My research centers on the explicit use and incorporation of design epistemologies in librarianship. Often library design refers to architecture, furniture or signage. Sometimes it refers to technology, like websites. But libraries are steeped in design: from cuneiform lists of holdings in the ancient libraries of Sumeria, to classifications like the Dewey Decimal Classification system that enabled browsing of resources by subject rather than acquisition order, to modern readers’ advisory and recommendation databases. What separates a library from merely a collection is the design of tools and services that unite users with information. I examine the history, theory, and practice of librarianship from the perspective of design epistemology to facilitate the systematic and purposeful creation of future library services.

Current research projects:

  • Design Epistemology for Librarianship

The bulk of my research focuses on reconceptualizing librarianship as a design profession rather than a scientific discipline. Design is a creative discipline that often seems magical and intimidating to outsiders. Yet design reflects unique ways of knowing and assessing knowledge, different from traditional science. My multiple award-winning dissertation, “It’s Not Rocket Library Science: Design Epistemology and American Librarianship” analyzes examples of artifacts created through American library history to argue that librarianship is truly a design discipline. Continuing work draws on the idea of critical design–the creation of provocative artifacts to challenge established assumptions–to reveal ways in which libraries can explicitly, rather than implicitly, demonstrate and empower the values that set them apart from other information service providers. I also explore ways of incorporating design epistemology into both formal and informal LIS education.

Previous research projects:

  • Metadata and organization for video games

In conjunction with the GAme MEtadata Research (GAMER) group at the University of Washington, I explore new ideas and approaches for organizing and providing access to video games and interactive media, particularly from a user-centered perspective. This includes the design of metadata schemas, controlled vocabularies, and other related products as well as reflection, evaluation and analysis of these products to reveal insights about both gaming and knowledge organization.

  • Alternatives to traditional library cataloging and classification

My experience as a professional librarian at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising raised many questions about the information behavior of artists and other creative users. My early research focused on new approaches to library catalogs and classification systems that could assist these specific user groups.