- Introduction:Pleasurable Pursuits: Leisure and LIS Research
Leisure continues to grow in importance in today's society, as a construct of non-work time and the activities that attend our leisure. While researchers have explored the work context and everyday life contexts, the area of leisure in our information worlds has only recently attracted interest in library and information science (LIS). The impact of leisure on our everyday lives, including our information behavior, negotiation of technology in pursuit of leisure activities, and social outcomes of our interactions through leisure, bears greater attention. This special issue uniquely brings together LIS researchers and research about leisure in a single venue to explore the different aspects of leisure, emerging frameworks and theoretical foundations, and implications for individuals, groups, and, importantly, the role of libraries and LIS generally in the evolving landscape of leisure in our lives.
Perspectives on Leisure
Leisure is increasingly attracting attention in library and information science, with researchers around the world focusing on a variety of aspects of this topic. Leisure has been the subject of research interest in other fields for some time now, and Leisure Studies has prospered as a field in its own right.
Researchers generally turn to the definitions and categories of leisure developed by sociologist Stebbins (2005, 2006b). Beginning his work in the 1970s, he began by classifying leisure as "serious" and "casual." According to Stebbins (1992, 1993), serious leisure may be defined as:
The systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity sufficiently substantial and interesting for the participant to find a [End Page 611] career there in the acquisition and expression of a combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience.
In contrast, Stebbins (2006b) defines casual leisure as follows:
Casual leisure is immediately intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it. It is fundamentally hedonic, engaged in for the significant level of pure enjoyment, or pleasure, found there.
Recently, Stebbins (2005, 2006b) added project-based leisure to his concepts of leisure:
Project-based leisure is a short-term, moderately complicated, either one-shot or occasional, though infrequent, creative undertaking carried out in free time (Stebbins, 2005). Such leisure involves considerable planning, effort, and sometimes skill or knowledge, but for all that is not of the serious variety nor intended to develop into such. Nor is it casual leisure. The adjective "occasional" describes widely spaced undertakings for such regular occasions as arts festivals, sports events, religious holidays, individual birthdays, or national holidays while "creative" stresses that the undertaking results in something new or different, showing imagination, skill, or knowledge.
In his Serious Leisure Perspective, Stebbins (2006b) combines all his concepts of leisure in a theoretical framework, designed to show the relationship of each concept with the others.
Studying leisure continues to hold interdisciplinary and international appeal, with a number of organizations, associations, and groups dedicated to the topic. For example, World Leisure (www.worldleisure.org) was founded in 1952 to explore leisure opportunities around the world. A variety of international journals that target leisure studies, including the Journal of Leisure Research, Leisure Studies, Leisure Sciences, etc., have also risen in other fields. It should be noted, however, that no LIS journal focuses on leisure. Dedicating an issue of a journal to this topic offers an innovative approach to exploring LIS research, including both theoretical and empirical work, and connections with the field of leisure internationally.
Leisure and LIS
Leisure is far from a new concept in LIS. However, the means of addressing leisure, for example, the provision of popular fiction for readers in public libraries, has been a contentious issue. A variety of factors, including the rise of free time among baby boomers now retired or retiring, increased opportunities for budget travel with cheap fare airlines, and rediscovery of leisure through the lens of other subject fields, have encouraged LIS researchers to explore this aspect of everyday information and social behaviors.
Early research about leisure in LIS dates back to the 1980s, often focusing on particular aspects of leisure as time or activities offering rich [End Page 612] information contexts. Chatman's (e.g., 1983, 1985...