Intellectual

MLIS Portfolio

Deborah Bancroft

Human information behavior

From the first class, LIS 500 The Life Cycle of Information, to the last, LIS 550 Information in Social Context, I've encountered so much to learn, in so little time. Over the three years I've been in the program, theory has become easier to read and the lines between theory and practice have thankfully blended. By nature I am both inquisitive and acquisitive. I'm interested in trying to know a subject thoroughly and, best of all from LIS 500, I remember being told that we would get this all again through the course of our grad school careers. Thank goodness for the iterations of the iSchool.

In LIS 510 Information Behavior, I was introduced to the concept of the everyday user and my group chose to study information needs of this population. I was new to research with human subjects and felt grounded by working with a user group I could relate to. For an individual assignment I chose with similar reasoning to write about the theories of two everyday life researchers, Brenda Dervin and Carol Kuhlthau. The world of information theory was intellectually foreign to me at first and I needed to focus on research I could relate to. An academic essay was what was called for in this assignment, but it was the format I am the least experienced in. Thus, I felt somewhat challenged by both form and content. However, Instructor Lisa Fusco lauded my effort and gave my HIB Model Comparison paper high marks.


Information is perceptual

Terry Brooks' LIS 540 Information Systems, Architectures and Retrieval was unique and by far the most memorable class I took at the iSchool. My creativity and imagination were every bit as necessary as analytic thought and logical deduction were to keep current in the class. Although I do have experience writing poetry, the first assignment for LIS 540 was startling because we had to write a poem in a language I had no experience with whatsoever: text messaging or leetspeak. Another assignment was to pitch XML in a memo to Martha Stewart's empire as the great thing it apparently is, but I knew nothing about XML to begin with. Pretending to be Martha Stewart's assistant was fun, and the format was fun. Understanding XML, however, was hard and I did a lot of extra reading before I thought I understood it.

When it came to the final paper for the class, I chose to argue information is perceptual over the other choices of information is real or information is art. Partway into spring quarter 2006 I had started reading a very interesting and complex book, The user illusion: cutting consciousness down to size, by Tor Norretranders (1998), and decided to incorporate it into the final essay. One of the challenges here was to not bore the instructor so I felt sure that the academic essay format was out of the question for me. The difficult stretch intellectually was to not be boring but also to not be obscure, or dimwitted, or to write in cliches. The paper I wrote, Information is perceptual, has a form more like creative non-fiction than anything else. It draws also from the writing of David Abram whose first book The spell of the sensuous (1996) I read as an undergraduate at Evergreen State College.

To me information architecture is a fascinating field of study and practice. My one regret about my iSchool coursework choices is that I didn't explore the 540 decade beyond the core requirement. As with cataloging, I couldn't foresee information technology as my personal bread and butter as a librarian although both areas are vital to the big picture. If only there were more time!


Public library services for youth

Considering my desired employment, it was wise of me to have concentrated on the 520 and 560 decades. In LIS 567 Public Library Services for Youth, I had a fantastic opportunity to design programming for young people and to search for appropriate resources. I found both these projects very stimulating intellectually and Instructor Chance Hunt received them well also:

Collection Development and Marketing

Programming and Promotion

What was most satisfying to me about these two assignments was that I was able to exercise my judgment and planning skills in public service scenarios. While I have enjoyed my work for Timberland Regional Library in technical services, and while I am drawn to the theories of Dervin and Kuhlthau, and while I am interested in information technology, my career goal is not limited to research, nor information technology, but it is the broader goal of library public services.