Lost/Found

Lost/Found

They tell me I lost my mind.

Somewhere between the moons of Argos and Hotep, buried away in the freight hold, crushed between two boxes of dried proteins, I apparently went mad.

They tell me they’re relieved I’m feeling better now. That I was scaring them.

I laughed a lot, so they say. I find it hard to remember. There’s a sound I hear in my sleep, a rasping roar, the sound of twisted iron, of silences in between so loud that I think I’ve fallen into the black inkwell that is the space and then I wake up.

I think this was my laugh. But I can’t be sure.

They tell me they’re glad I’m back to my old self again. I find this phrase as confusing as the pats on my back and the sandpaper kisses that get stuck on my cheeks. They call me by a name that is not mine. But they tell me it used to be.

The thing is, I remember this old self they mention, the laugh, my name which is not my name, and the moons of Argos and Hotep as much as I remember going mad; which is not at all.

This worries me. If I was sane, and then mad, and then sane again, at least I would have some context for how I’m feeling now. But I remember being sane as much as I remember being mad. Which is not at all.

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I. Shall. Return.

Winter is ending - RETURN TO NORMAL

Watch this space tomorrow for the return of the Robin Jeffrey Flash Fiction Wednesdays! That’s right, folks – I’m back and better than ever. New Job, New House, New Me. Let’s shake things up a bit and see what falls out…

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A Message from the Author

Going Home

Gentle readers,

Reality does, despite my best efforts, occasionally intrude on this carefully constructed digital world of mine. This week I find myself moving to a new state to start a new job, one that I hope will be fulfilling in ways of which I’ve only dreamed. This blog will be going a brief hiatus until my life settles down again and the fictional is allowed to exist uninterrupted.

Take care!

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“Taking a Drink from a Fire Hydrant”: How Do We Find Information? (Part 4 of 4)

Google Classic: Please Allow 30 Days for your Search Results (Original artist unknown) #Google

As you can see, the interpretations provided by Wilson’s First Model and the Leckie Model are different in several ways, despite the fact that they are both meant to serve as the step by step methods of how an individual searches for information. The first difference that is apparent is that the Leckie Model does not provide for any kind of search for information that is not driven by a logical, work-based need. It could not help me work through my search for information about my desires and ultimate plan, unlike the Wilson Model, which allowed for the fact that some searches of information may not be based on strictly formal sources, but may also use important non-formal sources for non-formal needs.

Another difference between the two models is that the Leckie Model includes a feedback loop during the information search, whereas the Wilson Model does not. This places the Leckie Model at a distinct advantage over the Wilson Model when it comes to accurately portraying the way a user searches for information. In the Wilson Model, if the appropriate information is not found, it would seem that the user is expected to give up on their task. However, most of the time, an information search is such that one either cannot give up (the need for the information is too great) or one does not wish to give up (curiosity is too great). In the Leckie Model, the user compares the outcome of the information gained from the information search, as well as several other factors, to their information need and can continue the search if they deem it necessary.

Fall down seven times, get up eight

Of course the two models also shared several similarities. Both models acknowledge that the choosing of sources is an important step in the information seeking process, and that the sources of information that are consulted will affect the outcome of the search. The Leckie Model goes into greater detail about the way in which outside factors can influence which sources are being chosen (demographic information such as race, age, gender, etc.), but it lacks the explicit equality given by the Wilson Model to informal and formal sources. Both models also made note, in different ways, of the fact that successful knowledge, once gained, does not stay with the user, but flows back into the larger system of information.

These models affected my interpretation of my information behavior by showing me a pattern where I had first thought there was only chaos. While searching for information, it can often feel like you are not following a process, like you are just jumping from node to node without a plan. It is comforting to see that even though I might not have been aware of it, I was following an information seeking pattern that would ultimately lead me to success. These models also revealed to me the truth that an information search does not happen in a vacuum. There are motivations, which may vary in kind from search to search, but which always affect the way in which the search is carried out. Wilson’s First Model showed me that informal sources of information are just as much a part of the information seeking process as formal. I would not have considered the way I consulted my mother and advisors for their opinion and knowledge to have been part of this process before, but now I see that these steps were just as important as consulting the ALA website.

Two young boys, seated with books, in the children's department of a Toronto public library, Toronto, Ontario / Deux jeunes garçons lisent dans la section pour les enfants d'une bibliothèque publique de Toronto (Ontario)

I found both of these models helpful in explaining my information behavior. While not every single step I followed fit into or was represented by these two models, I found that I had followed models like these closely enough to prove that there is some merit to their processes. By being aware of these models, perhaps in future my information behavior will not feel so random and be even more successful. In turn, I hope to be able to apply these models to helping others understand and mold their information behavior to ultimate effectiveness.

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Works Cited

Case, Donald Owen. “The Concept of Information.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 39-67. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Information Needs and Information Seeking.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 68-83. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Models of Information Behavior.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 119-140. Print.

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Enough

Razor Scooter

A clacking behind me; I turn around. A young woman with a black backpack rolls towards me on a blue Razor scooter, her moss-green high-heeled boots pushing her along the cobbled path and through the cold sun of the first day of spring. I follow her with my eyes as she coasts around the large, round fountain, spray misting the lenses of her opaque, blue goggles. Where she’s going too I don’t know and I don’t want to know. It’s enough just to see her go.

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“Taking a Drink from a Fire Hydrant”: How Do We Find Information? (Part 3 of 4)

Do you have a Flowchart?

There are many models, paradigms, and theories discussed in the field of library and information science that are used to interpret and define the information behavior of the everyday user. The results from these analyses provide information that has the potential to make libraries in general and information retrieval systems more specifically much more efficient and successful at getting people the information they need when they need it. I have selected two of these models with which I will analyze the information behavior I displayed after my rejection from the UW ISchool. These analyses reveal the strengths and weaknesses of these respective theories as well as serve to show how two different models geared towards the same topic (information behavior) can yield two different results, despite the fact that the problems put to them are identical.

The first model I am going to use to interpret my information behavior is Wilson’s First Model. This model is the first in a series of models created by T.D. Wilson, published between 1981 and 1999, whose differences are said to reflect “trends in the theory and practice of information seeking research” (Case 123). I have selected this model because it is relatively general in nature, having been developed not to explain the information behavior of a certain segment of society (engineers, office workers, etc.) but instead created with the intention to “provide a map of the area [of information behavior] and draw attention to gaps in research” (Case 124).

e296bb89fce2c59ee70e08157b411f6afadfeb80

Wilson’s First Model starts with an information user. In the example I am working through, I was this user. This information user then develops a need for some kind of information. In my case, I developed several information needs almost at once; and each time a need was satisfied, I was lead to another need. To begin with my first need, which was to decide whether or not I was going to attempt to get into and complete an MLIS program, I then began demonstrating various “information seeking behaviors”. Wilson’s First Model splits these “information seeking behaviors” into two types: information behavior that puts “demands on information systems” and information behavior that puts “demands on other information sources” (Case 123). When searching for information to fill my first information need, I relied mostly on “other information sources”, mainly my friends, family, and academic support group. For my second main information need, which was to find online MLIS programs that I could and would apply to, I began placing “demands on information systems”, such as websites and magazine articles.

Each of these types of “information seeking behaviors” then lead to one of two boxes in Wilson’s model: “Success” or “Failure” (Case 123). Both of my information needs led to “success”, but it is important to note that if they had not been successful, Wilson’s First Model would have left me with a dead-end. After “Failure” there are no additional steps to go through. Once reached, “Failure” is the end of an information search for Wilson’s First Model, which in no way feeds back into the information search, even though it is more than likely that even though an information search does not result in any positive findings, the need still exists, unfulfilled.

Crumpled Frustration

Once a successful search result has occurred, the information user moves on to “information use”, in which the information received is put to the test. I entered into this step when I used the information from my internal sources and from other people in my life to come to a decision about graduate school and an MLIS degree. I also entered into this step when I used the information gained from the ALA websites to decide to which programs I was going to apply. It is at this point that Wilson’s First Model splits in two different directions. The first leads to information user “satisfaction or non-satisfaction” and then back into “need”. In both of my information searches I eventually gathered enough information to satisfy my information needs; but until that point was reached, I continued in the Wilson cycle.

The second direction leads to “information transfer” and then to “other people”, into which “information exchange” also feeds. These final steps highlight an aspect of information seeking that was very important to Wilson, namely that “information is exchanged with other people (in a process he calls information transfer) in the course of information use and seeking behaviors” (Case 124). In my case, it means that every time I got a piece of information, I communicated in some way with another human being, even if I was accessing an information system at the time, and they in turn were exchanging information that they had discovered. For example, when I accessed information about east coast MLIS program deadlines, in using the information I communicated it to my mother. My mother in turn communicated something about her experiences with east coast schools, the different time-table they are on, and even sometimes something as simple as ‘good’ or ‘neat’. In this way Wilson sought to emphasize a somewhat neglected segment of information behavior research, namely the informal transfer of information from person to person.

Conversation

The second model I am going to use to interpret my information behavior is the Leckie Model. This model was created by Leckie, Pettigrew, and Sylvain in 1996. Unlike Wilson’s First Model, the Leckie model was developed with a specific type of person in mind, namely “professionals”, whom they define as people similar to “doctors, lawyers, and engineers” (Case 127). I have selected this model because it maintains a graphic simplicity much like Wilson’s First Model, but directly contrasts in its limitation of information users to one group, which will give interesting results when applied to a search for information that is not related to a professional need.

HA1-000975

In the Leckie model, needs are created first by “work roles” and then next by “tasks” created by those work roles (Case 128). If we interpret my information needs example somewhat differently, it could be said that I am occupying a “work role” of applicant. Looking at my situation this way, the tasks that are created by the work role of applicant are various information needs relating to applying by the deadline, preparing appropriate application materials, and selecting programs to which to apply. These do sum up my main information needs rather well, if we exclude the first information need I refer to, which was to decide whether or not I was going to still attempt to get into and complete an MLIS program. This task is too much of an emotional need to be processed by the Leckie model – one could hardly call it a ‘task’ of my work role as ‘applicant’, and it largely has no place here. So that need is ignored by this model.

Once my information needs have been shaped by my tasks, my needs then force me to become aware of “information sources and/or content, and thus motivate a person to examine those”. This is represented by a bubble labeled “characteristics of information needs”. It is here that I am meant to look for information sources with characteristics like “familiarity and prior success with the source along with trustworthiness, packaging, timeliness, cost, quality and accessibility of the source” (Case 128). When I was looking for information about MLIS programs, I did indeed consider my sources before using them to search. I picked the ALA website as a starting point because it has a reputation of being reliable, a high quality product (meaning it is very trustworthy and timely), and even though I had never used it before, my mother had experienced high success with it.

ALA - The American Library Association, of which I am now a member.

ALA – The American Library Association, of which I am now a member.

The Leckie model then enters into a series of feedback loops. A two-way arrow with a label of “Information is sought” moves information between the characteristics of information needs step and the ‘final’ step “outcomes”. Also feeding back into the “Information is sought” step are two areas called “sources of information” and “awareness of information” which are also both fed by outcomes (Case 128). This is meant to represent the way information sources are constantly re-evaluated and, based on that re-evaluation, discarded or added to the search process, based on the outcomes from each information search. For example, there were several program websites which ended up being very difficult to navigate. Because of the unsatisfactory outcomes with these sources I either discarded them and settled instead for emailing the program advisors, or in some cases completely marked the school off my list, which, in turn, helped me fulfill my information need.

Kawazu loop bridge / 河津七滝ループ橋(かわづななだるループきょう)

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Works Cited

Case, Donald Owen. “The Concept of Information.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 39-67. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Information Needs and Information Seeking.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 68-83. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Models of Information Behavior.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 119-140. Print.

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Peaches

peaches

When I put the first spoonful into my mouth, I started to cry. The sugar melted on my tongue and the sweet tartness of the juices made the roof of my mouth tingle. A teardrop reached the corner of my mouth; it was the sudden saltiness that first made me realize what I was doing.

One wet droplet fell into my bowl. I sat back, not wanting to dilute my treat. Turning to look in the mirror, I was pale, contrasting with the pastel reds, oranges, and yellows that sat fermenting in front of me.

Why was I crying?

The peaches offered no answer to my query, but as I stared at them, a flood of memories rushed back to me. Six years old, I sat in a cluttered kitchen, California sunlight streaming through the windows and warming my back. My grandmother dumped another spoonful of sugar into the bowl of peaches. She had risen to the challenge after my mother pronounced my complete unwillingness to eat fruit. Her hand on my back, just as warm as the sun, tickled my skin as I have my first taste of peaches.

She died a few months later; a heart attack at fifty-four. It hadn’t known what death was before that. I hadn’t known what peaches were before her. I hadn’t had peaches since; until now.

I put another spoonful into my mouth and cry harder.

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“Taking a Drink from a Fire Hydrant”: How Do We Find Information? (Part 2 of 4)

Brenda Dervin-018

It is helpful first to view the information that was present in every part of my experience as existing in the three typologies that are posited by Brenda Dervin in her “sense making” school of thought. While other typologies do exist, I believe the Dervin definitions fit my particular experience best because the categories are not defined by the type of physical information being utilized, but rather relies on broader definitions which allow for “formal information systems (e.g., books)” and “informal sources (e.g., friends, relatives, or coworkers)” to be seen as equally valid avenues for information gathering (Case 43).

Dervin lists three types of information. The first is “Objective, external information, [which] is that which describes reality (but never completely so)” (Case 43). Into this category can be placed all the information I sought about the types of programs available, their deadlines and admission information, and also the information I sought about the UW ISchool requirements prior to my rejection. This information must be taken for reality by the mind in order to be useful, but the searcher should be aware that it can never encapsulate the true “wholeness” of the topic it describes. I learned this very well when, despite utilizing all the information I gained about the ISchool, I was still unsuccessful.

INFORMATION [ Tokyo International Forum ]

I attempted to close the gap between the pieces of objective, external information I received with the second type of information, “Subjective, internal information, [which] represents our picture or cognitive map of reality, the structures we impute onto reality” (Case 43). This category represents the information I gained from myself, the answers to questions about my own goals and intentions, which I also supplemented with subjective internal information from others about their experiences and perceptions.

The third category of information is the most fluid, containing information from both of the previous categories. “Sense-making information reflects the procedures and behaviors that allow us to ‘move’ between external and internal information to understand the world, and usually to act on that understanding as well” (Case 43). While both the information I gained from various program websites and information I gained from my mother about online programs could go into this category of sense making, the information contained within the ALA website is probably the best example of this type. Through it, I was given the tools necessary to reconcile my internal data about having the skills necessary to complete an MLIS and the external information about programs and requirements that allowed me to ultimately succeed in fulfilling my information need.

Puzzle pieces

Dervin’s theory of “sense making” carries far beyond a general definition of information. She uses it to define information needs and information seeking and behavior. There are opposing views, however, that also helped me understand how and why I searched for information in the way that I did. Atkin’s theorizes that an information need can be understood as the moment when “humans sense differences between what they know and what they want to know as regards a salient ‘thing’ in their mental universe. Thus, they constantly compare current levels of knowledge against goal states that they wish to reach…” (Case 73). While on the face of it, Atkin’s operational definition of information needs seems similar to Dervin’s, it lacks the deeper emotional motivation that I feel was key to most of my information searches. While it is true that I compared my level of knowledge about MLIS programs against my goal of getting into one and found myself grossly lacking in the required material, for me the realization was not so scientifically dispassionate. Rather for me, as for Dervin, “Many…searches for information are prompted by a vague feeling of unease, a sense of having a gap in knowledge, or simply by anxiety about a current situation” (Case 77).

An information need is not necessarily fully formed at the start, but is often a vague, but urgent desire for a solution to a perceived problem or threat. It does not necessarily entail knowing how to get there. People who feel an information need are often not just in search of ‘information’, a fairly abstract concept, but “They are engaged in a search for meaning”, in search of a complete solution (Case 75); just as I felt a vague urge to go to library school, but was relatively ‘out at sea’ about what exactly to look for. I knew that my desire to get an MLIS was on one side of a chasm and the actual information I was looking for was on another, but it was my attempt to bridge that gap lead me into information seeking.

Rope Bridge

The term information seeking is not very well-defined in many information research texts. “The few authors who state an explicit definition of information seeking typically describe a process of either discovering patterns or filling in gaps in patterns previously recognized” (Case 80). This fits in neatly with continuing Brenda Dervin’s idea of sense making driven searching. “[Her] definition of sense-making in terms of confronting problematic situations [has] for some investigators [made] information seeking…synonymous with sense-making” (Case 80).

In the Dervin approach of information seeking, “a search for information starts with questions directed at making sense of the situation” (Case 75). This relates well to my experience of searching. I began my search with questions that were my attempt to make sense of my rejection from my desired school. These questions varied greatly from more psychological considerations (e.g. ‘Did I just want to go to that school or did I really want to become a librarian?’) to more practical questions (e.g. ‘What kind of jobs or internships are available that might make me look more attractive to MLIS programs?’). However the information seeking process does not always go in a straight line from query to information to solution. It operates, in a kind of self-regulated feedback loop. A person’s questions can only be as good as their perception of the problem they have and the answer they think they need. Dervin’s idea of information seeking takes this into account, allowing that the “strategies employed are shaped by the searcher’s conceptualization of both the gap and the bridge, and by the answers, ideas, and resources obtained along the way” (Case 75). For example, I went to the ALA website because I knew it was a general information source about librarians and libraries. But it wasn’t until my conceptualization of the bridge changed from needing an internship to needing information on other MLIS programs that my search methods towards this source changed.

I think it’s also important to note that my information behavior was driven by one main factor widely discussed in information research literature: uncertainty. Uncertainty, and more specifically the need to alleviate uncertainty, was what compelled me to search for information in the first place. I needed to understand what my choices were and how these remaining choices would shape events in my future. Many researchers have acknowledged that “Uncertainty is a beginning stage is any search, and this is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety – which is a powerful motivator to either get on with the work, or to give up entirely’ (Case 74). This was, of course, the initial decision my uncertainty faced me with – was I going to look for information to achieve my goal of starting graduate school in the fall or was I going to give up and accept the rejection from the ISchool and simply wait till next year? In choosing to ‘get on with the work’ my uncertainty increased, as did my need for information. This held true the statement that “Actively acquiring information implies recognition of uncertainty or anomalies at some level” (Case 54).

Schrödinger's cat carrier

Works Cited

Case, Donald Owen. “The Concept of Information.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 39-67. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Information Needs and Information Seeking.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 68-83. Print.

Case, Donald Owen. “Models of Information Behavior.” Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. London, U.K.: Academic, 2007. 119-140. Print.

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Wake Up

Sleeping

“Do you ever wake up and get annoyed that the world still exists?”

David thought about the question, pressing the soggy flakes of his cereal under the milk with the tip of his spoon. At the other end of the table, Rebecca sipped her morning coffee, staring into the sink across the room, as if she had been addressing it instead of her husband.

“Not really,” he said at last. He lifted a heaping spoonful up to his mouth. “After all, if the world didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be around to wake up in it, would you?”

Still staring into the sink, Rebecca’s frown deepened, the set of her shoulders growing tauter, like someone stepping onto a tightrope. “That’s not what I mean.”

David looked closer at the woman across the table. Hair piled on top of her head, still damp from the liberal application of hair spray, she looked more like a statue than a person, pale skin wrapped in a soft grey dress suit, the one she had bought several years ago when she first started at the firm. Black pumps dangled off the ends of her small feet, like ripe fruit hanging heavy off a sickly branch. He breathed in and caught the smell of her lavender perfume, so familiar now it barely registered in his mind.

“It’s like…” Her lips rolled under her teeth and back out again. She turned to him suddenly, dull green eyes half hidden behind squinting lids. “…people always tell you, when things are going wrong, that you should go to sleep; that things will be better in the morning. But when you wake up, the world is all still there, just like it was the night before. It’s not like you falling asleep is going to affect things.”

“I suppose not. But I think it’s supposed to make you feel different. Less…whatever it was you were before.”

“Why?”

David leaned back from the table, running his hands down the front of his wrinkled sweat pants. “We work things out in our sleep. In our subconscious and through dreams and things. And maybe you were just tired before, but now you’re well rested and things look different. Like looking out a window at different times of the day.”

Rebecca grimaced again. She turned her attention back to the sink. “But it’s all still the same.”

She looked older when she frowned. The lines of her face deepened, and her skin pulled tighter over her cheek bones, as if there were less of it to cover her than before. She had been looking much older lately, ever since David had quit his job.

A soft piano concerto began to play on the radio; something melodic, perhaps Chopin. David watched her finish her coffee and place the stained white mug onto the table, fitting the bottom into the already present ring of condensation with perfect accuracy.

“Are you alright?”

“Tired, I guess,” she said. Rebecca’s eyes lifted from the sink to the clock on the windowsill above it. She stood, smoothing out her skirt with one hand as the other swept up her purse. “I’m late for work.”

David did not want her to leave. He usually liked having the house to himself all day, but this morning the empty rooms sucked at him, like he was water spiraling towards an open drain. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Rebecca didn’t even pause as she moved through the door. “Make sure this world doesn’t exist tomorrow morning.”

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“Taking a Drink from a Fire Hydrant”: How Do We Find Information? (Part 1 of 4)

Me, several years ago, the year I started at the University of Washington

Me, several years ago, the year I started at the University of Washington

I cannot imagine a time in my life when I will want to stop learning. It’s unfathomable to me that anyone could ever reach such a point. In the so-called “age of information” in which I grew up, it seems more and more unlikely that such a thing could ever happen. We are bombarded constantly with information from all kinds of sources for all sorts of purposes. We absorb perhaps more information by incidental and accidental exposure than we do from focused investigation. To more and more children, school must seem to be just one more source adding to the sea of information flowing in and out of their lives, rather than the primary one that it was in the past.

Information overload

Whether or not this inescapable barrage of information is good or bad, it has certainly complicated questions of information science, most notably the question of what is information and, building upon that outwardly simplistic query, how and why people seek information. What makes someone go to a library reference desk when a browser blinks temptingly with an empty Google search bar? When do we notice we need information? Why do we not ignore these needs? How can information retrieval systems be designed to most efficiently assist people with their needs, complimenting their information seeking behavior?

It was the plethora of these kinds of questions which first interested me in attaining a Masters in Library and Information Science. My mother had been a school librarian for most of my life, and while she had two Masters Degrees, neither were an MLIS. I considered following her into school librarianship, but as I was completing my Bachelors in English, I found myself drawn to the academic questions of information science that concerned my generation. I decided fairly early on in my college career that I was going to work towards an MLIS and I also decided that I was going to attend the ISchool at the University of Washington.

Arcimboldo Librarian Stokholm.jpg
Arcimboldo Librarian Stokholm” by Giuseppe Arcimboldohttp://www.wga.hu/art/a/arcimbol/4composi/5librari.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

When the time for the application came, I went above and beyond to make myself an attractive candidate. I finished the application a full two months before the deadline, getting five letters of recommendations from teachers and employers. I wrote and rewrote my essays and went frequently to the ISchool advisors to try to find exactly what they wanted so I could include it in my application. I did not apply to any other programs at that time – I honestly didn’t see the point. The UW ISchool was going to be my graduate home, just as the UW English Department had been. I felt instinctually that everything was going to work out fine.

It didn’t. I was rejected from the ISchool. It was the first time I had been rejected for anything academic in my entire life and I was crushed. The rejection made me rethink all my plans for the future. Did I even want to go for a library degree if I couldn’t go to the UW ISchool? What was I going to do for a whole year until application time came around again? Should I give up? What was I going to do? It was a time of deep uncertainty and distress for me, and my rejection from the UW ISchool launched one of the longest and, to me, most important searches for information I had ever attempted in my life.

Dibrary: main floor

My first step was to decide if I still wanted to be a librarian. I had long conversations with my mother and my college advisors about the profession and even solicited people for their personal opinions of my personality and abilities: did they think I could make a good librarian? Did I have the drive to do grad school? Could they think of any other careers that might suit me better? In the end, I decided that just because the ISchool didn’t seem to think I’d make a good librarian, it was still what I wanted to be more than anything and I wasn’t ready to give that up.

I then began to search for information about my remaining options. Thinking that I had missed all the other deadlines for MLIS programs, I started to look for information about jobs or internships that I could do in the interim time before I could reapply. In the midst of the search, I went onto the ALA website to see if they had any resources I might find useful. In poking around the site, I stumbled upon their list of all the ALA approved programs in the country. I was saddened to find that there were no other programs in Washington State that were ALA approved; I was hoping to apply to multiple Washington State schools next time to improve my chances of getting accepted somewhere. While I was on this site, my mother told me about an article she had read talking about the proliferation of online MLIS programs that many schools were offering. In clicking through the schools listed on the ALA website I was amazed to find that many of the east coast schools had not yet closed their admission applications for their MLIS programs! In fact many of them had not even begun accepting applications!

Loan Applications

I went to every single school’s website that was listed on the ALA Approved Programs site. I weeded them down by first seeing whether or not applications were still being accepted. I then focused on schools with online program offerings. I had decided that I did not have the funds to make the move across country to any of the schools still accepting applications, so online programs became my focus. I continued to weed the prospective schools by which programs offered complete online programs (rather than just certain classes) and then began doing a more subjective information search of each of the programs offered. I sent emails to the schools still on my list, requesting information on their programs and admissions process. The kinds of responses I got helped me hone my search even further and a wider web search on each school for information such as reputation and student experience did the rest.

I decided to apply to three different programs: the ISchool at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, the University of South Florida MLIS Program, and the University of Kentucky MLIS program. The final step in my information search was to compile a list of the deadlines for each school and their individual admission requirements based on the information I gained from the contacts listed on the websites and the websites themselves.

ALA - The American Library Association, of which I am now a member.

ALA – The American Library Association, of which I am now a member.

This information saga represents the first time in my life I found myself in the midst of an information problem that had consequences that far outreached completing a project for a class or fulfilling personal curiosity. I felt the importance of these various information needs very deeply and my questions and uncertainties weighed heavily on me until I could figure out how to alleviate them with information. Examining this chain of information needs and information solutions in retrospect, it becomes clear that my information seeking behavior did not just influence the methods I used and the resolutions I ultimately came to, but that my behavior demonstrates many of the abstract notions of information seeking that are being discussed by the librarian community to date.

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