When searching for information in a catalog or database, a library user takes an active role by choosing search terms, selecting filters, and using advanced features. This process is rarely straightforward; depending on their needs and the availability of resources, a user may not find relevant results on the first try. When this happens, users must modify their search terms and strategies, observe the new results, and adapt accordingly. Successful searchers, therefore, are those who experiment, explore... and play.
This article will put the concepts of play and playfulness in context with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, particularly its sixth pillar, Searching as Strategic Exploration. This juxtaposition will identify whether and how play, playfulness, and playful research are appropriate approaches for achieving the flexibility and creativity called for in the Framework. Recommendations follow for applying play in practical library settings such as reference and instruction.
Exploration, Flexibility, Information Literacy, Library Users, Play, Playfulness, Academic Libraries, Information Literacy Education, Information Seeking Behavior, Searching Behavior
How to Cite
Edwards, J. A., (2022) “Word (and/or/not) play”, The Journal of Play in Adulthood 4(2), 84-105. doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpa.1037