Adam Worrall

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Me, October 2015
Me, October 2015

My name is Adam Worrall and I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies. I earned my PhD from the Florida State University School of Information and also hold an MS in Library and Information Studies from FSU and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Central Florida.

My research takes a social informatics perspective on the relationships and interactions between information-centric communities, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and the information behaviour of their users. I am also interested in digital libraries, social media, online information sharing, and social and community theories in library and information science. My current focus is on the practice and support of information and knowledge sharing across the boundaries that may exist between communities (especially online), and the roles that boundary-spanning individuals and ICTs play in such sociotechnical practices, particularly in the contexts of everyday life.

You can find out more about my research agenda and interests, teaching experience and philosophy, and service philosophy and experience elsewhere on this site. You may also wish to review my full portfolio, including my research, teaching, and service statements; details of my publications and presentations; information on my coursework while a doctoral student; and my curriculum vitae (CV). You can also contact me if you wish to get in touch.

More about me

Birth to bachelor’s

I was born in and lived near Chester, England for the first years of my life, later moving south to the Swindon area. Then, I moved to Miami, Florida (specifically the West Kendall area) when I was 10. After graduating from high school, I went to the University of Central Florida in Orlando for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, which I earned in December 2002.

To the MLIS

An older photo of me, from November 2010
An older photo of me, from November 2010

By the end of my undergraduate degree, I found myself interested in working to ensure not only functionally complete systems, but also systems that were accessible, usable, and provided helpful results for their current and future users. At least partly due to this, I began consulting with users and helping them solve problems they were having with computer hardware, software, and information systems. I found that most problems happened while users attempted to find, use, modify, and manage information resources—reports, e-mails, photos, web sites, etc. I also found that most problems were not with faulty hardware or with users, but with the information system and associated software.

As a result, I enrolled in Florida State University’s master’s program in Library and Information Studies, starting in August 2006 and graduating in April 2008 with my MLIS. I took courses that covered digital libraries, usability, social informatics, metadata, and information architecture. These courses and my experiences in the program guided my increasing interests in the usability of digital libraries and web sites, the organization of information in these systems, and especially the socio-technical context of such systems. My coursework and internship with one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s regional libraries impressed on me the importance of considering both technical and social aspects when creating, managing, and maintaining digital libraries, web sites, and other information systems.

Finding the PhD

Louis Shores Building, home of Florida’s original iSchool
Louis Shores Building, home of Florida’s original iSchool

It took me a few months after graduating with my master’s degree to fully realize that I wanted a research career, one as a professor and researcher in academia. This way I could work to help improve not just those digital libraries, web sites, and information systems that I was personally involved with, but also those created, managed, and improved by other information professionals. Contributing to the field through research, teaching, and service was what I felt I should be doing, so I applied (and was accepted!) to pursue my doctoral degree in Information Studies at FSU in August 2009. I completed my dissertation and graduated with my PhD five years later in August 2014.

After two semesters as an Adjunct Professor at FSU, I am now an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies.

Current and future plans

As I refined my research interests throughout my doctoral degree, and as I begin my career as an assistant professor, I have come to focus on studies of information and information behaviour within and around the social and sociotechnical contexts of information and communication technologies (ICTs). My particular and emerging focus, from a social informatics perspective, is on the practice and support of information and knowledge sharing across the boundaries that may exist between communities (especially online), and the roles that boundary-spanning individuals and ICTs play in such sociotechnical practices. My broader research agenda and experiences have also included research on digital libraries, scientific collaboration, social media, social question-and-answering (Q&A) services, and other ICTs, and I continue to be interested in social and community theories in LIS. I believe that studying collaborative information behaviour around the contexts of a variety of ICTs can have wide-ranging benefits for research in LIS and cognate areas.

I also endeavour to teach in the areas of information behaviour, information technology, social informatics, social media, research methods, and/or information organization, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. I hope to integrate research—in both theory and practice—and teaching together for the benefit of students. Finally, I intend to continue my service to the library and information science community and to my institution, particularly in ways that enhance the research and teaching of myself and others.