Welcome to Tiny Studies

Medieval sketch of an awkward young man.  He is nude, facing forward but leaning backward.  His right arm hangs behind him. It is impossibly long

"Sphaera Persica"

In communicating our work and engaging our community in discourse we define the content of the discursive formation, of the body of knowledge, in what is still a relatively new and not yet fully-established area. (Preater, 2016)

In this moment – let’s say +/- a decade – we are experiencing a growth spurt in library and information science (LIS) research.  A study of over 1000 research articles published in 3 major journals found that “LIS scholars use a greater number and wider variety of research methods than in the past” (Chu, 2015). Methods new on the scene include some borrowed from other disciplines (focus group, observation, discourse analysis) and some that are developing within our own field (webometrics, bibliometrics).  Just out last month: the 2017 edition of a 2009 LIS research guide includes new chapters covering mixed methods, visual data collection methods, and social network analysis (Wildemuth, 2017).

Is this an exciting moment for creative and curious library researchers?  Yes!  And --

Remembering that physical bodies experiencing a growth spurt need a little personal time, a mirror, and lots of practice to learn how to make the most of new cells  -- we may want to be especially mindful of how our individual studies are relevant to the larger body of knowledge in development.

In a post on his blog Ginformation Systems, Andrew Preater advocates for fluid, authentic communication among library UX researchers “to define the content…of the body of knowledge, in what is still a relatively new and not yet fully-established area.” In part perhaps because of the disruption that UX research has caused in traditional LIS research, it may be true enough that in this moment, LIS research itself is “relatively new and not yet fully-established”.

As we integrate new methods, how can our data be made more accessible, meaningful and useful to others? How does our analysis compare with other spaces and other populations?  How do our insights reflect or inform other conversations? Formal research protocols require us to answer those questions, but most of us are more often engaged in informal studies or evaluative research that does not explicitly intend to be relevant to other studies, and so it is often hard to make time to consider and communicate our connections.

Tiny Studies will feature informal reports, insights, design questions and other topics of conversation, authored by diverse University Library researchers, with the intention to promote connectivity -- especially during those ephemeral moments of growth or reflection, the tiny moments when we see whole new constellations emerging in our understanding of the library.

References

Chu, Heting. “Research Methods in Library and Information Science: A Content Analysis.” Library & Information Science Research 37.1 (2015): 36–41. Web.

Preater, Andrew. “Why Don’t Libraries Share the Results of UX Work?” Ginformation Systems. N.p., 11 June 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

"Sphaera Persica" is a detail from an extensively illustrated and abridged Latin translation of the Arabic "Introduction to Astrology" of Abu Ma’shar (787-886) by Georgius Zothorus Zaparus Fendulus, written and illuminated in Bruges, Belgium, in or before 1403. Pierpont Morgan Library. MS M.785

Wildemuth, Barbara M. Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2017  Web. vii, 421 p.

 

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