CFP: Involving Users in the Co-Construction of Digital Knowledge in Libraries, Archives and Museums


The editors of Library Trends are pleased to announce plans for a special issue titled “Involving Users in the Co-Construction of Digital Knowledge in Libraries, Archives, and Museums.”

This special issue will be guest edited by Drs. Paul F. Marty and Michelle M. Kazmer, College of Communication and Information, Florida State University, with Dr. Corinne Jorgensen (Florida State University), Katherine Burton Jones (Harvard Divinity School), and Richard J. Urban (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).


Many libraries, archives, and museums provide their users with social computing environments that include the ability to tag collections, annotate objects, and otherwise contribute their thoughts to the knowledge base of the institution. Information professionals and users have responded to the transition to a web 2.0 world of user-created content by developing open source tools to coordinate these activities and researching the best ways to involve users in the co-creation of digital knowledge.

This rapid influx of new technologies and new methods of interacting with users has come at a time when libraries, archives, and museums still struggle to share data across their own institutions, let alone between different types of institutions. Information professionals in libraries, archives, and museums had barely begun to make progress developing crosswalks and data interoperability standards when, as social computing became the norm on the web, providing the ability for users to manipulate data changed from a cool toy to a basic expectation. Moving forward — and keeping pace with user expectations — requires the coordination of many different users (in all their variety) as they contribute, participate, shape, and create all types of data in all types of contexts.

We need to consider what social computing really means for the future of libraries, archives, and museums, and think carefully about the future trends and long-term implications of involving users in the co-construction of knowledge online. It is important to have broad-based discussions about what happens when users are involved in shaping and directing and guiding the development of online libraries, archives, and museums and their information resources.

For this issue of Library Trends, therefore, we seek authors who can step back and think broadly about those issues that are raised when we bring users into the mix in various ways and at various points in the data/information/knowledge life-cycle. We are interested in receiving high-level theory pieces, supported by research data of course, but with a focus on the long-term trends involved and their implications for libraries, archives, and museums. In particular, we are looking for papers that explore the future trends and long-term implications of the many different ways in which information professionals in libraries, archives, and museums have, can, and should involve their users in the co-construction of digital knowledge based on their online collections.

Sample questions include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • How are libraries, archives, and museums implementing user-contributed data / descriptions of artifacts, objects, or collections on their websites? What are the long-term implications of involving users in the co-description, co-cataloguing of digital knowledge?
  • How are libraries, archives, and museums encouraging users to create online collections of personal favorites or similar items on their websites? What are the long-term implications of involving users in the co-creation, co-curation of digital knowledge?
  • How are libraries, archives, and museums encouraging users to create / structure their own online environments, designing personalized websites or portals specifically suited to individual needs? What are the implications of involving users in the design and structuring of online interfaces for the development and presentation of digital knowledge?
  • How is the education of library, archives, and museum practitioners (and in particular the increase in online and hybrid learning technologies) influencing the ways practitioners subsequently incorporate technology into their user service environments in libraries, archives, and museums?


  • Optional Abstract: December 1, 2009 (see below)
  • Submission Deadline: March 1, 2010
  • Review Decisions: May 15, 2010 (all submissions will be peer-reviewed)
  • Final Versions Due: July 15, 2010
  • Publication: Early 2011


All submissions should be emailed directly to Paul Marty at marty@fsu.edu or Michelle Kazmer at mkazmer@fsu.edu.

For formatting instructions, please see the Library Trends Author Guidelines available here:


If you wish, you may submit an optional abstract (by email to Paul Marty at marty [at] fsu.edu or Michelle Kazmer at mkazmer [at] fsu.edu) for feedback by December 1, 2009.

PDF version of this CFP is available.

More information about Library Trends


ALISE 2009

I’m in  Denver this week attending the Association of Library and Information Science Educators iCreate Conference 2009.

Tuesday will be a busy day as I’m participating in the WISE workshop panel:

Stepping out of CMS: Student Communication Technologies Beyond the Course Management System
Panel Presentation and Discussion of effective practices for instructor/student, student/student, and student/instructor communication strategies outside the context of the online course management system, as well as with the wider community of LIS professionals, alumni and prospective students.

and I’ll be presenting a “work in progress” poster:

Blended Methods for Ontology Development

Ontologies represent an important backbone for knowledge representation on the emerging Semantic Web. As a formal specification of concepts within a domain, developing an ontology requires translating the knowledge of domain experts into the classes, properties and relationships used by machine-processable languages such as RDF and OWL. Current ontology development practices owe much to knowledge and software engingeering processes, however the methods for capturing the knowledge of domain experts reamins under-theorized. While “mixed” qualitative and quantitative methods have received extensive discussion in the literature, less attention has been paid to blending the kinds of formal methods used in ontology development and qualitative methods used elsewhere in LIS research. The resulting “knowledge acquisition bottleneck” has lead some ontology developers to turn towards mining large textual datasets for base concepts using natural language processing techniques. While these tools are improving, automated population of an ontology still requires intervention and evaluation by domain experts – particularly in areas where textual sources present conflicting or incomplete representations of a domain.

Lee (2000) has identified the lack of agreement on concepts of “collections” among LIS professionals and their users – exactly the kind of domain that challenges automated techniques. The research discussed here is working towards an ontology for cultural heritage “collections” as identifiable entities that are more than the sum of their parts. As part of the work in progress, this poster explores how qualitative approaches, such as Glaser & Strauss’ Grounded Theory, can be used to inform the development of such an ontology.

Of course this “work in progress” abstract was written a few months ago and after digging into this topic a little deeper the focus of my poster has shifted just a bit.   What you’ll see tomorrow (I’ll post the final version here) focuses more on the similarities between Strauss & Corbin’s open/axial coding process and ontology development.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve backed away from developing an ontology for its own sake and the revisions to the poster reflect my current thinking about how ontologies could inform traditional QDA approaches.  Along these lines, the poster also explores the possibility of  using the CIDOC-CRM (or any existing ontology) as start-list of qualitative coding concepts.

Stay tuned for Twitter updates!


Memory Institutions

Thanks to everyone who provided some thoughtful comments on my last post about cultural heritage collections.  I’m still moving in the direction of defining my own universe of what I will consider as “cultural heritage” collections – but it may also mean that I have to craft a my own name for it.

But before I move on, I wanted to poke a little at an alternative to “cultural heritage” that has also been floated as a collective term for the kinds of institutions that I’m interested in — memory institutions.

Lorcan Dempsey described memory institutions as:

Archives, libraries and museums are memory institutions: they organise the European cultural and intellectual record. Their collections contain the memory of peoples, communities, institutions and individuals, the scientific and cultural heritage, and the products throughout time of our imagination, craft and learning. They join us to our ancestors and are our legacy to future generations. They are used by the child, the scholar, and the citizen, by the business person, the tourist and the learner. These in turn are creating the heritage of the future. Memory institutions contribute directly and indirectly to prosperity through support for learning, commerce, tourism, and personal fulfilment.

In the paper linked above, Dempsey doesn’t provide any sources for his ideas about memory institutions – I’m guessing that it may have been inspired by the discussions in scholarly communities about history, memory and culture and the emergence in the U.S. of digital projects like American Memory (followed by a series of state-level “memory” projects).  Like “cultural heritage” there are few clearly stated definitions for “memory institutions.” Birger Hjørland identifies “memory institution” as a metaphor for many kinds of institutions that create collections of materials, particularly cultural heritage materials.   Both Dempsey and Hjørland suggest that the need for such a term is driven by an increasing focus on digital materials that is jostling traditional institutional definitions.

Like cultural heritage,  memory institution has been picked up by lots of other authors without much fuss about what it could or should mean.  I’m haven’t seen any obvious difference yet when one term is used over the other – or if they are even equivalent terms (or if a cultural heritage institution is a kind of memory institution, or vice versa).  Dempsey says that having the right word is a sign of maturity – the concurrent use of LAM, ALM, “cultural heritage” and “memory institutions” suggests that the community’s ideas about convergence are still fluid.

Culture vs. Memory

On my post about cultural heritage,  Jo and Shawn pointed out the dangers of trying to pin down definitions of culture – the deep scholarship that’s considered  that question; the socially bound understandings of culture, etc. etc. Talking about “memory institutions” might seem like a safe way to avoid these pitfalls, but it comes with a whole host of other problems.   As a metaphor “memory” conjures up our personal experience with memory – it’s what’s in our head, it maybe short or long-term, you might have a better memory than me (highly possible).  What is harder to understand is how memory works on a  collective level.  (see also Hjørland on “exosomatic memory“).  We all carry some trace of individual memories that somehow add up to a larger schema that’s shared by other people – or at least would be recognized by other people as a shared memory.

The problems of understanding individual memory and collective memory seem to map nicely on top of the item-level metadata/collection-level metadata issues we’re exploring in the CIMR research group. Just as collective memory is more than just the sum of all our individual memories, collections are more than just the sum of all the items contained in them.  These distinctions could also be helpful when looking at the difference between collections created by an individual – say the Gardener Collection – verses those created by an institution (e.g. the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) or more broadly by a community of practice (a library, archive or museum).

Institutions vs. Collections

Since my last post, I’ve also been thinking about how to abstract away from collections as defined by their institutional/professional home – don’t library collections share some of the same essential features of archival collections when viewed though an archival lens? (or maybe that’s the question – what features do they share?) While there are many references to cultural heritage collections, there seem to be fewer mentions of memory collections – it’s almost always memory institutions.  (although, I admit, it is difficult to cut through the “American Memory Collection” noise in a organic Google search – relying on Google Scholar for this assertion).  Maybe it is a little easier for us to anthropomorphize an institution over a collection, whereas it is easier to see “cultural heritage” as a kind of collection as well as a kind of institution.

One thing this exploration hasn’t done is move me any closer to being able to point to a clearly understood domain.  Like cultural heritage, the domain of memory institutions also is fairly wide open for interpretation.  Perhaps by combining some of charateristics of entities identified as “cultural heritage” with those identified as “memory” a clearer picture will emerge.  But the way still seems clear to move ahead with defining a domain of my choosing (or as people are encouraging me to do, something more like a subset of that larger domain).


What a long strange trip it’s been

Last week I turned in the thirty pages of writing I did for my Field Exams. Next Wednesday I’ll be sat down in front of my committee for the oral defense. Several other colleagues who were also taking the exam have already passed, so there’s high hopes for me.

It’s also that time of year where everyone has to submit their annual progress reports. I’ve now fulfilled all my course requirements so I thought I’d post the long and winding list of courses that I’ve taken since I started at GSLIS in 2005.

Masters Classes

  • LIS 390 LEB   Libraries, Information & Society
  • LIS 452 LE   Foundations of Information Processing< br/> aka learn how to program in Python
  • LIS 490 GCG   Game Culture & Technology
    This is where I first discovered Second Life.
  • LIS 490 MI   Museum Informatics
    (This is where I built a Second Life Museum!)
  • LIS 501 LEA   Information Organization and Access
  • LIS 507   Cataloging and Classification I
    Ahhh! make the AACR2 torture stop!
  • LIS 590 DHL   Digital Humanities
  • LIS 590 EPL   Electronic Publishing
    XML, DTDs and XSLT, oh my!
  • LIS 590 IIL  Interfaces for Information Systems
    Usability rocks!
  • LIS 590 MD  Metadata in Theory & Practice
  • LIS 591   Practicum: Collections Understanding and the IMLS Digital Collections Repository

Doctoral Studies

Courses counted towards doctoral credits:

  • LIS 590 TKR   Topics in Knowledge Representation (4)
  • LIS 409  Storytelling (2)
    Don’t laugh! Great place to practice public speaking skills – plus lots of fun.

Fall 2006

  • LIS590HF   History & Foundations of Library & Information Science (4)
  • LIS590II   Inquiry Based Learning (4)< br/> John Dewey!
  • LIS590CQ   Computer Supported Collaborative Work (4)

Spring 2007

  • LIS590DRM   Doctoral Research Methods (4)
  • LIS590OH   Ontologies in the Humanities (4)
  • LIS590IU   Designing Information User Studies (4)

Summer 2007

  • Independent Study:   Historic Ethnography of Museum Collections: A Pilot Study (4)

Fall 2007

  • ANTH517   Anthropological Approaches to Memory (4)
  • LIS590PPL   Public Pedagogies (4)
  • LIS590QM   Qualitative Methods in Research (4)

Spring 2008

  • LIS590OD   Ontology Development (4)

LIS Educator Blogs

Last week, while I was pondering what field I was standing in, I realized that many of the blogs I subscribe to were not necessarily helping me think about that question. So I turned to my friend Mark, who I rely on to filter all things biblioblogosphere. Yes, that’s right, I’m the “friend” in question in this post.

First a few disclaimers- I sometimes get these odd feelings in my gut that suggests that something is missing, but I’m never quite sure it’s because they are really missing, or I’m just not looking in the right place, or asking the right questions. Generally I send out feelers to folks like Mark to see whether it is just lunch upsetting my stomach, or a legitimate hunch.

Secondly, I have to admit to throttling the bandwidth I’ve given to LIS blogs…too many blogs, too little time. Especially as the Museoblogosphere (ugh! that’s even worse than biblioblogospehere) has expanded. I’ve been splitting my time between LIS blogs, museum blogs, and digital humanities blogs. But from the responses to Mark’s post, it does seem that there is a dearth of LIS educator blogs.

Initially I was thinking about people who’s main employment was in a graduate program, but I’ll take Mark and other people’s posts that this definition needs to be expanded. We could rehash the theory vs. practice arguments, but I don’t think that will really get us anywhere fast. In fact I think this isn’t necessarily about the person and what their title is, but rather what the blog is about — namely the practice of being an educator and a researcher. I would extend that to include people who don’t claim to be “LIS,” but are in related disciplines that touch on issues we’re concerned about. (i.e. computer science, communications, anthropology, sociology, cognitive science, history of technology, etc., etc.). In the same vein, I’m also on a hunt for blogs in archival science, museum studies and museum informatics (to complete the LAM blog trifecta).

Here are some of the criteria that I am thinking about:

  • informs the development of curriculum for library and information science
  • discusses or informs what is expected from graduates of LIS programs
  • discusses research methods and relevant literature
  • how to be a better researcher, writer, presenter (blogger!)
  • discusses high-level trends and research questions
  • pulls in and comments on relevant research from “outside” the field
  • offers new forms of scholarly communication and collaboration

I’m sure I’m missing some criteria, but will keep thinking about this as I look at the examples that have been posted in response to Mark’s post. The discussions about where Dorothea’s blog sits in all of this are interesting. One of the things that I find compelling about CavLec is that is that it’s not only about charming DSpace into behaving itself, but Dorothea’s reflections on LIS graduate education (and grad school in general – I had more than a few hard thinks about what I’m doing after reading “A Tale of Graduate School Burnout”). I’m sure I won’t be the first one to say we need more of what CavLec has to offer.

So why are LIS educator blogs few and far between? First, I haven’t heard of anyone who’s blog counted towards tenure and promotion. And when push comes to shove, you’re going to spend your time writing more articles rather than blogging. Academia runs on a great deal of whuffie and right now, blogs don’t contribute the way publications do (I’d be happy to be disabused of this notion). I’ve had conversations with faculty about finding the balance between talking about my research and the dangers of getting scooped by someone else who’s able to move faster than I can on a problem. These all seem like issues that are rooted in traditional practices of scholarly communication that are shifting and changing in unpredictable ways right now. This is also one of the reasons I’m watching several digital humanities blogs; to see how they are negotiating the channels and shoals of contemporary scholarship. Having some good models within LIS would be a welcome addition.

At the ASIS&T conference I sat in on the Bulletin editorial committee meeting (as ASIS&T student representative), where we discussed the recent move to publish the Bulletin online. I asked whether anyone had considered starting an ASIS&T blog, and while the idea has been floated, nothing seems to have happened on that front yet. Having helped start one collaborative blog, I wonder if something similar under the ASIS&T flag, would prime the pump for more LIS educators to take the plunge.

Of course, at the root of all of this, is me asking questions about what kind of educator and researcher I want to be and what role I want this blog to play in that development.


Playing Librarian

via Joystick101

for all of you who are bored at the reference desk, or the help desk.

The Carnegie Mellon library system has released (in beta) two games meant to get at using the library system. The first game, Within Range, is not the most interesting but it asks students to re-shelve books based on LoC subjects and the Dewey Decimal System. Useful for helping them find books in the brick and mortar library but not riveting gaming. The second game, I’ll Get It, is a much like Diner Dash (only in a library). You have to look up the patron’s topic and choose from 2 books or 2 internet sources what you will bring back to the patron based upon their research question. This one is a bit more interesting especially since it goes in waves and gets more harried as time passes.

How effective is this? Can we teach students how to use a virtual library and expect them to extrapolate that out to the real world? Or will they simply google the topic and go from there?


Political Orientation from Amazon “Also Bought” Patterns

via TechPresident

I’m getting ready to do a little politically oriented…or maybe “aware” is a better term….blogging for 2008. I recently subscribed to the TechPresident blog and came across this recent post that I thought would be of interest to the librarians out there.

from orgnet.com
Network visualization shows patterns of political book purchases prior to the 2008 U.S. presidential primaries. Books are linked by Amazon’s “also bought” data — only top-sellers are shown. Two distinct clusters emerge from the data, with a few books bridging the divide, similar to 2004.

I’d like to know a little more about the methodology here, especially how the “top sellers” represented were selected. By my count the “blues” read more different titles (about 29) than the reds (about 23). Do the blues read more than the reds…or should I say “buy” more, who knows if these get read or not. And i presume that the buyers weren’t just buying political books, but buying other reading as well…wonder if you can get a sense of political orientation from whether you bought the Sunday’s at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook or the Barbecue Bible. My reading list wouldn’t be a good example since I believe in the old maxim to “keep friends close but your enemies closer.”

Hmmmm….I wonder if you could do something similar using WorldCat holdings information….are America’s public libraries blue or red?


Bye bye Summer (Part II)

So what will I be doing this semester?

LIS590QM Qualitative Methods
Another class adding methods to my bag of tricks. This will be more about observation, ethnography, structured and semi-structured interviewing and other techniques.

Sometimes I feel a little frustrated about how difficult it is to be interdisciplinary and to be in the know about what researchers at UIUC are doing. I’ve been trying to be proactive about this and scheduled some informal coffee meetings with faculty who are working in the area (and I’m about to head off to the “Museums Writ Large” reading group). The next two classes will help me get outside of GSLIS, and maybe also get some perspective on what I’m learning here.

LIS590PPL Public Pedagogies & Learning
One of the big holes in my knowledge about museums is the educational theory that underpins much of what we do. I’ve mostly been on the collections/exhibition/technical side of the museum world and have left the educating to the educators. But the more I look at virtual worlds such as Second Life, the more I’m feeling the need to fill that hole with some knowledge. I met Brenda through the IPRH Museums Write Large reading group and was pleased to learn that she’d officially been added to the GSLIS roster of faculty. Her research has focused on how history is presented in museum settings, something close to my heart. The course will itself be historical, tracing the different learning theories used in public institutions such as libraries, archives and museums.

ANTH517 Anthropological Approaches to Memory
Last year while poking around the “community of practice” literature I read a brilliant article by Janet Keller about how blacksmiths learn to do what they do (in Chalkin and Lave. Understanding Practice). This was just around the time that I was reading Lenore Sarasan’s ASC Survey Report on museum computerization in which she says:

Through major problems exist within many documentation systems, they appear to function adequetly becasue they are supported by a strong framework of oral tradition….Indeed, without oral tradition, many collections information systems would fail to fulfill the two basic functions of museum documentation. i.e. to lead the user to the specimen in a reasonable period of time , and to interrelate all the information sources, so that a user may easily find all the information recorded about an object within the system.

There’s been plenty of ink spilled about whether museum professionals are really professionals, or what kind of professionals we are. Even more so in discussing the functional role played by museum information professionals. Most of us learn much of what it means to be a member of the community through “on the job training” (OTJT) and participation in professional associations. All of this has kept me interested in the CoP approach, because I think it helps describe MIPs.

Turns out Janet Keller is faculty right here at UIUC and will be teaching Anthropological Approaches to Memory this fall:

Examines individual memory, the construction of memories in collective practice, and the orchestration of memory in social institutions such as museums and ritual. Reflects critically on primary sources, to integrate theory and ethnography and to compare alternative approaches.

I’m hoping to explore how we, the museum professioanal community, collectively create memory and rituals about what we do, why we do it, and how we formally (museum studies + academic disciplines) and informally (OTJT) transmit that to emerging professionals.

And lastly Hooray! This will be my last full semester of coursework as a PhD student. After this it will be dusting off my notes from the last two years and getting ready for field exams.