The use of people as information sources in Biblical research David H. Michels MLIS Thesis March 30, 2001
What is Biblical Studies? Biblical Studies is the critical investigation of the classical biblical literatures, together with other related literature. Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, 2000
Challenges for Biblical Studies Psalms Scroll - Dead Sea Scrolls The texts studied reflect immense time periods, diverse languages and civilizations.
Meeting the Challenges • A wealth of print resources exists to assist in this research. • There has been an explosion of new electronic research tools for researchers. (ATLA, Gramcord, ABZU)
Information seeking behaviours in the Humanities 1. Humanities scholars tend to work alone. 2. Humanities scholars need to browse. 3. Humanities scholars may adopt a variety of approaches to their material and may adopt methods usually associated with other disciplines. 4. Humanities scholar tends to use two types of material, books and journals and predominately the former. (Stone 1982)
What does it mean to work alone? • Collaborative efforts among humanists are less normal than in the sciences. • The information network among Humanities scholars is only rudimentary and informal. • Delegation of literature searching was uncommon. (Stone 1982)
Supporting Research? • Watson-Boone • She listed sixteen studies on information needs and habits of Humanities scholars between 1983-1992 • Stern (1983), Culler (1985) and Broadus (1987)
However... • Nissenbaum (1989) second source used was a colleague. • Basker (1984) forty-five percent of the interviewed British philosophers went to colleagues as a starting point. • Curley (1989) a research assistant would identify from the Philosophers Index works to be considered. • Wiberley and Jones (1989) two scholars made use of computers for email correspondence.
Reasons to use personal sources • Perceived expertise • Speed of information gathering • Developing social ties • Personal enjoyment • Encouragement / assurance (Julien and Michels 2000)
Research problem How do Biblical studies researchers use people as information sources? • What role do these information sources play? • How has the use of electronic communication changed the role of personal sources in research?
Methodology of research • Qualitative study • Seven interviews of Atlantic Canadian Biblical studies researchers • 12 open ended questions
I expect to find that... • the literature underestimates the use of personal information sources, • these information sources play an important and distinct role in the exploratory stages of information seeking, • the frequency of use of distant personal sources is increasing due to the increased use of electronic communication such as email.
Applications • The development of new Biblical Studies resources must be informed by information seeking research, • Librarians must develop an understanding of all the tools the Biblical Studies researcher draws on.
Be warned: for there is no end to book making; and much study is weariness of the body. Attributed to Solomon 10th century B.C. The Bible