Below you'll find information about some of my areas of scholarly interest. If you're curious about my publications and presentations, check out my profile on Academia.edu.
Young People, Libraries, and Comics
This project affords me an opportunity to conduct a study that looks back with fresh eyes on a moment in history that has great relevance to contemporary practice. Between 1938 and 1955—despite a profusion of published children’s literature and many well-appointed libraries in schools and communities offering programs and services for children and adolescents—most young people seemed more interested in comic books than in anything they could find in libraries. Why? What did comics have that children’s literature and libraries didn’t? How did librarians respond to children’s new reading interests? In what ways did librarianship’s historic response fit with its response to other child-preferred texts such as comic strips and series books? In what ways does it foreshadow the profession’s current promotion of comics?
To date, my study has focused primarily on librarians’ attitudes and practices. I assert that while not consciously malicious or insular, many youth services librarians believed in their professional authority, showing little true regard for children’s interests or acknowledgement of empirically-based arguments that might have contradicted librarians’ beliefs. Although this assertion may not be greeted with enthusiasm by youth services librarians and educators, it does help explain why this profession has failed to develop a more robust original research base. As I move forward in exploring other professions’ practices in guiding young peoples reading during the years when comics were popular, I will be able to test my assertion more rigorously.
Folktales, Facets, and FRBR
My colleague Kathryn La Barre and I are working to understand how three distinct user groups—scholars, practitioners, and lay people (including children)—seek out and use folktales and related resources. Our goal for this research is to create better access to these materials through the development of enhanced bibliographic records structures. The methods we are employing include cognitive task analysis via semi-structured and simulation interviews as well as facet analysis.
Bibliographic records for folktale resources frequently omit indicators of the rich, cultural heritage these items represent and provide only minimal access to their intellectual contents. Record enhancements may incorporate existing folktale classifications such as the Aarne-Thompson tale-type index and controlled vocabularies as well as current developments in cataloging practices and standards such as FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records).
An early phase of this research was funded by an OCLC / ALISE Research Grant award. We have presented results of this project at conferences including the iSchools' iConference, the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO), and the American Folklore Society. Although this project remains ongoing, you can download and read a preliminary report, which we deposited at IDEALS, or check out our 2012 article in JASIST (Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology).
School Librarianship: Literacy and Technologies
I have long-term interests in inquiry-based learning, information skills instruction, and critical literacy. Although my work in these areas is not based on original empirical research, I contribute understanding to the field of youth studies librarianship by synthesizing key empirical studies and advancing thoughtful arguments on topics such as texting, cognitive apprenticeship, and reading engagement. I have published numerous articles in School Library Monthly (formerly School Library Media Activities Monthly) and Knowledge Quest. Take a look at my advocacy article from 2011 in School Library Monthly, "The True Value of the Work We Do."