Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Library & Information Science


Pyati, Ajit


The research examining spiritual information behaviours has been largely dominated by studies of Christian clergy using information in work tasks to fulfill work roles. Missing are studies of everyday individuals and the spiritual information practices they engage in as part of their everyday lives. Also lacking are studies which feature non-Western religious traditions. This dissertation fills this gap with a study of the everyday life information practices of western Buddhists from the New Kadampa Tradition. The study aimed to inventory their spiritual information practices, examine existential information needs, understand Buddhist spiritual realizations as an outcome of information use, and explore whether spiritual information practices were best classified as “everyday life” or “beyond everyday life”. Two methods were used to accomplish these aims. First, a qualitative content analysis of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s work, Joyful Path of Good Fortune (1995) was conducted. This was complemented by 20 semi-structured interviews of New Kadampa Buddhists from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Discovered by the study were common information practices such as reading and listening, but also new intrapersonal information practices such as contemplating and meditating. The study also found that practitioners had existential motivations for seeking spiritual information such as preparing for death. An enhancement and critique of Dervin’s Sense-Making methodology was also undertaken. Textual analyses of Dervin’s writing on Sense-Making, Martin Heidegger’s ontological hermeneutics, Buddhist philosophy and the empirical findings were used in parallel to accomplish this. These perspectives were also used to explain the connection between information needs, use, and outcomes, offering an explanation of how one transforms one’s Being-in-the-world through spiritual information, effectively becoming information. A revision to the Sense-Making three-point model is also proposed which separates the hermeneutic act of making-sense from the verbings which constitute gap-bridging. Finally, because of the dual nature of religion as a way of life and a means to an end, it was concluded that information behaviour scholars need to reconsider what is meant by “everyday life”. It can no longer be “residual by nature” (Savolainen, 1995), given the prominence that spiritual information practices have in the lives of adherents.