Personal ontological information responsibility

Jodi Kearns (School of Library and Information Science, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Rhonda Rinehart (Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 22 March 2011



Archivists and Librarians are subjected to social stereotypes by those outside and within the field of library and information science. Many of these role descriptions come from within the LIS professions themselves; the differences between information responsibilities of Archivists and Librarians are not clearly defined. The purpose of this paper is to dispel myths of distinguishable differences in information role responsibilities of Archivists and Librarians.


A simple survey was developed and completed by Archivists and Librarians who volunteered to express, in their own words, up to three descriptions of what their information responsibilities are. Responses were recorded in the respondents' own words, and so, the responses were necessarily compared, reduced, and categorized into nine recognizable categories of synonymous and qualifying terms for comparison.


Results of the survey demonstrate that both Archivists and Librarians list access most often as their information responsibility. Similarly, preserve and process are listed as second and third, in reverse order; and collect and evaluate are listed fourth and fifth, in reverse order. Results indicate the major differences as Archivists naming collect more often, and Librarians listing teach more often.


Archivists and Librarians usually both receive their education and training in schools of library and information science. Other than collection types and patrons served, which vary significantly among libraries and archives themselves, this exploratory study indicates no major differences in personally expressed information responsibilities of those within the fields of practice, and debunks the misconceptions that Archivists and Librarians have distinct, observable differences in their approaches to information.



Kearns, J. and Rinehart, R. (2011), "Personal ontological information responsibility", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 3, pp. 230-245.

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