2016 Distinguished Lecture Series: Honoring Dr. Barbara Wildemuth

The 2016 Distinguished Lecture Series event, held on December 7th, 2016, honored Dr. Barbara Wildemuth, Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for her notable contributions to research in the field of information science. The New Jersey Association for Information Science and Technology (NJ-ASIS&T) and the Department of Library and Information Science at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information hosted the event.

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Prior to the award reception, Dr. Wildemuth spent the day at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. She met with eight doctoral students for a reading group discussion of her 2014 article published with Luanne Freund and Elaine Toms in the Journal of Documentation, “Untangling search task complexity and difficulty in the context of interactive information retrieval studies.” She also spent time individually with faculty and doctoral students during the day.

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The reception was attended by 30 people, including NJ-ASIS&T members and non-members, faculty, doctoral, and masters students from the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. NJ-ASIS&T chair Dr. Kaitlin Costello introduced the ASIS&T organization and said a few words about Dr. Barbara Wildemuth, and then presented her with the prestigious Distinguished Lectureship award.

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Dr. Wildemuth gave a brief and lively talk on her recent work, defining and describing task-based interactive information retrieval research and offering several questions for future researchers. She presented several examples from her own work on patterns of search behavior at different levels of information task complexity, and discussed how task complexity impacts information seeking behaviors. The talk concluded with future directions and a discussion of open questions in task-based research in interactive information retrieval. Following the lecture, there was an engaging Q&A session.

Dr. Wildemuth has over 30 years of experience in the study of people’s use of information and information technologies, with particular emphasis on people’s online searching behaviors. Her most recent work includes an analysis of the search strategies used by people conducting web searches (in collaboration with Diane Kelly) and a methodological study of the search tasks assigned in interactive information retrieval experiments. Her book, “Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science,” has been adopted as a text in a number of ILS schools in the United States and abroad; a second edition was released last month. She teaches courses in various aspects of research methods, human information interactions, and information ethics. She received her Ph.D. from Drexel University, and holds master’s degrees from Rutgers University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She joins a group of distinguished leaders in information science in her receipt of this award, including Dr. Eugene Garfield, Dr. Christine L. Borgman, and Dr. Michael Buckland.