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Meet the Author Series: Autoethnography for Librarians and Information Scientists

The essence of autoethnographic research lies in the deeply sensitive free writing, going back and forth, often writing in chunks and always striving to meet the requirements of rigour for qualitative research. Trying to make a change in the world, while knowing how difficult it can be. Autoethnography for librarians and information scientists is an edited manuscript consisting of twelve chapters written by leading authors in autoethnography per se, as well as from the field of library and information science (LIS). It was written to raise librarians’ and information scientists’ awareness of autoethnography as a deeply personal and rich qualitative research method that can support understanding of their own work experiences and the design of information supportive library and information services for a variety of target groups. The webinar will introduce autoethnography as both a research method and form of therapeutic writing. Although often reported in health sciences, education and other fields, there is limited uptake of autoethnography in the LIS literature. Different types of autoethnography will be noted with specific reference to evocative autoethnography, collaborative autoethnography and analytic autoethnography. The value for librarians in moving from practice to theory, the need for rigor, deeply ethical challenges and Dervin’s sense-making methodology as an alternative method will be covered. Discussion then moves to the contextualised potential of autoethnography in LIS contexts. Three examples will be noted: librarians and cultural competency and autoethnography related to libraries and law enforcement and healthcare librarianship. Keeping momentum in autoethnographic writing and staying abreast of new developments will also be addressed.


Ina Fourie is a full professor and Head of Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria. Her main research focus is on information behaviour, current awareness services, information literacy and autoethnography with special reference to cancer and palliative care and other existential contexts. She is a regular speaker and author in national and international contexts ranging from library and information science and education to healthcare. Ina has published more than 130 articles, books and conference papers and has presented in more than 16 countries. She holds leadership positions in the ISIC (Information Seeking in Context) Steering Committee and ASIS&T (Association of Information Science and Technology). Her authored and co-authored book publications include Navigating Information Literacy in a Digital World, Third Space, Information Sharing and Participatory Design and How LIS professionals can use alerting services.