information resources, the nature of documents and their communication

I first began to work with the concept of information resources within a specific domain or subject, as an undergraduate, when I was studying pharmacology. My interest developed during my early career in toxicology, in respect of my role as ‘information officer’. I enjoyed putting together a collection of toxicology resources for my colleagues in the lab, and in the days when the Internet resided solely within the realms of academia, I was able to feel as though I had a good understanding of everything that was out there in either print or electronic format. Needless to say, the rate of production of information in contemporary times rarely, if ever, affords an awareness of every relevant resource in any subject.

My interest in collecting resources corresponded in time to the advent of microcomputers, and serendipitously, I was tasked with unpacking the early desktops and negotiating the manuals. I was lucky enough to encounter early bibliographic software (Famulus 77 and Mirabilis), and started my information career in setting up databases, to store and index our papers, journals, books and slides.

Eventually, I studied for my PhD, combining my interests in both toxicology resources, and emergent information technology:

Toxicology Knowledge and Information: the impact of new information and communication technologies” UCL 2002

My mixed methods study considered resources from the wider perspective of information communication within the discipline of toxicology, and was an early example of what came to be known as ‘domain analysis’, a concept attributed to Hjørland (2002). Information communication within a discipline has several facets, including the creation, identification, selection, listing, indexing, preserving and sharing of information resources.

Understanding information communication within a discipline informs the design and development of information systems and services, which ultimately facilitate understanding and further progress of the discipline itself.

I have subsequently undertaken research into information resources in other disciplines, and my focus has widened to consider the nature of documents per se, and how this changes with advances in computing and communications technology. This has implications for information literacy. Most recently, I have anticipated the emergence of immersive documents, where the reader experiences a scripted unreality as reality. This type of document is made possible by developments in virtual reality, (pervasive, multisensory and participatory technologies), alongside new creative writing techniques and the desire from readers themselves to enter unreal experiences.

Some of my publications related to information resources and documents are listed below:

  • Robinson L (2015). Beyond the Word. Keynote paper presented at INFORUM 2015, May 26-27th 2015, Charles University Praha, Czech Republic, available at
  • Robinson L (2015). Immersive information behavior; using the documents of the future. New Library World 116(3/4), 112-121.
  • Robinson L (2015). Multisensory, Pervasive, Immersive: Towards a new generation of documents. JASIST (Available on Early View).
  • Robinson L (2014). Planning for Unreality: the future of documents. City University News, available at
  • Crawford-Franklin C and Robinson L (2013). “Even in an age of wonders”: Radio as an information resource in 1920s America. Journal of Documentation 69(3), 417-434.
  • Robinson L and Bawden D (2011). Information domains: subject specialism in masters courses. Cilip Update with Gazette February 2011, 28.
  • Bawden D and Robinson L (2010). Pharmaceutical information: a thirty year perspective on the literature. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology vol 45 (2011) 63-119.
  • Robinson L (2010). Understanding Healthcare Information. Facet: London
  • Robinson L (2007). Impact of digital information resources in the toxicology literature. Aslib Proceedings vol 59 issue 4/5, 342-351.

<- back