Information-Seeking Behavior of Law Faculty at Central Law College, Salem

Article excerpt

Introduction

The increase in the amount, type, and format of information available on the Web has affected information-seeking behavior (Fidel, et al., 1999). Current information is important to everyone. The philosophical emphasis on direct, experiential acquisition of knowledge in the material, physical plane of existence is an important component of information seeking. Individuals have personal reasons for seeking certain forms of information (Leckie, Pettigrew, and Sylvain, 1996). Abels (2004) observes that from 1998-2000, both use of the Internet and expenditures for monographs increased.

The library is the most widely-used source of information available to literate societies. Librarians must be aware of the kind of information being sought and how it can be obtained. Because of the rapidly escalating cost of purchasing and archiving print journals and electronic media, the library has the duty to provide and maintain efficient services.

Related Studies

The literature of information seeking behavior of faculty is wide-ranging. Significant and interesting studies include Suriya, Sangeetha and Nambi (2004), Sethi (1990), Prasad (1998), Shokeen and Kushik (2002), Bane and Melheim (1995), Al-Shanbari and Meadows (1995), Reid (1995), Abdullah (1995), Challener (1999), Reneker (1992), and Bandara (1993). Further reading is included in the References section of this article.

Most studies of information-seeking behavior have been done in developed countries, with much less data having been gathered on the developing world. No study has been undertaken in Tamil Nadu on the information seeking behavior of law faculty. This study investigates the information-seeking behavior of law faculty at the Central Law College, Salem.

Methodology

The study used a questionnaire, which was less time-consuming and economical for a scattered population. The population of the study consisted of the 64 full-time academic staff working in the Central Law College, Salem. Guest faculty are included in the population.

The survey instrument had two sections. Section 1 collected personal information such as gender, academic rank, highest qualification, and teaching experience. Section 2, comprising 10 questions, collected data on the information-seeking behavior of the respondents. Questions in this section focused on the following areas: information sources used by the respondents, use of Central Law College library, adequacy of library collections, library use and computing skills of respondents, and the use of IT-based library sources and services. In order to ensure reliability and effectiveness of the instrument, the questionnaire was pilot tested on ten final year students. The pre-testing exercise was undertaken to identify any problems that potential respondents might face in understanding questions posed to them. Results of the pilot study showed that respondents were able to understand the questions and their responses were interpretable.

In order to save time and ensure better response rate, the questionnaires were personally distributed to the academic staff in their offices in May 2008. Fifty-six (87.5 percent) filled-in questionnaires were returned within two weeks of distribution.

Results and Discussion

Respondents

Of the 56 respondents, 5 (8.92) were Professors, 7 (12.5%) Senior Lecturers, 19 (33.92%) Lecturers, and 25 (44.61%) Guest Lecturers. Forty-seven (83.92 %) of the respondents hold a master's degree.

The largest number of respondents, nineteen (33.92%), have been teaching for five years or less. Seven (12.5%) have between 6 and 10 years of teaching experience, and 13 (23.21 %) have between 11 and 20 years. Seventeen (30.35 %) respondents have 21 or more years of teaching experience. Twenty-nine (51.78 %) of the respondents were male and 27 (48.21 %) were female.

Library Skills

Respondents were asked to provide a self-assessment of their library skills. …

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