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.

I study information-centric communities that are wholly or partially online. I have particular interest in the roles played by information and communication technologies (ICTs) in online information-centric communities and the relationships and interactions they have with users and their information sharing behaviours and practices within and across community boundaries. I approach this research through the lenses of information behaviour, information practice, and social informatics perspectives, the latter a primary influence on my scholarship.

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 my career as an assistant professor, over time the focus of my intellectual curiosity has shifted from a tighter view of studying specific platforms and systems to a broader interest in information-centric communities; their users and their use of ICTs; and the sharing of data, information, and knowledge both within and beyond community boundaries. In studying information-centric communities that are wholly or partially online, I conceptualize these as emphasizing information and knowledge creation, sharing, and use as a primary activity, instead of as a by-product of social interaction (in comparison to e.g. Karen Fisher’s theory of information grounds). I emphasize the addition of social and emotional ties; emergent informational and organizational constructions; and sharing of users’ information, knowledge, and everyday lives that an information-centric community brings over many digital libraries and information systems. I view and position my research agenda and experiences through the lenses of information behaviour, information practice, and social informatics perspectives, the latter being a primary influence on my intellectual curiosity in and approach to this research and scholarship.

I also teach in the areas of information behaviour and practices, information technology, social informatics, and social media at the graduate levels, in addition to the Foundations course for online Master of Library and Information Studies students, and have experience with teaching undergraduates in the past. 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 and that are personally meaningful and valuable to me.