Dr. Ciaran B. Trace, Professor, School of Information


Research Agenda

I’m interested in studying what constitutes a literate society and the role that people play in creating and sustaining literate environments. Using a variety of methods (historical, qualitative, quantitative, and experimental) I study the nature of information objects and the technologies that create them, the history of information institutions and information work, the use and deployment of information in everyday and in organizational settings, and the impact of information on the daily lives of individuals and of members of social groups. My work is shaped by a particular interest in the study of written records, those structured and unstructured information objects that are the byproducts of action, serving as a tool for accountability and transparency and as a form of evidence for subsequent scholarly research. Spanning the period from the Progressive Era to modern times, my research has illuminated the information worlds of disparate communities, including Southern state archival agencies, 4-H clubs, self-trackers, ovarian cancer patients and their families, law enforcement, and humanities scholars. As part of this study of information, my research investigates a number of key research questions:

  • What are the theoretical and conceptual foundations of information and information work?

  • What is the nature, meaning, and function of information (records and data) in everyday life?

  • How does materiality and the notion of maintenance mediate the relationship between people, technology, and information objects?

  • What is the history and role of information institutions and information work in society (past and present)?


  • Contact Information:
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    School of Information
    1616 Guadalupe Suite #5.202
    Austin, TX 78701-1213

    (512) 232-3508


    ORCID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7118-6610 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7118-6610