It might have started when I joined the junior high school newspaper: 5 W's and an H. Six "simple" categories and the reader's information needs are fulfilled. Another classic came even earlier: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Combine information to get new information. Competitive Future Problem Solving taught me to analyze a situation, imagine it from others' perspectives, and anticipate consequences good and bad.
After many years as a technical writer, editor, and instructional designer, I decided to study information organization and retrieval more thoroughly and pursued my Master's in Library and Information Studies. I focused on mental models -- how users conceptualize and search for information -- and tools for incorporating those mental models into existing schema, including Linked Data, multi-script headings, and interdisciplinary classification.
My studies and my professional work have centered around marrying the human and business sides of information organization and retrieval. We cannot satisfy informational needs without understanding the searcher's motivation for wanting it, cultural context for relating to it, and our own ingrained biases. Additionally, by collating the information of others, we create the possibility of more information. Just like a group's aggregated estimate of the weight of an animal will be much more precise than any individual estimate, incorporating multiple perspectives will reveal a clearer picture of our world.
An argument for regular questioning of policies and procedures and devil’s advocacy. Reasoned contingency planning should go hand in hand with daily intuitive responses to events.
Information organization profile
I spent three hours with the reference librarians at the Government Information Center at San Francisco Public Library. I observed their patron interactions and interviewed them to get a full picture of their responsibilities and goals.
Information seeking and mental models
Qualitative research study critique
I critique a qualitative study of an information retrieval system and identify ways that the findings can be applied to wider areas of information searching.
Mental model bibliography
Literature review tracing the evolution of research into user interaction with online information retrieval systems. I focused on studies which investigated how users' mental models affect how they formulate questions and devise search paths. Mental Models of Information Retrieval Systems: A brief history of user interface design for library catalogs displays a consistent call for researching users’ conceptual understanding of information retrieval systems. A review of current research shows how insight into mental models can improve online catalogs in ways that open-source modularization, “Web 2.0” technology, or new cataloging protocols alone cannot.
An abbreviated user study comparing discovery layers with traditional online catalogs. New technologies like faceted browsing, word clouds, user tagging, and wider search capabilities attempt to ease user frustration and discomfort with online public access catalogs (OPAC). This paper contrasts the newly implemented AquaBrowser discovery layer at the Saint Paul Public Library with the older “Classic” search interface. A brief user study asks respondents to conduct searches under five scenarios in AquaBrowser, then repeat the most challenging scenarios in the Classic interface as well as in Toronto Public Library’s Endeca discovery layer. Respondents re- port increased satisfaction with faceted browsing although actual performance was the same from all interfaces.
An analysis of the interoperability of two specialized scientific thesauri. Evaluating the overlap of two related thesauri reveals gaps that hamper information sharing. Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) serves a specific need for classifying federal research data sets but lacks flexibility and links to other systems. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) Thesaurus covers a broader range of more access points. However, it fails to link many related terms.
Multi-lingual access points
The current challenges facing archives and libraries in providing access points for materials in multiple languages and scripts. I researched possible solutions to enable searchers to use their preferred script and spelling of a name. Millions of documents are squirreled away in archives around the world. If enough time and resources are available to create it, a finding aid, perhaps digital but most likely paper, is the only way to ascertain the contents of a collection. The challenges are multiplied when a collection contains multiple languages and is of interest to speakers of many languages. Among possible solutions, linking finding aids to multiple access points available from the Semantic Web could help. While archives might never have the resources to fully catalog every item, linking names in finding aids to international authority files could lessen work and increase access.
Virtual International Authority File study
A brief study exploring the applicability of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) to archives. How many Cyrillic headings in a typical finding aid are available? Library of Congress Versus the Virtual International Authority File: This study compared retrieval rates from the Library of Congress and VIAF for personal names in a finding aid typical of the collections at the Stanford Hoover Institution Archives. Higher retrieval rates from the VIAF were anticipated, especially for the high concentration of Russian names in the collection. In reality, retrieval rates were similar. The VIAF interface offers advantages when searching for and differentiating headings.
Resource Description Framework overview
Overview of Resource Description Framework (RDF) and how Linked Data can increase access points and give information professionals more flexibility in storing and mining data.
A design for a card-sorting study with think-aloud protocol. The results of this study would contribute to future design of faceted browsers and linked data rules. In this study, we would measure the correspondence of “naïve,” participant-generated, sorting of topics between subject-specific taxonomies and Dewey decimal classification (DDC). We would also compare retrieval results in two faceted browser interfaces: one based on DDC, the other using subject-specific schema. This study attempts to ascertain whether these subject- specific classifications aid searchers in a faceted browser.
Data analysis and information visualization
Quantitative data analysis and visualization
Military expenditures can act as signals of world events and a nation's priorities. Because countries' budgets vary widely in size, expressing expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is an easy way to compare numbers.
How closely does the demographic breakdown of an ESL conversation program reflect the county as a whole?
Working with Splunk
My Big Data Analytics course spent several weeks working with Splunk. This assignment analyzed sample website usage statistics.
Book club “script”
I was guest facilitator of a World Literature Book Club at a public library. My outline for the evening incorporates audio and written material, as well as group and paired discussion.
Module for the SJSU SLIS 23 Things program. This tutorial walks through the steps of creating a professional-looking brochure with Microsoft Word.