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Inf100 subject notes


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Inf100 subject notes

  1. 1. INF100 –Introduction to the Information Professions Subject Notes: Module One: Foundations of INF100: This module aims to assist students use the online tools and begin preparation for their first assessment task. Getting Started: Welcome to your first session in Information Studies at Charles Sturt University! Your journey to becoming a successful information professional begins here as you learn to be a successful student. You will develop and use a range of skills and processes that you will continue to employ throughout your career. This subject can be seen as a foundation on which to build your success as an information professional. Throughout the subject make sure to regularly check the Announcements section of the Interact site for news and other information I need to give you. This module will introduce you to the learning tools and strategies you will use in this subject. Your first task is to introduce yourself to others in the subject via the online forum. You will also complete an online quiz to help you get ready for your first assessment task through analysing an essay question. Then, you will move onto the content modules: The Information Profession Information Processes Information and Information Seekers Social and Legal Issues When you work through the modules is up to you. Some people will move through the modules faster than others which is fine. HOWEVER, each of the first two modules have compulsory online quizzes that contribute to the mark in Assessment Item 1. It is highly recommended that you do the quizzes in sequence as they have been designed to: give you a chance to learn the material in chunks demonstrate your understanding of each important chunk by being able to get instant feedback online give you a chance to earn marks incrementally rather than doing an early assessment task worth a lot of marks After mid-semester break there is much more flexibility in that
  2. 2. Using the Forum: Analysing an Essay Question: you will be working towards the major essay (Assessment Item 2) and do not have smaller compulsory sections. Objective: Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: contribute to the subject's online forum. If this is your first experience with distance education, learning the online tools can be overwhelming. They are not hard to use though – as you will discover when you do the first task. You will go onto the online forum to introduce yourself to me and to the other students. Forums allow for structured conversations that are organised into topics. As this is your first subject, the headings have been created for you in accordance with the activities where you are asked to make a contribution. If you want to add a new thread of discussion – or if you are not sure how online forums work – please refer to the guidelines in the Subject Outline. Objective: Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: describe a process by which to analyse assignment questions, interpret assignment questions, complete the first compulsory quiz in the subject based on analysing an essay question and select a topic for the subject's first essay. Academic writing (essays, reports, short answers, annotated bibliographies, and so on) allows you to: practice your information seeking and research skill exercise your communication skills show that you have understood the questions demonstrate that you have read the relevant literature practice and express your ability to think critically Proficiency in these processes will not only help you to be a successful student but they are also essential skills for an information professional. Before you begin to write your response to an assessment task, it is vital to discover what the assessment task requires you to do. Not doing this, and answering a different question from the one actually asked, is one of the most common reasons students fail assignments or do poorly in them. The following five-step procedure will help you to analyse and interpret assessment tasks – both for assignments and in examinations. The five steps are: 1. Read the question 2. Identify the topic/s
  3. 3. Read the Question: Identify the Topic/s and List Keywords: 3. Identify the focus 4. Determine the task 5. Determine the limits This seems like a logical step but many people do not pay enough attention to this vital task. Read the question a few times carefully before you start to analyse it and interpret the requirements of the assignment. Some questions are written in a way that the content and structure is contained within it. Most assignments, however, will require you to analyse and interpret the question(s) to determine both the required direction and the depth of analysis. Having read the question, the next step is to underline or highlight the topic/s and keywords associated with the content of the question. Brainstorm the topic too, so you can determine any synonyms or other words associated with these keywords. Let's analyse the sample assignment question below: Write a 2000-word essay, evaluating the new and emerging roles of information professionals in special libraries in the AsiaPacific region. Here is the question again, with the keywords highlighted in red: Write a 2000-word essay, evaluating the new and emerging roles of information professionals in special libraries in the AsiaPacific region. And below a range of synonyms is provided for each keyword: Roles – jobs, careers, profession, tasks, positions, functions, responsibilities etc. Information professionals – librarians, records managers, knowledge managers, archivists etc. Special libraries – health libraries, corporate libraries etc. Asia-Pacific – Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia etc. Identify the Focus: Having identified the keywords associated with the assignment topic, you should now determine the actual focus of the assignment question. To answer the question successfully, you must centre your attention on the focus of the assignment. If you don't get the focus right, then you may write a good response about the general topic, but miss actually answering the question. If we consider the sample question again, the focus of the
  4. 4. Determine the Task: Resource: Determine the Limitations: question is outlined in red below: Write a 2000-word essay, evaluating the new and emerging roles of information professionals in special libraries in the AsiaPacific region. In other words, you should NOT write a response that focuses on traditional or historical roles of information professionals in the given region, but rather on the new and emerging roles of information professionals. The task is what the assignment has actually asked you to do. Directional words are verbs that state what you are to do and how you are required to approach the question. These directions may be part of the assignment question or may be included in the assignment instructions. In an Australian university setting, you will be expected to apply a high level of critical thinking skills. Some assignments will require you to list, describe, explain and outline. More often though, you will be expected to critically analyse, evaluate, compare or discuss material. Write a 2000-word essay, evaluating the new and emerging roles of information professionals in special libraries in the AsiaPacific region. Above you can see that the task in our sample question is to evaluate. So what is expected of you when you are asked to evaluate? The Learning Skills Unit at Charles Sturt University has a very useful table of Assignment Task Words. You may decide to print this table out as a handy reference aid when you are analysing other assignments during your course. Or you might simply bookmark the link for easy reference: Limits are placed on assignments to guide you. It is important to identify these limitations before you begin working on the assignment because they will help you to tailor your response.
  5. 5. Common limitations are: assignment due date or examination time limit word limit format of response (i.e., essay, report, bibliography etc.) referencing style presentation requirements submission requirements (i.e., forum posting, via Easts etc.) content restrictions such as time (i.e., since 1990) or context (i.e., in the Asia-Pacific region etc.) Going back to our sample question, what are the limitations you can identify? They are in red below. How many did you pick out correctly? Write a 2000-word essay, evaluating the new and emerging roles of information professionals in special libraries in the AsiaPacific region. Other limitations would also be: the due date, the required referencing style, presentation and submission requirements. Module Two: The Information Profession: Introduction: Quiz 1: Referring to what you have just learnt, complete Quiz 1 – Analysing an essay question in Test Centre. Remember: the quizzes are compulsory and assessable. This module explores the role of the modern information professional. Part of the reason you may have chosen this course is because you wish to become a professional librarian. But what is a librarian? The Macquarie Dictionary (2005) tells us that a librarian is: A person trained in librarianship A person in charge of a library This does not tell us much. Let's consider the same dictionary’s definition of a library: A place set apart to contain books and other literary material for reading, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read of borrowed.
  6. 6. Information Professionals: Librarianship is defined as: A profession concerned with organising collections of books and related materials in libraries and with making these resources available to readers and others. Maybe you do not see yourself as becoming a librarian? Maybe you think librarianship is part of a wider information profession, including others who work with information? Some people who graduate from our Charles Sturt University courses do not go on to work in libraries, or do not remain working in libraries throughout their professional careers. Instead, they forge careers in other aspects of the management of information such as knowledge management. In this module we shall explore the information profession and the place of librarianship within it. Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: discuss what an information professional is; list some of the common workplace types for information professionals; and list the main functions of each of these workplaces Librarians, records managers, archivists, museum curators, knowledge managers, information architects, information managers – these are names for different kinds of information professionals. They each have their own professional groups, and their own professional education and training courses. They each have their own set of practices and procedures for handling, storing and providing access to their different formats and resources, as well as how they help their users. Historically, each has dealt with different kinds of information, in different contexts and with different formats of information. For example, originally librarians traditionally dealt with printed materials such as books and archivists dealt with paper-based files kept for legal or evidential purposes. One Profession or Many: Libraries were traditionally interested in developing collections of printed books and materials and journals (or substitute forms of them, such as microfilm) and in providing access to these collections by cataloguing and by classification and physical arrangement. They also provided 'information' or reference services to assist their clientele to use these collections independently.
  7. 7. For example, reference librarians would not usually tell a client the answer to a query. Rather, they would help him or her search effectively to find resources suited to their needs. Some libraries fulfil archival and museum-like functions. For example, a research library preserves texts permanently for possible future use. In Australia, a State library is a research library. Museums have traditionally stored and displayed collections of physical, three-dimensional objects. These included museums containing such items as: musical instruments, costumes, furniture and household equipment. There are others as well – such as maritime and railway museums. Archives were developed to collect the records that governments and other organisations created as part of their day-to-day operations. These records were traditionally paper-based. Because there has often been so many records produced, archivists developed special techniques to decide what is useful to keep, and what is not. These appraisal techniques help archivists to decide what to throw away. Archivists have highly developed practices for preservation of their collection. Preservation – keeping material in good condition for the future – has been a high priority for archivists. Registries, like archives, were about handling an organisation's corporate records. The main difference is one of emphasis: registries tend to focus on records that are still in quite frequent use in an organisation, while archives focus on ones that are no longer in everyday or frequent use (though obviously it is expected that archival records will be at least of historical value).
  8. 8. During the last two decades there has been a major change in what each of the professionals described above do. One catalyst for this has been technological changes. A huge rise in the general use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has caused a blurring between these professions. This has resulted in some people referring to them as being the Information Profession. It is a good description if one considers that whatever they offer their clients, librarians, museum curators, archivists and records managers are interested in information – whether that be in physical or digital format. Changing Roles: Perhaps you have heard of the term 'digital library'. A digital library is a collection of resources that are developed and maintained online. The ways in which we develop digital libraries are changing library practice. In other subjects in this course you will have the opportunity to explore digital libraries further. At this stage, it is enough that you consider the place of such libraries in the future of the profession. For example, in such a large geographical region such as Australia, imagine the opportunities that such libraries can provide to those who live in remote areas. As many libraries exist as service providers, this should be something information professionals are aware of. Museums still collect objects on the same basis as before, what is different is the display and educational aspect of museum practice. Digitising of information (a photograph of an ancient Greek vase, for instance) allows that information to be displayed on the web and be available to many more people than who could visit the museum in person and look at the vase. It is not just images that are available though. Contextual and analytical information about an object, its history,
  9. 9. where it came from, and so on, can be made available more easily. In many cases, this additional information allows you to learn a lot more about the object that would be learned by just visiting and looking at the original. Technological improvements bring challenges as well as benefits, and information professionals must take these into consideration. For example, the development of sophisticated audio equipment has greatly enhanced the capacity of museums to collect historical material, but, digitising cultural objects can cause enormous controversy. Within Australian indigenous cultures, for example, there has been some debate over who 'owns' such material, who has the right to digitise it, and who has the right to access/use it. Awareness of these challenges is, again, an issue information professionals should be aware of. The work of archivists has changed dramatically because of digital information. More and more the records of transactions, that become archival material later in their life, are being created by computers, and stored only in digital format. One of the main role of archivists is to preserve information, but digital information has many preservation issues attached to it. For example, many people will remember a floppy disk. But, if you have purchased a computer recently, you will know that it is unlikely to have a floppy drive on it. This is called technological obsolescence. This creates enormous preservation problems in relation to digital information. The work of records managers has changed in much the same way as that of archivists because of the amount of digital communication and the extent to which the activities of organisations are largely being recorded in digital format. One of the main functions of the records manager is to assist the users in his or her organisation to identify and access the records
  10. 10. they require. Increasingly, records can be shared across an organisation’s computer networks, even in organisations with offices in different countries. This raises issues such as security, privacy and confidentiality. There are legal and other regulatory requirements about how long certain classes of record are kept (for instance, the financial audit) and whether records can be accessed. In Australia, records management practices in the public sector may be determined in part by instructions from federal or commonwealth bodies. Failure to comply can result in heavy fines (thus creating extra demand for qualified records managers). Why the Changes: Many of the changes I have described can be attributed to technology and the expansion of the information job market so that librarians may end up working as publishers, booksellers, database developers, indexers, website designers and so on. With such changes come many new and stimulating challenges. Being able to respond to these challenges is what you, as information professionals, need to be able to do. The Information Society: Choose ONE only of the tasks below to complete this topic. Each task requires you to go to the wiki & add some information to a particular page. Please try not to delete anyone else's additions! If you don't know how to use the wiki, go to the Interact wiki help pages. Remember that you only need to do 1 of the 3 tasks set out below but if you are especially keen of course you can do more...! Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: Outline the four broad characteristics of the information society, and describe them. Define the role of information within each of the following contexts: social, economic, organisational and individual. Discuss some of the jobs available to information professionals. Find some information about social issues evolving from the information society, including scholarly information from CSU’s Library databases.
  11. 11. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by analysing the information found. Link search and critical thinking skills to compile a simple annotated bibliography. Use search and critical thinking skills to complete two assessable components in preparation for the first assessment task – the minor essay. Information Society Characteristics: Role of Information: We often hear expressions such as ‘information age’, ‘information superhighway’ or ‘information revolution’ and largely these are based on technological developments. Information professionals, however, need a much broader understanding of information and information flow in society than that which is represented by these expressions. Information work is not just about technology, but also about people and their needs, about organisations and their information practices, about social and cultural change, about government and industry policies. This is an age in which many claim profound social changes are occurring as a result of changes in the means and processes by which information flows. What are the characteristics of this period, the information society, that makes it different or unique, that separates it from other periods? There are four broad characteristics that might help understand the concept better: This is an age in which the importance of information to society is recognised to a greater degree than any previous one. The information sector of the economy is larger than ever before, and continues to grow in size relative to other sectors. Information is growing in volume, in the variety of sources from which it is available, and in the number of formats in which it is available. The role of technological change is far greater than ever before, and technological convergence (the linking together of computer technologies with communication technologies) is having a dramatic impact. Information is not a new invention of the information society, but it has assumed a new and changing importance. We can think of information as having four important roles, each with its own inherent value: Social Economic
  12. 12. Growth of the Information Sector: Organisational Individual In the societal context information is seen as important for a healthy democracy. It is argued by many that citizens who are well-informed are better able to participate in democratic processes such as voting. In economic terms we treat information both as a commodity – something which can be bought and sold, traded, something which has a price or an economic value and as a resource – something to which we are entitled, of which there is an unlimited supply, which is not consumed but which is reusable. A copy of a book, for example, has a price for purchase, but once purchased its contents can be read by many without cost to individual readers. One of the issues for information professionals is balancing the commodity/resource equation in the provision of information services. In organisations of all types (government, non-profit, commercial and so on) there is increasing recognition of information as an asset. The sound management of corporate information is seen as critical to the success of the organisation in meeting its objectives. The growing area of knowledge management is part of this new understanding and need to use technology in effective ways. As individuals we have heightened expectations about the availability of information and the speed with which we will be able to get it. We take for granted that our information needs can be met from the vast range of sources. The level of need influences the value we place on information. For example, information on a particular health problem will be more highly valued by someone dealing with that problem than by others for whom it might have curiosity value only. Modern economies are often called ‘information economies’ – another label that emphasises the importance of information to all areas of economic activity. However, a separate information sector is identifiable and measurable; it is the sector that produces information goods and services and employs workers in specific information occupations. Measuring the size of the information sector and its rate of growth is rather difficult because of definitional problems: What is an information occupation?
  13. 13. What is an information activity? What is an information product or service? Social Issues: Information Searching: Nevertheless it is easy to see that there are many products and services, many new types of information work in what is called the information industry. One of the most visible impacts of each new development in technology – paper, printing, electronic publishing – is an increase in the volume of information generated. Governments and businesses invest many of their resources into managing the ever-growing rate of information – resulting in substantial job growth. While the value and volume of information has grown enormously in the information society, it does not mean that everyone enjoys the same benefits from it. You may be familiar with terms such as information poor or the digital divide. These are simple terms for complex social issues that information professionals must be aware of. Social, cultural and legal perspectives will be covered in more detail further in this subject. The digital divide generally refers to the gap between those who have ready access to current technologies and those who do not. The term also infers social or educational inequalities as a result of this division. Typically the digital divide impacts most negatively on underprivileged countries, illiterate populations and so on. In Australia, telecommunications (and thus access to the internet and other digital resources) have been an issue particularly for remote and regional areas, and those from poor socio-economic backgrounds. There have been many government reports and research into this issue. Being information poor generally refers to not having access to the information that others are able to access. Developing countries are usually labelled as information poor, and thus vulnerable to exploitation, restricted economic growth and so on. International organisations such as the United Nations have invested huge resources into addressing this issue. The 10 tasks outlined below are designed to help you: search for information effectively read the information you find be able to demonstrate critical thinking through
  14. 14. commentary about what you have found. You will also learn about taking necessary bibliographic details from the information you find. While you are learning (or strengthening) these skills, you will also be deepening your understanding about some of the many social issues interconnected with information. The set of tasks includes some of the compulsory online quizzes and lots of reading so make sure you set aside significant time to complete what is required of you here! Task 1 – Work through the SmartSearch online tutorial in InfoSkills@CSU. Task 2 – Have a look at CSU Library's guide about scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles. When writing an academic essay, you should be aiming to use articles from good quality journals, and this will usually be part of the marking criteria for an assignment. Task 3 – Use this Search Strategy template to plan a search about the digital divide either in Australia, a different country or globally. Note: Even though there are new technologies allowing multiple ways of searching and might assist with aspects like truncation, it is still very important as information professionals to understand the elements of successful searching as you may be need to provide input on improvements to vendors or participate in developing appropriate retrieval systems if you take that route in the profession. Task 4 – Do a database search on one of CSU’s Library databases and locate a full-text, scholarly journal article on the digital divide in the area you selected above. Task 5 – Read through the information on critical thinking from CSU’s Learning Skills unit. Task 6 – Take notes on the item appropriate to your learning style using text notes or visual/concept mapping notes concept mapping. Task 7 –Go to the INF100 online forum. Briefly describe what you read and what you thought about it. Your entry should go under the appropriate heading in the forum (i.e., The Digital Divide) and should only be a paragraph maximum length. Task 8 – While the internet is often criticised for the amount of rubbish it contains, it can also provide valuable information for use in academic essays. Critical thinking and critical evaluation of websites are important skills to use when choosing internet material. To demonstrate your ability to evaluate relevant material, go
  15. 15. back to the Development Gateway. Select ONE resource (e.g. a report). Read it, take notes, and write a one paragraph response about the item. Go to the online forum and share what you have read (and what you think about it) with the rest of us. The heading in the forum will be Evaluation using the Development Gateway. Task 9 Go to Test Centre and complete: Quiz 2 – Searching for scholarly resources Quiz 3 – Critical thinking, reading and note-taking. Rate of Technological Change: Keeping track of your Reading: Professional Associations: Our Dynamic Professional Environment: Task 10 – Finally, apply the same search processes to start looking for scholarly information for the minor essay topic in Assessment Item One. The rate of change in technology is a particular characteristic of the information age. Think about the rate of technological change from when you were a child to now. What have you noticed the introduction of? Microwaves? Mobile phones? Hybrid cars? Digital cameras? i-pods? What else can you think of? You will realise by now that studying via distance involves quite a lot of reading! Using annotated bibliographies is one way of keeping track of what you read in an abbreviated format, particularly when you have an assignment like your first one. An annotated bibliography can also help you remember to record and reference the bibliographic details of an item correctly. Putting references in the correct bibliographic style is required in academic work and is therefore a skill you must become familiar with. In the next module there will be more information about referencing, and there is a compulsory quiz on it. Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: Understand the role of professional associations Describe the main functions and services of the Australian Library and Information Association First we need to look again at the changing nature of libraries and the role of librarians in them. Instead of the word ‘changes’, perhaps the term ‘continuing development’ should be used to describe the ongoing changes that see the roles of librarians evolving as well.
  16. 16. Some examples are: The use of full-text electronic resources and information retrieval tools. Enhancements in library resource sharing, through electronic catalogues and shared networks. Use of commercial document delivery services. Shared cataloguing through computer networks. Electronic links with library suppliers. The increasing educational role taken on by librarians in helping clients access the huge amount of information resources available. Many of the changes in the role/s of librarians are generated by developments in the electronic delivery of information. This is not the only reason for change though. An example is the change in the corporate sector, as libraries in companies (special libraries) struggle to prove their value to their parent organisations. In some organisations, libraries have become cost centres – which have to pay their way within the organisation, leasing space and recovering costs by charging other divisions for their services. In other organisations, libraries have disappeared altogether. In some cases, librarians have been replaced by 'information managers' with wider responsibilities than management of library resources, or by 'information analysts' who are expected to play a proactive role in the analysis of corporate information needs. Information analysts require a sound background knowledge, for example, of business processes and research methods. Throughout this section, and the previous sections, the roles and responsibilities of information professional have been changing as the information society has developed. These changes could be said to reflect: The changing tools and methods used by information professionals to meet the information needs of their clients. The diverse range of information products and services information professionals (with wide occupational titles and roles) fulfil The diverse range of places where information professionals work.
  17. 17. As these changes take place, new issues arise for information professionals to deal with, and their professional responsibilities change. This raises questions as: Are we an information profession or information professions? What should be the role of professional associations? What values underpin the work of the profession? Does the information profession need a code of ethics? What Professional Associations do: Professional societies play an important role in assisting the information professional to work in an effective, ethical and responsible way. There are several professional associations relevant to information work in Australia, including general, specialised and international organisations. This is a common pattern for professions, and individual professionals may belong to several associations. Professional associations perform several functions: They act as the 'governing body' of a profession; that is the association controls entry through setting minimum qualification requirements, establishing standards and monitoring levels of competence in practice. They represent the members collectively on matters to do with their work and working conditions through industrial activity, through lobbying, participation on government bodies, and publications. They actively seek to promote and develop the profession through marketing and professional education activities. In Australia, there are several professional associations relevant to the broad definition of information work. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) acts as an umbrella organisation. Sometimes professionals join a couple of associations at the same time. Maybe you are already a member of one, or more, yourself. As a professional these tax-deductible organisations are very valuable to us, and as a student you will always find interesting reading about current topics being covered on the site so keep it in mind for future reference. Information professionals may also belong to a number of international organisations that operate as global professional
  18. 18. associations. Their concerns are focused more on broad issues and trends affecting information work. For example, there is the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). There are also international professional associations established to perform functions like the one in Australia. For example, there is the Hong Kong Library Association. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) declares that it is: the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. IFLA is focused more on practitioners in libraries and aims to represent the profession internationally and to develop and promote guidelines for practice. Module Three: Information Processes: Introduction: This module looks at how libraries and information centres handle information. In this module you will look at information as a process: You will start by looking at how information is created and distributed. Libraries acquire information, usually by purchasing materials that contain information or by purchasing a license to use information. Once libraries have acquired the information, it needs to be organised so that it can be efficiently located and retrieved when it is needed. Information is stored and you will learn about how this happens. Finally, in this module, you will be introduced to how information in libraries is retrieved and matched up to users. As we learnt in the introduction to this subject, librarians are only one kind of information professional, and libraries are only one kind of information service. Librarians might work in any aspect of the information profession as librarians, publishers, booksellers, database developers,
  19. 19. indexers, website developers or much more. Information Processes in Libraries: Nevertheless, the library context is being used to explain the information processes covered in this module, before the broader information context is used. You will also undertake more quizzes that include academic skills development to prepare you for academic essay writing. Objectives Upon completion of this section, you should be able to: Define the overall information process as relevant to the library and information context Outline each of the main processes in the library and information context In the wider information environment, the information process may be referred to as information being: ... created, distributed, used, maintained, disposed of ... In the library and information context, however, the information process could be described as follows: the fundamental function of a library is to acquire, preserve, and make available information in all its forms Let's consider how this applies. Libraries select the items containing information suitable to their particular clientele. Items can be in physical formats, such as books, maps, CDs or videos, or in digital form, such as an online database. This selection function is a major part of what is referred to as collection management. Libraries then acquire, that is, they order and then receive the items, or perhaps the items are donated or received automatically under legal deposit. When the items arrive in the library they are organised in such a way that they can be found fairly easily by the user. That is, the information they contain becomes available to the user; the user is able to access it. Each item is organised by cataloguing it and classifying it. This topic provides an overview of these operations, and they are examined in more detail in other subjects in this course. If the item is a physical object (books, CD, DVD, etc.) it will be processed, covered or boxed if necessary, and labels attached.
  20. 20. It is then available for circulation to the user – that is, the user can now borrow the item. Of course some items, like reference material or rare books, may not be available to borrow. If the item is not in physical format (such as online database) then processing may not necessary, although organising it is. Increasingly, items may also be digitised as part of processing (and later access) purposes. The library items will need to be housed and cared for. Preservation – activities and strategies aimed at keeping the items as long as they are needed or wanted – is part of this aspect of the information process. The above is only one way of describing the information process in libraries. Another is described later in the section. The same information resource may appear in a number of different formats. For example, a conference 'paper/presentation' may appear: in a set of proceedings published in book form; in a set of proceedings published on a CD or DVD; on video; via live videostreaming from the conference itself; or on an audio file downloadable to a MP3 or other audio player. A journal may be published in electronic format and be available on a remote database provided by a commercial vendor or on a CD-ROM, but it may also be published in paper format, or made available on the internet free of charge to anyone wishing to access it. Libraries provide access to information resources. They may not be physically owned or located in a library. Instead a library might lease or license access to them for a period of time, or they could be owned by another library. The business of the librarian is to help people make use of them. Librarians then might: Develop a collection of information resources, which will meet many of the users' information enquiries, and help users to locate relevant resources in the collection – this is sometimes referred to as 'just-in-case' librarianship
  21. 21. (acquiring items in case they come in useful). Help the user to search for relevant information resources outside the library and to access selected resources (for example, locating a useful journal article on a database) – sometimes described as ‘just-in-time’ librarianship. Information Creation and Distribution: Librarianship is a dynamic profession. Traditionally libraries did not usually create information themselves, or have the responsibilities of publishers. With rapid changes in technology, this is changing. Think about, for example, how many academic libraries (in Australia and elsewhere), now maintain their own digital repositories where they provide open access to research published by their staff. If you have not seen a repository before, take a look at CSU's institutional repository called CRO. Libraries are, however, part of the information distribution chain, because they purchase or license access to information. They are also very important players in the information processes that follow creation and distribution. They acquire information through purchase or licensing, and then make it available to users. You will learn more about this in the next section on collection management. You already know that libraries are only one kind of information service. Information professionals work in a wide range of information environments. Other environments might be archives, or museums, record keepers in organisations and so on. In many non-library information environments, such as an organisation's information records on staff, the information is created by the organisation. Think about how a doctor's office may have patient records about you; how many forms you submit to a government when you apply for a visa to travel to another country and so on. What happens with this information? If you look at any large company's website you will often find that other significant information can be found such as the history of the company, or annual reports. It should be noted though that distribution or access to that information may be limited or restricted, influenced by laws such as privacy for example.
  22. 22. We will look at these issues later in the subject. Collection Management: One of the topics you can choose for the first essay is to do with informal, digital means of creating and distributing information and how it might affect organisations like libraries. Self-publishing was rare traditionally because of enormous costs, privilege and so on. Some people circumvented this through vanity publishing where they paid to get their information published. Now, with the rapid growth of Web 2.0 and other technologies, virtually anyone who has access to a computer and the Internet can publish. In the first essay you might still be wondering what is meant by informal, digital means? Think here of things like blogs, wikis, youtube and how these represent a large portion of information. For those going to undertake this essay, these will be useful search terms for you to consider. With all of the vast and increasing amounts of information being created and being made available (both in print and digitally), it is not feasible for even the largest libraries to attempt to collect all relevant published information resources. Despite this, most libraries do develop collections of information resources relevant to the needs of their users or clients. The processes by which they do this are sometimes grouped together under the general heading of collection management. (Note: Many information organisational roles may not involve collection development in this sense as the items they have carriage of may be items that are part of their job without being planned or purchased - for example, think of knowledge manager where the collection largely comprises the items generated within the organisation) The purpose of collection management is to provide materials that serve the library's basic objectives. Each type of library – academic, public, school, or special – has a set of specific objectives that support the user's activities. Because few libraries have adequate funds to buy all the materials needed, a selection process is applied to decide which materials will receive the highest priority. Selection policies help reduce some of the problems. They often provide criteria for selecting different categories of materials. For example, a public library that serves a large number of older users may have criteria or guidelines for selecting large print fiction, or more audio books, to meet the requirements of these
  23. 23. older users (a generalisation but an example). Acquisitions is the name for the process of getting hold of items to add to a library's collection. After the selection process identifies an item to be added to the collection, an order for this item is typically: verified – checked to see whether there are copies of the item already held, or on order; whether the bibliographic details are correct; and whether the resource is available for purchase). Then the item is: ordered – online or in print form; received and paid for – this involves checking that the correct number of items has been received; recording date of receipt; authorising payment for items received; and adjusting fund accounts. Processing is what happens to an item when it is added to the collection. It may be, for example, that a barcode is added to an item (if it hasn't been added by the vendor). There are a large and rapidly growing number of electronic publications, most of them available online for a fee. The increasing quantity of digital material is changing the ways information is distributed, how users seek information, and how libraries acquire information. Many of the electronic information resources accessed by libraries on behalf of their users are provided by large database vendor companies such as Ovid. All of this will be a reason for rapid change in library practice. You are part of this changing environment! It is also worth noting that there is a move towards digitising many printed information resources. This has been done for many reasons such as increasing access opportunities and preservation. However, it should be noted that there are many issues (including cultural perspectives) that information professionals need to be aware of for such practice. We will explore some of these later. Information Organisation: Organising information can take various forms by information professionals.
  24. 24. These are typically: physical arrangement intellectual organisation (such as organising by subject and cataloguing or metadata) Any information centre (even a one person library) has to be efficient in the way it organises its information resources (that is, the items in its collection). If it is not efficient, then chaos will result. This is particularly true as the amalgamation of print and electronic resources in many libraries and information organisations grows. There are several ways in which information resources could be physically arranged, but probably the most familiar to you, as a library user, would be by: Author, for example, for shelving fiction books in a public library; Language, which is particularly helpful in a multicultural environment; Format, which may be necessary where storage requirements for different categories of material are substantially different (e.g., in the case of large maps, which may be stored in special cabinets, or newspaper clippings, which may be stored in vertical files); Subject, which is the most common type of arrangement in the case of non-fiction collections With the growth in the number of digital resources, great attention has been placed on the use of space in physical libraries to best reflect the changing needs of users. For example, many academic libraries have large areas dedicated to group work and technology hubs where increasing numbers of computers and/or power and charger ports are available for people to use mobile technologies. Have a look at this section on Space at the University of Technology Sydney. Libraries could simply arrange resources in categories that make sense to users, as many bookshops do, with categories like Science fiction, Thrillers, Cookery, Gardening, Self-help and so on. Some public libraries use broad subject categories to organise their non-fiction collections.
  25. 25. Most libraries however use a more detailed form of subject arrangement called classification. This means organising similar things together. Zoologists, for example, class together marsupials, an order of animals which carry their young in a pouch and which includes species such as kangaroo and wallaby. Bibliographic classification also involves organising like things (that is, things which are similar) together, in order that users can find related material together on the shelves. You have just learned that libraries organise their collections physically to make them useful and accessible, and that items can be arranged by grouping subjects together. Another way in which libraries help users to access collections is by cataloguing their collections. A common kind of catalogue is the online catalogue (often called an OPAC – online public access catalogue). A catalogue is an information retrieval tool that lists the information resources held by a library or a library network. Catalogues tell the user whether or not an appropriate resource is held in the collection, give a description of it, and indicate where to find it. Each listing in the catalogue, called an entry or record, represents a particular resource. The catalogue record not only identifies and describes a particular item, but also usually tells you where to find an item on the shelves (or elsewhere). With the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, many library catalogues incorporate images and other features that were previously not available to assist users. There are three main processes involved in the cataloguing process. These are: Isolating those attributes or data elements which help to identify and describe an information resource. Combining those attributes in a record (a representation of the resource). Providing access points to enable users to find the record. Simple data elements that are commonly used to describe a resource include author, date, title, edition, call number and so on. Users may search for an item on any of these elements. Cataloguing rules are complicated.
  26. 26. It takes considerable expertise and time to catalogue information resources. As a result, for more than one hundred years libraries have been sharing the time, effort and cost of developing catalogues. Today, many libraries carry out copy cataloguing, that is, using catalogue records that have been created elsewhere. These are found on very large databases of catalogue records, which libraries get access to through computer networks. In Australia, the most common databases used for copy cataloguing are Libraries Australia (operated by the National Library of Australia) and SCIS (Schools Cataloguing Information Service) for school libraries. Many other databases of catalogue records exist. Metadata: Another example is OCLC, which started out as a cooperative network in the United States, but is now widely used in other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan. One of the more recent developments about describing and organising materials is to do with increased participation by users to tag or otherwise identify an item using Web 2.0 technologies. Librarians have recognised for many years that traditional description and organisation can create a lot of confusion for users. Web 2.0 technologies have enabled resources to be more easily related to, and related with, other items that the user might find helpful. We've already talked about the growth in digital libraries. Even within many non-digital libraries, the growth of online information in library and information collections has seen the emergence of new ways of cataloguing and classification. One of these developments, often being used in conjunction with 'traditional' organisation methods is metadata. Very simply put, metadata is data about data and in the library and information context it is about analysing and describing online information in order to help users find resources. Another very significant role of metadata is preserving online information for future access. This is a major issue that we have already touched upon earlier. Let's have a look at how it works. In a traditional organisation system, resources might be classified using the Dewey Decimal Classification system so a book on drought-tolerant plants is likely to be around the subject number 635.955 (varying due to region and so on). In the library catalogue, there will be a record that may use the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2 is
  27. 27. the current version). Have you heard of these? If not, search for the AACR2 website where you can read more. A replacement for AACR2 called RDA (Resource Description and Access) is a major development in information organisation. To read more about this you might want to take a look at the RDA section of the National Library of Australia. In regards to this item then a library user might : visit a library and search on its catalogue because he/she is interested in planting a new garden that is drought-tolerant (a major issue for Australian gardeners as many of you would appreciate!) see a book available on the catalogue, and be able to see related topic areas, and the classification number which is used to organise the book on the shelves go to the shelves at that number and look and/or borrow that item These and other cataloguing and classification numbers worked well for physical items. The use of metadata is also about tapping into the searching psyche of current users. For example, as I mentioned earlier, librarians themselves have seriously questioned whether the traditional methods of organising information are really methods that people think of when they are looking for something. Today, the use of Amazon, for example, is a common way that people search for information about particular books. How frequent is the expression 'Google it' today? Very – and people do not need to necessarily understand a particular 'system' to access it. They follow links within items to lead them to other items too. So, how does this work – and why use it? DC Metadata is partly about describing a resource (keeping in mind that the system was originally designed for use with online resources) so that it can be easily located. There are several areas of description that a librarian would look at and include in their system if they were using DC Metadata. These areas are known as the Dublin Core elements.
  28. 28. They include things like Title, Creator, Publisher and so on. Information Storage: As it is a relatively new scheme, it is still being amended and developed so the website is the best place to keep track of changes and in a later subject you will explore metadata further. If you have a keen interest in the organisation of information then I suggest you access the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative site. The subject INF209 gives you a much more detailed look into describing and analysing resources too. It is not enough to just collect and organise resources. There has to be some provision for storing it safely so that it will be available to users for as long into the future as there is likely to be a need for it (which may be hours or centuries, depending on the material and the situation). Storage is an important consideration in information work, and any library manager will tell you that a lot of time and funding are absorbed by matters relating to storage. What an information resource is made from, both physically and chemically, is one significant factor which affects how information is stored and how long it will remain useable. Let's take the example of a photograph. If the temperature and/or humidity in which it is stored get too high, the material the photograph is made up of reacts chemically and starts to deteriorate. First the colours will fade, then the image could disappear completely. The same is true for all information resources, with varying degrees of susceptibility. Paper is relatively stable and strong, except for some paper on which newspapers are printed, so books will usually last a long time and withstand a lot of handling. At the other end of the susceptibility spectrum, digital information is very vulnerable. Part of this is because of how easily the data can be 'lost' – say in a system failure – and because of the rapid changes in technology that make previous data difficult to access with obsolete technology. Some of you might be asking What does it mean when we talk about information in the cloud? De Saulle (2012) demystifies the concept by explaining that it is like having back-up storage in off-site servers. These days, provision of such services (as with Dropbox and SugarSynch, for example) represent big business.
  29. 29. Information Retrieval: This is not surprising given that the rapid growth in technologies and the complexity of managing huge data and information sets that information professionals typically deal with. All storage solutions have inherent problems and the same goes with cloud storage. As this is a topic that can be selected for the first assignment, I want you to explore the area further if you are interested in what these issues might be. Note – you have already practised searching for academic resources as part of the quizzes in preparation for your minor essay. In this next activity you will use these skills again, and also practise your academic writing skills. If you are returning to study after some time, or beginning study at Australian university level, you would be wise to consult your local library, or the CSU Library, for an appropriate academic writing skills book (there are many electronic books available on this topic from CSU Library). As part of this final section on information processes, you will also complete the final compulsory quiz (Quiz 5) which is about referencing your academic work. You will have gained an introduction to working in the information professions and will also be well prepared for academic success at this University. The word retrieved is being used in this topic in a broad sense to mean how information is matched to the user, and also how information is provided to the user. Some of you may already work in libraries and/or be familliar with using retrieval tools. What tools do you use to retrieve the information that is available in the library's information resources? The library catalogue is the most obvious example of an information retrieval tool you will use, but there are more. Other common information retrieval tools used in the library environment are: Bibliographies – which also list information resources. Indexes – which list information resources but which, like bibliographies (and unlike catalogues), are not limited to listing resources belonging to a particular library or library network. An index, unlike a bibliography, usually focuses on parts of volumes, particularly articles published in magazines and journals. Abstracting services – these are like indexes in generally focusing on articles published in magazines and journals, but which provide short summaries (abstracts) of the articles they list. Like indexes, there has been a move
  30. 30. towards electronic provision of abstracting services. Catalogues are typically produced by libraries. The other three types of information tool are generally published by commercial organisations or scholarly associations. All four are produced in a variety of different formats: paperbased, microform, CD-ROM and online. In recent times there has been a move towards electronic versions of the above. Online library databases – such as those in the Charles Sturt University Library – are a good example. Large companies, such as OVID and PROQUEST, are known as vendors in the library environment, and provide many of the services mentioned. The information stored on these databases has probably not been produced by the vendors themselves. Usually the vendors are quite distinct from the producers. Search facilities available online provide the user with a range of powerful search facilities. Where information retrieval tools in print were quite restrictive, and sometimes required the user to consult more than one volume, online information retrievals usually enable a user to search options such as keyword, author, title and even the full text of an item. The term document delivery refers to the process of obtaining an information resource or a copy of a particular information resource that is not available within a particular library. Because even the largest library can collect only a small proportion of the world's published information resources, libraries make considerable use of each other's information resources, not to mention those of other information services. Users may request a library to obtain a scanned copy of a journal article or a conference paper, for example. Inter-library lending is the name used for one library providing an information resource in its collection, to another which does not have that information resource – for example, a book. Reciprocal borrowing is an alternative to both document delivery or interlibrary lending. This means that users of one library may have permission to borrow from another library. Sometimes a library – or individual – might use a commercial document delivery service. These types of services incur a fee.
  31. 31. Online vendors often provide these services. The Wider Context: Information professionals need to be aware that while libraries are major players in the provision of information retrieval and document delivery services, they are not the only players. Continually they have to look for ways to improve their services or they could quickly lose their position as major information providers. The increase in electronic delivery is both a threat and an opportunity for libraries. The traditional tools, systems and practices applied to retrieving information in collections of information resources are changing. As already noted in this module, one major reason is that information centres now provide electronic access to information which is not owned by the information centre, but which is of value to their users. The increasing significance of the internet in information provision has meant that information retrieval tools developed to handle digital information resources, such as full-text retrieval tools, image and sound retrieval tools, and internet search engines, are becoming more common. Let's look at some of these. Many of us are becoming more used to searching the full text of information resources in digital form. When carrying out full-text searching we are searching on every word in the document, or set of documents, that we are searching (except 'stop-words' like a, an, the, which are ignored). This means the result of the search provides us with all occurrences of the words or phrase on which we have searched in the document or set of documents. This is potentially very helpful to the user, but it also has some problems. We are likely to retrieve documents which do mention the word or phrase somewhere, but which are not really relevant to the topic that interests us. Another problem is that of terminology. There are likely to be several words meaning the same as the words used by the author, and this can lead to unhelpful results. If we think of library terminology, it is not completely standardised. Some librarians, for example, use the term weeding to refer to the removal of damaged, obsolete, or redundant material from their shelves.
  32. 32. Others prefer the terms deselection or stock relegation. There are an increasing number of image and sound information resources available in libraries and other information centres. New technologies are constantly developing which means that so is the range and format of these resources. Retrieval tools, often emanating from commercial enterprises, are also constantly evolving. The internet is a major information retrieval tool. Some would say it is another development that offers users previously unimagined information retrieval potential. Others would say it is a competitor for libraries. These perspectives are probably both true. Information Processes in a Wider Context: Certainly a massive amount of information is available to more people today than it ever was in previous ages. That does not mean that all information is available via the internet, however (despite some popular opinion otherwise)! As information professionals you will likely experience the internet in several ways – as a user, as an observer of users who use it in your libraries or information centres, or as an educator of users of the internet. You are the information professionals of the future and will thus be influential in determining how libraries – and other information centres – will assist users best make use of this powerful retrieval tool. In this section we have looked closely at how information is managed in a traditional through to more modern library environment. As we've already discovered though, the "information profession" can encompass other areas such as data management and knowledge management. Increasingly the expertise of "librarians" is being seen as valuable to these growing fields. Much of how information processes occur in these environments will vary widely according to their particular context. For example, possibly the role is to manage the corporate knowledge of a major international company. An information professional may therefore be required to: ascertain where the knowledge exists (and where/how it is recorded, and if that is still accessible) design an information system (or apply an existing model) for how that knowledge is best captured and organised for
  33. 33. the specific user requirements of that company put that knowledge into the system maintain that system train users how to retrieve information as appropriate manage ongoing changes in system requirements etc.etc. Can you see how the processes are similar but the needs of the particular organisation and its users dictates what those processes might look like and be performed? In cases, like in this job ad from 2010, the company was looking for someone with strong indexing and abstracting skills. In this instance, the processes the information professional would be involved with is creation from existing material and retrieval because the better an item is abstracted and indexed, the more likely it will be used. All of this section has hopefully given you an idea about what is involved in being an information professional and the fantastic opportunities we have available to us today in such an exciting environment! I look forward to reading your essays; happy studying! Module Four: Information and Users: Introduction: In the first module of this subject it was stated that libraries and information organisations can function well only if they are relevant to their context. An important part of this context is users. We can put together a collection of books and other information resources, maybe house them physically (or provide them digitally) and call it a library (or cybrary – or other similar name). But there is another very significant element of course – users! Some people prefer the term client while others identify this as a commercial – not service-based term. Whatever term you prefer, this module is all about the people who interact with us as information professionals. The module includes an introduction to how people seek information, how communication between people takes place, the barriers people face in seeking information, what 'information literacy' means, and the role of information professionals in offering education, services and systems oriented to assisting users.
  34. 34. Upon completion of this module, you should be able to: Outline the role people/users play in a library and information environment Define and discuss information literacy Define and discuss information seeking Discuss how library and information professionals might develop user-friendly systems for the environments they work in. Information, Libraries Information is considered to be extremely important in modern society, to the extent that we speak of the information society. and Users: As more and more information is generated, however, people are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that is available. In our role as information professionals, we must develop a deeper understanding of information acquisition, transmission and use, to develop user-oriented and friendly systems, services and products. The key phrase is user-oriented systems, services and products. In order to know how to develop these, or to modify existing ones to become more user-oriented, we need to know how our users are experiencing them. It is unrealistic to expect that any one system, service or product is perfect or is ever likely to be perfect. We can only seek to continually improve them. How People Communicate: Understanding how people use information may be helped by visualising how information is communicated. Models of communication enable us to analyse each stage of the process in becoming informed. Information scientists have been developing increasingly more complex models of communication since Shannon and Weaver's mathematical model was expounded in 1948. Shannon and Weaver considered that communication has the following elements: Source transmitter - message or signal - channel - receiver destination noise (any interruption to the receipt of the message). These early models are very simplistic. There are many things they do not take account of, such as the information environment of the situation, feedback to the sender, the differences between the world view of the sender and the
  35. 35. Information Literacy: recipient, the influence of other people on the communication process, the need to evaluate the information being received, and the usefulness of the information received. The information-seeking behaviour of people comprises a significant field of research in the library and information management environment. There is some dispute over whether this field is, or should be, distinct from the information literacy research field which also includes studies in how users seek information. This debate is not for you to engage with at this point in time however! It is just important to be aware that the role of people in using the information libraries manage is of paramount importance to all information professionals for if we do not understand this, our organisation of materials, and access provision to them, cannot be achieved with success. It is possible that you have already come across the term 'information literacy' in your study of library and information management. Some of you may even be involved in delivering information literacy sessions in your own organisations. The opportunities and benefits associated with an information literate populace includes lifelong learning, creation of new knowledge, informed citizens, social inclusion and active participation in the workplace. Enabling, or assisting, people to become information literate is a primary role and issue for librarians in the information age. In 2003, a meeting of information literacy experts was held in Prague. The outcome of this meeting was the Prague Declaration Towards an Information Literate Society. This declaration proposed the following base information literacy principles: The creation of an Information Society is key to social, cultural and economic development of nations and communities, institutions and individuals in the 21st century and beyond. Information Literacy encompasses knowledge of one's information concerns and needs, and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand; it is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society, and is part of the basic human right of lifelong learning. Information Literacy, in conjunction with access to
  36. 36. essential information and effective use of information and communication technologies, plays a leading role in reducing the inequities within and among countries and peoples, and in promoting tolerance and mutual understanding through information use in multicultural and multilingual contexts. Governments should develop strong interdisciplinary programs to promote Information Literacy nationwide as a necesary step in closing the digital divide through the creation of an information literate citizenry, an effective civil society and a competitive workforce. Information Literacy is a concern to all sectors of society and should be tailored by each to its specific needs and context. Information Literacy should be an integral part of Education for All, which can contribute critically to the achievement of the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, and respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Source: conf &meet/PragueDeclaration.pdf) Information Seeking: The recognition of information literacy as contributing to the elimination of social, political and economic inequities sits well with the role of information professionals in all sectors, which is why information literacy education is now considered a primary role for them. We all continually seek and use information. However, the way we seek information (our information-seeking behaviour) differs and our information needs also differ. This can depend on many factors: the situation (and context) our role in society the availability of information our personal experience our reasons for requiring the information our ability to synthesise and apply the information required At any one period in our lives, we are engaged in multiple roles that require different types of information to solve problems, for developing intellectual interests, for pleasure or recreation and to
  37. 37. complete tasks . No person exists in isolation, and in our daily life we inhabit a number of parallel communities, such as our family, the local community, our place of work, the educational institution at which we are enrolled, and recreational bodies and groups. Our information needs and behaviour differ according to the community we are operating in. At various stages in one day, we also take on different roles. We may be: a parent, child, or sibling a traveller or visitor an employer or employee a student or a teacher a seller or a buyer Examining the concept of information need becomes complex because information needs are dependent on many factors. Some of these factors are: our current level of knowledge about the subject our life experiences our ability to recognise personal information needs our information-seeking skills our ability to synthesise information IL in Context: IL and Lifelong Learning: The concept of information literacy is closely connected to the concept of lifelong learning, which is the ability to continue learning throughout life. More than a decade ago, Margaret Butterworth (1996, p.59) stated that information literacy is: A prerequisite for participatory citizenship. Required for the production of new knowledge which assists with economic development. Needed to address global problems. The development of information literacy skills is an essential element in lifelong learning. In relation to graduate students, these authors state that: access to and critical use of information is absolutely vital to lifelong learning, and accordingly no graduate – indeed no person – can be judged educated unless he or she is information literate
  38. 38. (Candy, Crebert & O'Leary, 1994, p. xiii). Psychological, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Information Literacy: Information literacy research in each of these areas is minimal. It should be obvious however that particularly in light of all the material you have covered in the other sections of this subject, that these are extremely important areas for information professionals to understand. Research into this area is still in its infancy. Workplace Information Literacy: In 2002, Cheuk describes information literacy as: a set of abilities for employees to recognise when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, organise and use information effectively, as well as the abilities to create, package and present information effectively to the intended audience. Lloyd's 2004 research into firefighters' experiences with information, defines an information literate person as having: a deep awareness, connection and fluency with the information environment. ... Information literate people are engaged, enabled, enriched and embodied by social, procedural and physical information that constitutes an information universe. Information literacy is a way of knowing that universe (Lloyd 2004, pp.222223). Lloyd's definition does not characterise information literacy as a set of skills; instead it conceptualises the nature of information literacy and connects it with knowing in context. In recent years, much discussion has taken place about strategies for developing information literacy. The importance of individuals needing a new level of information literacy for the modern world is emphasised by politicians, educators, employers and information professionals. Refer, for example, to the Australian Library and Information Association's policy Statement on Information Literacy for all Australians. All areas of librarianship – school, public, academic, corporate – have involved themselves in the debate about the who, what, how and where of information literacy. Some of this debate has concentrated on a need to educate the community in the use of the technology to access information electronically. In this respect, information literacy is strongly connected with ICT (information and communication technologies) literacy.
  39. 39. IL in Education: Regardless of the context, the role of librarians in facilitating people's access to information, enabling the development of ICT skills in the context of information seeking and assisting people to think critically about information is central to the educational function of all librarians. Libraries have long held a role in information literacy education. Originally called bibliographic instruction, it has also been called reader education, user education, and more recently information literacy education. Information literacy education can involve in-depth reference guidance, one-on-one formal instruction, group instruction or integration into academic curricula at all levels of education. Information literacy education can occur face to face, or electronically (online tutorials, for instance). Increasingly, organisations use Web 2.0 or other means of assisting people in using information effectively. The content of information literacy education can encompass various –usually outcomes-based instruction – such as how to: define an information need; locate a particular resource or type of resource; locate scholarly material in a particular discipline; track citations, or follow the development of a piece of knowledge use a particular resource; evaluate an information resource – perhaps in terms of its relation to the person's information need, not necessarily the scholarly quality of a resource; cite information sources correctly; and organise or manage information. To support their training and educational role, librarians also create print and electronic guides to the library or information service, repeating some of the information provided on signs and expanding or improving their ease of use. These may be include: guides about specific information retrieval tools, guides to loans policies, library layouts and so on. In an environment of accreditation frameworks, one challenge that is particularly facing some librarians is 'proving' their value or measuring their 'success' in information literacy education. This is not always easy because while someone can acknowledge that they have learnt a skill such as citing an information resource, other aspects such as organising information effectively are not as straightforward.
  40. 40. Information professionals also need to keep in mind that if we are to broaden our understanding of the role of information professionals in information literacy education, we also need to consider that the focus on skills is perhaps understandable given that these are the areas in which librarians' expertise is most obvious. We must not forget though that information literacy is a much broader phenomena that can encompass people's experiences with information literacy, which will vary between situations and specific (cultural, workplace or other) contexts. While some will argue that we cannot or should not concern ourselves with these issues – and/or that they may fall outside the domain of librarians – others, such as those in public libraries, will say that information professionals have a unique, and significant contribution to make in society. Lloyd (2004 ) said: Information Seeking Behaviour: We educate and empower our clients to become information literate. We understand information seeking behaviour and are able to respond to the information needs of people. We are educators who enable information seekers to become engaged with their information environments and the information systems which are created for them by us. If, as an information professional, you agree with this then you are probably going to agree that information professionals must play an active role in providing information literacy education. A lot of research has been carried out into how people use information. The Behavioural Approach: By the 1980s, researchers were also starting to look at how people seek information. The emphasis changed from concentrating on providing more and better information, to the realisation that if the way people prefer to seek information is ignored then information professionals may not provide an effective information retrieval systems. Understanding information-seeking behaviour allows information professionals to focus on developing client-centred services. Defining information-seeking behaviour is complex, and there are many different theories and approaches. We will look at some of them here, to give you a flavour of the different theories and approaches and alert you to their importance. (This subject is only an introduction to library and information work. You will study more about information-seeking behaviour in other subjects.) One commonly accepted approach used in studies of information thinking is behavioural analysis.
  41. 41. The behavioural approach studies the influence of social, cultural and personal influences on information seeking. Some of the variables identified by this approach are: Cultural systems – the individual or group's view of the world. Social systems – the particular social, economic, geographic, and political environment in which the individual or group operates. Personal systems – the internal information processing ability, the motivation to seek information, and the personal knowledge base. Cultural Systems: Social Systems: Personal Systems: We all exist in a cultural system based on religious, community, national or ethnic norms. Our view of the world is influenced by local, regional and national culture. Information-seeking behaviour will also be influenced by culture. For example, some information may be taboo and restricted to certain elements in society. (As an example, some traditional knowledge of the Australian Aboriginal people is clearly divided into men's knowledge and women's knowledge.) The socioeconomic status, level of education, and level of community involvement of individuals have been found to relate directly to their ability to acquire information successfully. For example, people who are better educated tend to be more successful in acquiring information. The particular role played by an individual in an organisational community is also important. Managers in a business not only have a greater need of a broader perspective about the organisation, but also have greater access through the pool of organisational knowledge and are more successful in acquiring information. Research is showing that people engaged in research and decision-making have more interesting, and varied need for information than people in administrative positions. The geographic location of an individual may also influence their ability to acquire information successfully. Geographical or physical isolation, lack of knowledge about sources, poor delivery systems and inadequate informationseeking skills, may all result in ineffective information seeking. Personal knowledge depends on life and work experiences.
  42. 42. Other Factors: The level of prior knowledge you have and your experiences in the past will always play a major role in your information-seeking behaviour. The knowledge stored in our brains is often called tacit knowledge. Many other factors influence information-seeking behaviour. These include: The ability to retrieve information – the ability to find the kind of information you need, at the time you need it. The ability to integrate information – (the ability to integrate and process information affects how successfully individuals seek and use information. Information relevance, value and use – information value can be determined by how relevant and useful the information required is to the information seeker - for example, if the information required leads to better decision-making, then its value increases. Reasons for seeking information – another useful way of thinking about information seeking is to focus on why the information is sought. Brenda Dervin - a leading information seeking researcher - suggests five reasons are seeking information: to make a decision, to become informed, to go around a barrier, to cope with a problem, and to become reconciled to a situation. Access to, and availability of, sought information – the environment in which a person exists influences their ability to access information. Acquiring Information: The process of acquiring information can be passive or active, depending on the need and the level of motivation to seek information. Similar channels may be used, but the information-seeking behaviour will differ. The information seeker makes choices about the best channels and providers, based on his or her own knowledge base. The passive information acquirer stumbles upon the information, without purposefully seeking it. When an individual initiates action to acquire information, then that individual is more likely to absorb and used information. Perceived need is the greatest motivator, and people will be more persistent if they are motivated to seek a solution to a problem. It is also known that people have a hierarchy of preferred methods of acquiring information.
  43. 43. If the subject matter is new to them, people prefer to take an oral approach and will seek information from friends, family, neighbours, fellow workers, supervisors and so on (that is, the easiest sources to access) before seeking further afield. If this method is unsuccessful, they will then seek assistance from specialists in the subject area. Only when the information is unavailable through other sources will people use documentary records (written sources) and use extended information networks. You need to keep in mind, however, that this is not the only way people will seek information; again factors such as cultural context are very important. Another physical factor, which is known to affect the information seeking behaviour, is distance from the information source. Many of you studying this subject may be in this position. Studies have shown that people much prefer informal channels of communication to formal channels. Why do you think this is? Role of the Information Professional: Some of the reasons are that familiar, informal sources are the least stressful to use, and the most cost-saving in time and effort. This desire to use informal channels is an important reminder to the information professional, and we need to recognise and make use of that knowledge. Let's recap what we have covered so far. Some important points are: As information professionals we need to make sure that the services we offer are responsive to and focused on the needs of our users. To do this we need to know about the environment we are working in, and about how information is transferred and used in this environment. We also need to know how people behave when they look for information . A considerable amount of research into user needs has been carried out for some groups. Information professionals use their communication skills to listen and build a relationship with the user when assisting them with information seeking or when providing other services.
  44. 44. How can we apply some of what we have learned to improving the way libraries operate and the services libraries offer, so that they are user-focused? One way we have already considered is to provide information literacy education programs. Now we will look at some of the issues relating to those programs, for example: how delivery of information services is changing – evolving roles of information agencies, electronic delivery, and so on; online documentation, tutorials and assistance, and how these can be improved; interface designs – human-computer interface research and its importance; barriers that impede access to information; and some particular services which can be offered. Overcoming Barriers: Thinking about the intermediary role is a good way to think about what librarians and other information professionals do. In libraries today, information professionals are proactive in offering services and products related to their users. Electronic delivery of information is one of the ways in which information professionals have chosen to build and deliver services which are more user oriented. We have already noted many of the barriers to information which are put in front of the user. Some of these barriers are able to be reduced or removed thus allowing us to offer services which are more user-friendly. Some of the barriers are unfortunately out of our control: Cost of accessing information – some people can readily afford access to information and others cannot. Public libraries have an obvious role in reducing the gap between the two groups. There is an increasing tendency, however, for public libraries to charge for access to some kinds of information. Psychological barriers – some users do not know how to ask their questions, some people find librarians intimidating, the personality of an individual also plays a part. Psychological barriers can also be caused by cultural differences. Physical barriers – the way users interact with the physical environment and the facilities such as the layout of the information desk, the height of the shelves and signage can also impact on effective information seeking.
  45. 45. Information overload – a term used for the condition experienced by people when they receive so much information about a particular topic they are unable to digest or use the information received. This may cause information paralysis where the individual faces too many options to make a balanced decision. The packaging of information – this means classifying materials in a certain way and organising it in certain formats. Barriers can occur when individuals attempt and fail to use the systems effectively. The design of classification schemes, OPACs, shelf arrangement, and instruction on how to use them, needs to be very userfriendly. Information professionals must understand the information needs of the community. User Friendly Services: It is impossible to cover all the services that information professionals may provide to assist their users. Let us consider some possibilities. Staff: Service Environment: Whether users come to an information service in person, or use it remotely, the single most important factor in providing a userfriendly service is the staff. Staff must be approachable and should look as though they are interested in helping the user. They should acknowledge, assist and/or answer queries as promptly as possible. It is preferable that in doing so staff take an educative approach thereby empowering people to feel they can get what they need independently. The communication skills of staff is of paramount importance. Cross-cultural communication is important, as is communicating through other points of difference (across age, gender, disability and so on). Several aspects of the service environment need to be considered for face-to-face users. These can include: Physical attractiveness, comfort and design. It also includes its physical location. Many studies of different libraries have shown that the further a user is from the library or information centre, the less likely he or she is to use it. You may have witnessed or experienced library managers working on these issues. Visual attractivess. This applies to both the exterior and
  46. 46. interior of the library. From outside the information service should appear welcoming and comfortable. From inside amenities such as photocopiers, toilets and meeting rooms should be suitably positioned and should allow access by people with physical disabilities. Good lighting is essential. Thermal and atmospheric comfort. The movement of air and the rate of input of fresh air needs to be acceptable to the particular context. Noise. The amount of acceptable and/or comfortable noise varies from library to library, and place to place. The online service environment should not be ignored. Several factors are important: Home page. The library or information service home page needs to be attractive and well designed. Many studies are available about web design, especially in relation to the business sector. They provide an important source of information for information professionals because as the online face of the library is like the exterior or interior of a building. Many libraries include virtual tours of their libraries to help bridge the physical distance between a user and a building. Interface. The interface between users and staff must be well-designed, easy to use, and suit an extremely diverse group of people. This is not an easy task. Many libraries seek to work collaboratively with user feedback and information technology experts to improve this aspect of their service. Alternatively, many large libraries have expert in-house staff to focus on this. Services and level of access. This needs to explicit and clear. Communication online is often more difficult than it is face to face, so staff must be able to put online information seekers at ease if they are tentative, and be able to assist with their information request. Format. Providing materials in a suitable and accessible format is extremely important. There is no use in using whizz bang technology to create a great website if users are operating with much lower technologies and cannot access anything. Signposting: This consideration applies to both physical and online service environments.
  47. 47. In a physical environment, signs are potentially a very effective guide for the user. Directional signs should be placed outside the library that identify the centre, display opening hours and other constant information about the availability of services (some libraries are making use of things like plasma televisions to broadcast this information). Inside, there should be guides about the layout and floor plan, and key service areas such as the loans desk. Signs must be functional and aesthetically acceptable. The purpose of a sign is to communicate essential information about the use of the library or information centre. Many libraries also consider how they can accommodate language speakers foreign to their own, or that make up a large cohort of their user group. Several examples have now been provided about how some libraries and information centres cater for language and cultural considerations. There are other specific groups that information professionals may develop and provide specific services to. For example: age (e.g., services aimed at senior citizens) disability (e.g., sight impaired) ethnic background (e.g., immigrants) Non-Traditional Users: Libraries Without Walls: These are people who have not traditionally been users of the particular information service in question. This group might include people who come from a culture that does not have a tradition of using libraries (or from a country where it has not been possible to use them); the non-literate; members of ethnic communities who require information in their first language; the physically and mentally disabled; the elderly; house-bound people; people in specific institutions; children; or those from poor socio-economic backgrounds. Frequently these groups feel disempowered, and need special assistance. There is another subject in this course, INF332 which focuses on identifying community needs and developing appropriate library programs that some of you might be interested in doing later on. Perhaps this is a concept with which you are already familiar. It refers to the fact that with the increasing transportability of information (due to formats and technologies), users do not necessarily have to physically visit libraries or information centres.
  48. 48. Many libraries are also choosing to opt for increasing their digital collections (for many reasons such as greater access to materials and saving physical space). This era is likely to see the growth then of more 'libraries without walls'. What are the implications for information professionals? Some of them might be: Information professionals need to have strong skills in using and adapting to rapidly changing new technologies. They need to have a set of research techniques which they can use to investigate more precisely the information needs of their users, and their potential users. They need to have skills in repackaging information to better suit the needs of the users. They need to compete proactively in the information environment. Of course there are many more. Definitions: It is important to realise that information literacy is a 'young' field, and there is lack of consensus within the literature as to what information literacy even is, let alone what constitutes an information literate person and what practices and skills can be attributed to information literacy. Part of this lack of consensus reflects the contextual nature of information literacy. The term can mean different things to different people in different contexts. You will find that the majority of definitions for information literacy are located within the library and education sector and focus on the skills of an information literate person, rather than identifying what it means to be information literate. A key document, Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, Standards and Practice (2nd edition, edited by Alan Bundy, 2004) indicates that through the education sector in Australia and New Zealand: information literacy has been generally defined as an understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to 'recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information' (p.3). The reason there is the use of inverted commas within this definition is because the definition originated from the American Library Association's Presidential Committee on Information Literacy (1989) , which was clearly influenced from the education