Published on March 31, 2014
What Can IA Learn from Library and Information Science (LIS)? Perspectives from LIS Education Craig M. MacDonald, Ph.D. Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science Academic and Practitioners Roundtable | IA Summit 2014
Why LIS? As self-identified librarians, Morville & Rosenfeld promoted an LIS-based view of IA that emphasized: • Information seeking and information behaviors • Information classification and categorization • Information retrieval (search) • Thesauri, controlled vocabularies, and metadata 2
Some more questions Q: Is LIS still relevant to IA? A: Yes. • A large part of IA is still about controlled vocabularies, taxonomies/ontologies, information classification, information seeking behaviors, etc1. Q: Are other disciplines important to IA? A: Yes. • Architecture, cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction, art, design, anthropology, etc., also inform IA practice at various levels. 31 Source: Abby Covert.
But really: why LIS? Morville & Rosenfeld established a permanent link between LIS and IA. From 2001-2002, Andrew Dillon published a series of articles arguing for the need to develop a theoretical framework for IA. He argued that IA should be a “meta-discipline” and should emphasize collaboration and interdisciplinarity. 4
Snapshot of IA education in 2002 Zhang (2002): analyzed IA curricula in LIS programs and determined that a lack of coordination led to instability and inconsistency in what was taught in IA classes. Robins (2002): surveyed IA courses in LIS curriculum and found that skills are being taught without a common vocabulary and without a coherent conceptual framework. 5
More interdisciplinarity in LIS Chu (2006): discovered an increase in new, web-oriented courses and new types of course clusters outside of traditional LIS topics. Zhang and Benjamin (2007): built a conceptual framework for LIS, Information Science, MIS, and HCI to help unite the information-related fields. Yang (2008): found a significant growth in collaboration in LIS publications, with authors coming from many disciplines outside of LIS. Wise et al (2011): job listings show an increasing emphasis on a broader base of knowledge rather than high- specificity. 6
What happened (visually) 7 Library & Information Science Information Architecture
What happened (visually) 8 Library & Information Science Information Architecture HCI Design Computer Science Big Data & Analytics
Current state of LIS-IA education Analysis of syllabi from IA courses offered by North American LIS programs. The goals of this analysis are: 1. To define the perspective that LIS brings to IA, 2. To discover how IA is taught within the LIS discipline, and 3. To develop a common set of topics, principles, and/or guidelines to be used by LIS programs offering courses in IA. 9
Summary Statistics 58 MSLIS programs accredited by the American Library Association. 19 (33%) offer a course in Information Architecture 10 iSchools Library Schools Drexel University Indiana University University of Michigan University of Pittsburgh University of Toronto University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee University of Alberta Catholic University Dominican University Pratt Institute University of Rhode Island Simmons College University of South Florida Southern Connecticut State University St. John’s University Valdosta State University Wayne State University University of Western Ontario University of Wisconsin-Madison
Course Titles & Syllabi Information Architecture (10) Information Architecture and Web Design (5) (with some slight variations) Others (4): Information Architecture & Interaction Design Information Architecture & Knowledge Org. Advanced Web Design Web Design for Libraries and Information Centers 11 Syllabi were located for 14 of the 19 courses (74%). Semester Breakdown: 1 Fall 2010 1 Spring 2011 1 Fall 2011 3 Winter/Spring 2012 1 Winter/Spring 2013 3 Winter/Spring 2014 4 no semester (ECD)
Course Topics Topic Courses Pct. (N=14) Navigation, organization, and labeling 11 57.9% Usability/user testing 10 52.6% IA history/fundamentals 10 52.6% Programming, web development, and CMS 9 47.4% Deliverables (wireframes, prototypes, personas, etc.) 7 36.8% Search systems 7 36.8% Process (e.g., strategy) 7 36.8% User needs and information seeking 6 31.6% Graphic/visual design 5 26.3% Information organization and metadata 4 21.1% Accessibility and web standards 3 15.8% Mobile 3 15.8% Writing web content 3 15.8% Social media 2 10.5% Other: copyright, analytics, branding 1 each 5.3% 12
2-12 topics per course; 6.4 avg Topic Courses Pct. (N=14) Navigation, organization, and labeling 11 57.9% Usability/user testing 10 52.6% IA history/fundamentals 10 52.6% Programming, web development, and CMS 9 47.4% Deliverables (wireframes, prototypes, personas, etc.) 7 36.8% Search systems 7 36.8% Process (e.g., strategy) 7 36.8% User needs and information seeking 6 31.6% Graphic/visual design 5 26.3% Information organization and metadata 4 21.1% Accessibility and web standards 3 15.8% Mobile 3 15.8% Writing web content 3 15.8% Social media 2 10.5% Other: copyright, analytics, branding 1 each 5.3% 13
Program x Topic Matrix Alb Cat Do DU IU UM Pra RI Sim SCT St J Val WS WO IA Hist/Fund x x x x x x x x x x Nav/Org/Lab x x x x x x x x x x x Usability x x x x x x x x x x Info Org/Meta x x x x User needs x x x x x x Search x x x x x x x Graphic Des x x x x x Programming x x x x x x x x x Deliverables x x x x x x x Mobile x x x Accessibility x x x Process x x x x x x x Writing x x x Social Media x x Copyright x Analytics x Branding x 14
Required Readings 15 Material Courses Pct* Information Architecture for the WWW (Morville & Rosenfeld) 4 40% Don’t Make Me Think (Krug) 3 30% The Elements of User Experience (Garrett) 2 20% Using Wordpress as a Library CMS (Jones & Farrington) 2 20% HTML, XHTML, and CSS Visual Quickstart (Castro) 2 20% Web Styles Guide (Lynch) 2 20% Others (59 distinct texts) 1 each - *Required texts could only be identified for 10 of the 14 courses. 0 1 2 3 4 5
More about Required Readings 16 Type Count Pct. (N=65) Books or book chapters 27 42% Journal/magazine articles 25 38% Websites 13 20% Required Readings Number of Courses Pct. of Courses 14+ 3 30% 7-10 2 20% 1-4 4 40% 0 1 10%
So, what can IA learn from LIS? Unfortunately, these things are still true 12 years later: A lack of coordination leads to instability and inconsistency in what is taught in IA classes (Zhang, 2002) Skills are being taught without a common vocabulary and without a coherent conceptual framework (Robins, 2002) 17
Maybe this was the wrong question… Q0: What can IA learn from LIS? QA: What can IA educators learn from how IA is taught in LIS? A: Better coordination between educators can lead to more consistency in what’s taught in IA courses Better marketing/branding of IA can prevent people from conflating IA with web design and other topics 18
Still missing a conceptual framework Dillon, 2002: “IA, as a meta-discipline, should engage and share, not partition.” Me, 2014: IA, as a regular discipline, should narrow its focus to what IA’s do best. 19
I is for Information The field was called information architecture (kind of) by accident. But, the term has stuck around because providing structure (and meaning) to information is incredibly valuable but still very difficult to do. In my view, this is what IA’s do best. 20
Toward a conceptual framework Some questions to consider: 1. What LIS concepts, theories, or models are most salient to IA? 2. What are the foundational competencies of an IA? 3. What role can the IA Institute play in shaping IA curricula? 4. How can IA curricula be customized to fit different audiences (e.g., LIS, design, CS)? 21
Toward a conceptual framework Some questions to consider: 1. What LIS concepts, theories, or models are most salient to IA? 2. What are the foundational competencies of an IA? 3. What role can the IA Institute play in shaping IA curricula? 4. How can IA curricula be customized to fit different audiences (e.g., LIS, design, CS)? 22
Thank you Craig M. MacDonald, Ph.D. email@example.com @CraigMMacDonald 23 *Special thanks to my graduate assistants, Seth Persons and Samantha Raddatz, for their help with data collection and analysis.
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