Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (SLAIS). Much of the research on how we encounter information tends to focus on linear models of intentional information search. Recently a number of studies and frameworks have suggested that not all information individuals encounter is through goal-oriented search, but rather that individuals often find information and connect with people accidentally, without purposefully looking. A wide range of terms and models have been proposed to describe the phenomenon. The present presentation has three goals. First, it provides an overview of the current debate around the phenomenon of serendipity, presenting and contrasting various models of how serendipity occurs. Second, it discusses how technology could affect serendipity and opportunities for designing digital tools that support innovation, creativity, and resource discovery. Finally, it presents current research findings on how serendipity impacts the work of scholars.


Anabel Quan-Haase is Associate Professor of Information and Media Studies and Sociology at the University of Western Ontario. Her primary interests lies in the areas of Internet and society and computer-mediated communication. Quan-Haase’s current research investigates the uses of technology and the effects of technology on society.

Select Articles Available at UBC Library

Martin, K., & Quan-Haase, A. (2013). Are e-books replacing print books? tradition, serendipity, and opportunity in the adoption and use of e-books for historical research and teaching. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Volume 64, Issue 5, 1016–1028, May 2013 Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.22801/abstract

Quan-Haase, A. (2012). Technology and society: Inequality, power, and social networks. Don Mills: Oxford University Press. Link: http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=6356884

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