Applied Epistemology and Understanding in Information Studies

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Applied epistemology and understanding in information studies. Information Research, 22(4), paper 776.

Abstract. Introduction: Applied epistemology allows information studies to benefit from developments in philosophy. In information studies, epistemic concepts are rarely considered in detail. This paper offers a review of several epistemic concepts, focusing on understanding, as a call for further work in applied epistemology in information studies. Method: A hermeneutic literature review was conducted on epistemic concepts in information studies and philosophy. Relevant research was retrieved and reviewed iteratively as the research area was refined. Analysis: A conceptual analysis was conducted to determine the nature and relationships of the concepts surveyed, with an eye toward synthesizing conceptualizations of understanding and opening future research directions. Results: The epistemic aim of understanding is emerging as a key research frontier for information studies. Two modes of understanding (hermeneutic and epistemological) were brought into a common framework. Conclusions: Research on the concept of understanding in information studies will further naturalistic information research and provide coherence to several strands of philosophic thought.

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Collaborative Connections: Designing Library Services for the Urban Poor

Preprint of an article to appear in The Library Quarterly in 2018, as part of a special issue on Public Libraries as Social Innovation Hubs. The published version may differ from what appears here.


In response to the increasing predominance of online information, urban public libraries have effected many changes, such as redesigning their interiors to add more computer stations and revamping their reference and instruction services to provide technology support. At the same time, library staffing and service hours have been reduced. Library users continue to have access to expert assistance, but this is increasingly only available via self-service and online resources. Though these changes have met the needs of many library users, research over the past forty years maintains that significant populations prefer to interact with information by talking, and these populations have been disenfranchised by certain changes in the library world. These underserved populations include families in poverty, individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and residents of all ages unable to access digital library services because of geographic, linguistic, technological and socioeconomic barriers.

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There's No Shortcut: Building Understanding from Information in Ultrarunning

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). There’s no shortcut: Building understanding from information in ultrarunning. Journal of Information Science, 43(5), 713–722.

Abstract. Now that information proliferates, information science should turn its attention toward higher-order epistemic aims, such as understanding. Before systems to support the building of understanding can be designed, the process of building understanding must be explored. This paper discusses findings from an interpretative phenomenological analysis study on the information experience of participants in a 100-mile footrace which reveal how these participants have built understanding in their athletic pursuits. Three ways in which ultrarunners build understanding -- by taking time, by undergoing struggle, and by incorporating multiple perspectives -- are described. The ensuing discussion leads to three questions that can guide the future development of information systems that support understanding: First, how can information science slow people down? Second, how can information science encourage people to willingly struggle? And third, how can information science stimulate analogical thinking?

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Understanding Art-Making as Documentation

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Understanding art-making as documentation. Art Documentation, 36(2), 191–203.

Abstract. Typically, arts information professionals are concerned with the documentation of artwork. As a provocation, this conceptual paper explores how art-making itself can be considered a form of documentation and finished artworks as documents in their own right. On this view, art works as evidence in referencing something else, within a broader system, and under scrutiny it exposes how it references. Some implications of this perspective are discussed, springing from a historical discussion of document epistemology, research on the information behavior of artists, and the philosophy of Nelson Goodman. This discussion provides a framework for conceptualizing artistic information behavior along the entire information chain. Framing art-making in the terms of information science in this way may help arts information professionals assist artists, and it provides grounds for deeper co-understandings between artists and information scientists. Additionally, once information scientists consider art as a kind of document, one can begin to see that even non-artistic documents perhaps never were as "objective" or "factual" as they may have seemed.

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Geological Time

First published in Chantwood Magazine, Fall 2017

Our faces fit together
Like continents.
Especially when I take my glasses off.

The plates drift,
And the earth quakes.

Occult Furniture

First published in Chantwood Magazine, Fall 2017

My legs wide
I hold the guitar close there like
Trying to merge two bodies and
When I play it I can
Feel the tremors in
my stomach I can
Feel it in my jaw

Dark wooden
Curved it always seemed to me
Mysterious like a piece of occult
Furniture as if
Standing at your dresser
Opening and closing
Drawers could be a way
Of making peace
With the universe

And then there’s
An etude where my fingers nothing works
Buzzing like a silent conversation
In a noisy bar it’s
Muted like a kiss
Where your teeth
Are clanking and
I pluck the wrong
String like an
Unwelcome touch

But when I finally
Play that measure right
This sounds dumb but I
Cry a little I
Don’t try it’s just I
Pull sounds from the guitar and it pulls back on me
A little like the moon passing quiet over the sea

Poems from a Year in Madrid

First published in Straight Forward Poetry Journal, Spring 2014


in parks
on the sidewalk
especially on benches
in cars at stoplights
and the movie theater
on the metro
and the bus
in the stadium
at mcdonalds
the post office
and banks

all the places
ive seen people
making out


always talking
about this
fast paced life
how theres so much to do
and how theres so little time
for a second and
the sunlight
to the birds and
the wind blow
youll see that things actually


quite manageably
and theres
the time
in the world


so your dog poops
and you try to do the right thing
by cleaning it up
it smears
and gets all over
leaving a much bigger mess

and thats how things are

The World in a Box

First published in Fwd: Museums, Summer 2017

I put the world in a box,
A box an inch or two around.
Inside I put the people
And the rivers and the towns.

I look into this box
When I feel the need
To see the things I’d like to see
And the things I’ve seen.

I set the box back on the shelf
Then I replace its lid.
And I can’t help myself but wonder
What sort of box I’m in.

All the Community's a Stage: The Public Library's Part in Community Information Provision

Gorichanaz, T., and Turner, D. All the community’s a stage: The public library’s changing role in community information provision. The Library Quarterly, 87(2), 99–116.

Abstract. Community information is indispensable for modern life, but access to it remains challenging for many people. Historically, public libraries have been central in providing formal community information, but today such information provision is accomplished largely by informal networks of community service agencies. Thus, the role and the value of the public library in community information provision seem unclear. We find an analogy to this situation in design theorist Christopher Alexander’s conceptualization of planned versus natural cities, and we bring this to bear on an ongoing study of public library service provision to the urban poor. This work reveals implications and recommendations for the public library’s unfolding role in community information provision: public libraries may no longer be needed to provide formal community information, but they can engage as information shepherds with local community service agencies in informal community information provision.

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Auto-hermeneutics: A Phenomenological Approach to Information Experience

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Auto-hermeneutics: A phenomenological approach to information experience. Library and Information Science Research, 39(1), 1–7.

Abstract. The need for methodologically rigorous approaches to the study of human experience in LIS has emerged in recent years. Auto-hermeneutics is a research methodology that offers a systematic way to study one's own experiences. In LIS, auto-hermeneutics offers a way to approach emerging questions regarding information experience and allows researchers to explore yet-undocumented contexts, setting precedents for further work in these areas and ultimately widening our understanding of information. Auto-hermeneutics draws principles from autoethnography (perhaps the most well-known of automethodologies), self-study and systematic self-observation; prior studies of these types in LIS and allied fields are presented. A discussion of generalizability, validity and reliability in auto-hermeneutic research follows. Finally, an example of an auto-hermeneutic study conducted by the author is outlined for illustration.

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