Why Does Theory Matter?

I know it matters. I know theory matters. I know someday I’ll email or call my professors and say, “wow I am so glad you forced those theories and models down my throat.” But at this moment, I’m completely overwhelmed with all the theory that has inundated my head from the past two weeks.

What are these theories and models? I don’t know. I can’t even come close to explaining what they are trying to portray. I think they are outlining information needs of different people, but each model has been criticized for being too narrow for the audience, too broad, too linear, too confusing.

I tilt the pages of the book. I lean my head to the left and stare at the computer screen. The models don’t make any more sense from a different direction.

So why do I care so much?
(1) A midterm will soon have to be completed (successfully) by me — and I’m sure there will be models and theories to define and defend.
(2) It is MY job as a future librarian and information professional to mold new theories and models by finding flaws in the previous ones. Our studies involve people and their information needs/wants/desires. As these change, theories change.

I find the case studies to which the theories are applied much more applicable to my own future goals. Searching for processes in which ‘actual’ people can find the information they seek seems much more practical than memorizing who thought what and why it was unique in 1972 or 1966. It is not 1972 anymore…

Times they are a changing — Bob Dylan

(and I don’t think Karen Fisher’s class is changing with the times… at least not quickly enough)


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