Funding for the Methods Network ended March 31st 2008. The website will be preserved in its current state.

Digital Tools for Library and Information Studies

Defining discreet scholarly territories for all disciplines is problematic but it could be argued that Library and Information Studies (LIS) is more problematic than most when it comes to understanding the scope of its remit. It addresses issues relevant to every other academic subject and demands the engagement, to varying degrees, of almost everyone whose task it is to carry out research. Wherever information is aggregated on a scale that renders it difficult to navigate, retrieve, analyse, preserve or store that data, opportunities arise for librarians and information specialists to intervene. In addition to pan-disciplinary involvement, LIS also addresses the management of all types of data encompassing text, sound, still and moving images, resulting in a community of practitioners that work in an enormous variety of environments.

For the purposes of this paper, Library and Information Studies should be understood as representative of a group of activities that are referred to by a number of different appellations. Whilst acknowledging that ‘information science’, ‘information systems’, ‘information management’, ‘information and library studies’, ‘librarianship’ (and many other combinations of terminology) all bring something different to the field, it is convenient in this context to homogenize this diversity. Whilst simplistic, it would seem to be the only concise way of beginning to tackle such a complex area of research. This complexity is illustrated as soon as one contemplates the nature of the relationship between LIS research and the notion of ‘information’. On the one hand, there are many instances where research is very much focused on the divisible, categorical and meaningful interpretation of data. A common example of this is the construction or refinement of classification schemes and ontology models which is a routine activity within LIS. On the other hand, other areas of research are unconcerned with ‘meaning’ and are more focused on the formal properties of ‘information’. Taking this approach, questions might be asked such as: how does information flow?; where does it flow?; why doesn’t it go where it’s needed when it’s needed?; why is there so much of it?; do we need it all?; if we don’t, how do we get rid of it?; how do we choose what to get rid of?; and so on and so forth.

Read the full Working Paper : (pdf)

Image: Carl Smith, from presentation at Methods Network Seminar, Theoretical Approaches to Virtual Representations of Past Environments, Goldsmiths College, 7 March 2007

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Coding/standardisation
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Record linkages
  • Data Analysis - Searching/querying
  • Data Analysis - Data mining
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Searching/querying
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - conceptual
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - document structure
  • Strategy and project management - ICT project management