:

During the preschool years, children form strong opinions about what behaviors are expected for their

for girls, and themes of independence or adventure

used only survey methods, or focused on older

observe all possible influences, including home environment, sibling behavior or media influence.

Emily Grantz, Allison Reibel, Kathl een S ullivan, Reed Garber-Pearson, MLIS


Literature Review

geographical locations. Further, we will not directly

Existing literature has shown that preschool





children of both sexes prefer stories that are

select books, but Reuter (2007) points out that much

this stage (testing negative, stereotype-reinforcing

appropriate classrooms including at least 15 children

consistent with the child’s gender identity (Kropp &

of this research has relied on surveys and not direct

influences) might actually introduce children to

who speak fluent English. The classroom size is large

Halverson, 1983). Boys prefer violent stories, girls

observation of children. Reuter’s research (2007)

harmful gender stereotypes. By carefully listening

enough to generate approximately 10 child and 10

prefer romantic ones, and these preferences

uses observation, but is specific to older children

and watching now, we may uncover promising

parent interviews per class, maintain a boy-girl split

strengthen as children get older and become more

browsing digital books. Previous research into

correlations or influences that can then be tested in

among child interviewees (i.e., 5 girls, 5 boys) and

attached to their gender identity (Collins-Standley,

gendering influences for very young children has

future, safer experiments, where intervention aims to

allow for one or two families who opt out of the

Gan & Yu, 1996). One of the biggest influences on

focused on toys rather than books. Our study

neutralize gender stereotypes rather than reinforce

study. We will divide the list by geographical sections

this preference is the reinforcing of it by peers, with

examines book behavior specifically, in the youngest


of the city to include various demographics, then

Baker-Sperry (2007) noting that a group of boys may

age group that is both vulnerable to gender-

perceive the reading of Cinderella as a feminizing

conditioning influence and verbally advanced

65 months of age, who live in urban areas and speak

section until we secure 15 sites where the school,

activity. Focus on peer reaction is especially true for

enough to discuss preferences.

fluent English. We want to catch gender association

classroom teacher and most families agree to

influences at the youngest possible age where

participate. (Researchers will work with cooperating

children have strong enough verbal skills to talk with

classroom teachers to contact parents, address

each other and with a researcher. The age range

concerns and secure consent, prior to any site visit.)

reflects that of a pre-Kindergarten preschool

We will visit as many sites and interview as many

classroom, excluding especially younger or older

subjects as needed to achieve saturation and

children in order to maintain developmental

sufficiency, and add more randomly chosen sites if

similarity. Urban residence and fluency in English


boys who may be seen as participating in feminine behaviors (Fagot, 1997). Children also anticipate that

Research Methods

items they have determined as belonging to their sex

This study uses a cross-sectional combination of

will be enjoyed by others in their group and that they

observation and interviews of young children, their

will be rejected by the opposite sex (Martin &

parents and their preschool teachers. Observation

Eisenbund, 1995).

allows us to gather information about children’s

Parents may also influence a child’s thoughts on

book behavior in a natural setting, without any

appropriate gender behavior without being aware of

leading interference (Westbrook, 2010), while

it. Freeman (2007) notes that even though many

interviews give us more controlled, specific

parents explicitly reject gender stereotypes, children

information about that behavior and inner thought

predict parents will apply such stereotypes when

processes (Patton, 2001) from children themselves

approving or disapproving of children’s choice of

and adults who are often nearby. This triangulation

activity or toy. Librarians and teachers can also have

gives us rich, comparative perspectives on the

unconscious influence by creating book lists

complicated interaction between children and books

specifically targeting boy or girl readers (Scott,

(Westbrook, 2010).


Although we ultimately seek a nomothetic

Our research synthesizes the previous literature

explanation for why young children associate a book

and fills a gap on the gender-related book behavior of

with boys or girls, ethical concerns preclude an

very young children, who are already forming gender

experimental design that is best for illuminating

identity. Previous research examined how children

nomothetic factors (Schutt, 2009). An experiment at

randomly select and contact a preschool from each

Our target population is children between 48 to

Since we are not gathering data for statistical

give the sample cultural consistency, as influences in non-urban and recent immigrant households may

significance or generalization, we will simply seek to

differ substantially from the broader urban

observe and interview equal numbers of girls and


boys, while gathering income, ethnic and other demographic data about children’s households. This

Individual children will be our units of analysis, while our observation setting will be a group

way we can compare our final sample with the

(preschool) environment. (The familiar environment

general preschool population, and possibly draw

allows for relaxed, natural interaction, along with

inferences for preschool children in culturally and

observation of peer influence on individual choices.)

demographically similar populations.

Interviews with children, parents and teachers will take place individually, in a semi-private space at the

Ethical considerations


Working with child subjects requires strict ethical

To select sites and recruit participants, we will

attention to their well-being. Following are measures

create a list of Seattle preschools with age44 





to avoid harm and minimize distress:


Gain parent/guardian consent prior to visiting

Research with young children comes with

the classroom, using email and generous lead time (2

inherent risks, particularly in interviews. Young

-3 weeks) so parents/guardians can address any

children may answer off-topic or broadly, or simply


not participate. Uniformity and attention to

Work with classroom teachers to make

children’s well-being also limits our ability to clarify

researchers’ classroom presence as neutral as

with probes (which can particularly upset or confuse

possible. Researchers should blend in and react

children). If unaddressed, these risks could inhibit

pleasantly if children approach, with an aim to

our ability to gather enough data or sufficiently

returning children to their natural everyday activity.

relevant data, a threat to validity.

Minimize disappointment about which children

Still, interviews are our best chance for

are picked for an interview. Teachers can show

understanding children’s inner thought processes,

children that picks are random (choosing names out

and can provide important data to compare with

of a cup, for example), and discreetly ask children to

observed behavior. We will attempt to minimize

step away for an interview during open playtime. All

interview complications through excellent design

children receive a new book at the end of the day

and researcher training, and through sufficient

regardless of participation.

sampling to allow for interviews that go awry.

Design child interview protocols and

A threat to reliability (or dependability) is the

environments to put the child at ease and in charge

extent to which our findings require researcher

as much as possible. Interviewers might sit side by

interpretation, which others might not share.

side with the child, for example, to avoid the

Observation especially presents the risk of over- or

appearance of interrogation, or have the child hold

under-interpreting certain behavior. Gender

the books and “guide” the researcher. The interview

association is a complicated behavior, rarely limited

space should allow the researcher and child to see

to one activity or influence. If insufficiently

others and be seen.

addressed, these risks would make our findings seem

Train researchers who interview children in

subjective to the point of irrelevance.

establishing rapport and neutralizing events that easily distress children, such as confusion or concern


over disappointing the interviewer.

We hope our research will establish promising

Establish clear guidelines for when children’s

correlations between outside influences (e.g., peers,

distress requires pausing or terminating interviews

parents, book characteristics) and gender association

or observation. 46 

with picture books in preschool-aged children. If we

intentionally involve elements such as race, class and

are able to provide compelling data on how often

economics to gather a holistic look at factors that

girls or boys choose gender-stereotypical books and

convene to impact socialization and how children

under what circumstances, or how often children

choose picture books.

verbalize that books are for one gender over another,

This research will provide a valuable extension of

we will have a sound basis for refined future research

existing literature that examines how preschool aged

and more enlightened practice by caregivers,

children assign gender to toys and unfamiliar toy

educators and information professionals.

objects. The theory that children will reject toys based on an assumed other-gendered intention is

By expanding understanding of gender conditioning and book behavior, this research has

thought to have a large impact on which skills girls

the potential to impact practice in educational

and boys will learn through their play (Weisgram et

systems and libraries that teach literacy to preschool

al., 2014). If this theory can be applied to book

children. Understanding that gender bias starts at a

selection as well, it will be an important addition in

young age -- and how it starts -- can help parents and

understanding how book selection can impact future

other caregivers who want to raise children free of

reading habits and future areas of interest. This

gender stereotypes. This is also beneficial to writers,

research will also be of interest to the existing “books

publishers, marketers, and librarians who are

for boys” discourse (Scott, 2014), which looks at why

committed to gender equality and who want children

boys are thought to read less than girls. If we can see

to be empowered to choose books regardless of

how gender affects children’s book choices in the

perceived gender norms.

preschool years, we can perhaps find some clues as to why their reading behavior further diverges as

This project provides a solid stepping stone for

they grow older.

further research into factors that impact the

The results of this research have several

gendering of picture books. Our study can form the foundation for future studies replicating these

implications for information professionals. The

methods in different geographic areas, or among

results could help librarians, such as those in schools

other demographic populations not included here,

or public institutions, to refine their storytime, book

such as recent immigrant households. Future

selection and book recommendation practices. It has

research can use our findings for safer experiments,

the potential to provide information to publishers

ones whose interventions attempt to neutralize likely

and writers on how children are choosing books

gender-stereotyping influences on book choices,

based on gender. With this knowledge, different

rather than introduce them. Future studies could

marketing strategies could be devised to target a







broader scope of audience with each book. Our

preschool children, could provide other researchers

triangulated research methodology, plus the

in the information sciences field with a new model

innovation of doing this type of research with

for conducting ethically sound research.

References Baker-Sperry, L. (2007). The production of meaning through peer interaction: Children and Walt Disney's “Cinderella.” Sex Roles, 56 (11/12), 717-727. Education Source. Cherney, I. D. & Dempsey, J. (2010). Young children's classification, stereotyping and play behaviour for gender neutral and ambiguous toys. Educational Psychology, 30 (6), 651-669. Education Source. Collins-Standley, T., Gan, S., & Yu, H.J. (1996). Choice of romantic, violent, and scary fairy-tale books by preschool girls and boys. Child Study Journal, 26 (4), 279-302. Education Source. Fagot, B. I. (1977). Consequence of moderate cross-gender behavior in preschool children. Child Development, 48 (3), 902-907. Library & Information Science Source. Freeman, N. (2007). Preschoolers’ perceptions of gender appropriate toys and their parents’ beliefs about genderized behaviors: Miscommunication, mixed messages, or hidden truths? Early Childhood Education Journal, 34 (5), 357366. Education Source. Karniol, R. (2011). The color of children’s gender stereotypes. Sex Roles, 65 (1), 119-132. Print. Kropp, J. J. & Halverson, C.F. (1983). Preschool children's preferences and recall for stereotyped versus nonstereotyped stories. Sex Roles, 9, 261-272. Education Source. Martin, C.L. & Eisenbund, L. (1995). Children's gender-based reasoning about toys. Child Development, 66 (5), 14531471. Education Source. Patton, M.Q. (2001). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Reuter, K. (2007). Assessing aesthetic relevance: Children's book selection in a digital library. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 58 (12), 1745-1763. Library & Information Science Source. Schutt, R. K. (2009). Investigating the social world: The process and practice of research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.



Scott, D. (2014). Deconstructing the "books for boys" discourse. Progressive Librarian, 42, 115-122. Library & Information Science Source. Sellers, J. (2007). Entering ‘dangerous’ territory. Publishers Weekly, 254 (39), 21-22. Library & Information Science Source. Weisgram, E. S., Fulcher, M., & Dinella, L.M. (2014). Pink gives girls permission: Exploring the roles of explicit gender labels and gender-typed colors on preschool children's toy preferences. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35 (5), 401-409. Education Source. Westbrook, L. (2010). Qualitative research methods. In L.S. Connaway & R.R. Powell (Eds.), Basic research methods for librarians (207-222). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Worland, J. (2008). Girls will be girls...and so on: Treatment of gender in preschool books from 1960 through 1990. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 6 (1), 42-46. Library & Information Science Source. 48 




call for submissions

Spring 2015 Submission Guidelines Theme Creativity Inspiration

Mission Statement Circulation is the student-run journal of the Information School at the University of Washington. We seek to foster and publish student creative expressions and academic work. We also support student interest in literature, scholarly communication, and publishing through special events and partnerships with organizations within the Information School and beyond.

Circulation wants to see your most creative works from the past year. What do you do when you let your mind wander? Did you write a short story over winter break? Have some illustrations on the margins of your notes? What about that photo you took of the first bloom of spring? Contact Send submissions to [email protected]. For more information, visit us on the web:

Staff Co-Editor-in-Chief 

Megan Carlin 



Becky Ramsey 

Please have your work in by March 25, 2015


Susie Cummings 

Social Media Coordinator 

Rebecca Brothers

Peer Review Coordinator 

Mia Klaus

Peer Review Board Members  Brian David Ashley Farley Erin Gordenier Audrey Lorberfeld Bree Norlander