Library & Information Science
A Social Science or Humanities Discipline?
Research within librarianship has a long history from Gabriel Naude in the 1600s to Pierce Butler (1930s), Helen Haines (1950s) and Jesse Shera (1970s). Gabriel Naude, in his work On Establishing a Library, advised librarians to analyze authors, the history of disciplines, and "the scourge of plagiarists" (pg. 80). Pierce Butler saw value in "continuous sociological study of group characteristics and activities" of those the library served. His work Introduction to Library Science greatly influenced the program at the University of Chicago which initiated a scientific research agenda for librarianship through the hiring of Ph.D.s in other disciplines, who, according to Frederick Stielow in The Encylopedia of Library History, placed a strong emphasis on "social science empiricism with hypothesis testing sanctified by mathematical formulae" as "the format for library research" (pg. 339). The research program de-emphasized bibliography and historical research as other methods.
Helen Haines encouraged librarians to study the effects and habits of reading amongst populations in her work Living With Books: The Art of Book Selection. Jesse Shera viewed research on a very practical level as a mechanism for librarians "to deal logically with the professional problems" faced in a day-to-day setting as described in his book Introduction to Library Science: Basic Elements of Library Service (pg. 152).
Other librarians that wrote about librarianship or research in librarianship include:
Lawrence Clark Powell
Dorothy Clarke Sayers
S. R. Ranganathan
C. C. Williamson
No matter how the discipline gets viewed, what matters most is how a librarian wants to impact the community they support as well as their fellow researchers and practitioners. How do you view the discipline? More social science? Or more humanistic?
How you view it will most likely dictate what you study and how. It will also influence what type of publishing venue you choose. It's not all journal articles in LIS. As you'll see in the index to the literature as well as the possible publishing venues, books also play a prominent role in LIS research and practice.
- Last Updated: Nov 20, 2019 9:22 AM
- URL: https://campusguides.lib.utah.edu/LIS
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