Transformative Power of Information: Managing your personal history and culture.

A research on personal information management and cultural information needs of immigrants and their descendants.

By: Maja Krtalić, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Hana Marčetić, University of Borås, Sweden


The main question behind our research was: What value can information have in managing our sense of cultural identity? Immigrants’ information behaviour has been quite a popular research topic over the years. Our contribution to the topic stemmed from auto-ethnographical observations of how migration process influences information behaviour and personal information management (PIM) practices. It then led to closer observation of these issues in the ethnographic study of Croatian community in New Zealand. Based on findings from that study, we focused this research on personal information management and cultural information needs of immigrants and their descendants, with the main research objective to explore how immigrants could use a) documents and artefacts from their personal collections, and b) information sources coming from libraries, archives and museums (LAM), to manage their sense of cultural identity.

We took a qualitative approach in our study on the purposive sample of two groups of immigrants connected to Croatia; Croatian expatriates living in Europe, and expatriates from other European countries living in Croatia. We used three steps in data collection; first, in- depth interviews to collect data on participants’ personal information management practices with the focus on immigration experience. Second, the participants engaged with a specific information source from LAM sector that responded to one aspect of their personal collection or need, and described the experience in semi-structured diaries. Third, a follow-up interview was used. This research tested the concept of personal cultural heritage management developed in Krtalic previous research, and showed that there is a stronger motivation to use LAM collections if there is an obvious connection to personal dimension. Further on, it showed that organised and well thought PIM practices can make a significant difference for individuals wishing to manage their cultural heritage legacy, but also for LAM wishing to support people in discovering and learning about their cultural heritage, regardless of their Location.



If you want to make sure you are up to date with POEM, please sign up to our newsletter. We will keep you informed on a regular basis via email of news from the European Training Network POEM, its partners, and projects.

Please be aware of the terms & conditions concerning data protection.


Coordination and Project Management

University of Hamburg
c/o: Institute for Anthropological Studies in Culture and History
Grindelallee 46 | postbox: H8 | 20146 Hamburg | Germany

+49 (0)40 42838-9940 
POEM Uni Hamburg

Concepts, strategies and media infrastructures for envisioning socially inclusive potential futures of European Societies through culture.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 764859.