Ethnic Minority Immigrant Youth as Information Mediaries

Dr. Karen E. Fisher

Dr. Karen E. Fisher is a Professor in the University of Washington Information School and Adjunct Professor of Communication.  She teaches and conducts research on how people experience information as part of everyday life, with emphasis on the interpersonal aspects of information behavior, the role of informal social settings or “information grounds” in information flow, as well as the broad impacts of information and communication technologies.  Her current work supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Microsoft asks how ethnic minority youth seek information and use technology on behalf of other people, especially older family members, and how this phenomenon can be supported through information technology, services and policy. A second current area involves online dating as an information problem, the development of instrumental ties, and relevance to other dyadic relationships—business, creative—especially long-term. Dr. Fisher’s 2009-2011 work addressed the multiplex value of public libraries in communities across the United States. In this mixed methods study (with Crandall, Becker, et al.,) of 50,000 people conducted for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a key finding is that 63% of people use library technology on behalf of another person, which has strong implications for how we design information systems, support information literacy, and determine impact. Co-author of Theory in Motion: Using theories of information behavior to design applications, policy and services (in progress, with S. Erdelez), Digital Inclusion: Measuring the Impact of Information and Community Technology (2009, with M. Crandall), Theories of Information Behavior (2005, with S. Erdelez & L. McKechnie), and several monographs about community services in public libraries, her supporters include the National Science Foundation, Microsoft Research, the United Way of America, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Recipient of the 2005 and 2008 ALA Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research, Dr. Fisher has been recognized for her research by the Hawaii Int’l Conference on System Sciences, American Society for Information Science & Technology, and the Association for Library and Information Science Education. An alum of the University of Western Ontario (PhD & MLIS) and Memorial University of Newfoundland (BA), she held a postdoc at the University of Michigan, and was a Visiting Researcher at Microsoft Research, and a NORSLIS Visiting Professor at Oslo University College, Norway. She serves on the international program committees for ISIC: The Information Behavior Conference and i3: Information: Interactions and Impact; and was co-program chair of the 2011 iSchool Conference. A past member of ASIST’s Board of Directors, Prof. Fisher was inducted to the ASIST SIG USE Academy of Fellows in 2009.  To learn more, visit and The only Newfoundlander in Seattle, Karen lives in Seattle’s Fremont houseboat community and can be found biking the Burke-Gilman Trail when she’s not at hot yoga, belly dancing at the Visionary Dance Studio or contemplating moving to Tuscany.

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