Library and Information Science Miscellaneous

This weblog in the field of Library and Information Science contains news, comments and everything that its bloggers think could be useful for LIS professionals and students. It is maintianed by a number of students mainly Research students and Iranian. Our email is lismisblog at Yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Master Degree in LIS, a comparision, 4

Research Orientation: formerly I wrote about the role of the LIS faculty staff in the orientation of the Master students’ researches, now let me explain it a bit more. Obviously all students are free to choose any topic for their dissertations as long as the topics deserve a research according to the academic research criteria. But students usually find it difficult and time-consuming to choose a topic to focus on. In the UK, about the middle of the academic year, the department releases a list of topics for master studetns’ dissertation. The list includes the proposed subjects by faculty members. Each topic has a title and a brief description. Any students who is interested in a topic can contact to the appropriate fculty member and make an appointment and discuss the topic in detail. This is a good way to direct the MA dissertation toward useful and needed research areas and take advantage of the great potency which exists in enormous numbar of the master dissertations. The other advantage of this method is that the facuty members would less likely have to supervise a dissertation which doesn’t fall within their research interests or expertise (particularly in Iran where this is happening frequently).

Monday, August 30, 2004

WordNet

Many Search Engines use WordNet as a base to control the search words. WordNet is a lexical reference system designed based on the psycholinguistic theories. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into Synonym Sets, each representing a lexical concept.

WordNet 2.0 is available in 2 ways: online and downloadable file. It includes more than 42,000 links between nouns and verbs that are related to each other and has a focus on Terrorism! The Global WordNet Association provides a platform for discussing, sharing and connecting WordNets all around the world. The aim of the association is to promote the WordNets for all languages in the world. They have some contributors for Iranian languages.

Personally, I think WordNet is useful for people who need to learn more about English words and names, especially if they want to run a deep search. Try a familiar term like “library” at the Online WordNet 2.0 and see the results.

Related Links:

WordNet: http://wordnet.princeton.edu/
The Global Wordnet Association(GWA): http://www.globalwordnet.org/

Friday, August 27, 2004

The persian weblogs

Recently, I had an opportunity to review some of Persian weblogs. I found some very good weblogs by following the links. I really enjoy reading them ( from personal experiences to hot social and political issues of Iran) . They are very informative. I don't know which part of weblogs are not retrievable by search engines and are part of invisible web (Yazdan knows better). Is there any subject directory for Persian weblogs? (Persianblog has a subject directory but it is not searchable)

From the LIS perspective, there are many subjects regarding to Persian weblogs to be researched by LIS students. It would be great getting the results of such studies.

Orientation and information research skills classes

During each semester, RMIT libraries organize different orientation classes to both students and staff. These classes make students independent in finding information. This is the list of these classes:

  • Library tour (an introduction to the library)
  • Staying current with your research (how to save and re-run database searches, set up email alerts and receive table of contents, discussion lists and pre-print archives)
  • Catalogued demonstration
  • EndNote (An introduction to the popular bibliography tool)
  • Finding theses
  • Citation searching: web of knowledge
  • Introduction to databases, ejournals & ebooks
  • Finding journal articles

Googlism.com


Googlism
is a Google powered website in which you can try different words to see what Google thinks about them! Indeed it is a different way of search methods. You can insert name of any person, place or event and check a radio bottom to specify your request ( not all names are covered). Googlism searches Google and will find several sentences on the web for you which start with your mentioned name. This can be considered as a quick reference to find about different things. Results of course are not reliable.


Googlism was created as a fun tool to see what Google thinks of
certain topics and people. Of course, the results are not really Google's opinion; they're yours, the web site owners of the world. Within the Google results are thousands of your thoughts and opinions about thousands of different topics, people, names, things and places, we simply search Google and let you know what website owners think about the name or topic you suggested”



Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption and prison library

Last night I watched the The Shawshank Redemption (1994) directed by Frank Darabont, stared by Tim Robbins as Andy. I think It is one of the best Hollywood classics. The story was about an innocent man (Andy) in the Shawshank prison who has some advantures with some other prisoners. All of them have been sentenced to life. Andy is an educated, patient and industrious man who believes in hope, opposite of some other prisoners who think "hope is a dangerous thing". But, why am I writing about a film here?Andy in the library

After some years, the prison governor put Andy in charge of the library and he made the library one of the best prison libraries in the New England. In the beginning, the library was like a store. He kept sending one letter per week to people in charge and asked them for books and budget for the library. He didn't get any reply for 6 years but he didn’t quit. Eventually, they gave him many books and some money for the library. They did that just because they wanted to get rid of his letters not because they believed in the value the library could add to the prisoners' lives. I was thinking about the patience of Andy. He could be a paradigm for some librarians to copy. Sometimes it is very hard to convince the mother organization to give enough budget to the library. It needs lots of patience!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Invigilation

One of the opportunities that postgraduate students in the UK universities have for working is to work as invigilator (moraghebe emtehan) during the examination period. As far as I know in all universities all exams are held by the central examination office. Lecturers prepare the questions and hand them to the exam office. Exam office plans for all exams and hires some people (often from outside of university) to work as invigilator. Postgraduate students particularly research ones who don’t have exams can work as invigilator (about 8.50£ per hour in London and 6.50£ in other cities). In every exam there is one head invigilator and some invigilators. I’ve never seen an exam in which students complain about lack of time. Most of exams are between 2-3 hours. And in most of exams students are asked to answer for example 3 questions out of 5 given questions, so they always have chance to choose the questions they want to answer. Some of the exam regulations might be interesting for student in Iran.
E.g. students are not allowed to leave the exam during the first hour of the exam nor in the last 15 minutes. Students who are less than one hour late are allowed to attend the exam. Students can have bring water, drink, chocolate or any kind of snack to the exam, student are allowed to go to the loo, provided they are escorted by one invigilator. Is short the exam office does its best to make the exam situation as comfortable as more for the students. The lectures usually don’t come to exam hall, but they are available by phone to answer any question during the exam. In most of exam the emphasis is on explanation not on memorizing the course materials.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Master Degree in LIS, a comparision, 3

Assessment: most of the modules (except Research Seminar) in LIS MA course in Iran are assessed mainly by usual examination. Normal examinations could be efficient and appropriate assessment method for some modules but not for all. Another good point in UK LIS master degree which is worth mentioning is the assessment method. Unlike Iran, the assessment of almost all modules at City Univ. is based on the coursework and assignment. Let me give some examples:
- for the module “Information Resources and Users” students have to analyse information needs of a particular group and write a report in 3000-4000 words;
- the assessment for the module “Information Retrieval Systems and Applications” is based on the practical participation of students in every sessions and a 2500-3000 word report that students write after the evaluation of an IR system;
- for “Information Law and Policy” students have to choose one of the predetermined questions and discuss it in detail and make a presentation at class and answer to the questions of the classmates;
- for the module “Libraries Past, Present and Future” students must choose either a specific library or library service or a tightly defined library sector (e.g. small urban public library branches, medical libraries in large hospitals) and then in an essay of between 2,500 and 4,000 words discuss the current situation of the chosen library, the most important factors promoting change, and possible outcomes of these changes over the next 10 years.

You can see that in all these courseworks and assignments students need to apply all they’ve learned during the module and this is the best way to evaluate their knowledge. Besides that, writng several reports and making several presentations make students prepared for writing a good dissertation and entering to the research area. I should mention here that all the details of the courseworks and assignments are determined in the beginning of the term and are told to students in the first session of the module. The submission deadline of the assignment is determined in the first place and the delay is not accepted (even one hour). All assignmnet are submitted in electronic format through electronic learning environment of the university.

UQ Library – 2 – The Cybrary

As I already mentioned, the University of Queensland holds a high quality library. The UQ Library is so-called the Cybrary to refer to its numerous computer-based facilities. Here I just list several instances of those activities:

- Online catalogues
- Online Bibliographic and full-text databases and portals
- Subject gateways
- UQ and Australian Research e-publication archive
- e-journals, e-books, e-prints and virtual references
- Exams and lecture papers
- User profiles and Current Awareness facilities
- Information Skills facilities
- AskIT, an online service for assisting students in the case of IT and Internet
- Ask A Cybrerian, an online access through e-mail, forums and live chat to librarians who are well-educated and experienced in different LIS and IT aspects ( Cybrerians )
- Automatic machine-based borrowing, renewing and returning system available through the Web
- Borrowing laptops and educational facilities for students
- e-Zones, or main public IT facilities of the campus with additional facilities e.g. scanners and Printers

The library doesn’t have any separate membership system and all staff and students are automatically joined to the UQ Library. Student I.D. cards are issued in the library and are the only cards usable all-around the campus.

For finding more information about the UQ Library visit its website: http://www.library.uq.edu.au/

Saturday, August 21, 2004

First Birthday of A Weblog

Today is the first anniversary of launching the Invisible Web Gateway. Throughout last year I have posted 123 entries about different aspects of the invisible web and the invisibility of information on the web on my weblog. This weblog acts as a gateway about the invisible web and also an online tool to monitor my activities on my PhD research topic. If you like to read more about this weblog please follow the link. However, I am happy that at the first anniversary of setting up my personal weblog I have new chance to work with my friends in another weblog which is much more general and more interesting because it is not limited to a specific topic and we can write about everything.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Two conferences, call for paper

The following forthcoming conferences have called for paper. For more information refer to their website. Both of them have PhD workshop.

1. ECIS 2005: 13th European Conference on Information Systems, 26-28 May, 2005, Regensburg, Germany.
2. OKLC 2005: 6th European Conference onOrganizational Knowledge, Learning, and Capabilities, 16-18 March, 2005, Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

Knowledge management and librarianship: part 2

LIS professionals are not in unanimity about knowledge management. Some commentators argue that knowledge management is nothing more than information management (Wilson 2002) or that it is no different from what librarians have done for years (Koenig 1997). Nevertheless, there is a general acknowledgement within the literature that LIS professionals have excellent information management skills in order to be significant players in knowledge management. Abell & Oxbrow state that:
“A knowledge management environment needs excellent information management (IM). Although IM is not KM, knowledge is communicated through information, and the management of information creation, flow, storage and destruction is essential if individuals and groups are to share and build knowledge. The skills that facilitate the building of infostructures-the combination of information architecture, content management and information technology that enables individuals to access the right, reliable information at the right time, prevents information overload, and supports push-and-pull information delivery-are increasingly valued and sought by organizations. There are no doubt that the information profession has the theoretical basis and practical skills to provide this essential element of KM. (Abell and Oxbrow 2001)”
______________________________________________________

Wilson, Tom (2002) 'The nonsence of knowledge management', Information Research, 8(1).
Koenig, MED (1996), 'Intelectual capital and knowledge management', IFLA Journal, 22(4), pp. 299-301.
Abell, A & Oxbrow, N. (2001), Competing with knowledge: The information professionals in the knowledge management age, London: Library Association Publishing.

Research proposal presentation

Last week I had the presentation of my research proposal. 6 months after starting research, all research students must present their research proposal in front of other research students and supervisours. It is very good opportunity to evaluate your research plan. Research method and the rationale of the research are the most concerns in this sessions which audiances ask you to clarify them. It is also a chance to communicate with other research students. It is interesting that most of research students in Australia are overseas-international- students. In Australia most of them are from China.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Wikipedia and Wikipedians

Wikipedia is a free, copyleft, multilanguage encyclopedia that is collaboratively developed by thousands of people (referred to as Wikipedians) using wiki software. It includes information more often associated with almanacs and gazetteers, as well as coverage of current events. Copyleft means that its content can be copied, modified, and redistributed. It has 409 articles in Persian language including a section about Library and Information Science. We invite you to write about Iranian LIS in Wikipedia. For more information refer to its website: http://www.wikipedia.org/

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Acknowledgment

The LISMis would like to take this opportunity and appreciate the contribution of the new members who joined to this initiative. I am sure we are all in agreeement that this medium is a good context for sharing our experiences. Hopefully more people will join us soon. All research students who are interested in contribution can send an email to lismisblog at yahoo dot com in order to recieve an invitation letter.

Master Degree in LIS, a comparision, 2

Collaborative teaching: one of the main difference in LIS courses in Iran and UK is the way that modules are taught. Besides the differece in the teaching method, The point that I want to emphesise here is participation of more than one lecturer in the module. In Iran a lecturer is determined for a module based on his/her interest and expertise in that field and s/he keep teaching that subject for years and years and it is very unlikely to see that another lecturer from another schools or even the same school participate in teaching of that module as a joint lecturer or even guest speaker. Of course if we are optimistc and don’t think that sometimes a lecturer is determined based on some other considerations other than expertise. Anyway, you all know about the situation over there.

But in UK (at least at City Univ.) you can sometimes see more than one lecturer during a module. For instance I attended the module “Research Evaluation and Communication Skills”. It included 10 sessions and was taught by 5 lecturers. There was one main lecturer as module leader and in every session a different lecturer who was expertise in the topic of that session came and taught. Or the module “Information Resources and users” was taught jointly by two lectureres. In many modules you can see that in some sessions a guest speaker who is expert in that field from the same school or sometimes form a different university come and make a lecture for 30 minutes or 1 hour or whatever.

For instance I remember that in the last session of the Module “IR systems and applications” professor Steve Robertson as a guest speaker talked about the future of research in IR. Unfortunately it seems because of payment arrangemnet in Iranian universities which is not flexible enough and because of many other reasons, it is very hard ot use the expertise of lecturers efficiently. But the UK is a good case in this respect to at least learn how to make teaching more interesting and efficient both for student and lecturers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Closer Look at Weblogs

A Closer Look at Weblogs written by Cindy Curling is an introductory paper about Weblog phenomenon and blogging. Those new bloggers who like to know different and general things about Weblogs would find the paper useful.

fast or good?

“Don’t rely on the title!” this sentence is probably familiar to all librarians. In cataloguing courses, there is a strong emphasis on searching the title page, table of contents, body and so on in each book to find appropriate subjects for it. This is because usually titles are not reliable and especially in the case of non-scientific books, the cataloguer might mistake the books subjects. I remember an example in this case “Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance”. Our teacher used to mention this title to tell us not to trust the titles.

Recently, I saw this book on my friend’s book shelves and I was interested to have a look at it. The book is a kind of autobiography. Robert M. Pirsig expresses the story of his travels with his friends using motorcycles instead of cars. Indeed, the book is much more philosophical and critical about the ways we encounter our problems and it is full of good advice on how to face daily affairs or in summary how to live your life in a good way. I found the book full of great ideas about life and the ways we think or we act.

In a car, you’re always in compartment the writer says his idea about cars and motorcycles. “and because you are used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it’s all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle, the frame is gone. You’re completely in contract with all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it…”(1)

Pirsig mentions the difference between a fast and a good travel and believes that the whole approach will be changed if we choose one of them. Personally, I agree with him. Nowadays, you can see a big competition among different Search Engines to address more relevant sites and documents in a shorter time. They’re successful and they find thousands of electronic pages just in few seconds. While IT specialists do their best to retrieve more relevant documents and websites, their idea about the quality of information retrieval is different from LIS specialists.

The meaning of Quality described by IT specialists is much more quantitative. They are trying to retrieve more amounts of resources in a shorter time and they don’t matter how much the retrieved information is effective for the users. Indeed, they describe a fast travel as a good travel.

____________________________________________________
1)Robert M. Pirsig. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance: an inquiry into values. New York : Morrow, 1974. pp: 6-8.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Michael Moore and librarians

This morning on the train, I was reading the book "Stupid White Men" by Michael Moore (the director of 'FAHRENHEIT 9/11') that I came across his opinion about librarians in the introduction of the book. His book was written before September 11 but his publisher refused to distribute the book after the attack to New York. A librarian helped him to make the publisher distribute the book. This happened through email of the librarian to her other librarian friends. That’s an interesting story. Let me present his opinion about librarians here (please don’t misunderstand; this is to be a positive opinion):
"… Most of people think of them [librarians] as all mousy and quiet and telling everyone to "SHHHHHH!" I’m now convinced that "shush" is just the sound of the steam coming out of their ears as they sit there plotting the revolution! You better believe they’re mad. They aren’t paid shit, their hours and benefits are continually being cut, their budgets are the first to be slashed, and they spend their days repairing dilapidated forty-year-old books which fill their shelves. Of course it was a librarian who came to my aid!..."

Friday, August 13, 2004

A cool search engine

Have a go with this search engine: find.com . It categorizes the results according to different elements. If you wants to know more about it read this.

Master Degree in LIS, a comparision, 1

Since the master degree is the main postgrduate LIS course in Iran and its efficiency can have a great effect on the outcome of the LIS schools, hence on the society, I decided to write a series of posts about LIS course in UK and make some suggestion for improving the Iranian degree. What I’ll write here is based on my knwledge about MS degree at City Univ. Comparing the LIS master degree in Iran and in UK, UK one looks shorter, more efficient, more market-based and practically useful. Let me make some comparisions (my knwoledge about Iran MA & MS degree may be a little old).
1. UK Master is 1 year totally, Iranian Master is 2 years (and usually it takes students longer to finish it);
2. UK Master consists of about 10 modules and one dissertation, Iranian Master consists almost the same;
3. every module in UK consists of 10 two-hour sessios, in iran every module includes 17 ninty-minutes sessions (considering that usually no more than 14 sesseions are held by lecturer and studetns in practice);
4. the assessment of all modules in UK Master is based on the assignment and coursework (no exam), but the assessment of all modules in iran is based on the examinations;
5. Uk students write their dissertations in almost totally 3-4 month,but in iran it takes usually 1 year or more while the quality of UK theses not noly is not worse than Iranian ones but also in many cases is better;
6. there is an orientation for master theses in UK and the department usually has a plan to direct the students’ researches in a way that could be useful both for the sociaty and market and also for the research projects of the department itself. So the department help students a lot with choosing the topic. That’s one the reasons why the students are able to finish their studies just in one year;
7. there is no specialty in Iranian Master and there are just two different Master degrees (medical and nonmedical MS courses). But in UK there is a variety of specialties for master degree, e.g. just at City there are about 10 different master degrees in information related subjects.
8. the subjects and contents of the modules in UK are up-to-date and flexible. When you look at the master modules in Iran you get the impression that that is the same as the Bachelor but with a bit more specialty;
and more that I’ll write later…

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Should PhD be 3 years?

Before I started my studies, I used to think that PhD shouldn’t be three years. It is not worth it. I always asked myself “what do PhD students do during 3 years? It is just a research and a dissertation that can be done in 2 years at maximum”. After I started my PhD, I realized that even 3 years may not be enough. In the first year you need to get a comprehensive literature review done and put a good annual report to bed, which in its turn includes a very detailed proposal, research plan and background study. You might feel that you are familiar with your research area but the literature to study is enormous. You finish one article and think that it was the last one. But when you reach to the references in the end of the article you find some other materials in the reference list. It comes sometimes that you feel that there is no end for this story. Once you have achieved a clear idea of the past studies and their results, you will be able to plan for the future.
One of the main differences between research degree in Iran and abroad is this review stage. Because of the several factors including lack of literature, inefficient access to material and researchers’ attitude among others, review of the literature is not appreciated properly. I’ve heard of the PhD students who finished their research and then started searching in some databases to just get some references for the end of their dissertation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Research activities in summer

One of the problems of LIS academic staff in Iran and maybe in some other developing countries is that they are too much engaged in teaching and when it comes to research activities, one of their excuses is not having enough time. Summer is an almost semi-active or inactive period in respect of teaching in all universities as undergraduate students are in their vacations. Therefore it could be a good opportunity for research students and those staff who are interested or engaged in research to take advantage of. June and July in some universities in UK is seminar season. Almost every week one lecturer, researcher or research student voluntarily makes a presentation about his/her ongoing research. Many workshops and conferences take place in summer. There are some summer schools for interested people particularly postgraduate students. See for instance this one about data management.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Library courses in business faculty!

It seems that library education has been entered to other fields with different names. Just look at following library courses that Business faculty-school of business IT- of RMIT universtiy offers:

  • Records management
  • Information environment
  • Advanced information retrieval
  • Information provision
  • Information centre management
  • Document collections
  • Recreation literature for young people
  • Information resource management
  • Advanced information storage and retrieval
  • Information organization in libraries
  • Online and CD-ROM searching

Be your own supervisor

Relation between a research student and his/her supervisor depends on several factors such as the nature of the discipline, the nature of the student’s research, personal characteristics and etc. How to get a PhDIt could be quite complicated especially for those who come from a different culture or a different educational system. LIS departments in UK usually constitute some research groups or teams. If your research falls within research domain of a group, you can work as a member of the team and achieve lots of experience. If not, you are on your own, particularly if your supervisor has just a broad interest in your research topic and is not so expert in or keen on your topic. The main point that a research student should always bear in his/her mind is that the research is his/her own project and s/he is its director. The main role that a supervisor is supposed to play is to make sure that student’s research comply with the criteria of a high quality academic research. That’s it. So try to be your own supervisor. To survive as a research student in the British academia (or similar environments), read the book “How to get a PhD” by Estelle M. Phillips from Open University Press.

RMIT libray

The best thing that I like in RMIT library is using email to contact with students. For example 3 days before the due date of your loans they send you an email and remind you to return or renew items.
They also use email to inform your document delivery requests.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Internet, Censorship and Free Speech in Iran

It may be interesting to know that Peder Jensen who is a master student in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway, is working on the topic “the Internet, Censorship and Free Speech in the Islamic Republic of Iran” with a special emphasis on English Weblogs as his MS dissertation. He intends to pursue a PhD in the USA on roughly the same topic, about Free Speech in Cyberspace in Islamic and Middle Eastern countries, and possible religious and political implications of this.

knowledge management and librarianship: part 1

Knowledge management has created new ground in the field of library and information science. It has also created new roles and responsibilities for LIS professionals. I would like to discuss the phenomenon of knowledge management-KM- from the LIS perspective and I hope you find it useful.
Knowledge management has been prominent in a range of literature from the late 1990s. A primary characteristic of knowledge management is the representation of a range of business and academic disciplines including: human resource management, information management, information technology, sociology, organizational learning and strategic planning. As a consequence there is an extensive and diffuse literature on knowledge management reflecting differing perspectives and competing claims for ownership of the area.

Reviewing the LIS literature reveals that the importance of knowledge management has been realized by many LIS professionals. An online search of LISA for titles that include "knowledge management" produced 530 records. Knowledge management has also featured as a topic at many LIS conferences. A growing number of LIS schools now offer master degrees in knowledge management. (e.g. Dominican, Emporia, Oklahama, Loughborough, London Metropolitan university) or feature the subject as a component of either masters or undergraduate degrees.

UQ Library-1

What do you expect a university library to do? Should it offer a huge number of books or develop the journal archives according to the research and educational outlines of the university? Providing facilities for easy access to online databases and good reference services are other features every university library is expected to offer. These services with the best quality of performance are just some parts of the numerous activities and services of the Library of the University of Queensland -UQ Library.
Physically, with 15 branch building, UQ Library branches are the main parts of all educational spaces at the university campus. UQ library contains 2,100,000 printed materials - 1,300,000 books and 800,000 journal copies. The library has the biggest archive of films in Australia and students can watch freely thousands of movies at the audio-visual desks. The library is involved to the university education system through a comprehensive network and new textbooks, journals and resources are provided automatically based on the last educational outlines. I’ll describe the vast electronic services offered by the UQ Library in separate entries. Meanwhile, I would like to mention that the UQ Library is the main provider and director of IT services in the University of Queensland. Relation between the university and its students is available basically through the UQ network and every student has a profile for whatever he or she needs as a student. The UQ Library is the best place that students can access PC terminals for their needs. Hundreds of quality computers in the library e-Zones provide the best opportunity for students to check their internal profiles, choose their subjects, follow their lectures, use word processors, check their e-mails and browse the Web for free.
UQ Library is a good example of active university libraries and students can not find somewhere at the campus as flexible and comfortable as the there. The University of Queensland has reached excellent ranks in recent years and part of this success is for its library.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Two forthcoming conferences

Just a quick link to two forthcoming conferences, both of them include some workshops suitable for students.
1. Internet Librarian 2004, 15-17 November, London;
2. The Association of Internet Researchers 5th Annual Conference, 19-22nd September 2004, University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Shopping behaviour and information behaviour

It’s interesting to see how a plain idea grows to an innovative research plan. For example, a simple comparison between people’s shopping behaviour in a huge supermarket like Tesco or Sainsbury and users’ information behaviour in a digital library on the web. Some studies in marketing show that when people face a huge variety of goods with a little difference in price and quality, they just leave the items and don’t buy any of them. It happened several times to me that I went to Tesco to buy some, say e.g. cheese, but after I saw too many kinds of cheese with a bit difference in prices and I didn’t know about their properties enough, so I found it difficult to decide about which kind of cheese to buy and finally I just gave it up and came out of the shop without cheese. Is this happening in the digital information environments? Previously, users used to go to the library and check a limited number of journals; now they go to a digital journal library like Emerald, Elsevier and Blackwell and find hundreds of digital journals. Do they get what they want or spend a while browsing and searching and finally just leave it without what they looked for? Indeed the idea is that some experts think users’ information behaviour and customers’ shopping behaviour are becoming alike and actually information is being considered and treated as a good. That’s why now you may come across a term like “Information Consumer” instead of “Information User” in some literature.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Divorce your PC

PhD students in most fields have usually a desk and PC connected to the Internet and I’ve seen that they spend most of their working time at their desk. Young generation especially rely too much on the Internet. Sometimes they think that they can find almost everything they need for their studies through the Internet. But this is not the case. If you are a PhD student and have these facilities, think about your working style. Aren’t you addicted to and relied on the Internet? If yes, and if you want to make a good progress in your research, give up sitting behind your computer and at least for two weeks think that you don’t have computer and Internet. Go to the library of your university and discover it. Yes, discover it. Spend your time in the library for a while and see the result. One of disadvantages of too much reliance on the Internet is that the information of e.g. 50 years ago doesn’t exist for new generation of researchers. They think electronic resources and search engines and online databases suffice them. Lancaster in the preface on the 3rd edition of his book “Indexing and Abstracting” has written about this and said that we are facing the phenomenon of “rediscovering the wheel” in some subfields of LIS.

Paradox

Have you ever thought about the paradox between our current studies and what we will deal with in Iran after our study is finished? Every one of us in different countries and different schools has focused on a very specific area of information related issues. We are expected to find a problem for our research that is completely up-to-date and tangent with the latest research projects running in the world. This is fantastic. For example two years ago, when I was preparing a research proposal, I found some reports about the current projects for unifying all Search Engines on the Web. They were basis for my research proposal. It is interesting that at the moment the global idea in this case has been completely reversed and I am expected to work on something completely in contrast with what I intended before. I want to say that our projects and then our studies are totally up-to-date and synchronous with the Developed World.

But what will be our job and our issues when we go back? How much our studies are useful for our educational job in Iran. Do you think we will be able to have influence on the information system (as a general word) of our country? I want to say there is a big gap between what we learn and what we'll teach or do. Hopefully we don't fall in obsolescence.

New Weblog

This is my first entry for this group of bloggers. I joined this Weblog right now because a dear friend, invited me to join the group and I accepted the invitation with pleasure. I am going to publish my ideas and any related news in the next entries. The idea of developing this Weblog is great and I am sure this Weblog will be a good opportunity for Iranian students in LIS field to work together and share their thoughts and knowledge.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Something about everything or vise versa

Just to start blogging, let me write something related to word Miscellaneous which is a part of the Weblog's title. About one month ago, Mark and I went to a Mediterranean buffet to try their foods. We didn’t have lunch on purpose to be able to eat to death in the buffet in the evening! You might know that in buffets you pay a fixed amount and eat as much as you want. They usually have a range of different foods. A guy was sitting next to us and curiously watching our eating. We started talking to him. Whatever we talked about he knew and had something to say. He was originally from Russia but was American citizen and had lived some years in Egypt and at that time had come to work in UK for a while. I told him that it seemed he knew something about everything and he said “that’s a good point. It depends on what you prefer to know: Something about everything or everything about something”. I said “it depends on what you want to do. If you want to be specialist, you need to know almost everything about something, deep and narrow. If you want to do something like a managerial sort of job, preferably you should know something about almost everything, shallow and wide”. Of course if you have both it would be perfect. I think library and information science professionals need to have both properties in a sense, especially in high level of the profession. Because as professionals they need to be specialist in their own field, and also because of the nature of their profession they need to have a high level of general knowledge. Because of LIS curriculum many people including some LIS students think that the librarians are trained just to know something about everything, but this is not the case. They have their own expertise, of course at different levels.

Welcome to LISMis weblog

LISMis (The Weblog of Library and Information Science Miscellaneous) has been designed by some Iranian research students in the fields of Information-related Studies to gather and share the ideas and experiences of Iranian well-educated librarians and information specialists. LISMis is not a mere scientific attempt. Indeed, it is a basis to keep relationship between the students and educated members of Iranian LIS family. Whether in Iran or overseas the writers are, LISMis will reflect their experiences as researchers, librarians or managers. There is no limitation on the topics of the entries and that's why the mischellaneous has been added to the title. The weblog tries to share interesting and useful experiences and findings of its bloggers. Any comment or suggestion will be appreciated. The email of the Weblog is lismisblog at yahoo dot com.

LISMis Blogger team 7