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Everything Old is New Again: The Evolution of

Library and Information Science Education from

US to iField
Laurie J. Bonnici
School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama, Room 527B, Gorgas Library,
Box 870252, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0252. E-mail:
Manimegalai M Subramaniam
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, Room 2118F Hornbake BIdg,
South Wing, College Park, MD 20742. E-mail:
Kathleen Burnett
College of Communication and Information, Florida State University, PO Box 3062100,
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2100. E-mail:

This article reports the results of research to determine whether the iSchools project,
an undertaking of twenty-two institutional caucus members, represents a deliberate
split from the discipline of LIS as previously constructed, a conflict in approach to tra-
ditional LIS education, or an ingestion of traditional disciplinary content into a new
iField. A variety of data sources were analyzed employing the concepts from Abbott's
(2001) Chaos of Disciplines for patterns of fractal distinction, fractal distinction in
time, fractal differentiation and mechanism. A qualitative emergent research design
employing inductive reasoning was used. As viewed through the theoretical lens of
the Chaos of Disciplines, LIS has disciplinary breadth (interstitial), is self-replicating
in method (fractally distinct), and has progressed through a method of rediscovery
(fractal distinction in time). The majority of the schools that have embraced the
iSchool movement exhibit the fractal cycle mechanism in their philosophical stance,
but the mechanism of progression from LIS to iField is an inverted fractal cycle, mov-
ing from specific to broad over time.
Keywords: iSchools, disciplinary identity, LIS education, emergent research design

T he disciplinary identity of LIS has

been contested since its origins in
19th century librarianship training pro-
professional marketplace, globalization,
and a rapidly changing technological
landscape have further complicated the
grams (Burnett & Bonnici, 2006). disciplinary identity formation process.
Inter-professional and interdepartmental A caucus of 22 iSchools, 14 of which are
competition, jurisdictional dis- also members of the ALISE and offer
putes—first between library science and master's degree programs accredited by
information science, and more recently the ALA has held conferences annually
between LIS and computer science over since September 2005 (see ASIS &T Bul-
the emergence of information technology letin, April/May 2006 for reports on this
as a discipline—have probiematized the conference). The caucus announced the
establishment of a lasting disciplinary intention to establish a new iField
identity. (iSchools Caucus, n.d.), with the explicit
Over the past few decades, shifts in the goal of coming to grips with the "elusive
1 of EducationtorUbrary and Infownation Science, Vol. 50, No. 4—Fall 2009
ISSN: 0748-5786 ©2009 Association for Library and Information Science Education 263

identity [that] poses a challenge for the Theory

I-School movement" (King, 2006). The
iSchools Caucus created the term ¡Field Central to Abbott's theory is the notion
to capture this elusive identity, and de- of microcosms. The idea is that a subset
fined it as: of a larger unit can contain micro-scale
versions of structures and processes char-
an academic field of study and a profes-
acteristic ofthe larger unit. The first con-
sional careerfieldthat deals with all the is-
cept of the theory addresses interstitial
sues, opportunities, and challenges we face
character. A discipline exhibiting inter-
in our emerging Information Age.... The
stitial character is one that is: not good at
iField addresses this fundamental issue:
excluding, a discipline of many topics,
how do we harness that incredible flow
and occurs in a space between things
of information for the betterment of soci-
(Abbott, 2001). LIS, when viewed
ety, rather than get swamped by it?
through the lens of interstitial character,
(iSchools Caucus, n.d.)
appears to be an academic patchwork
The iField is characterized on the quilt of internal conflict. This begins at
iSchools Caucus' website as "unique," the fundamental level of labeling. In this
"at the heart of everything," and society ' s article, we have referred to the field as
"key to success" (iSchools Caucus, n.d.). LIS, but a smaller constituency within the
These claims make it clear that the caucus field prefers, and often insists upon, in-
perceives the iField as distinct from the formation studies or information science,
contemporary construction of the disci- while another prefers, and often insists
pline of LIS. Will the caucus split from upon library studies, library science, or
LIS entirely to create a new field? Will it librarianship. These labels indicate ei-
attempt to convince the majority group to ther a split or duplicative identity within
recognize its minority position as a viable the microcosm itself. Deviations in
subfield within LIS? Or, will the caucus school names including information sys-
ingest the prevailing majority position tems and information technology only
within the new iField? To answer these further complicate this reading of the
questions, the researchers adopted the interstitial character ofthe discipline. The
theoretical framework developed by broader label of information is no more
Abbott (2001) and applied in The Chaos satisfactory, because it makes unsup-
of Disciplines to the analysis ofthe disci- ported claims for many topics for which
pline of sociology during a similar period disciplines such as computer science,
of change. Course names and descrip- medicine, law, and business have also es-
tions, new faculty position announce- tablished authority claims. The extension
ments, postings to the Jesse listserv, of the reach of library science during
content from iSchools website, and ab- World War II to the solution of problems
stracts and papers from the 2006 and in information retrieval and automation
2008 annual iSchools conferences were had the unexpected consequence of divid-
analyzed for patterns of interstitial char- ing the information professions into quali-
acter, fractal distinctions, and fractal dis- tative (librarianship) and quantitative
tinctions over time. The results were (accounting, etc.) information practices
compared to Abbott's analysis of the (Abbott, 1988). This division contributed
field of sociology. to the push by library science for recogni-
We began this investigation because as tion as a social science discipline, because
informed observers of LIS, we noticed this provided a comfortable position be-
that the patterns Abbott observed in soci- tween the scientific (quantitative) and hu-
ology appeared—at least on the sur- manistic (qualitative) disciplinary poles
face—to be present in our own discipline. represented in its own practices.
Everything Old is New Again 265

The second concept in Abbott's theory The fractal cycle pattern is a result of
addresses fractal distinctions. Fractals one line dividing per generation due to
are dichotomies exhibiting segmental conflict and resultant extermination of
kinships between groups (Abbott, 2001). the other lineage. In this case, concerns or
LIS education and practice present them- ideas of the abolished lineage are
selves as fractals with reflective dichoto- reconceptualized into the new lineage
mies. Both groups employ qualitative (Abbott, 2001).
and quantitative methods. Further subdi-
vision would reveal similar dichotomies Research Design
between the groups. Practitioners may be
grouped by type (e.g. experts, general- To ensure that the research accurately
ists, technicians), as may users (e.g. and rigorously reflected the phenomenon
adult, young adult, children). being studied, we utilized data from a va-
The third concept Abbott introduces is riety of sources including institutional
fractal distinctions in time. Abbott de- websites (course descriptions, mission
scribes this as successive generations tri- statements, and about the school pages),
umphing over the previous. Once the iSchools website (abstracts and pa-
triumphant, the new generation resur- pers from the 2006 and 2008 annual
rects the ideas of the previous under the iSchools conferences), and postings to
guise of advancing new knowledge. This the Jesse listserv, which was the primary
concept recognizes that a good idea re- Internet mechanism for informal commu-
surfaces over time cloaked in new termi- nication about LIS education during the
nology. The new context makes the old period under examination. Our analysis
idea appear to be different as it is repack- of Jesse postings was limited to two types
aged in new language (Abbott, 2001). to limit the potential for bias inherent in
It is clear that in establishing its claim editorial and opinion postings by a small
to authority information science did not group of active individuals: (1) Faculty
create a new conceptualization, but position announcements and job adver-
rather reconceptualized or expanded the tisements posted on behalf of programs;
definition of indexing and other terms and (2) Institutional announcements of
specific to library science into the more program or school name changes and
generalized concepts of information or- messages reacting or responding to these
ganization and information storage and announcements. We used suitable data
applied them to digital Information Age sources for the analysis of each pattern
technologies. Abbott identified to ensure rigor and
Mechanism, the fourth concept, indi- richness of the data. The research was
cates the specific patterns of split, con- conducted based on the principles of
flict, and then ingestion. Abbott presents qualitative emergent research design and
three methods of movement: traditional depended primarily upon inductive
differentiation, fractal differentiation, reasoning.
and fractal cycles. In traditional differen- To examine the occurrence of intersti-
tiation there is a lineage split at each gen- tial character in LIS education, we began
eration level. Each split results in by looking at the messages posted on the
subordinate parts characterized by Jesse listserv. We selected the time pe-
increasing specificity (Abbott, 2001). riod from 1995-2005, since several
Fractal differentiation is a simplified schools changed their names at the begin-
version ofthe major idea presented in the ning of this period, and searched for mes-
theory. At each subordinate level, the sages using the following key phrases:
fractal distinction repeats itself (Abbott, faculty position, school name and name
2001). change. We examined three types of mes-

sage content: job descriptions, doctoral iConference websites. The results are
degree requirements for a faculty posi- reported in the section titled Fractal Dis-
tion, and discussions of changes in the tinction.
program/school names. Results are re- To observe fractal distinction in time,
ported in the section titled Interstitial we examined course titles and descrip-
Character. tions for 24 of the 28 schools selected
To examine the existence of fractal dis- above. We retrieved course titles and de-
tinction in LIS education, we analyzed scriptions that were in use in 1999 using
course descriptions of both iSchools with the Wayback Machine at
ALA accredited programs and other The year 1999 was selected to allow suf-
schools or departments with ALA accred- ficient time for fractal distinction to de-
ited programs; and abstracts and papers velop in time. Four schools were
from the 2006 and 2008 annual iSchools excluded from this data collection, in-
conferences. The abstracts and papers cluding one iSchool and three other
from the iSchools conferences were ob- schools. One was excluded because it
tained from the iConference websites was not in existence in 1999. Course de-
(iConference, 2006; iConference, 2008). scriptions could not be retrieved using
To ensure consistency, we examined the Wayback Machine for the remaining
course descriptions from schools that three. We used the same procedures to
have ALA accredited master's programs. analyze the 1999 course descriptions as
To determine which iSchools to include, described for the 2008 course descrip-
we compared the list of ALA accredited tions. The rank order lists ofthe ten most
master's programs (American Library frequent words for each type of school
Association, n.d.) with the list of schools were compared. We then compared the
that are members of the iSchool Caucus word frequency rankings over time by
(iSchools Caucus, n.d.). Fourteen type of school. The results are reported in
schools fulfilled both criteria (hereafter, the section title Fractal Distinction in
iSchools). To determine the schools and Time.
departments other than iSchools (hereaf- To determine which of the mecha-
ter, other schools) to include, we ran- nisms: traditional differentiation, fractal
domly selected fourteen ALA accredited differentiation, or fractal cycle is operat-
programs that were not members of the ing in the evolution from LIS to iField,
iSchools Caucus from the list of schools we retrieved the About the school. Wel-
and departments with ALA accredited come, Mission and vision, and/or History
master's programs (American Library sections from the websites ofthe fourteen
Association, n.d.). For each of the 28 iSchools and performed content analysis
schools, we retrieved the descriptions of using the technique of meaning conden-
all courses offered in each master's de- sation. We looked for statements that
gree program from the program's website would confirm or disconfirm the opera-
and organized the data using NVivo, a tion of each type of mechanism (see Ta-
qualitative data analysis software. We ble 1). The results of this analysis are
edited the resulting lists, discarding reported in the section titled Mechanism.
terms that referred to the mechanics of
course offerings (e.g., credit, hours,
pre-requisites). We analyzed these Results and Interpretation
course descriptions for word frequencies
and ranked the ten most frequently used Interstitial Character
words in each type of school. We fol-
lowed the same procedures to analyze the As mentioned previously, our in-
abstracts and papers from the formed observations led us to believe that
Everything Old is New Again 267

Table 1 : Statements Used to Confirm Mechanisms.

Statement Mechanism
Library referred to a distinct and separate from information Traditional differentiation
Library AND information science as a combined phrase Fractal differentiation
(not separate departments or units)
No mention of library or reference to library only in the Fractal cycle
past tense (historical roots of program)

LIS is not good at excluding things Calls for candidates from three disci-
(Abbott, 2001, p. 5) and is a discipline of plines predominated, including: commu-
many topics (Abbott, 2001, p. 6). The nications, sociology and computer
rhetoric surrounding the iField is so in- science, with computer science being the
clusive that it appears that nothing is most sorted specialization. Table 2 sum-
"alien" (Abbott, 2001, p. 6) to it. marizes the phrases used to label the spe-
We began to look for evidence of inter- cializations listed in the announcements.
stitial character through examination of We next analyzed the doctoral degree
messages posted on the Jesse listserv that requirements mentioned in these job de-
announced new positions, hiring of new scriptions. We examined messages that
faculty, and any discussion of changes of reported the successful hiring of new ten-
names of LIS schools. Two types of evi- ure track faculty members. We found evi-
dence were identified. The first type is dence of interstitial character in the
expressed through the use of general disciplinary history of the applicants who
terms. A strong call to broaden the field is were hired or were most likely to be hired
clearly reflected in the job descriptions, by LIS schools. General terms were used
which call for tenure-track faculty candi- to indicate openness to and inclusion of
dates who are interested or involved in graduates from other fields. Qualifica-
new dimensions of the information sci- tions such as from other appropriate
ence and technology ftelds, a broad per- fields, relatedftelds, allied disciplines, or
spective in information fteld and having a multidisciplinary doctoral de-
interdisciplinary scholarship. The sec- gree or an interdisciplinary PhD were in-
ond type of evidence is expressed cluded. Specific terms covered an even
through the use of more specific terms. wider range of disciplines than found in

Table 2: Phrases Used to Label Specializations in

Tenure Track Faculty Announcements.
Specialization Phrases
Communications Journalism, Nevi^ media, Media studies.
Sociology Technoculture, Sociology of cyberspace.
Computer science Bioinformatics, Information visualization. Computer supported col-
laborative work. Distributed systems. Embedded systems. Human
computer interaction. Markup languages. Natural language process-
ing. Ubiquitous computing. Systems design. Scalable information in-
Others Genomics, Cognitive Psychology, Telecommunications.

Table 3: Doctoral Degrees in Tenure Track Faculty Position Announcements.

Domain of
Knowledge Discipline
Humanities Linguistics, American Studies*, Comparative literature*. History*,
English*, Philosophy*, Second language acquisition.
Sciences Computer science*. Nutritional sciences*. Physics*, Biology*, Public
health sciences*.
Social sciences Communication*, Anthropology*, Cognitive science*. Sociology*,
Others Law*, Business, Educational technology*. Experimental psychology*.
'Applicants hired by LIS programs

the job descriptions. Table 3 summarizes the name of the school because of the
the doctoral degrees mentioned in an- breadth of coverage and inclusiveness of
nouncements for tenure track faculty po- the concept. Strong arguments that li-
sitions. brary should be dropped completely also
The interstitial character reflected in appeared. However, some camps of
the job descriptions and disciplinary his- schools or faculty indicated very strongly
tory of hires is also prominently reflected that the L should be an emphasis, and
in the discussion of the school name should balance the delivery of instruction
changes, which were discussed on the on the t side. Within each camp, an argu-
Jesse listserv beginning in 1995. Some ment was made for a focus on the less fa-
schools dropped the L word (library and vored concept (L or /) in respect to both
its permutations) and replaced it with a teaching and research. In addition to in-
phrase that has some affiliation to / (in- terstitial character, this tendency of a
formation and its permutations), such as "distinction [that] repeats a pattern
information management, information within itself (Abbott, 2001, p. 9) is in-
studies, or simply information. Some dicative of fractal distinctions, which are
schools kept the L word, and added the /. discussed in more detail in the following
As we analyzed the messages, we iden- section.
tified those that discussed school name
changes. There were discussions that ar- Fractat Distinction
ticulated the depth of the meaning of in-
formation, which covers a wide range of As discussed in the previous section,
research questions in information profes- the discussion of changes in school
sions. There were discussions that high- names in the Jesse postings included evi-
lighted the interdisciplinary nature ofthe dence of two camps of schools or faculty
field. There were calls for a broad based (split), who expressed opposing views re-
view of the roles that LIS schools or col- garding the relative value of retaining the
leges play, ranging from the deployment L in school names (conflict). In the dis-
of basic knowledge about information to cussion ofthe i camp, the retention of an
complex application of information L focus within the renamed schools was
structures. These arguments depict a dis- generally supported (ingestion). To
cipline that envisions itself covering both probe this pattern of fractal distinction
ends ofthe continuum from knowledge to and further confirm its presence, we ana-
action (Abbott, 2001 ) and contends that it lyzed two additional types of data: ( 1 )
makes most sense to have information in Course titles and descriptions, and (2)
Everything Old is New Again 269
Abstracts of papers presented at the 2006 iConferences and iSchools lists have one
and 2008 iConferences. additional point of agreement: design.
The course titles and course descrip- There are no additional points of agree-
tions for master's level courses listed on ment between the iConferences and other
the websites of the 14 iSchools in 2008, schools lists. Six words appear only on
and those for the 14 randomly selected the iConferences list: technology, field,
other schools were analyzed for word fre- community, discipline, students and so-
quency and the rank order of the ten most cial.
frequent words in each list were com- In these data sets a pattern of split, con-
pared as shown in Table 4. flict and ingestion is evident. As noted
Variation occurs at the third, fifth, sev- above, the two lists derived from the
enth, ninth, and tenth positions. Eight of course titles and descriptions include
the words appear on both lists: informa- four words that do not appear on both lists
tion, library, systems, services, manage- (split): design and development
ment, resources, research and issues. (iSchools only) and materials and media
The iSchools list includes two words that (other schools only). The first pair is gen-
do not appear on the other schools list: erally associated with information sys-
design (7th position) and development tems and technology, while the second
(10th position). The other schools list pair is more often associated with print
also includes two words that do not ap- materials and libraries (conflict). Of the
pear on the iSchools list: materials and eight words that appear in both course ti-
media. The reversed order of the words tle and descriptions lists, five—library,
systems (associated with information systems, services, management and re-
systems and technology) and services sources appear to be concrete and pro-
(associated with libraries) lends further vide evidence of interstitial character and
credence to this interpretation of evi- ingestion of the weaker line (other
dence of conflict. schools) by the better resourced line
Word frequency analysis was also con- (iSchools). Two are abstract concepts
ducted on the abstracts of the papers pre- that signify the ingestion of the tradi-
sented at the 2006 and 2008 iConferences tional professional discourse into the
(see right column of Table 4). Only three rhetoric of the new iField: issues (tradi-
words appear on all three lists: informa- tional/professional) and research
tion, systems, and research. The (new/disciplinary). The persistent fre-

Table 4: Current Word Frequency Rankings.

Word Frequency Other
Ranking iSchools Schools/Departments ¡Conference Abstracts
1 information information iriformation
2 library library research
3 systems services technology
4 management management systems
5 services systems field
6 resources resources community
7 design research discipline
8 issues issues design
9 research materials students
10 development media social

quency ofthe word information is a clear sulting in avoidance of the term. Should
example of what Abbott (2001, p. 27) de- the resolution include ingestion of the L
scribes as into the /, we would expect to see library
reemerge in the list of the ten most fre-
the general power of the concept of quent words, although probably at a
fractal distinctions. . . . It explains the lower rank.
persistence of terms that appear to be un-
definable despite their central impor-
tance to our disciplines. They survive Fractal Distinction in Time
because they are indexical terms that fa-
cilitate our discourse by their very Abbott (2001, p. 22) notes that fractal
indexicality. "differentiation survives within a fractal
lineage only when increasing size and re-
Which raises the question, what about sources permit it." He distinguishes three
library? Is it significant that the second mechanisms of fractal distinction: tradi-
most frequent word on both course titles tional fractal differentiation, fractal dif-
and descriptions lists is not among the ten ferentiation, and fractal cycles. All three
most frequent words in the abstracts for types exhibit patterns of split, conflict
the iConference papers? To answer this and ingestion. In traditional fractal dif-
question, we examined the characteris- ferentiation, "at each generation, a lin-
tics of the three words that appear on all eage splits into subordinate parts of
three lists. Information, as discussed increasing specificity" (Abbott, 2001, p.
above, is an indexical term that names the 22). In fractal differentiation "the fractal
undefinable essence of the discipline distinction repeats itself at each succeed-
across the continuum of its existence. ing generation within all lineages"
Systems, while apparently concrete and (Abbott, 2001, 22). "The fractal cycles
most often associated with technology, pattern is thus a subset of the fractal dif-
and therefore the / side ofthe continuum, ferentiation one" (Abbott, 2001, p. 22).
is also used to describe organizations of In this pattern "only one line divides per
libraries (library systems) and a method- generation, because intense conflict ex-
ological approach to libraries as organi- terminates all but a particular hegemonic
zations (systems analysis). Likewise, view The concerns ofthe 'sterile' line
research is concept that spans the / to L are 'remapped' onto a version ofthe fer-
continuum. Research is conducted at tile one" (Abbott, 2001, p. 22).
both ends of the continuum, with shared To determine which mechanism is op-
methodological applications. Library erating in LIS, we examined course titles
may share some of these indexical char- and descriptions for 24 of the 28 schools
acteristics as well. For example, a major examined above. The course titles and
area of research at the end of the contin- course descriptions for master's level
uum is digital libraries. Librarians are courses listed on the websites of 13
active partners in the design, develop- iSchools, and those for 11 other schools
ment and management of digital librar- were analyzed for word frequency and
ies. The absence ofthe word library in the the rank order of the ten most frequent
iConference abstracts list ofthe ten most words in each list were compared as
frequent words may provide evidence of shown in Table 5.
a deepening irreconcilable split between Unlike the word frequency rankings
the iSchools and other schools with ALA for 2008, no word was ranked in the
accredited master's programs, or it may same position for the iSchools and the
be that the conflict between the two ends other schools in 1999, indicating a
of the continuum is still unresolved, re- much stronger split in the / to L contin-
Everything Old is New Again 271

Table 5: 1999 Word Frequency Rankings.

Word Frequency Other
Ranking iSchools Schools/Departments
1 information library
2 library information
3 services services
4 management systems
5 services materials
6 resources management
7 materials evaluation
8 research issues
9 design sources
10 development special

uum. In 1999, library rivaled informa- the eighth position. Materials, ranked
tion as an indexical term, with each seventh in 1999, has dropped from the list
group having its own preference, thus of ten most frequent words in 2008. De-
supporting our interpretation of even- sign, ranked ninth in 1999, climbed to
tual ingestion of the topics of the L side seventh in 2008.
of the continuum into the / side dis- As compared to the iSchools word fre-
cussed above. quency rankings over time, the rankings
By contrast, there is considerable ho- for other schools exhibit far more change
mogeneity in the word frequency rank- (see Table 7). Only one word, services, ap-
ings when comparing the iSchools 1999 pears in the same position (third) in 2008
course titles and course descriptions with as in 1999. This word also appears in both
those for 2008 (see Table 6). The first six the 1999 and 2008 iSchools word fre-
positions and the tenth position are con- quency rankings, and clearly represents a
sistent over time. Research, ranked value shared across the L to / continuum. If
eighth in 1999 moved to ninth in 2008, library is an indexical term, as discussed
with the emergence ofthe word issues in above, its importance to the other schools

Table 6: iSchools Word Frequency Rankings over Time.

Word Frequency
Ranking 1999 iSchools 2008 iSchools
1 information information
2 library library
3 systems systems
4 management management
5 services services
6 resources resources
7 materials design
8 research issues
9 design research
10 development development

group was somewhat diminished over the Mechanism

decade, since it drops from first to second
in rank. Management moved up from 6th Lacking the strong jurisdictional lines
in 1999 to 4th in 2008, to come in line with evident in professional schools such as
the consistent ranking of this word in the law and medicine, where there is a uni-
iSchools. This shift may have been influ- versal claim of human knowledge ex-
enced by growth in the area of knowledge plicit to the discipline, the iField claims
management, which is a topic that has in- to be at the "heart of everything." Exami-
creased in popularity over the past decade. nation of the data through the lens of
Sources, usually associated with print and Abbott's theoretical framework indicates
ranked ninth in 1999, has been updated to split, conflict, and ingestion within the
resources, more often associated with in- iSchool population as it relates to inclu-
formation systems, but also used in con- sion of L in both the names and course de-
junction with libraries (e.g., library scriptions. Yet the nature of the
resources). It has also increased in rank to relationship of the L and / philosophies as
sixth, perhaps in part due to its broader espoused within the iField remains unre-
scope. Evaluation (seventh and not pres- solved in this data analysis. The research-
ent on either iSchools list) and special ers sought indication of this relationship
(tenth and almost exclusively used in con- on the current websites of the 14 iSchools
junction with library), dropped from the offering ALA accredited degree pro-
other schools list in 2008. Special is re- grams. More specifically, portions of the
placed in the tenth position by media in website that typically are labeled About
2008, which may indicate more emphasis the school, or sections that house the wel-
on the preparation of school media spe- come message, the mission statement,
cialists. Also of interest is that issues ap- and the history of the school were ana-
pears in the eighth position in both years lyzed for evidence of the types of differ-
on the other schools list, but just emerges entiation Abbott identified: traditional
in 2008 on the iSchools list, also in the differentiation, fractal differentiation, or
eighth position. fractal cycle. Content analysis was con-
A more detailed analysis of the patterns ducted using the technique of meaning
of split, conflict and ingestion outlined condensation. Instances mentioning li-
here and the mechanisms are discussed in brary or library science/studies in rela-
the next section. tion to information science/studies as

Table 7: Other Schools/departments Word Frequency Rankings Over Time.

Word Frequency 1999 Other 2008 Other
Ranking Schools/Departments Schools/Departments
1 library information
2 information library
3 services services
4 systems management
5 materials systems
6 management resources
7 evaluation research
8 issues issues
9 sources materials
10 special media
Everything Old is New Again 273

Table 8: Library and Information Word Occurrence and Relationships.

L and / L and /
Part of Website Distinct/Equal Mixed Exclusive
About the school 0 12 2
Welcome 0 3 0
Mission 0 1 0
History 0 8 0

expressed through the philosophy of each many schools that historically were the
of the fourteen schools were examined providers of library education.
and the results reported in Table 8. This exploratory study found that the
In no case was there evidence of tradi- mechanism of change lies somewhere be-
tional differentiation, which would require tween the typical fractal differentiation
that library and information science be rep- and fractal cycle patterns. Currently,
resented as definitively separate but equal iSchools are organized as a faculty of one
to one another. Twelve of the fourteen or are divided into two departments.
iSchool websites mention the word library Other departments may also be included,
within the pages analyzed. Five of the such as information systems or informa-
schools with prominent mention of the tion technology. In no case is library sci-
word library provide equal emphasis to the ence a department under information
term information science, with one specifi- science. The iSchool leaders are clearly
cally stating that the school embodies both aware of the political expediency of in-
philosophical approaches, placing empha- cluding library science as a prominent
sis on the and that links the two camps. player in the fractalization game. The ap-
This blending of the L and / philosophies parent absence of library studies or li-
indicates a pattem of fractal differentiation. brary science departments within
The remaining nine iSchools, including the information studies or information sci-
two that do use the word library, were iden- ence schools led us to the initial hypothe-
tified by the researchers as representing a sis that the mechanism of fractal cycles
fractal cycle pattern, where the "concerns was at work, but a more thorough exami-
of the defeated" are taken up by the fertile nation and application of the Chaos of
line. The researchers assumed that since Disciplines theory revealed that the ma-
the two exclusively fertile schools were jority of the schools that have embraced
once schools of LIS in their past, the L con- the iSchool movement exhibit the fractal
cerns were not completely abandoned. cycle mechanism at work. The iField is
This assumption is supported by the results not only at the "heart of everything," but
of the course description analysis. has ingested the L into its heart.
While the fractal cycle mechanism is
predominate, the direction of the pattern
Conclusions is different than that found by Abbott,
who argued that most disciplines move
The extent to which LIS schools have from a broad approach to knowledge to
engaged and embraced technological narrow in specialization. In the evolution
change, is reflected in the evolution of from LIS to iField, the concept of infor-
school names and course descriptions, mation has evolved from practice in spe-
signifying a paradigmatic shift in the ed- cific locales (libraries) to practice in
ucational and disciplinary philosophy of general (location independent). This in-

verted fractal cycle mechanism moves Accreditation Board for Engineering and
from specific to broad over time. LIS has Technology (ABET), inc.
increasingly engaged information tech-
nology, which has contributed to the
chaos of development of a discipline in Acknowledgements
its infancy. That this arena is ripe with
opportunity has not escaped the attention The authors would like to thank the au-
of' academic and business organizations, dience at the ALISE 2009 Conference
so it should come as no surprise that juris- and the reviewers of this paper for com-
diction is contested not only within LIS, ments and helpful feedback.
but also beyond its disciplinary borders.
The methods selected were appropriate References
to the study's purpose, but do not account
for external factors such as economic exi- Abbott, A. (1988). The system ofprofessions: An es-
gencies, institutional reorganization, or say on the division of expert Labor Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press.
technology adoption. Further investigation
is therefore required to determine the char- Abbott, A. (2001). The chaos of disciplines. Chi-
cago: University of Chicago Press.
acter and direction of the evolution from
LIS to iField. To better understand this American Library Association, (n.d.)- Directory of
ALA-accredited master's programs in library and
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duct further content analysis (including from
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citation analyses and social network analy- cfm
ses. Future analyses will include all schools Burnett, K., & Bonnici, L. J. (2006). Contested ter-
or departments with ALA accredited pro- rain: Accreditation and the future ofthe profession
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fourteen used in this study. It will also in-
clude the iSchools with no ALA accredited iConference. (2006). iConference 2006. Retrieved
November 14, 2008, from
programs, because their participation in the
iSchools movement may be important to iConference. (2008). Post conference materials. Re-
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iField. We also plan to investigate the rela-
tionship of the iSchool movement to the IT iSchools Caucus, (n.d.). The iSchools and iCaucus.
Deans Group, the Association of Comput- Retrieved November 14, 2008, from http://www.
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2008, from
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