Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) – Where am I? How do I feel?

Wow, what a journey! My feelings, thoughts and actions have been fluctuating from exhilarating highs to intense lows, reminiscent of riding the rollercoaster at SeaWorld. At this point in my learning and throughout Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP), I can now agree with her and say that, “The advances in information technology (especially the iPad), that open access to a vast assortment of sources, have sometimes not really helped my research dilemma but may have intensified my sense of confusion and uncertainty. In the early stages, I became a bit overwhelmed with the feeling of finding ‘everything’ all at once.”

In the initial phase of the ISP, I felt overwhelmed and even a bit depressed about not knowing much about the journey that lay ahead of me. When I perused other people’s blogs, read the handbook and looked at the vast number of resources available, feelings of uncertainty and apprehension started to arise. Was I up to the challenge? Could I cope with working full-time while trying to put 100% into my study? Would I be able to comprehend the task at hand? Do I have enough prior experience and personal knowledge to cope in this situation? I then realized that I could make use of this opportunity to further my knowledge of teaching and learning as an excellent Teacher Librarian by ‘becoming thoroughly familiar with the information literacy and information needs, skills and interests of learners’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2004) within my school. Because of this, more positive thoughts entered my head (which was a high point on my rollercoaster ride).

Hence moving into the selection phase, I began to feel more optimistic as I realised there was hope. I had a full semester to gain more insight, skills and expertise in inquiry based learning by listening to lectures, reading articles and engaging in hours of exploration and expert searching. Although feelings of anxiety arose when I tried to work out which platform I was going to use for my blog. Even though WordPress had been suggested, I knew of other blog platforms that students could access in Education Queensland (EQ) schools. WordPress was not one of them. I took into consideration the time we had been allotted, the information that was available, my personal interest and more importantly, who was going to help me if I got stuck. I finally decided to go with the preferred platform and use WordPress. I believe my lecturer should know best! (another high point). Unfortunately, this feeling did not last much longer as the time came to choose a topic for my information learning activity (ILA). I started to feel scared and confused about what year I would work with and whether or not the teachers would let me teach the unit or would I have to observe only? I looked at the C2C units and what resources were available. I started asking questions and put my feelers out. I had been working earlier in the year with two Year 6 classes, so I felt less anxious approaching these teachers. As it turned out, I had nothing to be scared about as they were both very open about taking part in the ILA and they even suggested letting me take full control (with their assistance). Yeah! Another high point in my adventure.

At this point, at which the topic for the ILA was chosen, the class was decided and the inquiry had begun, my feelings turned from delight to frustration and discouragement overnight. The exploration phase, expert-searching 101, had begun. I was consumed by boolean operators, search terms, information overload, infinite resources, highlighting, note taking, reading, referencing, not to mention screen casting, and I became stressed, more confused and even started to doubt my abilities. Some of the resources I found were useful and were immediately added to the ‘bingo’ pile, whilst others seemed more inconsistent and incompatible for my needs, leading to even more frustration. There were many times I wanted to just throw it all in and walk away. This is when I discovered my ‘zone of intervention’ (Kuhlthau), that being the wonderful blogs from the CLN650 2010-2011 students. I had seen the light. They helped me understand the concept of ‘information overload’ as I realised that I was the only one who could make this task as easy or as hard as I wished. I decided to use only the resources that were relevant to me and that I could understand, and use only the sources that informed me about my topic so that I could form a personal point of view. Thanks again Kuhlthau.

After this hurdle, and to this particular point in the ISP, the formulation, collection and presentation phases feel like a piece of cake (although there is still a long road ahead). I feel relief that the information is now accumulated and it will continually be documented. I finally feel like I have some sort of direction. This process will continue throughout Blog Stage 2. The presentation of my findings has not only been fun and exciting but using the blog platform WordPress, has made me realise that there is a wide audience out there that is interested in what I have to say. This is a great way to share professional knowledge and learn from each other.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/policies/TLstandards.pdf

Kuhlthau C., Maniotes L., Caspari A., (2007).  Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century. London: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. (n.d.). Information Search Process. Retrieved September 3, 2012, from Carol Collier Kuhlthau website: http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

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