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Christina's LIS Rant
Sunday, May 27, 2007
  My type of communication in LIS
Mark made a comment, based on his experience in library school, "that many of the prominent, if not the most prominent in LIS, theories and metaphors of communication are based on engineering, mathematics, and/or transportation." One example of this is the ubiquitous requirement that we read the famous Shannon article.

I replied to his comment that, while I’d also read Shannon, I’d also read a lot of communication and other humanist works in the basic Intro to Information Science and Reference classes. Mark thought maybe this was my PhD classes and I said no, no (those, too, but)… 601, I have the binder. Anywho, he asked me to provide a couple of key references to support my claim or at any rate, recommend some readings for him.

Very difficult, because I know he's picky... and most of these are by - gasp - practitioners instead of philosophers!

Pao --nevermind this one

Rogers, E.M. & Kincaid, D.L. (1980). The Convergence Model of Communication and Network Analysis. In Communication Networks: Toward a New Paradigm for Research. New York: The Free Press.
> Rogers is the one who did all the diffusion of innovation stuff... in this article he's critical of the reductionist linear view. He defines communication as "a process in which participants create and share information with one another to reach a mutual understanding"(p.43). I guess it might help the most to say exactly where this is cited in the LIS literature, but with books, it's rather difficult.

In 650 (the basic reference class) we read:
Westbrook's 1993 overview of theory for practitioners. This was right when cognitive and affective elements were really starting to take firm root in the literature. (RQ 32 n4 1993 pp541-9)

Moody & Carter's 1999 description of the cognitive reference interview (Reference & User Services Quarterly 38 n4 pp389-93)

White's 1998 article on questions in reference interviews (jDoc v54 n4 pp443-65)

Of course a few of the Barry & Schamber or Schamber articles on relevance.

One of my very favorite articles of all time: Taylor, R. S. (1968). Question-negotiation and information seeking in libraries. College & Research Libraries, 29(3), 178-194.

Also the Dervin article on neutral questions... and Kuhlthau's ISP (that must be mandatory reading for anyone with an MLS?)

Now, if we started on my phd work, then there would be a different collection. Also, in my class on evaluating library programs and services we read a few things that would probably fit in this category, but I think my binder is at work.
 
Comments:
Thanks for the cites, Christina!

By the way, brat, I'm not the one getting a PhD. I AM a practitioner. ;) [And so are you, of course.] I just happen to have an (limited) education in philosophy; and also rejected most of it for ignoring practice/experience/life. I adore those who can use its tools in support of these more "mundane" things.

The Taylor sounds familiar, and I hope everyone with an MLS has read about Kuhlthau's ISP model. I find it quite interesting, although limited. A couple of my earliest posts were about it, in fact, but were actually reproductions of stuff I had written in my 1st LIS class [So probably somewhat mistaken/wrong].

And while my questioning centered around what models of communication are most prevalent in our field--whether by citation or most importantly in people's mental models--I am also interested in useful ideas. I honestly don't care whether something is highly cited or not.

While there is some [immense] value to our scholarly apparatus, it is still [somewhat] the case that scholarly citations are much like Google ranking; i.e., based on popularity. Much of value is completely overlooked; perhaps for a few decades, perhaps forever.

I am reading a fair amount of Roy Harris right now, thanks to David Bade. My guess [and it is a guess] is that he's not too heavily cited by linguists since he is so dismantling of classical and current linguistics. Doesn't make him any the less valuable, though. For my sake, it makes him more valuable.

I guess my point is that we don't have to quibble over which view(s) of communication are the most cited in LIS, but that we all need to be aware of which are out there and to what purposes and in what areas they are put to use.

Your question about whether reference folks have a different communications focus than information organization / information retrieval / catalogers, etc. is an interesting and important one.

Again, thanks for the citations!
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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