Incorporates: Asian Libraries
Online from: 1898
Subject Area: Library and Information Studies
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|Title:||The public library and students' information needs|
|Author(s):||Niels Ole Pors, (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)|
|Citation:||Niels Ole Pors, (2006) "The public library and students' information needs", New Library World, Vol. 107 Iss: 7/8, pp.275 - 285|
|Keywords:||Denmark, Higher education, Information retrieval, Public libraries, Students|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/03074800610677263 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – The paper analyses students' use of public libraries for study purposes and discusses the public library as a substitute or a complement for educational or academic libraries. The paper also investigates which segments of students rely heavily on public libraries as services for study purposes.
Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a comprehensive survey of Danish students from both universities and other higher institutions of education. The data collection was carried out by an online survey and the sample consists of students from all over the country covering a multitude of different institutions and subject areas.
Findings – It is evident from the research that students do not bypass the physical library and it is also evident that the use of physical libraries and digital resources complement each other. The place of Google in the students' information behaviour is prominent and positively correlated to use of traditional library resources. Nearly 60 per cent of all students use the local public library for study purposes. A small group consisting of 7 per cent of the students uses the public library as their only library for study purposes. One of the more striking findings is that the service level of public libraries in relation to study topics appears to be very uneven, which means that different groups of students have very varied probabilities of success using the public library. The data also indicates that students tend to look at libraries as a whole and do not make clear distinctions between different types of libraries, expecting the whole system to be seamless. The paper also relates the findings to the general body of literature on students' information seeking behaviour.
Research limitations/implications – The research raises questions concerning the detailed behaviour of students' information behaviour, for example, how they combine formalised resources with more general resources. The paper also indicates that it is probably counter-productive to evaluate students as one group. Different segments of students have very different and varied information behaviour patterns depending on study topic, study year, psychological dispositions and other demographic factors.
Practical implications – The paper raises important managerial questions and concerns in relation to both the mission of public libraries and the service level given to different segments of students.
Originality/value – The research supports existing international research on students' information behaviour. The research is based on a comprehensive and nation-wide sample and it emphasises students' information behaviour in relation to several important demographic factors, and it also asserts that it is important to investigate further the differing modes of behaviour. The paper points to the interplay between formalised information resources and search engines.
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