Importance of Theory and Deep Concepts

Map Location
C, 3, 4
Thread Location
Page 18
Scape


Author
Michael Luther

Conversation Starters

1. Institutions have missions and Associations have missions, but do broad fields such as Sociology or Psychology have missions?

Related Artifacts

Brooks, M. (2008). 13 things that don’t make sense: The most baffling scientific mysteries of our time. New York: Doubleday.

Annotation: The basic idea is that every problem is an opportunity, and sometimes what can seem an unsolvable problem is actually potential for a giant advance. But the prologue of this interesting book says it far better than I can, so I will let the book speak for itself.
“In Science, being completely and utterly stuck can be a good thing; it often means a revolution is coming.”
“The Things that don’t make sense are, in some ways, the only things that matter.”
There has been so much talk of the imminent cataclysm within librarianship— that the field is obsolete, and it is merely a matter of time. Although the last decade has been a period of great creativity and experimentation in libraries, I don’t know that we are any less stuck. Our relevance is still very much on the table. What librarians have shown is their perseverance and creative thinking. Maybe the time is ripe for our own revolution.

Crowley, B. (2005). Spanning the theory-practice divide in library and information science. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Annotation: This is a review of Crowley’s book. The idea of cultural pragmatism is introduced as a means of bridging the wide gap between the academic and the practitioner. Cultural pragmatism is “an aid to researchers in both camps for its inclusion of context specificity and the need for testing a theory’s usefulness through continually analyzed experience.” Theory cannot just be an exercise for furthering one’s academic career; it must be applicable in the real world.

Jones, B. (2005). Revitalizing theory in library and information science: The contribution of process philosophy. Library Quarterly, 75(2), 101–121. Retrieved from Library Literature and Information Science Full Text Database.

Annotation: With a focus on theory and knowledge and an emphasis on “the library in the life of a person,” this article seems particularly relevant to our discussions of the importance of theory.

Kim, S., & Jeong, D. Y. (2006). An analysis of the development and use of theory in library and information science research articles. Library & Information Science Research, 28(4), 548–562. Retrieved from Library Literature and Information Science Full Text Database.

Annotation: This article ties into the Atlas nicely by helping the library community to understand the current state of theory development and use. Analytical articles like this one will help us see where we are and where we should go, perhaps by seeing which are the most hopeful theories to follow or merging theories into a more unified theory of librarianship.

Perrone, V. (2009). Theory and practice in the library workplace. LIS News. Retrieved from http://www.lisnews.org/taxonomy/term/17

Annotation: Perrone points out that the purpose of theory is to tell us why we are doing things. Library school is an ideal place to engender this “shared theoretical basis.” Although these theories are not eternal, such systems of values can become internalized and therefore deeply entrenched. Managers should also lead occasional theoretical discussions to draw out competing theories within an organization. Perrone notes the shift that has occurred in the way libraries are perceived and suggests that change has come so fast that we should not make assumptions that everyone has the same understanding of our field.

Qvortrup, L. (2007). The public library: From information access to knowledge management: A theory of knowledge and knowledge categories. Retrieved from http://informationr.net/ir/12-4/colis/colis17.html

Annotation: This article investigates a topic that should be very important to our current discussions in New Librarianship: knowledge. The author presumes that the job of the library is not to provide access to limitless quantities of information (as he claims it once was) but to provide knowledge management. After discussing a number of past theories of knowledge, he offers a new one: “Knowledge is confirmed observations.” This confirmation can take place on a personal level (by oneself ) or on a social level (by someone else). Knowledge is broken into four categories, and functions are assigned to each category. This, the author hopes, will help to organize the modern library.

Thompson, K. M. (2009). Remembering Elfreda Chatman: A champion of theory development in library and information science education. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 50(2), 119–126. Retrieved from Library, Literature, and Information Science Full Text database.

Annotation: Thompson, by using Chatman’s extended work in theory and theory building as an exemplar, hopes to aid in teaching the “practical use of theory and theory building” in library and information science. Chatman was interested in “information poverty” and applied various social theories to shine light on user behavior and information poverty specifically. Four social theories are examined: Diffusion Theory, Opinion Leadership Theory, Alienation Theory, and Gratification Theory.