Research Brown Bag Schedule 2011-2012

Unless otherwise noted, SIRLS Research Brown Bags take place on Wednesdays from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in the SIRLS Multi-purpose Room. SIRLS is located at 1515 East First Street, just west of Cherry Avenue.

Additional titles and abstracts will be posted as the semester progresses. Please check back.

Note: Podcasts of most of the past talks can be downloaded from the SIRLS Podcast Page.

Fall 2011:

September 14 - Martin Fricke, Associate Professor, SIRLS


Shermann Kuhn informs us “ALPHABETIZATION seems as indispensable to twentieth-century life as the wheel…Today, libraries…would be paralyzed if the art of alphabetization, and the tools which it has produced, were suddenly lost.” Yet Alphabetization has not been an unmitigated good, Richard Yeo writes “For at least the last thousand years encyclopedias--arguably the most striking publishing enterprise of Western Culture--have had to confront an apparent absurdity: the combination of universal knowledge and alphabetical order”. And Charles Cutter writes “The dictionary catalog …. Its subject-entries, individual, general, limited, extensive, thrown together without any logical arrangement, in most absurd proximity—Abscess followed by Absenteeism and that by AbsolutionClub-foot next to Clubs, and Communion to Communism, while Bibliography and Literary historyChristianity and Theology, are separated by half the length of the catalogue—are a mass of utterly disconnected particles without any relation to one another, each useful in itself but only by itself.” My paper explains and discusses what Mortimer Adler calls ‘Alphabetiasis’.

Tuesday, September 27 - Mingfeng Lin, Assistant Professor, UA Department of Management Information Systems

"Social Influence on Product Reviews: An Empirical Analysis"

We empirically examine the effect of social influence on online product reviews. Using the "Web-of-Trust" and consumer reviews from, we study how social ties influence the behavior of members in providing reviews, such as the volume and valence of their ratings. While there have been many studies on how reviews affect consumer decisions, research on the generation process of reviews is still rare. Our study focuses on whether and how consumer interactions in online communities -- as has been the trend in many electronic commerce websites -- affect the product reviews they generate.

Thursday, October 13 - Peter Botticelli, Assistant Professor of Practice and Manager, SIRLS Digital Information Management Program; Patricia Montiel Overall, SIRLS Associate Professor; Sandra Littletree, Program Manager, SIRLS Knowledge River; and Richard Chabran, SIRLS Adjunct Professor

"Managing Digital Archives: What does Cultural Competence have to do with it?"

In recent years, many library and information schools have launched new courses and programs to meet the emerging needs of information professionals working in the digital environment. The University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) has received IMLS grants supporting two innovative programs: Knowledge River (KR), a program that specializes in preparing LIS professionals to serve Latino and Native American communities, and the Digital Information Management (DigIn) graduate certificate program. KR recruits students who are committed to addressing issues related to Latino and Native American populations to the LIS profession to improve services for a more diverse society. The program offers an educational experience designed to meet the distinct needs of a diverse society and the information needs of the ethnic and cultural populations they represent. KR has also greatly boosted the diversity of SIRLS's student population. The DigIn program emphasizes the analytical and learning skills needed to build and manage digital collections. These include “hard” skills, or the ability to master technology-related tasks and new systems. Digital curators also need what we term “soft” skills, or the ability to manage digital projects, programs, and services in a complex and rapidly changing environment.

This presentation will introduce the cultural competence framework and explain how it applies to the practical challenges of managing digital collections and services for creators and users of digital resources. We explore how the framework of cultural competence reflected in Knowledge River can become an integral part of the DigIn curriculum. We will also discuss our experience in building innovative programs at SIRLS, and our future plans to develop new ways for students to learn to play the highly complex roles demanded of them in the digital age.

October 26, James E. Rogers College of Law, Room 21 - Catherine Brooks, Assistant Professor and Associate Chair, Communication Studies Department, California State University, Long Beach

"Society, Technology, Information and Communication: Imagining a Way Forward for the Study of an Emergent E-Society"

Technological innovation is a hallmark of human social change, as is the human ability to record and communicate that change over time. In the nascent 21st century, new modes of social interaction in what many call "mediated environments" are emerging from these new technologies. From the development of social networking spaces such as Facebook, to broader political movements such as the "Arab Spring," the mundane practices taking place in these new mediated environments are being interrogated across the social and behavioral sciences as well as the humanities, fine arts, sciences, and in the field of education. This talk frames a larger approach to how academics might contextualize and organize teaching and research in relation to this emergent E-Society phenomena. Drawing broadly from interdisciplinary discussions, it is possible to imagine a teaching and research agenda that integrates the strengths already found in university environments into one coherent, yet loosely structured, degree program. This talk thus operates at both a conceptual and practical level, discussing how we might investigate and teach about an emergent E-Society. The practical applications of such a discussion go beyond a description of mediated social relations, then, by implying how we can best prepare students for involvement in an electronically based social and political marketplace.

November 9 - Hong Cui, SIRLS Assistant Professor

"Fine-Grained Semantic Annotation of Morphological Descriptions in Biodiversity Domain"

In this talk, I will describe the linguistic features of morphological descriptions and the language processing methods that have been applied. I will set a heuristic rule based markup algorithm in the context of the previous research and their results, and tentatively draw a conclusion that morphological descriptions are more complicated syntactically that many had expected. I will then present a set of most recent results using unsupervised machine learning methods and a general-purpose parser (Stanford Parser) that are significantly better than those produced by the heuristic rule based method. 

Spring 2012:

February 1 - Matthew J. Hashim, Assistant Professor, UA Department of Management Information Systems

change of venue: Professor Hashim's talk will be in Room 21 of the James E. Rogers College of Law, northwest corner of Speedway and Mountain. 

"Information Targeting and Coordination: An Experimental Study"

Abstract: We experimentally study the role of information targeting and its effect on coordination in a multi-threshold public goods game.  To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first to consider this problem.  In a public goods game, it is quite difficult to encourage and enforce the voluntary contribution behavior of individuals to the public good (a good that is both non-rival and non-excludable, e.g., over-the-air television, national defense, lighthouses), as in equilibrium, individuals prefer to free-ride on the contributions of others, leading to a continual decline in the coordination of contributions to the good.  Multi-threshold public goods games enhance the coordination problem because individuals may not be able to coordinate their contributions to the public good at a particular threshold in an efficient manner, leading to excessive waste in contributions (contributions surpassing a threshold for provision of the good, but not being sufficient to meet the next higher threshold).  In a lab setting, we consider four treatments differentiated by the manner in which we use information about subjects' contributions to affect coordination behavior.  One treatment in which no information is provided, and three others that vary in whom we provide the information to: a random sample of subjects; those whose contributions are below the average of their group, and those whose contributions are above the average of their group. We find that random provision of information is no better than providing no information at all.  More importantly, the average contributions improve with targeted treatments.  The coordination waste is also lower with targeted treatments. The insights from this research may also be relevant to management in contexts such as piracy and teen-drinking, among others, where positively or negatively affecting coordination between consumers using information is of interest.

February 15 - Ricardo L. Punzalan, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Michigan School of Information

change of venue: Ricardo Punzalan's talk will be in Room 21 of the James E. Rogers College of Law, northwest corner of Speedway and Mountain.

"Colonial Photographs in the Age of Virtual Reunification"


In recent years, digitization has facilitated inter-institutional cooperation by reuniting dispersed or scattered collections online through the process of virtual reunification. This presentation examines issues arising from the decisions to digitize and to reunify online a set of colonial archival ethnographic photographs kept by a group of archives, libraries, and museums. How do heritage institutions that share common image collections grapple with issues of duplication, selection and originality in the context of digitization, and what are the ethical considerations they confront in representing indigenous cultures online? These issues are explored in the specific context of over five thousand images produced and assembled by Dean C. Worcester (1866-1924), a U.S. colonial administrator in the Philippines between 1890 and 1913. The photographs document a series of ethnological surveys of indigenous populations, with the aim of understanding their habitat, life-ways, natural resource use, and the possible impact of the American pacification attempts to “civilize” and “educate.”

I consider digitization not only as a matter of technical decisions, but as a process that can raise profound ethical concerns. I argue that the photographs’ story of dispersion, their ambiguous relationship to their source communities, the uneven treatment and perspectives of their value as a collection by the institutions that keep them, and finally, the ethical challenges of displaying indigenous images online all come to bear in the process. These issues must be carefully considered, and even settled, before this collection can move forward into the digital age.


Ricardo Punzalan is a doctoral candidate in archives and museum studies at the University of Michigan School of Information. In addition to an MLIS from the University of the Philippines, he has completed two certificates of graduate studies at Michigan, one in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and another in Museum Studies. He is currently working on his dissertation, which examines virtual reunification as a strategy to integrate dispersed archival images online. He has been active internationally in developing community archives. In May and June 2009, he worked in Techiman, Ghana, to establish the archives of the traditional council and studied the impact of placing this archival unit within a proposed community heritage center. From 2005 to 2006, he organized the archives of Culion, a former leprosarium in the Philippines, and curated a museum exhibit for the centennial of the community’s founding as a segregation facility. Prior to his doctoral work at Michigan, he taught on the faculty of the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Studies, where he served as assistant professor of archives and library science and as museum archivist for the Vargas Museum. His articles have been published in Archives and ManuscriptsArchivaria, and Archival Science.

February 29

- Kate Kenski, Assistant Professor, UA Department of Communication

"Patterns of Incivility in Online Discussions"

Abstract: This research involves the development of content analytic measures used to track levels of incivility in online discussions. The focus is on the Arizona Daily Star forums attached to news articles, a first step in a broader program designed to understand the extent to which civility and incivility appear in public discourse about political life.

March 5 - Janet Ceja, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

Change of date and venue:  Monday, March 5, at noon in Room 21, James E. Rogers College of Law, northwest corner of Speedway and Mountain

"How Does Culture Matter in Preserving a Sacred Fiesta? Looking to the Rancho for Answers"

Abstract:  Current research in archival studies extends the concept of archives to communities that fall outside of the archival paradigm and acknowledges oral, aural, and kinetic forms do matter in the archival construct. My research focuses on understanding how culture influences the conservation of intangible heritage, and specifically a sacred fiesta. In this talk, I will present some preliminary findings from my dissertation research to discuss how culture matters in understanding the idea of permanence, a significant tenet in archival practice. I study a fiesta in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a rural Mexican ranching community. In this rancho, archives, as they exist in the “North” do not for the community in question and I examine how this fiesta is preserved through cultural maintenance techniques that rely on spirituality, memory, and video records of the fiesta.

Janet Ceja is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences. She holds a BA in Film Studies from UC, Santa Barbara and an MA in Film and Media Preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick Graduate Program at the University of Rochester. Her research interests focus on the preservation of moving images and in understanding how notions of permanence materialize in diverse cultural contexts.

April 4 - Sandy Littletree, Knowledge River Program Manager, and Jamie A. Lee, PhD Student and Knowledge River alum, UA SIRLS

"Stories of Arizona's Tribal Libraries: The Value of Stories and Lived Perspectives"

"Stories of Arizona's Tribal Libraries: The Value of Stories & Lived Perspectives" offers insight into this groundbreaking oral history project directly addressing the need to capture the history and development of Arizona's Tribal Libraries while also demonstrating that these libraries are indeed a vital and valuable part of their communities and the state of
Arizona.  Offering glimpses of the overall project development from the initial need through the processes of getting approvals from tribal councils through researching and addressing specific tribal research ethics protocols, this presentation will more importantly convey findings and share personal stories from the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and the San Carlos Apache Nation.  Through shared understandings of the potential of storytelling as qualitative data, this presentation will highlight the important ways that
oral history interviews and stories told in their own voices can provide new histories and counter-narratives to the mainstream narratives that have already been quantified/qualified through dominant society's perspectives. Showing the value in these important stories will assist in our work within Information Resources and Library Science as we continue to strive for new understandings about how knowledge is produced and consumed from a variety of locations.

April 25 - Patricia Montiel Overall, Associate Professor, and Emily Lane, graduate student, UA SIRLS

"Bridging Theory and Practice through Service Learning: A Case Study"

This presentation will focus on service learning as a bridge to theory and practice for library and information science (LIS) students.  Dr. Overall will give an overview of service learning and will provide a theoretical framework for service learning.  Research on service learning as a means of integrating real-life experiences into higher education coursework to improve students' understanding of issues, policies, and practices will be presented.  An example of a service learning project for a course taught by Dr. Overall in fall 2011, IRLS 521 Children and Young Adult Literature in a Multicultural Society, will be
presented by Emily Lane, a SIRLS student who undertook the project at the request of teachers at a local school.  Challenges and opportunities resulting from service learning at the school and implications for the LIS profession
about using service learning to improve content knowledge will be presented.


Related Topic(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences