Thursday, June 27, 2013

An introduction to my narrative information source analytical framework

In my previous blog post, I made mention of my shifting focus to study library consultants. My study however, will still retain a focus on the study of blogs and tweets (or Twitter) as sources of information as well as social information spaces. It is on the point of categorizing information sources that I want to blog about in this post. Specifically, I want to discuss my framework for information source analysis of blogs and tweets

I have created a theoretical or analytical framework for analysing the types of information sources that exist in blogs and tweets  that differs from the traditional categories of people and documents in much of library research literature. Instead I propose a method that classifies information into types of narratives, rather than into types of media/channels. In this sense, narrative information sources can transcend media and is increasingly applicable to the online and social media world, where the lines between storage medium and communication with people are blurred. In this framework, narrative refers to an account of either an event or an experience. This account can be told in varied ways where a person can either attempt to tell the account in a factual and objective way or can perform the account in an interestingly and aesthetically pleasing way to interest in one's audience (sacrificing some of the facts for emotional effect) (Gabriel, 2000).

In my model narrative information sources fall into four main types or genres:
  • non-fiction (or objective) narrative information sources
  • fictional (or imagination based) narrative information sources
  • reality-based, but subjective narrative information sources and
  • interpretative or referral narrative information sources

Non-fiction narrative information sources - is my term to cover categories of narratives such as those that exist in academic journals, newspapers, magazines and other documents that aim to be objective and present different viewpoints of an event or different experiences, or even the coverage of a single event or experience supported by fact gathering. The intention and purpose of non-fiction narrative information sources is to be accurate and objective in its reporting of an event or experience.

Fictional narrative information sources - is my term used to cover the set of narratives that are based on imagination or even re-imaging one's world or reality (real event or experience). In this account of an event or experience, the creator may use imaginary characters, create an imaginary world, embellish and reconstruct reality or experience in ways that violate what we know about the real world or simply be creative with their event or experience in order to make it interesting and appealing to their audience's imagination and emotions. Sometimes fictional narrative information sources (like parables) aim to instruct others about real world events or experiences.

Reality-based narrative information sources - for me are those narratives that are based on one's memory, viewpoint, or personal experience. These include biographical sources, auto-biographical sources, opinions and viewpoints, views or advice that comes out of knowledge that one possesses due to personal experience or the acceptance of the experience of others.

Finally, interpretative or referral narrative information sources - is the term I ascribe to the category of narrative information sources that point to or refer to other sources, interpret other sources, provide viewpoints on other sources, or summaries commentaries or reviews. These sources are essentially based on and provide information (whether opinion or facts) about other narrative information sources.

In conclusion, this is the framework that I hope to use when conducting my analysis of tweets and blog postings. However, it is still in the beta or development stage, and I welcome your comments on it. Nonetheless, my preliminary beta test analyses have made me excited about the framework. In my next upcoming post, I hope to blog about how I have been finding this analytical framework useful and effective in understanding blogs and tweets as business information sources. Stay tuned this blog for more exciting details.


Gabriel, Y. (2000). Storytelling in organizations: Facts, fictions, and fantasies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Research Update: Shifting to study library consultants

For the past two months since beginning to teach and reflect on library management issues, my eyes have been open to the library consultancy industry. Since my original research interest was on studying entrepreneurs, I have seen this trend as an opportunity for me to shift my focus a bit for my research proposal, to the study of this particular type of "library entrepreneur". Currently I am considering a study of knowledge sharing by library consultants via blogs and tweets. This group is apparently underrepresented in the library and information science (LIS) literature. Most studies on librarians ignore this group of independent or self-employed workers or entrepreneurs, in favour of librarians employed to or working full-time in institutions.

So who exactly are library consultants?
I searched around four library dictionaries for the term "library consultant" and only found the term in Prytherch's (2005) compilation. According to Prytherch, the library consultant is:

an individual offering a range of professional skills and advice relevant to the operation of libraries. Usually these skills will be marketed on a commercial basis by a Freelance self-employed person who is not directly employed by the library concerned, but who may be retained on contract for a fee. (p.410)
According to Prytherch, an alternative, albeit broader term is the term "information consultant". the information consultant however is "a generic term used by self-employed Freelance individuals operating on a commercial basis in the areas of information handling and related fields" (Prytherch, 2005, p. 350)

Recent sources have indicated that there are many library consultants (or at least in America). In a press release for the American Library Association (ALA) 2013 conference, advertised is a session where library consultants offer 30 minutes free consulting to librarians. For this event, here is the list of consultants expected to participate:
  • Lori Bowen Ayre of The Galecia Group; 
  • Liz Bishoff of The Bishoff Group; 
  • Carson Block, Carson Block Consulting Inc.; 
  • Nancy Bolt, Nancy Bolt & Associates; 
  • Yolanda J. Cuesta, Cuesta MultiCultural Consulting; 
  • Carole D. Fiore, Training and Library Consulting; 
  • Donna Fletcher, Donna E. Fletcher Consulting, Inc./Library Survey Consultants; 
  • Cheryl Gould, Fully Engaged Libraries; 
  • Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, Libraries Thrive Consulting; 
  • Stephen C. Maack, REAP Change Consultants; 
  • Gretchen McCord, Digital Information Law; 
  • Ruth Metz, Ruth Metz Associates; 
  • Sam McBane Mulford, ideation * collaborative; 
  • Kathy Page, Page + Morris; Paula M. Singer, The Singer Group, Inc.; 
  • Melissa Stockton, Quipu Group; and 
  • Richard L. Waters, Godfrey’s Associates.
Additional profile of the consultants participating is available on this website:

Not only that, but ALA also has a section, the Association of Specialized & Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), which offers the Library Consultant Interest Group.

Twitter also provides a channel for accessing the most recent news being shared on library consultant, as is evident on the embedded Twitter widget below:

In addition, I have put together a crude slide presentation as part of a business/market research into the opportunities in library consultancy below:


In my view, this industry, made possible by new public management trends in public and school libraries, which has seen increasing opportunities for librarians to offer their expertise to libraries for a fee rather than becoming full-time employees. Rather than employing full-time librarians, boards and municipalities responsible for libraries seem to be contracting or outsourcing special projects or services to library consultants, while reducing qualified full-time library staff for less trained and qualified and cheaper labour. Depends on how you look at it, this is an opportunity or a crisis in contemporary librarianship.


American Library Association. (2013. May 28). Consultants give back: free 30-minute sessions in Chicago co-sponsored by ASCLA and PLA [Press release]. Retrieved from

Prytherch, R. J. (2005). Harrod's librarians' glossary and reference book. 10th ed. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Personal reflections of Jamaican Information Scientist on a presentation of Blacks in Canadian picture books

This post is perhaps unusual for my professional/scholarly blog, as it blurs the line between my spirit and work. It comes from my reflections and observations from personal experience, specifically, tackling my reflections at my 2nd Canadian Association for Information Science conference, where I attended the 2013 presentation: “Picturing Difference: Multiculturalism in Recent Nova Scotian Picture Books.” by Vivian Howard, Dalhousie University. To give a bit of context, I want to begin by discussing what the presentation was about, then discuss the points in the presentation that resonated with me and why. Finally, I want to discuss my emotional response to the presentation.

To summarize, Howard's presentation was essentially on picture books representing the Black Nova Scotia community. She focused on 3 picture books, (two fiction and one non-fiction). From I heard the topic of the presentation, having discovered that Jamaican Maroons were the first Jamaican immigrants to Canada, I anticipate hearing the mention of the Jamaican Maroon community that were immigrants to Nova Scotia. This came on around the second slide. As such, I felt emotionally connected to the presentation because it speaks of black people and particularly about Jamaicans. It reminded me of my UWI undergraduate days as a student of Political Science, where we studied our own history and institutions from our own skin colour and local perspective (a hidden value of studying at local universities).

There were other emotional points and inflections through the presentation that resonated with me. I saw in one of the picture books the mention of "natty dreadlocks" with the illustration of a dreadlocks man playing a drum. As I saw it, I definitely felt connected to this manifestation of a Jamaican spiritual identity within Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

It further got more emotional for me in the presentation, when I began to learn about Viola Desmond, Black woman, entrepreneur, and the "Rosa Parks" of Nova Scotia Canada, who "sat down for her rights" in order to fight against racial segregation. This information was presented from the non-fiction picture book by Warner and Rudnicki. (2010) and had special resonance with me, making me feel as if I was taking in a Black history month's presentation.

I also listened to a video interview of Black author, Shauntay Grant, where it was evident that Grant did not intentionally plan to write the stories she did as picture books, but it was through coincidence that a publisher attended Grant's spoken word performance, and invited Grant to publish her poem as a children's book. Her two books if you are interested in checking them out are:

Up Home (2008)

As I connected with the presentation and looked around the room and noticed that I was the only black visible minority there among the information scientists. Then it occurred to me, where were the others that looked like me in Canada? Where were the Canadian black information scientists and why were they absent from this conference?

Howard, V. (2013). Picturing difference: Multiculturalism in recent Nova Scotian picture books. 41st Annual conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science, June 6-8, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (See programme at

Warner, J. N., & Rudnicki, R. (2010). Viola Desmond won't be budged!. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.

Further reading:
Grant, S., & Tooke, S. (2008). Up home. Halifax, NS: Nimbus.

Grant, S., & Tooke, S. (2010). The city speaks in drums. Halifax, N.S: Nimbus.

Milan, A. & Tran, K. (2004). Blacks in Canada: A long history. Canadian Social Trends Sring 2004 Statistics Canada — Catalogue No. 11-008, p. 4. Retrieved from