Research Projects


Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science (WILIS) is a collaborative research project designed to study the educational, workplace, career and retention issues faced by library and information science (LIS) graduates. WILIS is a partnership of the UNC School of Information and Library Science and the UNC Institute on Aging

New Informational Professional

This research looks at changes in the information professions, ultimately to determine what schools of information and library science need to be teaching and whom they should be recruiting.

A study funded by the Special Libraries Association Goldspiel Memorial Research Grant allowed me to investigate different models for information professionals in news organizations. Results were published in Information Outlook (brief report) and Library & Information Science Research (research report).

I am continuing to examine these issues as part of the WILIS grant, where I will be focusing on graduates who have had non-traditional careers.

M2 Project

The Memex Metadata (M2) for Student Portfolios project will advance work in the areas of student portfolio management, metadata generation, and contextual retrieval. Students need to manage an ever increasing amount of digital information disseminated during class sessions (e.g., lectures, whiteboard notes, slides, handouts, Web pages, emails, and exams) or self-authored as part of their educational experience (e.g., personal notes and term papers—including revisions).


What is Personal Information Management? (PIM)

People mean different things when they talk about PIM.

  • Initially, some researchers described PIM as personal bibliographic systems - ways of organizing references and materials for writing papers, developing course syllabi, or organizing personal collections.
  • Some researchers refer to PIM as the management of personal records such as medical records or human resources data.
  • In my research, PIM encompasses the management of all our personal stuff, both physical and digital in form. By "management", I mean what we collect, how we collect it, how we organize it, how we store it, weed it (when and why), analyze it, update it, find things from it, and use it. My particular interest is PIM behavior in the workplace, but our personal lives and work lives are so entwined that it is impossible to explore one without the other.

Why is PIM worth studying?

My initial interest in PIM grew from watching colleagues in a work setting struggle with many tasks, technologies, and problems. People lost or misplaced things, overlooked important information, and struggled to adapt to new technologies that seemed to change much too frequently. I observed coping strategies and work-arounds for resolving information needs when systems were insufficient, inconvenient, or too unwieldy to learn. I also observed some people handling increasingly large volumes of information with finesse. I wanted to understand PIM practices better in order to assess the role they play in worker productivity and satisfaction and to determine how the organizations where we work might be able to support and encourage productivity.

These issues are important to records managers, knowledge managers, and librarians who are responsible for central, organizational resources and who are in a position to relieve individuals of some of the burden of collecting, organizing, and maintaining information. They are important to organizational management because of the human and physical resource cost involved in PIM. Finally, they are important to individuals who simply want to get the work done.

What are some of the questions being addressed by (my) PIM research?

How do people identify, organize, and use information in their personal workspace?

What are the parameters of "personal workspace" and what role does technology play in helping us to define those parameters?

How much information can people manage effectively?

How do our personal information management practices support the way we work?

What should PIM systems do? What electronic tools do we need to support the finding and reminding functions that apply to the way we organize physical workspace.

How do our PIM behaviors affect how we learn and how do they change as we develop expertise in a field or with a system?