Information Seeking Behaviour and The Big Lebowski, These are a Few of My Favourite Things

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Book/Music/Film Reviews, Librarianship
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since my last post, but it’s also been a while since I’ve read an peer-reviewed academic journal article that cited The Big Lebowski.  Thus, the subject of this missive is the brilliant article “New shit has come to light: Information seeking behavior in the Big Lebowski”  by Karen L. Janke and Emily Dill.

I’m going to take it as a given that everyone’s familiar with Joel and Ethan Coen‘s sublime crime comedy The Big Lebowski.  If not, run down to your nearest branch of the Ottawa Public Library, borrow it, watch it twice, then return to my blog.  Once you can grasp the full meaning of the phrase “that rug really tied the room together”, you may proceed.

Authors Janke and Dill have an obvious fondness for the quirky Lebowski-universe characters.  Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) and his dysfunctional bowling buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donnie (Steve Buscemi) charge through a Raymond Chandler-esque mystery with only the most rudimentary information seeking skills.  Lebowski is a degenerate alcoholic who stumbles upon clues by sheer luck.  Walter runs purely in instinct and Donnie is so wrapped up in preconceptions and conspiracy theories he often misses what’s right under his nose.  Anyone who has worked in the information or library field will immediately recognize these information seeking behavior archetypes.  Information seeking and detective work have an awful lot in common, and Janke and Dill do a great job of making that connection.

To read the original source material head over to the Indiana Purdue University Scholar Works for a downloadable PDF.  It weighs in at round twenty-five pages, but it’s a quick and enjoyable read with a slew of great insights.   The article is currently in pre-peer review and is set to appear in an upcoming edition of The Journal of Popular Culture.

Further Reading:

Comentale, Edward P. (ed).  (2009). This Year’s work in Lebowski studies. USA: Indiana University Press.

  • A series of Lebowski-themed academic articles.

Falsani, Cathleen. (2009). The Dude abides: The Gospel according to the Coen brothers. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

  • A great overview of the many recurring themes in Coen brothers films.  You can trace the common threads through Blood Simple, Fargo, Lebowski and beyond.

Green, Bill. (2007). I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski: The Big Lebowski and what-have-you. USA: Bloombury.

  • A great step-by-step guide on how to Lebowski-ize your life.  Includes bowling tips, fashion advice (why can’t bath robes be fashionable?) and a recipe for the perfect White Russian.

Tyree, J.M., & Walters, Ben. (2007). The Big Lebowski. UK: British Film Institute.

  • Tyree and Walters examine the film and it’s impact on modern cinema.  Special attention is focused on the annual Lebowski-fest underground bowling tournament.

Be sure to take a look at other journal articles by Karen L. Janke and Emily Dill on subjects such as inter-library loans policy and archiving practices.

Thanks to my friend Alexandra, who alerted me to this article via Facebook.  Check out her blog here:


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