Information Needs and Information-Seeking Behavior: A Survey of College Faculty at Bahawalpur

By Khan, Shakeel A.; Shafique, Farzana | Library Philosophy and Practice, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Information Needs and Information-Seeking Behavior: A Survey of College Faculty at Bahawalpur


Khan, Shakeel A., Shafique, Farzana, Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

We are living in the information age. The term "Information Age" has been used to represent the impacts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on every aspect of life. Baby, et al (2000) has mentioned that twentieth century witnessed an "information explosion" owing to the exponential growth of printed material every minute at the global level. The growth rate of publication is greater in science and technology than that of social sciences. The term Information explosion describes the rapidly increasing amount of published information and the effects of this abundance of data. As the amount of available data grows, the problem of managing the information becomes more difficult, which can lead to information overload. Information overload refers to the state of having too much information to make a decision or remain informed about a topic (Wikipedia, 2009). This information explosion and information overload gave the birth to the concept of studying the information needs and seeking behaviors of different groups of users. Information need is an individual or group's desire to locate and obtain information to satisfy a conscious or unconscious need (Wikipedia, 2007). As Sharma (1992) and Vickery (n.d.) has stated that understanding the user is the half battle in providing information-services. The key operation is to select from the store the information needed by a particular user at a particular time.

The concept of "information behavior" was coined in the late 1990s, but it traces its roots to the concept of "information needs and uses" that arose in the 1960s. There has been a gradual shift in the focus of information behavior research from a system orientation to a user orientation (LISWiki, 2007). At the end of 1970's and in the beginning of 1980's researchers began to realize that questions in information needs, seeking and use couldn't been seen only from the systems point of view. The user of the information and his/her needs came into focus and research in cognitive science was applied in the studies. The new view was called the new paradigm or the cognitive view (Dervin, 1986). The origins of human information seeking behavior are found in the work on the users of libraries and in readership studies in general. The post-war increase in the amount of scientific literature which was either newly published or recently released from war-time restrictions led, in 1948, to the Royal Society Scientific Information Conference, which marks the beginning of the modern study of human information seeking behavior. However, the subject goes rather further back in time (Wilson, 2000).

With the advent of information need and seeking behavior research different models were proposed for identifying different steps involved in this process. For example, Kuhlthau (1991) studied as how students searched for information as part of their writing process. She proposed a model that was consisted on seven stages. The stages of Kuhlthau's model are: a) Initiation b) Selection c) Exploration d) Formulation e) Collection f) Presentation.

Jarvelin and Wilson (2003) reviewed different models for information behavior (Wilson 1981), and information seeking behavior (Wilson 1981; Dervin, 1986; Ellis, 1989; Kuhlthau, 1991). They discussed the functions of conceptual models in scientific research in IS & R research and concluded that some models are of summary type and others more analytic. Such models serve different research purposes.

Most of the earlier studies of information needs were based on indirect methods, like citation counting of recent documents, library issue records, reference records, etc. It is true that such studies can bring out some aspects of the use of literature. The Royal Society's Conference held in London in 1948 helped much to focus documentalists' concern and interest in this area. Before the Washington Conference there appeared, in 1956, one of the most important studies entitled Pilot study on the use of scientific literature by scientists conducted by Ralph R.

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