“Strong views about what you call things” : how disability studies scholars interact with information classification systems

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Date

2012-05

Authors

Koford, Amelia Bowen

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Abstract

Information studies writers from various theoretical perspectives, including feminism and critical race theory, have argued that information classification systems are politically charged artifacts that privilege some types of information while marginalizing others. Although several writers have documented the limitations of classification systems in representing marginalized topics, few have studied how searchers understand, address, and circumvent these limitations. To investigate this question, I conducted a qualitative study of the information seeking behavior of nine disability studies scholars. In semi-structured interviews, I asked faculty members and graduate students about their experiences conducting disability studies research. In this thesis, I discuss three main themes from the interviews: research challenges, search tactics and strategies, and interaction with subject headings. I also discuss the Library of Congress Subject Headings for one book, Eli Clare's Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation, as a case study. I situate scholars' experiences in relation to disability studies as a field that is interdisciplinary, relatively new, and concerned with a group that has been socially and economically marginalized. I offer suggestions about how librarians and knowledge organizers can address the needs of researchers in disability studies and other critical interdisciplinary fields.

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