Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Mapping the Infoscape of LIS Courses for Intersections of Health-Gender and Health-Sexual Orientation Topics

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Mapping the Infoscape of LIS Courses for Intersections of Health-Gender and Health-Sexual Orientation Topics

Article excerpt

Introduction

Health information support services are essential in today's society and it is urgent that their development, provision, and delivery reflect progressive cultural values in the 21st century (Braa, Monteiro, & Sahay, 2004; Mehra & Dessel, 2011; Saxena, Thomicroft, Knapp, & Whiteford, 2007). This is especially true regarding gender and sexual orientationrelated content (e.g., information needs, values, and practices) that is considered taboo owing to patriarchal norms and heterosexist assumptions all-pervasive in our society and culture (Lugg, 2003; Reardon, 2001; Skelton, 2001). The intent of the article is to explore the information landscape (i.e., infoscape) of library and information science (LIS) courses for intersections of health-gender and health-sexual orientation topics, concerns, and issues.

The strategy of mapping to study the infoscape that LIS programs create via the public domain of the Internet in representing information about the courses they offer on their websites is explored. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004) defines the term "mapping" as the act or process of making a map and identifies the following meanings of a map: as something that represents with a clarity suggestive of a map (noun); to plan in detail (transitive verb); and to assign in a relation or connection to another (intransitive verb) [italics added]. These meanings of mapping have been applied in LIS to represent: a conceptual analysis of disciplinary domains (e.g., science) (Klavans & Boyack, 2009); tools for understanding of information-related patterns in software development and use in various areas (Cobo, López-Herrera, Herrera-Viedma, & Herrera, 2011); methods to create local, regional, and global maps (Klavans & Boyack, 2011); and, techniques to represent bibliometric research (Nees, Waltman, Dekker, & Berg, 2010; van Eck, Waltman, Dekker, & van den Berg, 2010). This article adopts the term "map" in its conceptual meaning from popular vernacular and integrates its various dimensions (identified above) to just mean organizing or systematizing information in a way that reveals trends and patterns in a collection of LIS courses. The concept of LIS is used with reference to the entire gamut of information creationorganization-management-dissemination processes and their education in the contemporary context.

The term infoscape (etymology = info + scape) refers to the virtual and physical landscape of information and its interactions (Skovira & University, 2004). Mapping the infoscape of LIS course representations on the web (as conducted in this research) is important for identifying the patterns and course counts to track the intersections of health-gender and healthsexual orientation topics in the LIS curricula across the master's degree programs in Canada and the United States. The concept of infoscape helps holistically relate to an informational ecology or the environment of information use and information creation from the enterprise level to the personal level (in this case from the programmatic level in the LIS schools to the individual course level) (Davenport & Prusak, 1997; Hasenjager, 1996; Nardi & O'Day, 1999). Documenting the public representations of courses on the websites of LIS programs is significant since the Internet has now become unequivocally the primary information resource tool used by diverse populations in nearly every part of the world (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004; Peterson & Fretz, 2003; Rice, 2006). It is often the first place where potential students and other stakeholders will search and find information about LIS programs (Johnson, 2007; Manzari & Trinidad-Christensen, 2006). Analyzing what LIS programs are doing (or not doing) in representing information about their programs on the publicly accessible online domain can potentially identify marketing and public relations strategies for the profession as a whole, and by individual programs, to showcase their offerings and attract the best of students to their ranks (Kim & Sin, 2006; Wilde & Epperson, 2006). …

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