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'Too Much Serendipity': The Tension between Information Seeking and Encountering at the Library Shelves

Waugh, S., McKay, D. and Makri, S. (2017). 'Too Much Serendipity': The Tension between Information Seeking and Encountering at the Library Shelves. In: Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Conference Human Information Interaction and Retrieval. (pp. 277-280). New York, NY, United States: ACM. ISBN 978-1-4503-4677-1

Abstract

The physical library shelves are regularly the site of serendipitous information discoveries, and are often sought out for this purpose. However, while some drawbacks to the shelves as information gateways have been documented, none to our knowledge relate to their capacity for facilitating serendipity. We present findings from a qualitative study of serendipity at the library shelves. This study uncovered a new drawback that we term the "seeking-encountering tension". On one hand, this tension entices people towards the relatively high-risk, high-reward activity of exploring new information avenues discovered serendipitously and, on the other, draws them back towards the relative safety of goal-directed information-seeking. We discuss some of the factors that contribute to this tension, and provide design suggestions for mitigating it. Understanding this tension can inform the design of physical and digital information environments that provide users the agency to switch between more and less focused information-seeking at will.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © ACM, 2017. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Conference Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR '17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 277-280. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/3020165.3022132
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Computer Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/17102
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