Information Seeking Behavior and User Satisfaction of University Instructors: A Case Study

By Rafiq, Muhammad; Ameen, Kanwal | Library Philosophy and Practice, February 2009 | Go to article overview

Information Seeking Behavior and User Satisfaction of University Instructors: A Case Study


Rafiq, Muhammad, Ameen, Kanwal, Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Information-seeking behavior remains an important research area. Libraries and other information providers strive to understand users' information needs and how they try to fulfill these needs. This understanding helps design and offer appropriate user-centered information systems/services. Bruce (2005) states that, "information plays a significant role in our daily professional and personal lives and we are constantly challenged to take charge of the information that we need for work, fun and everyday decisions and tasks." In the digital era, research on information-seeking behavior has taken on even more importance worldwide. Most of the literature on information-seeking behavior comes from developed countries, while conditions in developing countries vary significantly. The scarcity of studies on information-seeking behavior in Pakistan is revealed in a recent article by Anwar (2007), who establishes the need of such studies in a Pakistani context.

This study investigates information-seeking behavior and satisfaction level of teachers at the National Textile University, Pakistan. The literature has many definitions of information-seeking behavior. For the purpose of this study the following definition by Wilson (2000) has been adopted:

The purposive seeking for information as a consequence of a need to satisfy some goal. In the course of seeking, the individual may interact with manual information systems (such as a newspaper or a library), or with computer-based systems (such as World Wide Web).

   The study explores the information seeking behavior of a community
   that is engaged in research and development in the field of
   textiles, which is the backbone of Pakistan's commerce and
   industry. It is hoped that the findings and suggestions will be
   valuable for other countries generally and for developing countries
   specifically.

Literature Review

Royal Society Conference in 1948 was the real beginning of an interest in information-seeking behavior, especially in science and technology. It was followed ten years later by the International Conference on Scientific Information in Washington, DC. Wilson (2000) says that the studies from this era focused on the use of information systems and documents. He continues that the document-focused studies of 19481965 were followed by attempts to explore information needs and that, "since the 1980s there has been a shift towards a "person centered" approach, rather than a "system-centered" approach".

Wilson (1981) began his article by saying that "apart from information retrieval there is virtually no other area of information science that has occasioned as much research effort and writing as "user studies.'" Majid and Kassim (2000) note that, "information needs and seeking behavior of academicians have also been a popular area of research." Sethi (1990) surveyed 256 social science faculty members in Indian universities. The study found that respondents preferred journals, books, government documents and reference services to fulfill their information needs as opposed to indexing and abstracting sources, book reviews, conference proceedings, dissertations and theses, newspaper clippings and other nonbook sources that are in lesser use.

In addition to formal information sources, academics also rely heavily on informal communication channels (Majid and Kassim, 2000). Sethi (1990) reveals that academic staff consider seminars and conferences as the third important source of information after journals and books. Al-Shanabri and Meadows (1995) observe that scholars in developing countries prefer informal sources because of the inadequacy of library collections and information infrastructure, ineffective library services, and lack of trained and cooperative library staff. Majid and Kassim (2000) studied the law faculty of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), and found that they ranked books as the most important information source for teaching and research followed by law reports and statutes. …

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