Community Information Needs
Libraries provide information for people who live and work in the community.
What Information is Needed?
Meeting the information needs of the community calls for a variety of resources and a broad understanding of the kinds of questions that patrons may need answered. The truth is out there -- and a lot of people expect to find it at the library or on the library web site!
Variety of Information Needs
The people who live and work in our communities have many information needs:
Remote Services, Reaching Your Community on the Web
The one place in the community that can provide various types of information to everyone is the library, whether in person or with remote reference services. Libraries are encouraged to develop information, reference, and directional services consistent with the goals of the community. "Provision of information in the manner most useful to its clients is the ultimate test of all a library does."
Where are users when they access your services? According to The 2008 Digital Future Project Report, membership in online communities has more than doubled in only three years. 54% log into their community at least once a day. 71% of members said their community is very important or extremely important to them. 40% say they use the Internet at least monthly to participate in such communities. 87% of online community members are participating in social causes that are new to them.
What do users expect online?
Fifty-five percent (up from 43% in 2007) of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they “feel as strongly” about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities. Only 46% of Internet users said that most or all of the information online is generally reliable, although users have higher trust in favorite sites and media sources and lower opinions of search engines. A worthy goal for libraries online would be to provide and promote reliable information to users who participate in online communities, access a library web site, take advantage of library webcasts and blogs, participate in gaming projects that teach information literacy, or are active in virtual spaces such as Library Island in Second Life, an online virtual community.
Major Point: The one place in the community that can provide various types of information to everyone is the library.
1. Does the library's reference policy describe the community served or what makes your library's community special? If this is not part of a written policy, talk to the staff. They know all the answers (or at least have heard all the questions)!
2. Does the reference (or collection development) policy discuss the information needs of your particular community, i.e. what kinds of information the users of your library want or expect to find at the library (topics or subjects) and in what formats (books, videos, software, etc.)?
3. Does the library's reference policy include serving the community with remote/virtual services?
Where do users go for information?
The people who live and work in our communities have a variety of information needs.
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