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Once more unto the breach: “Overcoming epistemology” and librarianship’s de facto Deweyan Pragmatism

John Buschman (Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore an approach to epistemology which allows a portion of library and information science (LIS) to coherently explain its social and intellectual contributions, and to overcome some of the problems of epistemology that LIS encounters.


Literature based conceptual analysis of the problems of epistemology in LIS and the productive approach of Deweyan Pragmatism.


LIS’ problems with epistemology come from a variety of sources: epistemology itself, the combining of librarianship with information science, and the search for a common grounding of the information professions, their tools and their institutions. No such theoretical foundation is possible, but Deweyan Pragmatism offers a sensible, practical explanation for the historical development and practices of librarianship.


Pragmatism has been deployed in portions of LIS, but the full implications and the “fit” of Dewey’s ideas for librarianship and its epistemology are productive explorations.



Buschman, J. (2017), "Once more unto the breach: “Overcoming epistemology” and librarianship’s de facto Deweyan Pragmatism", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 2, pp. 210-223.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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