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Marzenaświgoń information barriers in libraries qqml'10


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information barriers, information limits, information obstacles, information problems

information barriers, information limits, information obstacles, information problems

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  • 1. Marzena Świgoń
    University of Warmia & Mazury in Olsztyn
    Information barriers in librariestypes, typologies and Polish empirical studies
    2nd QQML 2010 International Conference
    Chania Crete Greece
    25-28 May 2010
    QQML 2010
  • 2. Informationbarriers - outline
    Typologies and types
    Polishempiricalstudies – method and findings
    studies of informationbarriers
    studies of libraryanxiety
    QQML 2010
  • 3. Information barriers – relating terms
    Barriers to access to information
    QQML 2010
  • 4. Information barriers - definitions
    Manifestations of the objective reality which impede or prevent the flow of information from the generator or the information system to the addressee (Engelbert 1974).
    Informationbarriers arise whenever there is a variance between the ideal and the actual accessibility to published information (Haag 1989).
    Obstacles hindering, delaying or preventing access to information, that is, information seeking, searching and using. Informationbarriers arise in the same context as information need;they are connected with personal characteristics and micro-/macro- environmental conditions. Informationbarriers have a negative influence on information need (can hinder their identification or awareness) and information behaviour (2006).
    QQML 2010
  • 5. Information barriers – the universal typology
    Barriers connected with personal characteristics
    Interpersonal barriers
    Environmental barriers
    Barriers connected with information resources
    [Based on Wilson’stinterveningvariablestypology(1997)]
    QQML 2010
  • 6. I. Barriers connected with personal characteristics
    unawareness barrier
    lack of information skills
    terminology barrier
    foreign language barrier
    lack of time
    psychological resistance to computer and internet use
    psychological resistance to asking question
    barrier of educational level
    passive attitude
    barriers connected with demographic variables (age, gender, other factors)
    II. Interpersonal barriers
    lack of help from people who are the source of primary and secondary information
    III. Environmental barriers
    legal barriers
    financial barriers
    geographical barriers
    political barriers
    cultural barriers
    QQML 2010
    Typology of information barriers (1/2)
  • 7. Typology of information barriers (2/2)IV. Barriers connected with information resources – libraries, Internet or barriers created by authors of information. This group can be divided into at least two subgroups:
    IV A. Barriers in libraries
    lack of resources in home library
    unfriendly rules in libraries
    library’s delays
    other barriers –inconvenient open hours, arrangement and layout of the collection, poor advertisement of information sources in libraries, library anxiety
    IV B. Barriers created by authors and publishers of primary and secondary information
    information overload
    low quality of information
    irrelevant information
    unfriendly information retrieval and searching tools
    publishing delay
    domination of English language
    other barriers, e.g. information not published
    QQML 2010
  • 8. Information barriers vs. barriers in libraries
    Informationbarriers are often complexes of co-dependent phenomena; itisimpossible to distinguish between the varieties of their forms and kinds;
    Barriers connected with libraries are not only these from subgroup IV of universaltypology, they appear in all groups.
    Othertypologies of barriersinlibraries(Mount1966, Vanes 1993, Chacha & Irving 1991, Westbrook 2003, libraryanxiety- Onwuegbuzie, Jiao & Bostick 2004).
    Library anxiety consists of:
    barriers with staff,
    affective barriers,
    comfort with the library,
    knowledge of the library, and
    mechanical barriers.
    QQML 2010
  • 9. Empirical studies of information barriers
    General characteristics of studies (1960s-2010):
    They consist of a great number of papers, either devoted only to barriers or dealing with this subject in the context of other topics, mostly information behaviour and information need.
    There are far more papers that treat this matter only partially, therefore they have to be considered only as stimuli to examine this phenomenon.
    To measure the importance (seriousness) of barriers, the most commonly used methods were:
    frequency (percentage of target group experiencing the barrier, %) and
    assessment scale (Likert scale, average size Mean, M).
    QQML 2010
  • 10. Polish empirical studies of information barriers– method (1/3)
    Thestudy (2006) was carried out among 896 respondentsof University of Warmia and Mazury, representing all 14 faculties of university:
    724 studentsand
    172 facultymembers.
    Respondents were divided into groups in terms of:
    field of study (social sciences, human sciences, natural sciences and technical sciences),
    age (faculty: below 35, 36-45, 46-55, over 56 years old),
    science degree (faculty: Master, PhD, Professor) and
    year of study (students in fourth and fifth years).
    QQML 2010
  • 11. The primaryaim of the studywas the characteristics of information barriers in academic environment:
    the identification of barriers;
    the arrangement of their hierarchy;
    the exploration an effect of barriers on respondents’ work;
    the examination of relations between demographic variables (sex, age etc.) and perception of barriers.
    The identification consisted of finding out, which barriers (from the list) were encountered by respondents.
    The hierarchy of barriers was created on the basis of two methods: frequency (%) and seriousness of barriers (M; five-point scale: “1=insignificant barrier” - “5=very significant barrier”).
    Studies of information barriers – method (2/3)
    QQML 2010
  • 12. Furtheraims of investigation were to examine which information sources were used by respondents, how was the respondents’ self-assessment of information skills; to explore relations between self-assessment and perception of barriers.
    Another goal was to determine the lists of variables which could enhance the information seeking and searching.
    Based on detailed analysis of literature and on results of pilot study the special questionnaire was formed, the main part of which provided the list of 46 barriers categorized to universal typology.
    Other parts of the form consisted of the list of information sources (primary, secondary, personal etc.), the list of possible positive variables in the information searching process; and the question about self-assessment of information skills.
    Studies of information barriers – method (3/3)
    QQML 2010
  • 13. The respondents’ satisfaction level of access to information in academic library was moderate: faculty: 3.2; students: 2.9 (scale 1-5).
    The biggest problem in the academic environment of Olsztyn was connected with access to primary sources, journals and books, next conference proceedings and unpublished materials. The most important place for fulfilling respondents’ information needs were other libraries in Poland (e.g. in Warsaw), then the respondents’ own collections and personal sources, only then university library collections.
    The Internet was an important information source, as well, but as a secondary information source (not primary).
    Information barriers are the common phenomenon encountered by 74% respondents.
    Studies of information barriers – findings (1/9)
    QQML 2010
  • 14. The most frequently occurring barriers do not necessarily correlate with the most troublesome/arduous ones.
    The most frequently encountered problems in the academic environment constituted barriers connected with personal characteristic and interpersonal barriers(82%). The least respondents (65% faculty and 52% students) experienced barriers created by authors and publishers of primary and secondary information.
    However, the most troublesome barriers were barriers connected with libraries (faculty: 3.5; students: 3.8). In second place were barriers in using Internet (faculty: 3.0; students: 3.4), and among faculty members environmental barriers (3.0) as well. The smallest were, in relation to faculty, barriers connected with personal characteristic (2.5), and to students, barriers connected with authors (2.3).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (2/9)
    QQML 2010
  • 15. The most widely detailed problems (disregarding the overriding group) were:
    lack of sources in home library (faculty: 4.2; students: 4.1) and
    in other libraries in Olsztyn (faculty: 3.7; students: 3.9),
    financial barriers (faculty: 4.1; students: 4.4),
    technical problems with computers, e.g. old or few computers (faculty: 3.6; students: 3.9).
    All results with average Mean (M) and frequency (%) are presented in Table (1/5 – 5/5).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (3/9)
    QQML 2010
  • 16. Table 1/5. Information barriers in opinion of UWM students and faculty.
    QQML 2010
  • 17. Table 2/5. Information barriers in opinion of UWM students and faculty.
    QQML 2010
  • 18. Table 3/5. Information barriers in opinion of UWM students and faculty.
    QQML 2010
  • 19. Table 4/5. Information barriers in opinion of UWM students and faculty.
    QQML 2010
  • 20. Table 5/5. Information barriers in opinion of UWM students and faculty.
    QQML 2010
  • 21. QQML 2010
    The analysis of data (ANOVA, a chi-square test) revealed strong correlation between the perception of barriers by individuals and demographic variables.
    The sex variable had varied the respondents’ answers to the greatest extent. The results obtained from both groups of respondents, i.e. faculty and students, illustrated that women perceived information barriers as a more serious problem than men (p<0,001).
    With regard to types of discipline, the faculty group found information barriers more troublesome in such disciplines as humanities and social sciences rather than natural or technical sciences (p=0,001), whereas the respondents from the group of students found information barriers the least onerous in technical sciences, while the results concerning other sciences were very similar (p=0,026).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (4/9)
  • 22. QQML 2010
    Another research (2007) has shown that the phenomenon of information barriers was less onerous for the students of library and information science in comparison to other subjects.
    On account of employees’ scientific degrees, one observed the following linear relation: the higher scientific degree the smaller sizes of perceived barriers (p=0,025).
    The year of study had little influence on students’ answers. Students of the fifth year experienced more barrier-related issues than students of the fourth year (p = 0,008).
    Considering the age of academic workers, the greatest differences in average values of barriers’ sizes were observed between the group of the youngest and the group of the oldest university workers (p = 0,041).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (5/9)
  • 23. QQML 2010
    In general the phenomenon of information barriers in the academic environment is most troublesome for students and the youngest academic workers during the stage of writing Master’s and Doctoral dissertations, whereas after Habilitation it vastly decreases.
    However, there are several exceptions to this rule that concern such types of barriers as, psychological inhibition to use computerized databases. It is possible to observe an almost linear relationship between the age of the worker and their psychological resistance to use computers (p= 0,002). The oldest workers experienced the consequences of insufficient preparation to use electronic documents to the greatest extent (p = 0,125).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (6/9)
  • 24. QQML 2010
    According to the findings, the negative effects of information barriers included:
    delays in work (faculty – 67%; students – 58%),
    waste of time and effort (respectively 70%, 59%),
    lower quality of work (38%, 60%),
    unintentional duplication other work (11%, 14%).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (7/9)
  • 25. QQML 2010
    The self-assessment of research workers’ information skills was 3.5 and students – 3.3; this may not seem highrelating individuals involved in writing research proposals.
    This self-assessment was connected with the perception of some barriers. In the whole group of respondents, negative correlation was found between the self-assessment and the assessment of barriers connected with personal characteristics, i.e. the higher self-assessment the lower a barrier’s size (employees: p=0,007, students: p<0,001).
    Moreover, the statistically significant correlation (positive) between the self-assessment and assessment of access to electronic sources was found, the higher self-assessment the easier access (employees: p=0,014, students: p=0,005).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (8/9)
  • 26. QQML 2010
    The most important variables enhancing the information seeking and searching were (scale 1-5):
    rich collection in home library (faculty – 4.4; students – 4.7),
    active attitude in information-seeking behaviour (respectively 4.5; 4.5),
    skills of effective electronic sources’ use (4.4; 4.4),
    effectiveness of interlibrary loans (4.1; 3.9),
    friendly rules in libraries (3.7; 3.9),
    help from other people, e.g. librarians (3.2; 3.9).
    Studies of information barriers – findings (9/9)
  • 27. QQML 2010
    The first empirical study of the subject of library anxiety in Poland (2002) were conducted amongst 86 students of Polish Philology at UWM.
    The questionnaire consisted of two parts: (1) descriptive (student’s stories) and (2) structured.
    In part one (1), inspired by Mellon’s study (1986), the students were asked to describe their own points of view of their initial visit to an academic library. The object of the analysis have been terms(relating or not relating to anxiety) used by students and difficulties they encounter.
    The second part (2) consisted of five statements corresponding with Bostick’s factors (Onwuegbuzie 2004), and the role of respondents was to agree or disagree with them (five-point Likert scale; from “1=strongly disagree” to “5=strongly agree”).
    Polish empirical studies of Iibrary anxiety – method
  • 28. QQML 2010
    The first part (1) of the form (students’ own stories) showed (Table 2.) that students experienced a lot of difficulties, about 80 % mentioned it (barriers in libraries).
    However, less than half of these stories, 41 %, contained terms like: anxiety, fear, lost, tension, uncertainty, intimidating, embarrassing etc. Thus, the study concluded that about 40 % of Polish students may be affected by some form of library anxiety.
    Studies of Iibrary anxiety – findings (1/2)
  • 29. Table 2. Barriersvs. anxietyinlibraries.
    QQML 2010
  • 30. QQML 2010
    The second part (2) of the form resulted in the hierarchy of factors. In first place there were: mechanical barriers, then, knowledge of the library, comfort with the library, affective barriers and barriers with staff.
    Two years later, the second part of the form (2) was filled in by 75 freshmen of technical studies at AGH-University of Science and Technology in Krakow (2004). One significant result came from comparison (using the test chi-square) of the findings. The answers of two respondent groups were statistically significantly different in relation to affective barriers (2 = 28,23; p < 0,001) and mechanical barriers (2 = 35,21; p < 0,001). In other words the study established, that a subject of study might influence the perception of barriers.
    Studies of Iibrary anxiety – findings (2/2)
  • 31. Conclusion (1/2)
    The author’s own empirical research has found that the phenomenon of information barriers is very common, encountered by around 80 % of users.
    The most important barriers are connected with libraries, especially with the lack of materials (books, journals, databases) in libraries (lack of purchase, subscription, single copy policy, overdue title etc.).
    It is worth mentioning that the Polish government has just tried to reduce this problem - since January 2010, has completely funded the Virtual Scientific Library (, with access to hundreds of world scientific journals.
  • 32. Conclusion (2/2)
    Furthermore, the studies of library anxiety pointed out that this phenomenon occurs among 40 % of library users. It is maybe not overwhelming, but library anxiety really exists and needs further research.
    The author has suggested that in a new LibraryAnxietyScale the 6th component – resource anxiety is necessary, perhaps not only in Poland?
    The new instrument to library anxiety research is needed, because of the age the original LAS (1990s) and culturaldifferences(2009).
    In the new, up-dated scale (the author’s research on development and validation of thePolishLibraryAnxietyScaleP-LASare under way), more attention should be drawn to the contemporary electronic information age and to distance library use as well.
  • 33. References
    Chacha, R. N. & Irving, A. (1991).An experiment in academic library performance measurement. British Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 6, No.1, 13-25.
    Engelbert, H. (1974). Informationsbarrieren. Informatik, Vol. 21, No. 5, 51 – 54; No.6, 47-51.
    Haag, D. E. (1989). Information barriers. Human Sciences Research Council. Pretoria.
    Mellon, C. (1986). Library anxiety: a grounded theory and its development. College and Research Libraries, Vol. 47, No. 2, 160-165.
    Mount, E. (1966). Communication barriers and the reference question. Special Libraries, No. 8, 575-578.
    Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Jiao Q. G. & Bostick, S. L. (2004). Library anxiety: theory, research, and applications. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Maryland, and Oxford.
    Świgoń, M. (2002). Poszukiwanie informacji w bibliotece jako źródło niepokoju – badania wśród studentów. Praktyka i Teoria Informacji Naukowej i Technicznej, No. 1, 12-19.
    Świgoń, M. (2004). „Library anxiety” – bariera informacyjna w bibliotekach akademickich In: Nowoczesna Biblioteka Akademicka: Olsztyn, 20 - 21 maja 2004 r. (EBIB Materiały konferencyjne nr 9). [Available at:].
    Świgoń, M. (2006). Bariery informacyjne – podstawy teoretyczne i próba badań w środowisku naukowym. Wydawnictwo SBP, UWM, Warszawa. [see also].
    Świgoń, M. (2007). Bariery informacyjne - wyniki badań wśród studentów bibliotekoznawstwa i innych kierunków studiów. Praktyka i Teoria Informacji Naukowej i Technicznej, No. 3-4, 3-12.
    Świgoń, M. (2009). Library anxiety: przegląd współczesnych kierunków badań. Przegląd Biblioteczny, Vol. 77, No. 3, 313-324.
    Vanes, S. I. (1993). Do you communicate? Library Management, Vol. 14, No. 2, 19-23.
    Westbrook, L. (2003). Information needs and experiences of scholars in women’s studies: problems and solutions. College & Research Libraries, Vol. 64, No. 3, 198-201.
    Wilson, T. D. (1997). Information behaviour: an interdisciplinary perspective. Information Processing & Management, Vol. 33, No. 4, 551-572.
  • 34. Thank You for the attention!