... thinking scholarly 


Katy Lawley

email: katyn [at] umd.edu
I used to be Katy Newton, but then this guy came along.
PhD Student
     College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Dagobert Soergel, advisor extraordinaire.

Graduate Research Assistant
     MALACH (Multilingual Access to Large, Spoken Archives).

Research interests | Publications | Service & Membership | Awards | Personal


Welcome and hello!

I am a perpetual student, capable practitioner, and aspiring teacher. I study library and information science because I believe that by studying the characteristics of information (structure, meaning, language, classification, context) and the characteristics of people and their information uses (cognition, communication, affect, task, context), one can find innovative ways to align people with their information to optimize the processes of learning, knowing, teaching, and playing. Technology provides a wonderful vehicle for creating and enriching information environments, but in order for technology to contribute to productivity and satisfaction, it should be deployed only after the blueprints for an information environment have been laid out with care and consideration of the characteristics (i.e., people & information) described above.

When I graduated from East Carolina University in 1995, I went straight to the University of Georgia Libraries to work as a library assistant. Eventually, I decided to become a bona fide librarian, which brought me here to Maryland, and I just can't seem to make myself leave. The pursuit of a Master's in Library Science left me with more questions than answers, so I enrolled in the PhD program. The questions never stop coming, but I'm always learning and looking for new ways to explore and answer questions about information and information use.

Poke around my page and write to me (katyn [at] umd.edu); tell me who you are and how you found me.

Top | Publications | Service & Membership | Awards | Personal

Research Interests

Dissertation Topic

For my dissertation (today's working title: Information Behavior in Context: Teachers' Content Selection during Lesson Planning for Holocaust-Related Education ), I will study how content selection during instructional planning plays out as a special case of information seeking. The context for my study will be the planning of instructional units for high-school-level Holocaust education, with an emphasis on how educators use a digital archive of Holocaust survivors' video testimonies (
click here for more information on the archive).

Within the library and information science (LIS) tradition, we have seen a series of theories and models about when, how, and why people seek and use information. Often, these LIS models are created or modified as they apply to specific tasks or environments (e.g., students writing a term paper, lawyers litigating a case, physicians researching a patient's symptoms). During my study, then, I hope to observe and describe -- from my LIS perspective -- how educators' information behavior during lesson planning aligns with an important model of information behavior by T.D. Wilson (1981), in the context of the work environment as described by Cognitive Work Analysis, a framework for describing and improving work in complex, socio-technical environments. From this description, I hope to generate implications for the design and use of information systems (intellectual and/or technological) that will foster lesson planning for Holocaust education. Ultimately, I hope that this work could also contribute more broadly to the analysis of information systems and information use in work contexts.

Comprehensive Exam Areas

In April of 2006, I took and passed five comprehensive exams and advanced to candidacy. The areas I chose to study for my comps, I think, describe quite clearly which topics most interest me. The topics and subtopics listed below will, ideally, be the garden from which I grow and pick research topics in the coming years.

Information Storage and Retrieval (ISAR)
  • Information structure and architecture
  • ISAR functions, methods, and applications - Relevance ranking | knowledge extraction | ontologies | digital libraries
  • Interactive information retrieval
  • Evaluation of ISAR systems
Communication and Information Transfer
  • Foundations - Models of communication | relevance | computer-mediated communication | diffusion of innovation
  • Information Users: Needs, Behaviors, Uses - General | teachers and students
  • Information seeking process (ISP) - Questions | information seeking on the Web | learning through the ISP
  • Semiotics
Cognitive Psychology (esp. in information seeking and use situations)
  • Language and the mind
  • Concepts, categories, and classification
  • Decision making and confidence in knowledge
  • Information interaction processes
Language (esp. in information representation, seeking and use situations)
  • Semantic structure and information structure
  • Cognitive linguistics
  • Metaphor
  • Language-intensive applications - Frames | ontologies | thesauri | WordNet
Human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • Attention, perception, and ability: Psychological factors
  • Deeper cognitive factors: Mental models and communication
  • Navigating information environments
Have we something in common? e-mail me. katyn [at] umd.edu.

Top | Research interests | Service & Membership | Awards | Personal

Publications & Presentations

  • Oard, D., with Lawley, K.N. (2006). The MALACH Project: Multilingual Access to Large Spoken Archives. Invited presentation at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, October 24, 2006.
  • Lawley, K.N., with Oard, D. (2006). Teaching and Learning from Holocaust Survivors' Memories: Teachers' Retrieval from and Use of an Oral History Archive during Instructional Planning. Invited presentation at MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, October 17, 2006.
  • Lawley, K.N. (2006). Supporting Teachers' Information Use for Lesson Planning. Poster presented at i-Conference 2006: Research Frontiers in Information, Ann Arbor, MI, October 15-17, 2006.
  • Lawley, K.N., Soergel, D., and Huang, X. (2005). Relevance criteria used by teachers in selecting oral history materials. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIST), Charlotte, NC, October 28 - November 2, 2005. [Abstract]
  • Lawley, K.N., Soergel, D., White, R.W., and Huang, X. (2005). Teachers' search for multimedia lesson plan materials: Study, results, and design implications for oral history archives. Poster presented at i-Conference 2005: The First Conference of the i-School Community, State College, PA, September 28-30, 2005. [Abstract ]
  • Soergel, D. and Newton, K. (2003). From legacy KOS to full-fledged ontologies. Paper presented at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries NKOS Workshop (Networked Knowledge Organization Systems), Houston, TX, May 31, 2003.

Top | Research interests | Publications | Awards | Personal

Service & Membership

College of Information Studies Curriculum Committee
PhD Student Representative. 2007.
University of Maryland University Senate
Member, Educational Affairs Committee. 2005-present.
University of Maryland Provost's Student Advisory Council
Graduate Student Representative. 2005-present.
American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)
Moderator, SIG-USE listserv. 2003-present.
College of Information Studies PhD Student Peer Group
Coordinator. 2005 (one-year term).
College of Information Studies Advisory Committee on Space Allocation [ad hoc]
PhD Student Representative. Fall 2005.
College of Information Studies Collegium
PhD Student Representative. 2001-2003.
Post Tracks, online student publication
Peer Reviewer. Vol. 1(2).


Meritorious Information Behavior Conference Paper
American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIST), Special Interest Group for Information Needs, Seeking, and Use (SIG-USE) for
Lawley, KN, Soergel, D, & Huang, X. (2005). Relevance critieria used by teachers in selecting oral history materials. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Charlotte, NC, 30 October - 2 November 2005.


Family and friends are primary. Before school, before anything. Pets are family and friends. However, family and friends are not pets. Except for my husband, Ernie. He's family, friend, pet, and everything else good that I can think of.

To see said family, friends, and pets, as well as travel destinations near and far, take a gander at our Flickr photos.

Coming Soon:
  • List of courses taken with links to course papers.
  • Full text of my comprehensive exam proposal with extensive bibliography.
  • Links.

This page last updated on 23 January 2007, while sitting in the MALACH lab trying to figure out what my dissertation is really about.