Category Archives: Abstracts

The Library: a [fairy] tale of ‘good’ winning over inexperience

Little_Red_Riding_Hood_WPA_posterImage from a poster in the Library of Congress, in the public domain:

Bryony Ramsden is working on a fairy story, The Library: a [fairy] tale of ‘good’ winning over inexperience.

Flora realises she is lost, not when the canopy begins to obscure the sunlight, but when the roots of the buildings begin to seemingly purposefully trip and obstruct her path.  She withdraws further into her hood, and on looking down to check her footsteps, notices breadcrumbs.  They have evidently been there for some time, sodden from rain, blackened with mould, but they are definitely there, and appear to be leading the way along a track.  Looking up, Flora can just see through the buildings to a warm glow in the darkness, some way down the trail…

The Library is a story of a student’s journey of discovery of resources, spaces, staff and fellow students, as she travels through university life.  Presented via the medium of a fairy tale, it utilises personal and professional observations, research experience, and readings of other library research to provide a summary of how some students may in turns be confident and terrified of all that the academic library has to offer.  It describes encounters with those who impede and those who enable Flora’s progress throughout her travels, offering readers an alternative view of student learning and the opportunity to consider service and information literacy provision in a new way.

“Being Myself”

Gay_Liberation_Monument_(Manhattan)_-_01Image from Wikimedia Commons under licence.

Antony Osborne is creating a chapter for us called “Being Myself”: Contrasting informational journeys dealing with representations of gay male identity in the 1970s and 2010s.

This chapter deals with the role of information from a variety of media in representing gay identities the 1970s. There was an identifiable need for information about health, social events, emotional issues, and not least dealing with family & friends. However, there was simply little information to be had. The library shelves demonstrated a dearth of materials and the social mores of the time prevented open discussion. The few representations in the media were often unflattering, be they either documentary, comedy or newspaper reportage. The lack of availability of literature contrasts with the burgeoning Gay Liberation Movement which was becoming active in the 1970s. In many senses the information available at the time was very much based on the medical/mental health model from the 1950s and 60s and reflected the same prejudices.

This is in stark contrast to the 2010s where, in the internet age, there is so much information available that it has become part of a lucrative niche market for those wishing to exploit the “pink pound”.  The willingness of bookshops and libraries to host LGBT sections has brought a wide range of literature to its readers, but could this have contributed to information fatigue amongst its target audience? Certainly there is greater pressure to fit into one of the multiple gay identities that have emerged in the last 30 years and a growing culture of information avoidance that could have health impacts in later years.

This draws on personal experience, books and academic papers on the subject, but remains, at heart, a narrative.

Journeying without a map leads to…adventures or accidents?

adventureImage Copyright Janine Forbes. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.

This contribution is from Zoë Johnson, called Journeying without a map leads to…adventures or accidents? A phenomenological study of drama academics’ approach to discovering information

I’ve been interviewing drama academics and researchers to find about their Information Discovery Journeys. My proposed chapter would use these transcripts to explore patterns of behaviour in how they make connections between the information need and turning it into knowledge. The experienced (time + study) seem to have developed their own customised mapping tools to help them on their journey but are equally content to step into unknown territory, have a wander around and savour the “experience” and see what information they trip over. In contrast, the inexperienced (undergraduates to which the interviewees referred) seem unable to connect with the information without some kind of map, or guidance and looked to the lecturer or librarian for such a tool or companionship on their journey.

The chapter would discuss the benefits and challenges of taking an information journey without a map or set of tools. It will ask whether this method is connected to the “practice as research” approach favoured by drama and other creative disciplines. Some interviewees emphasised the importance of “experience” in gaining knowledge, and where “information” is best located within the journey.  Drama favours the personal journey so the researcher finds their own way of experiencing, engaging with and exploiting the information they find. The discussion could lead into how a librarian might provide companionship or map-making skills for travellers old and new.

Memories: personal information discovery and documentary explored through the medium of clothes

librarian shoesImage from Library_mistress on flickr under licence.

Will Hoon, Fiona MacLellan & Georgina Dimmock are creating this submission. Memories: personal information discovery and documentary explored through the medium of clothes.

Our clothes are more than objects that protect us from the elements; they also perform a variety of complex social and cultural functions.  They help us encode gender, they shape and present our bodies, they tie us to notions of class and social status and they help us integrate into wider social groups.  They also hold and invoke powerful memories.  In short we use garments and dress as a form of non-verbal language and identity.  In February 2013, groups of Fashion students at the University of Northampton were asked to create video-based presentations based around their personal memories of a garment or an outfit.     Through the act of producing videos, each student group went on a journey of research, documentation, creation and dissemination, tackling a range of information issues in the process.

Many of the students captured powerful oral history accounts of their relatives discussing garments of significance within their family.  The culmination of the process was the production and dissemination of new information in the form of video.

Memories will be a short video incorporating excerpts from the students’ videos, as well as interviews with the students themselves and with the librarians and tutor supporting the project.  The video will reflect on the project and how librarians and tutors can support alternative information trails and skills, which often fall outside the bounds of formal information skills training. The video will open with an interview with tutor Will Hoon, discussing the students’ video brief and will also be structured around extracts from the students’ videos which showcase different aspects of the information discovery journey.  This will be interspersed with the librarians’ and tutor’s reflections.

The Fish-scale of Academic-ness

dead_mermaid_fossil_by_dannykojima-d4wewpvImage from Danny Kojima under cc licence

Alke Gröppel-Wegener and Geoff Walton have proposed The Fish-scale of Academicness, which we promise not to insert with smelly-vision ;-)

Imagine every secondary source you encounter is a sea creature!

The Fishscale of Academicness, inspired by the work of Dr Claire Penketh, is a visual learning idea employed to engage undergraduate students in questioning the provenance of information sources. This is an intellectual endeavour which is often absent from student researchers’ academic practice (Hepworth & Walton, 2009). Developed by Dr Alke Gröppel-Wegener, the activities linked to the fishscale concept aim to reduce the over-reliance on non-peer reviewed internet-based information for literature review purposes.

We envisage this chapter to work on two levels: on the one hand it aims to introduce the reader to the fish-scale concept, through clear and engaging visuals and amusing texts. On the other we want to include a commentary that adds the ‘academic’ perspective which, in turn, enables students to become information literate.

As we firmly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, we would suggest that this chapter takes the form of a journey of a student researcher, becoming immersed in the depths of an academic ocean, encountering secondary sources in the form of sea creatures on the way.


Information seeking and challenging the concept of the unreliable narrator

The second of our teasers? This abstract is from Penny Andrews and Marika Soulsby-Kermode, Information seeking and challenging the concept of the unreliable narrator:  finding autism, finding the true self.

Our submission will take the form of a multimedia narrative, incorporating audio, video, various textual forms, comic strips and illustration. As high-functioning individuals on the autistic spectrum, we are fluent verbal communicators, but these media better express our native languages (Spicer, 1998). The Internet provides environments which are better adapted to those languages, and it is through these virtual spaces we were able to seek out information which truly spoke to us and empowered us.  To paraphrase Turkle (1997), our experiences in virtual space compelled us to pay greater attention to what we took for granted in the real, calling into question whether our own voices were as unreliable as we had been raised to believe.

The content of our narrative will cover our parallel diagnostic journeys. For adult women like ourselves, the process of obtaining a diagnosis is long and arduous, and the transactional costs of embarking on that journey are too much to take on without adequate support and access to highly-developed information literacy skills (which were in our cases honed by our involvement in the LIS profession). Our intent is to show how information seeking within a digital context allowed us to complete a journey towards improved well-being we could not have otherwise made.


Spicer, D (1998). Autistic and Undiagnosed: My Cautionary Tale. In: Asperger Syndrome Conference, March 12-13 1998, Västerås, Sweden.

Turkle, S (1997). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. London: Phoenix. 180, 256, 318.

A Walk Through the Infinite Library

infinite libraryUniversity of Michigan Library Card Catalog by dfulmer / CC BY

This is the first of our “teasers”! Over the coming weeks / months, we’ll put up some of the abstracts we’ve accepted to give a flavour of the material that should end up in the final book… bear in mind that these may change as they’re written / created!

The first is from David Parkes: A Walk Through the Infinite Library

Information Psychogeography – a flaneur, a situationist and a psychogeographer walk into a library.

A walk – a journey through the Borgeian Infinite Library of the physical and the virtual. A voyage of discovery, disappointment and delight. Taking Hart’s description of urban psychogeography “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities…just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.” as a departure point (Hart 2004) but substituting cities for libraries. This self-guided walk will explore chance and randomness, architecture – real and virtual, alternative pathways, the internet of things and the action of the actor on the landscape. It will jolt the walker, challenge assumptions and require the reader and walker to reflect on the web, the world and the library and so explore alternative ways of thinking about information, information literacy and libraries. It will be a toolbox, a list, spotalot, guidebook, a near field communicator, a call to action and a tactical streetmap of the library landscape.


1.    A number of walks and diversions

2.    A set of instructions or suggestions for the walk –what to bring – flask, camera etc

3.    What to look out for

4.    Some maps

5.    The ability to add your own Joe Orton type , notes, annotations and observations to share with others