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ISSN 0022-0418

Volume 63 Number 1 2007

Human information behavior
Guest Editors: Amanda Spink and Allen Foster

Journal of


Journal of Documentation
Human information behavior
Guest Editors Amanda Spink and Allen Foster

ISSN 0022-0418 Volume 63 Number 1 2007

Access this journal online _______________________________ Editorial board ____________________________________________ Introduction _______________________________________________ Can two established information models explain the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information?
C.A. Beverley, P.A. Bath and R. Barber _____________________________

3 4 5


Knowledge of information behaviour and its relevance to the design of people-centred information products and services
Mark Hepworth_________________________________________________


A grounded theory model of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior: the patient-chart cycle of informative interactions
Michelynn McKnight_____________________________________________


What is enough? Satisficing information needs

Chandra Prabha, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Lawrence Olszewski and Lillie R. Jenkins _________________________________________________


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Purls of wisdom: a collectivist study of human information behaviour in a public library knitting group
Elena Prigoda and Pamela J. McKenzie _____________________________


Affordance theory: a framework for graduate students information behavior

Elizabeth (Bess) Sadler and Lisa M. Given ___________________________

115 142

Information creation and the notion of membership

Ciaran B. Trace ________________________________________________

Note from the publisher __________________________________ 164

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Tatjana Aparac-Jelusic Professor of Library Science, University J.J. Strossmayer in Osijek, Croatia E-mail: benja@ri.htnet.hr Maria E. Burke Lecturer, Information Systems Institute, University of Salford, UK E-mail: m.e.burke@salford.ac.uk Marianna Tax Choldin Mortenson Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA E-mail: mcholdin@ameritech.net Gobinda Chowdhury Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Informatics, Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Strathclyde, UK E-mail: gobinda.chowdhury@cis.strath.ac.uk Nigel Ford Professor of Information Science, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, UK E-mail: n.ford@sheffield.ac.uk Birger Hjrland Professor, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark E-mail: bh@db.dk Marian Koren Head of Research, NBLC, The Netherlands Public Libraries Association, The Netherlands E-mail: koren@debibliotheken.nl Julie McLeod Reader in Records Management, School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, UK E-mail: julie.mcleod@northumbria.ac.uk Ramune Petuchovaite Faculty of Communication, Vilnius University, Lithuania Niels Ole Pors Associate Professor, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark Ian Rowlands Director of Research, UCL Publishing Centre, University College London, UK E-mail: i.rowlands@ucl.ac.uk Amanda Spink Professor of Information Technology, School of Information Systems, Queensland University of Technology, Australia Paul Sturges Reader and Deputy Head, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, UK E-mail: r.p.sturges@lboro.ac.uk Martin Svoboda Director, State Technical Library, Prague, Czech Republic E-mail: m.svoboda@stk.cz Christine Urquhart Senior Lecturer, Department of Information and Library Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK E-mail: cju@aber.ac.uk Pertti Vakkari Professor, Department of Information Studies, University of Tampere, Finland E-mail: Pertti.Vakkari@uta.fi Berenika Webster Senior Lecturer, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand E-mail: berenika.webster@vuw.ac.nz

Journal of Documentation, Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 p. 4 # Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418

About the Guest Editors Amanda Spink is Professor of Information Technology, Queensland University of Technology BA (ANU), Dip.Lib. (UNSW), MBA (Fordham), PhD Information Science (Rutgers). Her research in human information behavior and information retrieval/web studies includes 250 publications and recent books Web Search: Public Searching of the Web, New Directions in Cognitive Information Retrieval and New Directions in Human Information Behavior Springer. Amanda Spink can be contacted at: ah.spink@qut.edu.au Allen Foster is lecturer at the Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Prior to this he spent several years as a Research Associate and Research Student at the University of Shefeld. He has a BA in History (University of Shefeld, UK); MSc in Information Management (University of Shefeld) and a PhD in Information Science (University of Shefeld). Dr Fosters research focuses on the theoretical development of human information behavior, and the application of this body of research to information skills training. Particular areas of interest have been the modelling of human information behavior and its relationship to the wider social sciences. Areas currently being explored include the further development of nonlinear approaches to human information behavior, and the link between wider social phenomena and information behavior. Publications to date have included subjects such as Serendipity, Information Seeking Behaviour and Uncertainty. Allen foster can be contacted at: Allen.Foster@aber.ac.uk


Human information behavior special issue Information behavior studies are a growing body of research that highlights the importance of information for everyone in the information age. Information behavior researchers are building integrated theoretical frameworks that model the relationship between information seeking, the human way of life or mastery of life (Savolainen, 1995), information foraging, information organizing and information use (Spink and Cole, 2006a,b). The international group of papers presented in this special issue of the Journal of Documentation provides a diverse range of studies and insights into the current state of theories and models of information behavior. The emphasis throughout the papers presented in this issue focuses on the social/personal/human dimensions of information behavior using social science methods and theoretical frameworks. The studies particularly draw on the methods and theories of anthropology, sociology and psychology to produce interpretations of the way in which information is experienced in the lives of individuals working as critical care nurses in a medical environment, the information behavior of the visually impaired, the social interactions within knitting circles in public libraries, and attempts to apply information behavior theory to the design of information solutions. Collectively the papers contribute more generally to our understanding of information behavior theory and models, including the medical and retrieval contexts. Papers In their paper titled The information behaviour of visually impaired people by Beverley, Bath and Barber determine the extent to which two existing models could explain the information behavior of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. The research was conducted within a constructivist paradigm. A total of 28 semi-structured interviews (face-to-face or telephone) with 31 visually impaired people were conducted. Framework analysis was used to analyse the results.

Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 5-8 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418

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Moores (2002) model of social information need provided a useful framework for analysing the results of this study. However, the theoretical basis for this model is unclear and it failed to take into account all aspects of information behavior, focusing predominantly on information needs. An additional intervening variable was identied relating to the individuals health characteristics (type, degree and length or visual impairment and presence of other health conditions and disabilities). This study provides a new and valuable insight into the information behavior of visually impaired people, as well as tests the applicability of a specic and generic information model to the information behavior of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. In her paper Information creation and the notion of membership Trace examines a particular sub-set of information behavior that has been largely overlooked; how people are socialized to create and use information. Naturalism and Ethnomethodology were used as theoretical frameworks to examine what a group of fth grade students were taught about documents, how this information was imparted to them, and how social factors were manifested in the construction and form of those documents. Two concepts are shown to be critical in the explication of students as document creators and users: the notion that there is a stock of knowledge that underlies human interaction (some of which relates to recorded information), and that this socialization process forms part of a schools hidden curriculum. Students were socialized to be good (in the sense of being competent) creators and users of documents. Part of the role of being a student involved learning the underlying norms and values that existed in relation to document creation and use, as well as understanding other norms and values of the classroom that were captured or reected by documents themselves. Understanding document work was shown to be a fundamental part of student afliation; enabling students to move from pre-competent to competent members of a school community. This research demonstrated that people possess a particular stock of knowledge which they draw from when creating and using information. Competence in this aspect of information behavior, while partly based on ones own experiences, is shown to be largely derived or learned from interaction with others. The paper Satiscing closing the information gap: a proposed research agenda by Chandra, Connaway and Olszewski examine the characteristics of a saturated information environment to understand the context for understanding why and how individuals engage in the information-seeking process. The concept of satiscing establishes a framework that provides insight into how individuals know when to stop looking for information, and how they decide that the information found is sufcient to meet their needs or goals. The article explores the literature and models of information-seeking behavior, including satiscing. The article expands upon the concept of good enough, i.e. how individuals choose what is sufcient rather than continuing to search for more information. Better dening this concept through a targeted research agenda could inuence library and information science practice for the development of web-based services and systems, as well as information literacy programs. In her paper A grounded theory model of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior: the patient-chart cycle of informative interactions, McKnight examines how critical care nurses work is rich in informative interactions. Although there have been post-hoc self report studies of nurses information seeking, there have been no observational studies of the patterns of their on-duty information behavior. This study used participant observation and in context interviews to describe 50 hours of the

observable information behavior of a representative sample of critical care nurses in a 20-bed critical care unit of a community (non-teaching) hospital. The researcher used open, in vivo and axial coding to develop a grounded theory model of their consistent pattern of multimedia interactions. The resulting Nurses Patient-Chart Cycle describes their activities during the shift as centering on a regular alternation between interactions with the patient and with the patients chart (in various record systems), clearly bounded with nursing report interactions at the beginning and the end of the shift. The nurses demeanor markedly changed between interactions with the chart and interactions with the patient. Their attention was focused on patient specic information. They had almost no time or opportunity to consult published sources of information while on duty. Libraries often provide nurses with information services that are based on academic models of information behavior. Clinical information systems are designed more for medico-legal record keeping than for nursing care. Understanding the reality of nurses on-duty information behavior may guide librarians and systems designers in the provision of more appropriate systems and services. In his paper Knowledge of information behaviour and its relevance to the design of people-centred information products and services, Hepworth highlights some of the social phenomena that are driving the design of people-centred information solutions; secondly to develop a broad ontology of information behavior research that serves to identify factors that should be taken into account when designing such solutions. Finally, the purpose is to illustrate how this knowledge is being applied in the design of people-centred inclusive information products and services. The author draws on the information behavior literature to highlight key drivers and to develop and illustrate the ontological framework. The signicance of this framework is then demonstrated by providing examples of how this knowledge has been applied in the design of people-centred inclusive information products and services. This is a conceptual paper and based on the informed, subjective analysis of previous research. However, relating theory to practice does provide an indication of the validity of this conception of our knowledge of information behavior to people-centred design. The paper helps to provide an overview of information behavior research, the nature of the domain and the levels of abstraction. The article also makes a direct link between the theoretical world of information behavior research and the empirical world of people-centred design. Hence, it also presents a case for the importance of the body of knowledge that people in Information Science refer to as information behavior. In their paper Purls of wisdom: a collectivist study of human information behaviour in a public library knitting group, Prigoda and McKenzie apply a collectivist theoretical framework to the study of information behavior and the construction of meaning in a knitting group held in a branch of a large Canadian (Ontario) public library. The research design was naturalistic and consisted of active participant observation of ve knitting group sessions and semi-structured interviews with 12 group members. Field notes were taken, and both observations and interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Field notes and transcripts were coded qualitatively. Information practices and contextual factors are mutually constitutive. The location of the circle in a public library, the physical characteristics of the act of knitting, and the social meanings of the activities taking place within the group, including the signicance of gender and caring, are integrally linked to information behavior in this setting. Findings are described verbally and illustrated through a model. This study applies collectivist understandings to enrich concepts such as the information ground that have previously been studied largely from constructivist perspectives. As a


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small-scale naturalistic study, results are context-specic and must be applied tentatively. This study provides an example of how programs in public libraries can provide opportunities for information behavior and the construction of meaning for members of the community. This study contributes a collectivist approach to research on everyday-life information seeking and on the library as a place. In their paper Affordance theory: a framework for graduate students information behavior, Sadler and Given apply ecological psychologys concept of affordance to graduate students information behavior in the academic library, and to explore the extent to which the affordances experienced by graduate students differed from the affordances librarians were attempting to provide. In-depth, qualitative interviews with graduate students and academic librarians explored how the students perceived and used the librarys various opportunities for action (e.g. books, databases, instructional sessions, librarians, physical space, etc.) and compared these perceptions and behavior with librarians intentions and expectations. Findings indicate a disparity between expectations and experience and point to graduate students as an underserved population in this context, especially in terms of the librarys outreach efforts. In addition, because graduate students are increasingly teaching introductory undergraduate courses, communication methods that bypass graduate students tend to miss undergraduate students as well. Practical implications discussed in this paper include possible methods of improving communication channels between graduate students and academic librarians, and considerations for information literacy instruction. The paper presents a unique perspective by using affordance theory to frame students and librarians expectations about library services. The ndings are particularly valuable for their implications for library-patron communication and information literacy. The papers draw together the multiple and diverse approaches to the study of human information behavior. The methodologies used in the studies presented here demonstrate in particular that sample size and choice of data collection method need not be considered limiting factors to the study of complex information contexts. Indeed we can learn as much, or more, from the observation of individuals, of participation in small group, or from theoretical debates as from large-scale scientic approaches. Amanda Spink and Allen Foster Guest Editors
References Moore, N. (2002), A model of social information need, Journal of Information Science, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 297-303. Savolainen, R. (1995), Everyday life information seeking: approaching information seeking in the context of way of life, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 17, pp. 259-294. Spink, A. and Cole, C.B. (Eds) (2006a), New Directions in Human Information Behavior, Springer, Dordrecht. Spink, A. and Cole, C.B. (Eds) (2006b), Human information behavior: integrating diverse approaches and information use, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 25-35.

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0022-0418.htm

Can two established information models explain the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information?
C.A. Beverley
Department of Information Studies, University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK and Performance Unit, Adult Social Care Directorate, Cumbria County Council, Barrow-in-Furness, UK

Visually impaired people

P.A. Bath
Department of Information Studies, University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK, and

R. Barber
Shefeld Care Trust, and School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK
Purpose The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which two existing models of information behaviour could explain the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. Design/methodology/approach The research was conducted within a constructivist paradigm. A total of 28 semi-structured interviews (face-to-face or telephone) with 31 visually impaired people were conducted. Framework analysis was used to analyse the results. Findings This study identied several factors that may affect a visually impaired persons information behaviour. These related to the presence of other health conditions or disabilities, participants understanding of the word information, their interactions with information providers, their degree of independence, the support they received from friends and family, their acceptance of their own visual impairment, as well as their awareness of other visual impairments, their registration status and their willingness and ability to pay for aids, adaptations and equipment. Originality/ value This study provides a new and valuable insight into the information behaviour of visually impaired people, as well as testing the applicability of a specic and generic information model to the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. Keywords Information media, Disabled people, Qualitative research, Interviews, Health and medicine Paper type Research paper

This research is partly funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The opinions and conclusions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily the funders. The researchers would like to thank all the people who have helped to design and take forward this study, in particular, the visually impaired advisors and the Shefeld Royal Society for the Blind, as well as all of the people who gave up their time to be interviewed.

Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 9-32 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723867

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Introduction There are an estimated 161 million visually impaired people worldwide (Resnikoff et al., 2004), including one million people in the UK (1.8 per cent of the population) (European Blind Union, 2002). Although several studies have been conducted on the generic information needs of visually impaired people (e.g. Astbrink, 1996; Oppenheim and Selby, 1999; Williamson and Schauder, 1999), Williamson et al. (2000) identied no major study of the information needs and information seeking behaviour of this group of people (sight impaired citizens). The aims of this study, therefore, were to examine the information behaviour of visually impaired people, and to test the applicability of two existing information models to the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. Visual impairment Numerous formal denitions of visual impairment exist (e.g. Bruce and Baker, 2001; European Blind Union, 2002); these cover a broad spectrum of people, ranging from people who are partially sighted to people who are completely blind. There are also many different types and causes of visual impairment (Ghafour, 1983), for example, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. Visual impairment is frequently experienced along with another permanent disability or illness, such as arthritis, heart conditions, mobility problems, diabetes and hearing impairment (Bruce et al., 1991). People with a visual impairment are, therefore, often, regular users of health and social care services, either because of their visual impairment, or because of associated co-morbidities. Information and visually impaired people Information has an important role in helping support and improve peoples health and social care (NHS Executive, 1998). However, it is evident that information is not always accessible to, or appropriately packaged for, visually impaired people. For example, information may not be provided in an appropriate format, at the right time, or in sufcient detail (Beverley et al., 2004). The importance of making information accessible for visually impaired people is highlighted in recent UK legislation, such as The Disability Discrimination Act (The Stationery Ofce, 1995). Service providers now have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people (RNIB, 2003). For visually impaired people, information should be made available in alternative formats, such as large print, Braille, Moon, computer disk, audio tape, telephone services, spoken or verbal announcements, accessible web sites, tactile maps, etc. (Bruce et al., 1991; Gregory, 1996). Recent advances in ICT, in particular assistive technologies, such as screen magnication software, screen synthesisers, screen readers, large screen monitors, closed circuit television (CCTV), Braille embossers, character recognition software and speech inputters, have the potential to provide information in more accessible formats to visually impaired people (Gregory, 1996; Wales Council for the Blind, 2002). Although guidance exists on the information that health and social care providers should provide to visually impaired people (e.g. the National Standards of Social Care for Visually Impaired People Association of Directors of Social Services, 2002), this has not been widely adopted in practice or based on research evidence. Very little literature has been published specically on the health and social care information

behaviour (Case, 2002), i.e. the information needs, information sources and information seeking behaviour, of people with a visual impairment. A recent systematic and critical review of the health information needs of visually impaired people reported that the focus of existing research has been on alternative formats for visually impaired people, rather than their explicit needs relating to other aspects of information provision (e.g. content, timing, etc.) (Beverley et al., 2004). In this paper we examine the information behaviours, with particular reference to information seeking, of visually impaired people in relation to two existing models, that of Moore (2002) and of Wilson (1999). This is part of a larger ongoing study to ll the gap in the literature identied through a systematic review (Beverley et al., 2004) and is designed to identify the information needs and information behaviours of visually impaired people. Models of information behaviour Wilson (2000) dened information behaviour as:
[. . .] the totality of human behaviour in relation to sources and channels of information, including both active and passive information seeking, and information use. Thus, it includes face-to-face communication with others, as well as the passive reception of information as in, for example, watching TV advertisements, without any intention to act on the information given (Wilson, 2000, p. 49).

Visually impaired people


Human information behaviour, therefore, relates to the study of human behaviours in relation to information seeking, foraging, retrieving, organising and use (Spink and Cole, 2004). Many of the established information models (e.g. Wilson, 1981; Dervin, 1983; Krikelas, 1983; Ellis, 1989; Kuhlthau, 1991; Ellis et al., 1993; Johnson, 1997; Leckie et al., 1996; Wilson, 1997) have been applied to information seeking in the context of health and social care (e.g. Miller, 1987; Buckland and Dawson, 1989; Johnson and Meischke, 1993). More recently, Spink and Cole (2006) examined three interdisciplinary approaches to how people seek information: information seeking-sense-making (Savolainen, 1995), information foraging (Pirolli and Card, 1999), and problem-solution perspective on information seeking. In response to this review, they proposed a fourth information approach based on information use theory, as well as devised an initial integrated model of these different approaches. Each approach to studying information behaviour has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of its ability to conceptualize the wide range of specic dimensions or aspects of human information behaviour (Spink and Cole, 2006) and, no one approach completely explains information behaviours. In order to study the information behaviours of people with a visual impairment, it is rst necessary to examine these different information models in parallel with a consideration of people with a visual impairment themselves and their needs and behaviours. Savolainen (1995) and others have examined the situational aspect of information seeking-sense-making in everyday life information seeking. Spink and Cole (2006) summarised the relative value attributed to information from insiders (i.e. people from the small world in which the individual lives) and outsiders (i.e. people from the larger world, or society). It is possible to consider people with a visual impairment as having contact with insiders, such as other visually impaired people (e.g. groups of people who have been blind since birth), as well as outsiders, such as health care professionals or

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social care service providers. However, the diversity of visual impairments makes it difcult to determine whether different sources or providers of information are insiders, outsiders, or neither of these, and, therefore, whether it is appropriate to consider the world of people with a visual impairment as separate from society. Pirolli and Cards (1999) model of information foraging proposed that human information foragers assess the potential value of an information source in relation to other possible sources using information scent. The forager snifng for information based on this scent may lead the forager to pursue that information source with a stronger scent at the expense of others. Supercially, this model is potentially attractive in trying to understand the information behaviours of people with a visual impairment, in that it uses scent and the sense of smell as a metaphor for information seeking and people with an impairment in one sense may develop heightened awareness in their other senses. However, the idea of information foraging was developed in relation to web searching and is likely, at least to some extent, to be dependent on visual cues which may not be readily available or accessible to people with a visual impairment. Wilsons problem-solving perspective on information seeking (Wilson, 1999), discussed in greater detail below, is based on the premise that information seeking commences with a perceived need for information by the user, and that the user identies and then denes this need, before seeking information to meet the need and solve the problem. It is possible to imagine a person with a visual impairment, who has either been blind since birth or has experienced impaired vision in later life, having information gaps, which they try to resolve through information seeking. Wilsons model is, therefore, likely to be helpful in understanding the information behaviour of visually impaired people. Very few information models have been specically applied to the information seeking behaviour of people with a visual impairment. Williamson and Schauder (1999), for example, used Williamsons (1998) model as the basis of a conceptual framework for a study of information seeking by visually impaired people in Australia. This model takes into account Dervins sense making theory (Dervin, 1983), Wilsons information seeking behaviour (Wilson, 1997) and the ecological theory of aging (Birren and Birren, 1990). However, Moores model of social information need (Moore, 2002) appears to be the model most applicable to the information behaviour of visually impaired people, mainly because it was developed directly in response to a literature review of the information needs of visually impaired people. For the reasons outlined above, it was decided to analyse the data and interpret the ndings using Wilsons revised model (Wilson, 1999) in order to establish the extent to which this generic model could be applied specically to the information behaviour of visually impaired people. Each of these models is, therefore, considered in more detail below. Moores model of social information need. Moores (2002) model of social information need was developed to provide a framework for analysing the results of over 75 reports of research relating to the information needs of visually impaired people. It has also been used by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) as a tool for analysing information provision (Moore, 2002). The model has also been advocated for use in analysing and identifying the scope and nature of the social information needs of other groups of people.

In essence, Moore (2002) described social information as having six different dimensions: (1) Function (why do people need information?) (2) Form (what kind of information do people need?) (3) Clusters (what do people need information about?) (4) Agents (who initiates the information activity?) (5) Users (how do needs differ between different groups of people?) (6) Mechanisms (which mechanisms can be used to meet information needs?). According to Moore (2002), people need social information to support them in two roles they play as members of society: as citizens and as consumers. The same can be said of health information and this is indeed advocated in Information for Health (NHS Executive, 1998), the information strategy for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. Moore reported that people need information to help them build up an understanding of the world in which they live (environmental scanning) which means that people need to be able to get answers to specic questions that bother them (answers to questions). However, Moore acknowledged that information alone was not always enough to trigger action and that, in an ideal world, there would be a continuum of information provision ranging from information through advice to advocacy (Moore, 2002). Moores model focused on three different initiators of the information activity: information seekers, information providers and information processors. Moore (2002) described two different approaches to considering information needs. The rst was based on different levels of need; for example, Maslow (1968) identied ve levels: physiological needs (e.g. food, water, warmth and protection); safety needs; love, affection and belongingness needs; esteem needs; and self-actualisation needs (the additional benets that accrue to self-esteem through doing something that the individual feels to be worthwhile). The second approach was based on Testers (1992) assumption that information needs were associated with major life events. Moore (2000) found, however, that it was not possible to identify the actual hierarchy of information needs that were experienced by visually impaired people. Instead, he identied eight main clusters of need: the condition, its treatment and likely outcome; benets and money; general health; aids and equipment; housing and accommodation; mobility; services and facilities; employment, education and training. Moores model provides important insights into the social information needs and behaviour of people with a visual impairment. However, it was based on an analysis of research reporting these needs and not on primary research into these needs. It was, therefore, deemed valuable to verify the applicability of Moores model in a separate sample of visually impaired people. Wilsons revised model of information behaviour. Wilson has developed a series of macro-models and models of gross information seeking behaviour which attempt to integrate various information models (Wilson, 1981, 1994, 1997, 1999). Unlike Moores model, Wilsons models were not specically developed with the information needs of visually impaired people in mind but were based on generic needs in general situations.

Visually impaired people


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Wilsons models were based on two main propositions: rst, that information need is not a primary need, but a secondary need that arises out of needs of a more basic kind; and, second, that in the effort to discover information to satisfy a need, the enquirer is likely to meet with barriers of different kinds (Wilson, 1981). The revised Wilson (1999) model (shown in Figure 1) embodied a set of questions about information behaviour: why some need prompt information seeking more so than others (stress/coping theory); why some sources of information are used more than others (risk/reward theory); and why people may, or may not, pursue a goal successfully, based on their perceptions of their own efcacy (social learning theory). In addition, Wilson identied a number of intervening variables which may be involved in an individuals information behaviour. Wilsons revised model also recognised that there are different types of active and passive search behaviours. The study described here sought to determine the extent to which Wilsons generic model could be applied to a specic group of people with potentially unique information needs and information behaviours. Research aim and questions The aim of this particular part of the study was, therefore, to build on the existing literature and to investigate the extent to which Moores (2002) and Wilsons (1999) models could explain the information behaviour of two groups of visually impaired people (people with an age-related visual impairment and people with a visual impairment since birth or early childhood) seeking health and social care information. As indicated above, the study forms part of a large-scale research investigation which is examining the following research questions:

Figure 1. A revised general model of information behaviour

RQ1. What are the health and social care information needs of people with a visual impairment? RQ2. What information sources are used by people seeking health and social care information? RQ3. Are there differences in the information behaviours of people with different visual impairments? RQ4. Can new developments in information provision (e.g. NHS Direct and the internet) help to meet the needs of visually impaired people? Research design The research was conducted within a constructivist paradigm. Constructivism views the world as a constantly changing place where individuals have varying perceptions of a given situation (Dootson, 1995). Constructivism is synonymous with naturalistic research conducted within a holistic-inductive framework (Patton, 2002) and is therefore usually associated with qualitative research (Davis, 2000). Data collection Semi-structured interviews (face-to-face or telephone) with two groups of visually impaired people: people with an age-related visual impairment (Group A) and people with a visual impairment since birth or early childhood (Group B). This approach was adopted in response to the ndings of a detailed literature review (e.g. Duckett and Pratt, 2001), a consultation exercise with visually impaired people at three local visual impairment support groups, and suggestions made by ve visually impaired advisors to this study (Beverley, in preparation). In addition, several authors (e.g. Wilson, 1981, 1994; Nicholas, 2000) have advocated the use of qualitative research methods to undertake studies of information behaviour. In order to recruit an adequate number of participants, several recruitment routes were employed, including placing an advert in a local talking newspaper and newsletter for visually impaired people, as well as via local visual impairment support groups and via referrals from the local society for the blind. Participants were given a choice of the type of interview (i.e. face-to-face or telephone) and of venue for face-to-face interviews (in their own home, at the University or at the local society for the blind). An information sheet was sent to all participants in their preferred format (i.e. large print, audio tape or e-mail). Verbal consent was obtained from the participants at the start of the interview. A topic guide was used to structure the interviews. This was piloted with two of the visually impaired advisors to this study and revised in response to their feedback. The interviews covered the information participants had received, sought or acquired in connection with their visual impairment and/or other aspects of their health and social care. Interviewees were also given an opportunity to suggest ways in which the existing provision of health and social care information could be improved for people with a visual impairment. Interview topic guide The interview topic guide checks: information sheet; outline of study; tape recorder; and consent:

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(1) Background to visual impairment: . including other health conditions. (2) Meaning of health and social care information; (3) Contact with different agencies (e.g. hospital, Social Services, local societies, etc.); (4) Information relating to visual impairment: . received; . sought; . acquired; and . outstanding information needs. (5) Information relating to other aspects of health and social care: . received; . sought; . acquired; and . outstanding information needs. (6) Newer sources of information: . telephone helplines (e.g. NHS direct); . internet; and . touch screens. (7) Possible improvements to the provision of health and social care information; (8) Demographic information: . sex; . age; . ethnic origin; . marital status; . co-habitation; . employment status; and . socio-economic status. Data analysis Within four weeks of each interview, the tape recorded interview data were transcribed verbatim into Microsoft Word 2002. The demographic data collected for each participant were entered into the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.0.1. The transcripts were analysed manually using framework analysis (Ritchie and Spencer, 1994). Framework analysis follows a well-dened procedure (Miles and Hubermann, 1994; Ritchie and Spencer, 1994) and provides a systematic, transparent, accessible and robust approach to qualitative data analysis (Lacey and Luff, 2001). Framework analysis involves ve distinct, though highly interconnected, stages: familiarisation (i.e. reading and familiarisation of the transcripts); identifying a thematic framework (which is initially heavily rooted in a priori issues); indexing

(application of the thematic framework to the data); charting (i.e. creating charts of the data); and mapping and interpretation (i.e. searching for patterns, associations, concepts, and explanations in the data) (Ritchie and Spencer, 1994). Initially all the interviews were read carefully so that the researcher (CB) became familiar with the data and acquired an overview of the richness, depth and diversity of the data (Ritchie and Spencer, 1994). An initial thematic framework was developed based on the interview topic guide and familiarisation with the data. This framework was tested and modied in response to a detailed analysis of two interviews covering both interview groups. In response to this exercise, it was decided that it was appropriate to develop a single index across the two interview groups, but for any differences to be highlighted. Quotations elicited from interviews with people with a visual impairment since birth or early childhood were recorded in a different colour font (blue) in Microsoft Word 2002 to enable the easy identication of similarities and differences between the two interview groups. This procedure was repeated until half the interviews (n 14) had been analysed. This sample included eight interviews with people from Group A and six interviews with people from Group B, i.e. in proportion to the total number of people interviewed in each group. Although minor changes were made to the framework during the rst set of 14 interviews, a major revision of the framework was undertaken at this halfway stage. The remaining interviews were subsequently analysed and minor modications were made to the thematic framework. Analysis of this framework revealed that the point of data saturation was reached after 24 interviews. At this point, the thematic framework was revisited and nalised with the participants, the visually impaired advisors to this study, and the research supervisors (PB and RB). Results and discussion Participant details A total of 28 interviews were conducted in total between September 2003 and March 2004. This equated to 31 people, because three visually impaired couples requested to be interviewed together. Of the interviews, 16 (17 people) were conducted with people from Group A and 12 interviews (14 people) were conducted with people from Group B, 23 interviewees chose to have a face-to-face interview in their own home, one interviewee opted for a face-to-face interview at the University, while seven expressed a preference for a telephone interview. All of the people opting for a telephone interview came from Group B. The mean interview duration was 45.5 minutes (range: 18-131 minutes); the duration being longer for Group A participants (50.6 minutes, compared with 38.8 minutes for Group B participants). The mean interviewee age was 62.4 years (range: 19-91 years), with Group A participants having a greater mean age (80.2 years, compared with 40.8 years for Group B participants). In total, 15 men and 16 women were interviewed. However, this was not equally distributed across the two interview groups. The majority of participants were white-British. Approximately one-third of participants lived alone; this gure being higher amongst people from Group A. The type of visual impairment experienced by participants varied considerably between the two groups. The majority of Group A interviewees had a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with or without cataracts. Most interviewees

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had had a visual impairment for more than 12 months and were registered blind or partially sighted. Over three quarters of participants experienced other health conditions (e.g. breathing difculties, arthritis, heart problems, hearing impairment); this gure being higher amongst Group A participants. Interview themes The nal interview framework consisted of the following four major themes: (1) Health and social care information needs. (2) Sources of health and social care information. (3) Possible improvements in the provision of health and social care information. (4) Intervening variables. These themes and related sub-themes are discussed in detail elsewhere (Beverley, 2006; Beverley et al., 2006). The purpose of this article is to focus on the results relating to Moores (2002) and Wilsons (1999) models. Illustrative quotes are used where appropriate. These are denoted by a letter (A or B, which relates to the group the participant came from), and a number relating to the individual participant. Moores model of social information need (Moore, 2002) Moores (2002) six dimensions of social information formed the basis of the analysis of the interview data: function, form, clusters, agents, users and mechanisms. Function. Visually impaired people in this study reported needing sufcient information at critical decision points, such as deciding whether or not to go ahead with laser surgery for AMD:
No, . . . the specialist . . . he said to me . . . your eyesight may last for two days . . . may last two weeks . . . it may last two months . . . err . . . and then told me exactly the pros and cons of laser treatment . . . that it has a 50 per cent chance of succeeding and a 50 per cent chance of it not returning. So a 25 per cent chance of it working overall (A17, lines 155-159).


This corresponds with Moores (2002) suggestion that people need social information to support them as citizens and as consumers, i.e. people with a visual impairment need to be adequately informed about the range of different treatment options to which they are entitled and that are available to them (information for citizenship) and the pros and cons of each of them (information for consumption). Form. It was also clear from the interviews that participants sought, processed and absorbed many different kinds of information (environmental scanning). Moore (2002) acknowledged that information alone was not always enough to trigger action. This was supported by this study in that some participants reported feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information provided at the time of diagnosis, as well as the various intervening variables (similar to Moores attitudinal barriers) which either inhibited or encouraged people from seeking health and social care information. For example:
No, Im not bothered. What I dont know cant . . . harm me. I suppose . . . in some ways Id rather not know (A11, line 71-72).

Other authors have found a similar pattern; for example, Miller (1987) discovered that some people do not want information about their health condition, but instead choose to avoid, or even blunt, such information. In addition, participants identied a series of questions relating to their visual impairment, which they subsequently asked during their medical consultations (similar to Moores answers to questions). For example, the following participant emphasised the importance of this approach in order to elicit information:
Well when I went to the hospital . . . of course Ive already stated that one . . . erm . . . what I nd is youve not got to be . . . timid . . . or namby pamby about it . . . you have got to ASK . . . and youve got to stick to your guns . . . and youve got to really know what you want . . . and . . . get the information by asking the relevant questions (B12, lines 198-201).

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While this determined approach to obtaining information might be of use to other groups of health care consumers, it may be that this approach is particularly important to visually impaired people, who may view an appointment with health care professionals as an important opportunity to obtain information that is not so readily accessible at other times because their impairment is visual, e.g. reading books, magazines. Clusters. As noted previously, Moore (2002) described two different approaches to considering information needs: hierarchies of need and life events. Moore (2000) identied eight main clusters of need (the condition, its treatment and likely outcome; benets and money; general health; aids and equipment; housing and accommodation; mobility; services and facilities; and employment, education and training), but he was unable to identify the actual hierarchy of information needs that were experienced by visually impaired people. The ndings from this study have enabled this idea to be progressed further by revising these cluster names and proposing a hierarchy of information needs for the visually impaired people taking part in this research. The clusters identied in this study, in order of importance to the participants, therefore, were: (1) The eye condition (including diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options and causes). (2) Health and social care services and facilities (including reading general correspondence and ling forms in). (3) Aids, adaptations and equipment (e.g. low vision aids, talking books, talking watches, liquid level indicators, etc.). (4) General health care (e.g. techniques for administering medications, such as eye drops and tablets, and reading medical information, such as appointment letters, prescriptions, medicine labels, hospital notices and signs, etc.). (5) Benets and money (including knowledge about nancial benets, coin recognition and use of cash machines). (6) Mobility (including using public transport, shopping, eating out, going on holiday, etc.). (7) Housing and accommodation (including performing household chores, such as cooking and cleaning). (8) Employment, education and training.

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Participants received, acquired and/or sought considerable information about their eye condition. This included information about diagnosis, prognosis (i.e. the anticipated outcome of their visual impairment) and treatment options. For example:
I was told it developed from the age of 8 . . . and was expected to sort of level out by the age of 18 . . . err . . . which is pretty much what happened . . . (B6, lines 73-75).


[. . .] err . . . I did hear on a radio programme over in the United States that they had done an operation on one person . . . and . . . they could see . . . what 10 feet in front of them . . . and 8 feet to the side . . . err . . . and . . . but they could only see black on white or white on black . . . and that was back in 1997 . . . (B7, lines 40-44).

In addition, participants expressed a need for information about the cause(s) of their visual impairment. For example, one person thought that she may have inherited her eye condition:
This macular thing, off the record, I think it must be hereditary thing, because I had two uncles and an aunt who went blind on m Dads side of the family . . . (A2, lines 227-228).

Most participants were also informed about the health and social care services that were available to them. This mainly consisted of information about visual aids (e.g. magniers), available from the hospital low vision clinic and local opticians. However, participants also received information about social care services, such as mobility training provided by Social Services, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Society, and benets advice from the local society for the blind. In addition, participants received information about a range of aids, adaptations and equipment available to them (e.g. white canes, talking books, talking watches, liquid level indicators and coin holders). However, it was clear that many participants found out about different social care services, in particular advice about nancial benets, through friends, family members, support groups and talking newspapers. For example:
Saw an advert again in Shefeld Talking News . . . there was a telephone number to ring . . . and it were the . . . I dont know its full title . . . but its tied up with the pensions . . . (A5, lines 312-315).

Interestingly, participants did not tend to receive information about the remaining ve clusters of information (general health care, benets and money, mobility, housing and accommodation, and employment, education and training), but instead acquired, sought or had outstanding information needs relating to these areas. Several participants, for example, described the difculties they encountered in terms of medical information, such as reading appointment letters, prescriptions, medicine labels, hospital notices and signs. For example:
[. . .] like for our medical appointments . . . things of that nature . . . err . . . they dont call and tell us . . . they send us print notes through the door . . . and, if its . . . err . . . you know . . . within a week of the delivery of the note . . . and we dont know it . . . then we miss our appointment . . . (B8, lines 15-18).

In general, information needs relating to benets and money, mobility, housing and accommodation, and employment, education and training were more person specic. For example, most participants in this study, particularly those in Group A, were not concerned with employment, education and training information because they were now retired.

Agents. Moores model (Moore, 2002) focused on three different initiators of the information activity: information seekers, information providers and information processors. In this study not only were information seekers and information providers identied, but it was also evident that organisations, such as the local society for the blind, were acting as information processors, i.e. processing and digesting information on behalf of users. Some visually impaired people, actively sought information to meet their needs, as the quotation from participant B12 above and the following quotation illustrate:
Well, the thing is . . . you do not get information either from your GP or the hospital unless you ask . . . and sometimes they think its an impertinence to do this . . . (A2, lines 181-183).

Visually impaired people


In contrast, other participants were unclear about their actual needs, and were dependent on the information that they either received from information providers or which they acquired passively:
No. To be honest, I dont know what Id want anyway (A14, line 71).

In line with Moores trust and authority theme, several participants expressed concern about the quality of the information they had either received, sought or acquired. For example the following person expressed reservations about information obtained from the internet:
Im overly cautious of what people put out there. And . . . I know its got some wonderful facilities on there . . . but I know its also full of . . . lots of . . . err . . . nonsense (B10, 184-186).

While caution about the quality of information available on the internet is widespread, and a particular concern in relation to health and social care information (Silberg et al., 1997; Eysenbach and Diepgen, 1998), it is possible that people who have been blind since birth, such as the above participant, have additional concerns, because they are less able to visualise and evaluate this source of information, and are, therefore, more willing to trust more traditional sources. Users. This study has started to identify some of the similarities and differences between the information needs of two groups of visually impaired people, namely people with an age-related visual impairment and people with a visual impairment since birth or early childhood. In doing so, it has also added support to the hypothesis that visually impaired people cannot be regarded as a homogeneous group. This is illustrated by the following quotation:
Well, thats a difcult one isnt it . . . because . . . you see . . . everybodys different . . . and we all need it in different ways . . . (A12, lines 967-968).

Moore (2000) specically identied eight different groups of people that could be thought of as having a common core of information needs according to: the degree of their visual impairment, whether they were newly visually impaired people, older people, children, people with multiple disabilities, people with ethnic minorities, carers and professionals. This study included participants who were from several of these groups, i.e. the participants with AMD were, by denition, older people, and included participants who had been diagnosed in the last 12 months and had co-morbidities. However, the study did not include professionals, and although information on the needs of carers may have been gleaned in the interviews of three visually impaired couples, when one person may have act as a carer for the other person as well as being

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visually impaired themselves, it was not an aim of the study to identify carers needs explicitly. It is possible, therefore, that the needs of these groups, identied by Moore (2000, 2002) may extend beyond those of people within this study. This study identied several factors (intervening variables) that may affect a visually impaired persons information behaviour. These related to the presence of other health conditions or disabilities, participants understanding of the word information, their interactions with information providers, their degree of independence, the support they received from friends and family, their acceptance of their own visual impairment, as well as their awareness of other visual impairments, their registration status and their willingness and ability to pay for aids, adaptations and equipment. Some of these factors are considered in more detail below. Participants in this study experienced one or more co-morbidities, i.e. other health conditions or disabilities, such as arthritis and hearing impairments, in addition to their visual impairment. It was evident that, for many participants, these additional conditions and disabilities further hindered their lifestyle:
And . . . so . . . Ive been cut off secondly . . . with my arthritis . . . (A1, lines 85). Erm . . . so . . . I-I tend to lump the two handicaps together because one hinders the other . . . (B12, lines 40-41).

Visually impaired people with co-morbid conditions are, therefore, at a particular disadvantage, in that their visual impairment acts as a barrier to information about the impairment and the associated condition. Participants understanding of the word information ultimately affected their responses. Most participants found it difcult to express this in words, with several people highlighting the complexities associated with the concept information. For example:
Well, it can mean different things depending on what youre talking about . . . (A14, line 8).

Of those participants who were able to provide a denition, some people viewed information solely in terms of the information that they received:
Well, its telling people about what things are about, isnt it? (A6, line 5).

whereas several participants stressed the advice facet of information:

Information . . . erm . . . guidance . . . really . . . err . . . and advice . . . on anything (B6, lines 68).

and others emphasised the two-way ow of information:

Well, information . . . is . . . err . . . getting communication, more than anything else, I suppose, communication between those who are providing a service and those who are wanting a service . . . (A17, lines 74-76).

Finally, a few participants illustrated their awareness of a wide range of information sources:
Erm . . . it means organisations, bodies, trying to put over what services they might have. It might be err . . . on the street . . . it might be on radio, TV, through the media. It might be written . . . it might be email (B10, lines 48-50).

Many participants found it difcult to explain their understanding of the phrase health and social care information. A few people pointed out that this meant different things to different people; for example:
I think it really depends on the individual person . . . and what their particular needs are (B10, lines 55-56).

Visually impaired people

Several participants focused on their understanding of social care information by expanding on the denition provided in the original information sheet sent to all participants prior to the interviews:
I would answer that by saying not social care . . . well, I suppose it is social care really . . . the whole gamut of social interaction, erm, you know, how can I manage shopping, doing this that and the other . . . going out . . . getting around . . . walking around . . . etcetera . . . etcetera . . . (A17, line 100-103).


It emerged that participants interactions with the different information providers and their progression through the various different health and social care services affected their information behaviour. For example, many participants commented on their dissatisfaction with the quantity and quality of information they had received, particularly from the ophthalmologist at the time of diagnosis. As noted earlier, several participants expressed concern about how this information was conveyed:
[. . .] err . . . Nothing we can do about that. So . . . err . . . you know . . . theres no point you having another appointment . . . err . . . unless you get ashing lights and things like that. So . . . I said, Do you mind me asking, will it get worse? So they said, Well, it all depends. You might go to bed one night and wake up blind in the morning . . . or you might go for 10 years and youll not worry very much. And then he said . . . to the nurse, Next. [Participant laughs]. So it was a bit of a shock that (A3, lines 41-47).

Not only would this participant have liked further information concerning their condition, but the manner in which the lack of available information was communicated appeared to be unsatisfactory. Several other older participants described how they felt they had been spoken to in an inappropriate manner during their consultations with the ophthalmologist:
This is it, you see some of them talk down to elderly people . . . and think its all wrong . . . especially if youre sort of equipped upstairs, you know (A2, lines 108-110). [. . .] but anybody who was still reeling from the shock that we all know we felt when we were told that were . . . you know . . . and the favourite sentence . . . and the one that was repeated by this lady at Birmingham was, You will denitely not go blind. Now they should not do that . . . they should treat you as though you are an intelligent person and tell you what is wrong . . . so you can begin to face up to it. That is where I personally nd . . . found a lot of fault . . . and so did many others (A12, lines 220-226).

The diagnosis process was particularly traumatic for some participants:

Many people going into the hospital are frightened and the consultants are frightening (A12, lines 1181-1182).

Previous research across a range of conditions has indicated that the information needs of patients at the time of diagnosis can be highly variable, depending on individual need, the condition being diagnosed and other intervening variables. While some

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patients cannot cope with any additional information at the time of diagnosis, beyond the actual diagnosis, it is clear that these participants expressed that they had clear needs for information at the time of diagnosis, not only in terms of the diagnosis, but also in terms of the prognosis of the condition. This may be because they had perceived a change in their visual capacity and having a diagnosis and prognosis was important for them to come to terms with this change and to plan for the future, as participant A12 indicated above. People who have been blind since birth, however, are probably less likely to have such needs for information at this stage, because diagnosis is at a very early age and because the prognosis is clear. People with other conditions, e.g. a diagnosis of breast cancer, may be less prepared and less willing for information if they had not noticed or had ignored a lump developing. In addition, a few participants felt that they had been treated unfairly by the hospital staff:
[. . .] now . . . I didnt actually see the consultant . . . I saw one of his team . . . and I said what does that mean . . . and he was very ofcious . . . he said oh youll see when you get there . . . and no cheating. I said, You man, at my age you dont cheat. I said, What do you mean by no cheating? He said, well some people do, you know. They think theyre blind when theyre not. Well I said, Ive never heard anything so stupid in my life . . . (A2, lines 99-104).

The above comments suggest that the interaction between visually impaired people and health and social care professionals can be important in determining the quantity and quality of information received by the person, and their satisfaction with that information and with their overall quality of care. Other participants found the period between diagnosis and treatment and the lack of information provided during this period difcult:
[. . .] and that is a long gap . . . you know, between, for someone less fortunate than myself . . . between . . . you know, the rst . . . erm . . . becoming aware of the problem and starting treatment and erm . . . going to the low vision unit . . . (A17, lines 137-140). You shouldnt have been allowed to have wait a fortnight, because thats really the critical period. You should really have been given some help with regard to laser treatment (A15, lines 46-48).

These comments reinforce the point made earlier that when people are aware of a problem they may want a diagnosis and prognosis in order to face reality and prepare for the future. A few participants had to be persistent and ask questions during their consultations in order to obtain the information they required:
When Ive always had to ask questions . . . err . . . about subjects like that . . . Ive always had to ask them . . . err . . . because . . . especially the current surgeon Im under . . . he . . . err . . . tends to . . . err . . . want to get the appointment over as quickly as possible . . . err . . . very dismissive . . . so I have to ask the questions (B3, lines 99-102). One of the problems is that many of the people at the hospital avoid the issues altogether and just think that it will go away (A12, lines 1185-1186).

These comments provide further evidence that the relationship between health and social care professionals and visually impaired people can act as an important intervening variable in determining whether the information needs of patients are met.

Mechanisms. A range of different mechanisms can be used to meet peoples information needs. Moore (2000) considered these in terms of recording and storage, transmission and communication, and tailoring and customisation. Although this interview study has not considered mechanisms in this manner, it has highlighted the importance of providing information in a participants preferred format, such as on audio tape, on CD ROM, via email and/or on the internet:
Erm . . . I think . . . err . . . dealing with . . . err . . . people with a visual impairment . . . I think . . . a wider range of formats should be available . . . i.e. large print, audio cassette . . . Internet . . . mind you, you cant really send letters on Internet . . . but . . . maybe emails . . . oppy disks . . . erm . . . Braille . . . err . . . just a wider range so that people have got more choice . . . erm . . . instead of having a standard print letter that nobody can read (B2, lines 151-155).

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Wilsons revised model of information behaviour (Wilson, 1999) Context of information need. As noted earlier, Wilsons models were based on two main propositions: rst, that information need is not a primary need, but a secondary need that arises out of needs of a more basic kind; and, second, that in the effort to discover information to satisfy a need, the enquirer is likely to meet with barriers of different kinds (Wilson, 1981). Both of these propositions are reinforced by the ndings of this interview study: many participants did not explicitly state their information needs, but described areas of need from which it was possible to determine an information need. Typically, participants referred to the difculties they experienced in various aspects of their life (e.g. taking tablets, cooking, eating out, lling forms out, etc.), and rather than acknowledging an information need per se, they focused on the actual problems, from which needs for information could be inferred. For example, the following participant described the problems he encountered taking tablets:
You mean, tablets like? Ive had no end of problems with them. I dont know what Im taking. Im on so many, you see. Im ne if someone puts them to one side and tells me . . . but I forget . . . and my eyes have not been so good lately. When youre on so many different drugs . . . its easy to get confused (A11, lines 80-83).

Although this participant did not explicitly state that he needed information in relation to taking medications, his description of the problems he faced in taking them indicated that information on each medication, and a means of differentiating between the different medication, was required. Thus, in accordance with Wilsons model, the primary need was to take the medication and the secondary need for information arose from this. Similarly, and as noted above, the visual impairment presented a barrier to gaining that information. Activating mechanisms. Wilsons (1999) model embodied a set of questions about information behaviour. Examples from this interview study include the different coping strategies exhibited by participants (e.g. some participants chose to ask their ophthalmologist more information about their visual impairment whereas other participants blocked any further information) (stress/coping theory):
Erm . . . I suppose. I know what I need to know and thats it . . . basically (B2, line 63). No, Im not bothered. What I dont know cant . . . harm me. I suppose . . . in some ways Id rather not know (A11, line 71-72).

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These comments reect the differences between different patients in relation to their information needs and the individualistic nature of these needs, as discussed earlier in relation to Moores model. Participants expressed a preference for health care professionals and the local society for the blind as an information source; this may because the benets (or rewards) of doing so were greater than the risks. In addition, it was clear that social learning theory was involved; for example, participants acquired information and knowledge through less formal contacts, e.g. via local support groups and friends and family:
Its people I know whove got problems with their eyes that have told me a lot . . . a lot of thing (A13, lines 68-69). Sometimes . . . one hears by word of mouth, of course . . . Somebody else will say, Oh, have you tried this?, or Did you know you could get that? (A3, lines 186-188).

The importance of a range of information sources in this study was clear, and while information needs can be highly individualistic, it was clear that the prole of resources that participants drew upon was also dependent on the individual. Intervening variables. This study has identied a number of Wilsons intervening variables which could potentially act as a barrier (or, in some cases, a facilitator) for visually impaired people. Although the labels identied here are slightly different to those used by Wilson (1999) (psychological, demographic, role-related or interpersonal, environmental, and source characteristics), a similar range of intervening variables emerged. For example, the demographic background (such as age, gender, ethnic origin), the individuals social role (such as degree of independence, support available from friends and family, involvement with local support groups, etc.), the individuals psychological status (e.g. acceptance of having a visual impairment), environmental variables (e.g. registration status, access to the Internet, willingness and ability to pay for aids, adaptations and equipment), and the characteristics of the sources (e.g. availability of information in alternative formats, reliability of the information provided, interactions with different information providers as discussed earlier) may all have affected participants information behaviour. However, an interesting nding from this study is that, in addition to Wilsons list of intervening variables, there are further issues that must be taken into account when considering the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. For example, in this study we have also identied variables relating to the persons visual impairment (e.g. type, degree and length of impairment) and the presence of other health conditions and disabilities, all of which may affect an individuals information behaviour. Information seeking behaviour. Wilsons revised model also recognised that there were different types of search behaviours: passive attention, passive search, active search and ongoing search and the ndings from this study are in accordance with this. In addition to receiving information from a variety of sources (passive attention), participants acquired information (passive search), as well as actively sought information in order to meet their health and social care information needs. For example:
Well, the thing is . . . you do not get information either from your GP or the hospital unless you ask . . . (A2, lines 181-182).

The quotations from participants A2 and B12 discussed above in relation to Moores model also indicate that the visually impaired people in this study were obliged to go to some lengths to obtain the information they required, in addition to receiving information more passively. Information processing and use. In accordance with Wilsons model it was evident that if participants information needs were to be satised then information processing and use was an essential part of the feedback loop, i.e. participants, having received, acquired or sought the necessary information then had to make sense of this information, as illustrated by the quote from A17 above weighing up the pros and cons of receiving laser treatment for AMD. To summarise, Wilsons revised model can be used to explain, at least in part, the information behaviour of people with a visual impairment seeking health and social care information. However, this interview study has identied an additional intervening variable category relating to an individuals health characteristics (type, degree and length or visual impairment and presence of other health conditions and disabilities). Summary of ndings Moores model of social information need and Wilsons model of information behaviour have been useful in analysing and interpreting the results of this study. The results from this primary research study supported the six dimensions of social information need for people with a visual impairment derived by Moore (2000, 2002) in his review of previous studies. Building upon Moores clusters of information needs (Moore, 2000), it was possible to develop these into an ordered hierarchy of importance from the perspective of the visually impaired people in this study. The results also emphasised the importance of the relationship between health and social care providers and people with a visual impairment and the effect that this can have on the communication process and peoples access to information. However, Moores model does not account for all the intervening variables in Wilsons model which appear to be important in determining information behaviour among people with a visual impairment. This study also demonstrated that Wilsons model of information behaviour, developed with more general information situations in mind, can be applied, although modied slightly in terms of the individuals health characteristics, to a specic group of people. This indicates that Wilsons model can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of information needs in the context of other groups, diseases and conditions. Research limitations It is helpful to highlight briey some of the potential limitations of this research study: . The ndings and implications were derived from a relatively small sample size that is not likely to be representative of the general population of people with a visual impairment and these ndings cannot necessarily be generalised to the wider group, or indeed to the two groups of people who have been blind since birth or who have AMD. Data saturation was, however, reached after 24 interviews and qualitative research does not aim to be generalisable (Lincoln and Guba, 1985), but attempts to develop ndings that can be applied to similar groups.

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For practical reasons, a convenient self-selecting sampling frame was used. It is, therefore, possible, that the people who volunteered to be interviewed were more condent and active in seeking out information than non-responders or groups of visually impaired people who were not included in the sample. The majority of participants were white-British; had had a visual impairment for more than twelve months and were registered blind or partially sighted and were, therefore, already in contact with relevant services. It is not clear if the ndings could be applied to people who have been more recently diagnosed and/or people from other ethnic groups, many of who have an additional language barrier. It is also possible that participants in this study were more likely to be in contact with services and facilities (e.g. in receipt of the local talking newspaper, or a member of a local visual impairment support group) and that the barriers to information and unmet information needs of people not in contact with these services could be greater than those in this sample.

However, despite these limitations, a number of useful conclusions can be drawn from this study. Conclusions Both Moores (2002) model of social information need and Wilsons (1999) revised model of information behaviour provide a useful basis for examining the information behaviour of visually impaired people seeking health and social care information. The ndings reported here are broadly in accordance with Moores larger scale analysis of the literature in this eld. However, Moores model focused predominantly on information needs and did not formally take into account the broader aspects of information behaviour, such as intervening variables which have been identied here as an important facet of the information behaviour of visually impaired people. In contrast, the theoretical basis for Wilsons revised model of information behaviour is well established, and this model helps to explain the information behaviour of people with a visual impairment seeking health and social care information. An additional intervening variable category has, however, been identied relating to the individuals health characteristics (type, degree and length or visual impairment and presence of other health conditions and disabilities). Implications for future research The generalisability of these ndings will need to be tested by undertaking a large-scale quantitative study of the information behaviour of visually impaired people. It will also be useful to examine Wilsons revised model in more detail in the context of other health information research, for example, to see if the additional intervening variable relating to the individuals health characteristics exists for other conditions and disabilities. As noted earlier, an initial integrated human information behaviour model (Spink and Cole, 2006) has been published since this study was undertaken. It will be interesting to use this model as a template for examining these research ndings in more detail. Implications for practice It is clear that both Moores (2002) and Wilsons (1999) models provide a useful framework for analysing and understanding the information needs and information

behaviour of visually impaired people in relation to health and social care information. Health and social care professionals and information professionals/providers for people with visual impairments need to take account of the individualistic nature of information needs and to be aware that these needs can be affected by a variety of factors. This study has also demonstrated the problems of poor communication between professionals and visually impaired people and the impact of these on people being able to access information. It emphasises the importance of encouraging an open and trusting environment and of fostering a relationship in which people feel empowered to seek and obtain the information they need.
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Eysenbach, G. and Diepgen, T. (1998), Towards quality management of medical information on the internet: evaluation, labelling, and ltering of information, BMJ, Vol. 317, pp. 1496-502. Ghafour, M., Allan, D. and Foulds, W.S. (1983), Common causes of blindness and visual handicap in the West of Scotland, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Vol. 67, pp. 209-13. Gregory, W. (1996), The Informability Manual: Making Information More Accessible in the Light of the Disability Discrimination Act, HMSO, London. Johnson, J.D. (1997), Cancer-related Information Seeking, Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ. Johnson, J.D. and Meischke, H. (1993), A comprehensive model of cancer-related information-seeking applied to magazines, Human Communications Research, Vol. 19, pp. 343-67. Krikelas, J. (1983), Information-seeking behaviour patterns and concepts, Drexel Library Quarterly, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 5-20. Kuhlthau, C.C. (1991), Inside the search process: information seeking from the users perspective, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 42 No. 5, pp. 361-71. Lacey, A. and Luff, D. (2001), Trent Focus for Research and Development in Primary Care: An Introduction to Qualitative Data Analysis, Trent Focus, Nottingham. Leckie, G.J., Pettigrew, K.E. and Sylvain, C. (1996), Modeling the information seeking of professionals: a general model derived from research on engineers, health professionals, and lawyers, Library Quarterly, Vol. 66 No. 2, pp. 161-93. Lincoln, Y.S. and Guba, E.G. (1985), Naturalistic Inquiry, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA. Maslow, A. (1968), Towards a Psychology of Being, Van Nostrand, New York, NY. Miles, M.B. and Hubermann, A.M. (1994), Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook, 2nd ed., Sage Publications, London. Miller, S.M. (1987), Monitoring and blunting: validation of a questionnaire to assess styles of information seeking under threat, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 52 No. 2, pp. 345-53. Moore, N. (2000), The Information Needs of Visually Impaired People: A Review of Research, RNIB, London. Moore, N. (2002), A model of social information need, Journal of Information Science, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 297-303. NHS Executive (1998), Information for Health: An Information Strategy for the Modern NHS 1998-2005, NHS Executive, London. Nicholas, D. (2000), Assessing Information Needs: Tools, Techniques and Concepts for the Internet Age, Aslib, the Association for Information Management and Information Management International, London. Oppenheim, C. and Selby, K. (1999), Access to information on the world wide web for blind and visually impaired people, Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 51 No. 10, pp. 335-45. Patton, M.Q. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd ed., Sage Publications, London. Pirolli, P. and Card, S.K. (1999), Information foraging, Psychological Review, Vol. 106, pp. 643-75. Resnikoff, S., Pascolini, D., Etya ale, D., Kocur, I., Pararajasegaram, R., Pokharel, G.P. and Mariotti, S.P. (2004), Global data on visual impairment in the year 2002, Bulletin World Health Organization, Vol. 82 No. 11, pp. 844-51.


Ritchie, J. and Spencer, L. (1994), Qualitative data analysis for applied policy research, in Bryman, A. and Burgess, R.G. (Eds), Analyzing Qualitative Data, Routledge, London, pp. 173-94. RNIB (2003), About the Disability Discrimination Act. Reasonable adjustments in accessing good, facilities and services, available at: www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/ documents/publicwebsite/public_rnib003561.hcsp (accessed 15 July 2003). Savolainen, R. (1995), Everyday life information seeking: approaching information seeking in the context of way of life, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 17, pp. 259-94. Silberg, W.M., Lundberg, G.D. and Musacchio, R.A. (1997), Assessing, controlling and assuring the quality of medical information on the internet: Caveant Lector et Viewor let the reader and viewer beware, JAMA, Vol. 277 No. 15, pp. 1244-5. Spink, A. and Cole, C. (2004), A human information behavior approach to the philosophy of information, Library Trends, Vol. 52 No. 3, pp. 373-80. Spink, A. and Cole, C. (2006), Human information behavior: integrating diverse approaches and information use, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 25-35. (The) Stationery Ofce (1995), Disability Discrimination Act (1995), The Stationery Ofce, London. Tester, S. (1992), Common Knowledge: A Co-ordinated Approach to Information-Giving, Centre for Policy on Ageing, London. Wales Council for the Blind (2002), Information Systems Strategy for Visual Impairment, available at: www.wcb-ccd.org.uk/English/Technology/inf_strategy.htm (accessed 26 November 2002). Williamson, K. (1998), Discovered by chance: the role of incidental information acquisition in an ecological model of information use, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 23-40. Williamson, K. and Schauder, D. (1999), Information seeking by blind and sight impaired citizens: an ecological study, Information Research, Vol. 5 No. 4, available at: http://InformationR.net/ir/5-4/paper79.html (accessed 1 November 2001). Williamson, K., Schauder, D. and Bow, A. (2000), Information seeking by blind and sight impaired citizens: an ecological study, Information Research, Vol. 5 No. 4, available at: http://InformationR.net/ir/5-4/paper79.html (accessed 1 November 2001). Wilson, T.D. (1981), On user studies and information needs, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 3-15. Wilson, T.D. (1994), Information needs and uses: fty years of progress?, in Vickery, B.C. (Ed.), Fifty Years of Information Progress: A Journal of Documentation Review, Aslib, London, pp. 15-51. Wilson, T.D. (1997), Information behaviour: an interdisciplinary perspective, Information Processing & Management, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 551-72. Wilson, T.D. (1999), Models in information behaviour research, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 249-70. Wilson, T.D. (2005), Human information behaviour, Informing Science, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 49-55, available at: http://inform.nu/Articles/Vols/v3n2p49-56.pdf (accessed 22 November 2005).

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Further reading Wilson, T.D. and Walsh, C. (1996), Information behaviour: an interdisciplinary perspective British Library Research and Innovation Report 10, Department of Information Studies, University of Shefeld, available at: http://informationr.net/tdw/publ/infbehav/chap7.htm About the authors C.A. Beverley, BSc (Hons), MSc, MCLIP, is a PhD Student in the Department of Information Studies, University of Shefeld, and Knowledge Manager, in the Performance Unit, Adult Social Care Directorate, Cumbria County Council, Civic Centre, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK. She is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: lip02cab@shefeld.ac.uk P.A. Bath, BSc (Tech), MSc, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Health Information Management, in the Department of Information Studies, University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK. R. Barber, BA, MSc, MAppiSci is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Shefeld Care Trust and Honorary Research Fellow, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK.


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Knowledge of information behaviour and its relevance to the design of people-centred information products and services
Mark Hepworth
Department of Information Science, Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is rst to highlight some of the social phenomena that are driving the design of people-centred information solutions; second, to develop a broad ontology of information behaviour research that serves to identify factors that should be taken into account when designing such solutions. Finally, the author illustrates how this knowledge is being applied in the design of people-centred inclusive information products and services. Design/methodology/approach The author draws on the information behaviour literature to highlight key drivers and to develop and illustrate the ontological framework. The signicance of this framework is then demonstrated by providing examples of how this knowledge has been applied in the design of people-centred inclusive information products and services. Research limitations/implications This is a conceptual paper and based on the informed, subjective analysis of previous research. However, relating theory to practice does provide an indication of the validity of this conception of ones knowledge of information behaviour to people-centred design. Originality/value The paper helps to provide an overview of information behaviour research, the nature of the domain and the levels of abstraction. The article also makes a direct link between the theoretical world of information behaviour research and the empirical world of people-centred design. Hence, it also presents a case for the importance of the body of knowledge that people in information science refer to as information behaviour. Keywords Behaviour, Information services, Social inclusion, Electronic media Paper type Conceptual paper

Knowledge of information behaviour 33

Introduction This article rst explores the current trends in society that have led to the knowledge of information behaviour becoming increasingly important. Trends are explored including: the commodication of information; personalization; information overload; inclusion; the development of virtual learning environments. The article then provides an ontology of information behaviour research, identifying categories of knowledge and abstraction associated with the subject domain. This ontology is then exemplied by citing cases and using screen shots that visually show how this knowledge can be applied in the design of people-centred inclusive information products and services. Background Understanding the consumer of data, information and knowledge is becoming increasingly important in relation to the design and development of electronic
Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 33-56 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723876

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information products and services. This is partly because it is technically possible and also because of expectations and pressures in society. For example, corporate portals, web based information services, information retrieval tools and learning environments and also electronic environments where products are bought and sold are increasingly tailoring their services to the individual and the community they serve. Face-to-face information services, especially in the area of special libraries but also other libraries and information services, for many years have tailored their services to meet the needs of end users. Recently, a combination of factors have meant that we need to provide electronic access to data, information and knowledge from a distance. These factors include the growing number of potential users who value and need information but cannot, and may not want to, be serviced face-to-face and, of course, increased processing power. In addition, we have the advantages of the client server architecture where local and remote processing can take place and the opportunity for remote access to electronic resources via broadband telecommunication networks. Therefore, a combination of social norms and technological capability has led to a need to create electronic environments where people can become informed and that relate to the complex cultural and psychological needs of the consumer. These drivers are exemplied by the iPod, a brand of portable, digital, audio player, designed and marketed by Apple Computer, that provides an example of how knowledge of the consumer has been applied to the provision of a successful information product, to the extent that the technology or device (iPod) is now becoming a brand, a badge of consumables (See Figure 1 and Figure 2). Note the phrase which iPod are you implying personalisation, the visual allusions of freedom and warmth given by the dancer. In the textual description the use of phrases such as run your thumb round the click wheel, theres no limit to where it will take you (Apple, 2006) appeals to the sensual and the need for excitement. In this case design is not just about functionality or making something visually pleasing it is to do with designing for a community with specic needs living in a specic social context albeit across a wide range of demographics. The mobile phone is evolving in a similar way. To achieve this success a great deal needs to be known about the potential user. The technologies cited are, of course, not perfect representations of what can be done. These devices, for example, with their small buttons and tiny screens may be difcult for people with limited sight or dexterity to use. However, they do indicate how technological/informational solutions increasingly need to embody knowledge of the consumer and that functionality alone is not enough and that there is evidently a

Figure 1. iPod Which iPod are you?

Knowledge of information behaviour 35

Figure 2. iPod advertisement and attributes

growing recognition of the need to develop usable, aesthetic designs that relate to the work/life context of the information consumer and satisfy their information needs. A brief and high level discussion of some of the key drivers that are leading to increasingly people-centred information products follows. Societal phenomena The exponential growth in the quantity of information and the increased value being placed on the systematic use of data, information and knowledge has become a truism. We even use terms such as information society and knowledge based economy to describe our socio-economic context. Products and services are constantly evolving as a result of this context, whether free informal blogs (electronic discussion forums), high value real time and archival information services such as those sold by Reuters or data and text mining solutions, now valued as a multi million pound (UK) industry. The value placed on information and the need to lter the huge quantity of available information has led to a number of people-centred solutions. Traditionally, information science professionals set up Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) initiatives or alerts, both paper based and electronic, and proactively provided tailored information to consumers. In some cases these were based on elaborate manually constructed proles of users information needs. Organisations, such as Newsedge (see Figure 3), have more recently developed technologies that lter streams of information such as business news and enable the distribution of information to end users. Personalised electronic newspapers have also been offered with the help of intelligent agents. However, maintaining a user prole that relates to ongoing and often changing needs, let alone the complex nature of those needs, has proved to be extremely difcult. Various automated methods are being applied to help solve some of the problems. Organisations, such as Autonomy, have developed technologies that automatically classify, tag and enable the selective dissemination information. However, the automatic classication of content and matching this with a prole of an individual and their changing needs is still challenging. Objective information about the success of such solutions is hard to nd due to commercial sensitivity. At Loughborough

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Figure 3. Filtering (Newsedge)

University we are currently working on an information system that lters and presents information in a way that corresponds to the prole of the user in terms of the amount, complexity and pictorial content of the information that the user desires. The prole of the user is determined by their medical condition and their need for subject matter. In addition, data about what they have read also helps to determine the information they are presented. For example, a person experiencing severe fatigue and reduced visual ability, is assumed to prefer information that results in less cognitive load hence including less text, less complexity of language and more pictorial content. This work uses marked up material using extensible mark-up language (XML) to code information objects and is processed using extensible style sheet transformation (XSLT) in the COCOON environment to transform and create output that relates to the user prole which was captured and stored in a database. The target community for this research is people with Multiple Sclerosis who have diverse and changing needs. Other initiatives have taken place in the Consumer Health Informatics arena. The majority of these initiatives have used data from the patients record to provide tailored information leaets that relate to the patients condition and treatment (Bental et al., 1999). In the Health Informatics eld it has been recognised that people are more likely to read and act on information that is personalized (Duman, 2003). As mentioned earlier, other technologies may feed into personalised information provision such as articial intelligence (AI), natural language processing and text mining. In the area of consumer information communication technology (ICT) products have begun to be inuenced by ideas common to other consumer goods and a desire to emulate, in the electronic domain, the experience of the world where people interact

face-to-face or with physical information products. This has led to the evolution of products such as the iPod described above and the personalisation of electronic interaction including features such as My Basket and the ability to tailor the product to meet individual needs. Systems monitor the consumers information behaviour, as did market researchers in the past, and use this data to make suggestions to consumers that may facilitate their information seeking such as nding other relevant resources in the hope that they will view or buy these. The media vendor Amazon takes this approach where suggestions are presented as if coming from a peer rather than the vendor and hence have greater apparent value. The recognized need and opportunity to personalise information environments is also demonstrated by the provision of personalisation functionality that enables the consumers learning environment to be adapted to correspond to the needs and wants of the consumer in terms of the use of colour, layout and content. Exactly what needs this satises is unclear, perhaps the need to lter but also for a feeling of control and identity, the need to enter a dialogue and negotiate preferences as well as the aesthetics of creating a familiar, friendly environment. Many services have gone down this path including Google, Yahoo and MSN, as shown in Figure 4. Another social phenomenon that increasingly requires an understanding of people and their interaction with information and having to respond to their needs, is the concept of inclusion. This concept implies that all people in society are perceived to have a right to participate and to be able to access products and services. This ethos, as well factors such as an increasingly disproportionate number of elderly people in society who may have conditions that could impact on their interaction with technology and information products and services, has led to legislation. This includes the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK (Disability Discrimination Act, 1995) that insists that products and services, including learning resources (SENDA, 2001), must show that the developers are at least attempting to make them accessible to all. Similar legislation has been implemented elsewhere in the world. Human computer interface (HCI) guidelines have also been developed to facilitate access (W3C, 1999; IBM, 2006). Organisations that undertake advocacy on behalf of marginalized groups, such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), the Dyslexia Association and MENCAP (who provide help and advocacy for people with learning difculties), also provide advice to help designers meet the needs of people. Figure 5 shows a service that can be accessed via a range of adaptive technologies and where the interface can be adapted to meet individual needs. The Google search engine and databases such as the Cambridge Scientic Abstracts (CSA) as well as some complex web sites, such as the BBCs, have also shown that, in spite of their sophistication, they can be developed in a way that they

Knowledge of information behaviour 37

Figure 4. Personalised interfaces (MyYahoo)

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Figure 5. Personalised accessibility

are accessible via adaptive technology. However, the impact of inclusion on the design of electronic information products seems relatively basic and patchy. Existing gateways to academic databases, for example, may not be accessible to people who are blind. A recent study (Khan, 2006) showed that the 2005 version of the Metalib gateway/portal, provided by Ex-Libris, was inaccessible to users of the JAWS screenreader due to excessive use of Java scripting and poor tagging of features as were the interfaces of vendor specic online database. However, Ex-Libris does intend to rectify this in their 2006 software release. This is disappointing since the availability of documents in an electronic form should make access easier for people with impaired sight because they can be read using a screen reader that converts text into speech. Few concessions are made, generally, for people with cognitive difculties, for example dyslexia. People with dyslexia tend to nd it difcult dealing with large bodies of text, spelling correctly, and remembering where they are in the search process. Unfortunately, these needs are not generally supported by current products and services, such as, online public access catalogues (OPAC) and online databases and other information retrieval (IR) tools. Although the spell-check function in Google, Did you mean . . . , is very popular with this community for obvious reasons as it is for people whose rst language is not English. Little has been done to address the needs of people with severe learning difculties. Although, recently, research has started to explore this area (Williams, 2006). Another domain where people-centred design is starting to play a signicant role is the development of virtual learning environments. Specic examples of these will be discussed later. However, at Nottingham Trent University in the UK and also in Eindhoven in Holland people have been trying to develop personalized learning environments using similar technology (XML, XSLT, COCOON) to that being used for personalization research at Loughborough. In particular, they have been researching how to author learning resources that can be provided to the learners in a way that

relates to their level of knowledge and what they have already read. They also hope to provide learning resources in a way that relates to learning style. These and related studies have led to personalization models that include, for example, the domain model, the goal and constraint model, the user model, the adaptation model and the presentation model (Cristea and Mooij, 2003). There are, therefore, a number of social, economic and technological factors that are leading to a need to develop people-centred information products and services. There is a fundamental need to understand people and their interaction with information and learning environments. In information science this has been an area of research for many years. The next section attempts to map this knowledge and hence create a high level ontology of what is termed the eld of information behaviour (IB) that encompasses passive and active information seeking and use. Other disciplines and areas of research and development, such as human computer interface design (HCI), adaptive hypermedia, the personalization of electronic commerce etc., as indicated above, have developed insights that relate to people-centred information products and services. However, I would argue that it is information science that has developed the most detailed body of knowledge of the information consumer and their interaction with information services and products due to its obsession with the provision of these resources. This has been driven by a desire to develop more successful information services, better information retrieval products, and a richer understanding of information behaviour in general. An ontology of information behaviour research The area of user studies and courses run by information science departments such as services to users or user oriented services reects the concern with the information consumer. For many years information science practitioners have done surveys of their users/non-users to help indicate the value of, or demand for, information and particular services. In a similar vein, academics have studied communities to reach a better understanding of information behaviour and needs. These have included studies of communities of common practice such as social workers (Wilson et al., 1979), business people (Choo, 1994) etc. as well as people who share common information needs with regard to an aspect of their life, such as people with cancer (Williamson and Manaszewicz, 2002). Some studies have stemmed from practitioners employing academics to study their target community with the objective of developing or improving information services. Findings from a recent study involving people with multiple sclerosis led to the improvement of the MSTrusts web site and the promotion of specic types of information (Hepworth et al., 2003). Current research in the Department of Information Science, at Loughborough University, is looking into the information needs of children of parents who have cancer. The eldwork is taking place in Malaysia and should feed into future information provision where information is currently lacking. These studies have led to a great deal of knowledge about how to develop services that relate to the specic needs of different people and also how to go about determining these needs. Some of this knowledge, concerning scientists and social scientists (Brittain, 1970), has either been applied in the design and development of information retrieval systems such as online databases or at least inuenced their

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development. However, much of this knowledge has not been codied and has not found its way outside the information science eld. In the area of information retrieval an understanding of the peoples information retrieval experiences and the processes they go through has also led to the design and development of innovative IR systems. For example the Bookhouse project in Denmark that was aimed at users and non-users of the public library. Researchers, such as Hearst et al. (1996), have also experimented with different ways of representing information objects such as citation links or the relevance of retrieved items using tiles, hyperbolic trees, rooms, three dimensional maps that may facilitate peoples interaction and use of information. However, these have yet to nd their way into commonly available information products. Studies of peoples information retrieval experiences have also led to an understanding of what the people need to know and what they nd difcult when involved in information seeking, solving problems or becoming informed. These studies have fed into the general knowledge of how people use IR systems such as search engines (Spink et al., 1998). These studies have also fed into conceptions of information literacy (Eisenberg, 1990; Bruce, 1995) and the design of information literacy training courses (Hepworth and Wema, 2006) as well as information product design. The design of the Alexandria library product, (see Figure 6), reects a detailed knowledge of geography students and their learning context in terms of content and functionality. From the earlier studies of communities several authors have gone on to explore IB in its own right and develop models of information behaviour. Dervin (1983) developed

Figure 6. Alexandria Digital Library Project

the sense-making methodology that was both a theory about how people experience information seeking and also a technique for investigating these situations i.e. the micro-time line interview. Wilson (1999) developed a number of models that helped people think about IB in terms of how people satisfy their information needs and what inuenced their information behaviour. Other authors have put forward conceptual models that help to understand the facets of IB (Hepworth, 2004). A recent book, Theories of Information Behaviour (Fisher et al., 2005) presents a smorgasbord of different aspects and approaches to the study of IB. Approaches vary in terms of the focus of the study and the epistemological background. The book demonstrates the breadth of knowledge and the complexity of factors and explanations associated with IB as well as indicating what is not known. Other books by Nicholas (2000), Case (2002), Marchionini (1997), and articles by a number of authors including Ingweresen (1996), Spink (1997), Leckie et al. (1996), Vakkari (1998) and many others indicate the substantive nature of the topic as well as the current knowledge. Research and knowledge tend to fall into one or more of the areas shown in Table I. Over the last 20 years research has largely stemmed from a cognitive perspective i.e. focusing on the individual. These studies have identied different cognitive states associated with IB. They tend to focus on the moment of interaction with an information system or service and tasks, stages and associated states including: cognitive (thinking processes), connative (inherent factors that effect motivation and preferred ways of learning) and affective (feelings). They look at how information needs are translated either passively or in an active way into actions and the process of becoming informed and in some cases using and communicating information. The latter tends to be less researched. Cognitive phenomena including thinking skills such as recognition of relevance, analysis, synthesis, induction, deduction, evaluation etc. and thinking processes such as dening a problem, (Eisenberg, 1990) or knowledge of the subject/system/resources (Allen, 1991), that arise or impact on IB have been identied. Connative phenomena such as self-efcacy, locus of control (Wilson, 1999) and learning styles (Ford et al., 1993) have also been shown to be associated with different types of IB. Research that is related identies people who share IB such as monitors and blunters (Miller and Mangan, 1983). Other studies highlight the affective domain and what people feel when they are involved in IB. Kuhlthau (1991), for example, charted the emotions associated with a student undertaking the various stages in a research task. Generally, such researchers relate their ndings concerning psychological states to information seeking (IS) tasks and the use of specic resources.

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Locus of study The wider cultural context The local social context The individual

Topics of interest/terms mentioned Diffusion, culture, ethnicity, power structures, norms, evolution of IB, communicative competence Roles, tasks, norms, everyday life, communities of practice, situational context Elicitation, sense-making, browsing dening the problem, optimal foraging, berrypicking, chaining, anomalous states of knowledge, authority, sharing

Table I. IB research locus of study and topics of interest

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Studies that tend to focus on people in a certain social context were mentioned earlier. They generally try to identify information needs that cut across or are clustered in the community. These studies concentrate on the information seeking behaviour (ISB) (Bates, 1989; Hert, 1997; Hepworth, 1999, 2003) and the use of and need for content (subject matter) and the nature and form of that content, such as value, authority, style, depth etc. and its usability. They also highlight the difculties people experience when trying to satisfy information needs. Although these studies provide a clear indication of needs and are set within a social context the impact of normative values is relatively unexplored. Few studies look at how the wider aspects of society, such as power structures, may have an impact on IB. Chatman (1999) is one of the few people who have taken a broader sociological and anthropological perspective. However, a recent study in Ghana (Nikoi, 2006) about the IB of non-government organisations (NGO) staff highlighted the impact of local, national and international forces and how they affected IB. For example, the participative nature of development projects is currently valued by international donors. As a result the NGO workers have changed their information gathering behaviour to reect this. The phenomena, both external and internal to the individual, that researchers have put forward as having an impact on the information consumer and affecting their needs and behaviour with regard to learning and the use of information products and services, can be summarized in Table I. As noted authors who focus on the impact of the wider cultural context, such as the hierarchical nature of society and the effect on IB, such as Hofstede (2001), are rare. Little has been done to incorporate or support such differences when designing information products and services. Local social context studies tend to look at a group within society, such as the elderly, and identify the IB characteristics of that group. Authors with a bias towards the individual tend to focus on factors that drive or affect the individuals IB. The term demographics is included here to refer to factors such as gender, age, physiological condition and so on that may have signicance at all three levels of abstraction shown in Table I. Researchers have, of course, tended to focus on different dimensions and have taken different epistemological standpoints to help explain IB. This has led to various perceptions of IB where emphasis is given to different factors and different vocabularies have evolved, in a relative unsystematic way, to describe phenomena. From a positivist perspective a rich array of societal and social factors are seen to lead to the creation of an information environment, the design of which is inuenced by the characteristics of the individual and their ISB. The IB of the individual may, in turn, be affected by the external information environment as well as their internal psychological environment. From a social constructivist perspective we can interpret this as a collection of shared labels and meanings i.e. an ontology of what we study which has have evolved to help us understand IB. Therefore, an understanding of the interplay between phenomena associated with IB can be seen to be important. For example, demographic data, such as medical condition and age, may be associated with cognitive phenomena, such as levels of knowledge of technology or a subject domain, and also with connative phenomena such as high or low self-efcacy. It is a combination of these factors that will determine peoples IB and needs. Understanding the interplay of these factors as well as their signicance in different contexts enables one to design an information intervention to

meet the requirements of this particular scenario or user prole. In fact, a great deal is already known about IB and the factors that affect IB. However, few information products and services reect a detailed understanding of these factors. Is there evidence of the application of this knowledge? The following exemplies how and the extent to which this knowledge of IB is being applied in the design of people-centred information products and services. It also provides an indication of the usefulness of the ontology outlined above. There has been a rapid development of electronic information products and services. To some extent these have followed a cart before the horse development path. In these cases, information products and services are technology driven rather than consumer driven. For example, in a database environment the developer is often primarily interested in communicating the structure of the database so that the user can query it. The user is therefore not helped with the related cognitive processes such as dening the topic they are researching because of the developers system driven view of their product. Not that all successful developments are necessarily consumer driven. After all, it can be difcult to visualize how to apply technology without at least having some experience of what is technically possible. In many cases, technology is launched, people interact with it, and designers adapt the technology and people change their IB. Search engines, for example, initially were limited in terms of their functionality; their help systems and the range of material they gave access to; and have been adapting to meet the needs of users ever since. Nevertheless, some electronic information services and products do show an awareness of the needs of the consumer. The following examples demonstrate this and indicate in what way, and where. Furthermore, these examples point to how current and developing knowledge of IB could be more extensively applied. Having said this, it is not known whether the designers of the products and services cited below consciously addressed the various factors that affect peoples information need and behaviour. Either way, the designs do address needs associated with specic types of social and individual contexts. The wider cultural and the local social context Few designs specically relate to the wider cultural context, cultural norms etc. For example few services are consciously Asian and yet cultural differences such as the signicance given to different colours, such as red or green, are evident. However, to some extent paper based libraries have responded to and are a product of the wider cultural phenomena in society and the economic and physical environmental context. Within these wider cultural contexts, with their broad demographic or role related groupings, there are specic local contexts within which there are work/life roles, normative values and tasks and behaviours that are reected in the design of information products and services. Hence, we have special, academic and public libraries. For example, in the UK public libraries services are being developed to meet the needs of recent immigrants, people with disabilities and people who lead a mobile existence. Academic libraries have recently introduced more exible learning environments and areas that cater for problem based group learning and reect the changing norms and behaviours of people associated with the developing knowledge based information society.

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An area where knowledge of IB has been applied, again not solely in the electronic domain but relating to the use of information products and services, is information literacy (IL) and the recognition of the need for people to be independent learners. Information science practitioners and researchers have developed information literacy standards and guidelines based on a knowledge of IB and the IS process (SCONUL, 2004; Bundy (2004); CILIP, 2005; ACRL, 2000). Recent IL training initiatives have consciously drawn on knowledge of the wider social context as well as the local social context and specic roles, tasks, norms in addition to individual cognitive, connative and affective situations and states associated with IB and library conceptions of IL and learning theory (Hepworth and Wema, 2006). In the electronic domain web based information services, such as the Young Carers site, show an appreciation of the information needs of the Young Carer and reect a knowledge of a specic social reality. This site also relates to the local social context as well the individual characteristics of this community (Figure 7). Search engines such as Ask, formerly AskJeeves, was initially designed with young people in mind which led to its popularity in schools. The same could be said of Yahoo with its emphasis on popular culture (Figure 8). The SCIRUS search tool has chosen to cater for the needs of societys scientic community. This is reected in the content they offer and the functionality of the service where consumers are expected to want information from authoritative web sites as well as peer reviewed papers. The presentation of the site is relatively serious and professional in comparison to Yahoo (Figure 9). As mentioned earlier, virtual learning environments (VLE) and portals, in academic environments, are evolving and starting to show a better appreciation of the needs of students. Here we are beginning to see the development of services that are more integrated into the local social context of the learner. An individual will see an interface that corresponds to their information needs and brings together relevant modules, assignments and learning resources. In other words, orientating the provision of learning resources according to the roles, norms, tasks of the individual and groups is being recognised as a way to deliver learning resources (Figure 10).

Figure 7. The wider social context web site for young carers

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Figure 8. The wider social context popular culture (Yahoo)

Figure 9. The wider cultural context (SCIRUS scientic search engine)

The individual context The individual context relates to the psychological needs of the individual i.e. cognitive needs, connative needs, affective needs and behavioural needs. Cognitive needs Response to the cognitive needs associated with IB by information products and services is patchy and relatively limited. Most electronic information products and

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Figure 10. Role/task related Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

services tend to offer access that corresponds to levels of knowledge, for example, simple and advanced interfaces. The latter may also appeal to people who need information for work and need a degree of precision and control to increase the reliability of the search. Search engines initially only had very simple interfaces due to ve, belief that the algorithms in the background would do all the IR the, perhaps na work without the user having to enter a range of criteria plus they were consciously trying to reduce the cognitive load associated with exact match systems where knowledge of functionality was essential. While some cognitive processes are catered for others are not. Systems generally do not help to dene the nature of the problem or map a subject topic and the related domain before one retrieves articles, references etc.. This has been found to be a cognitively challenging part of the active information seeking process especially when people are trying to address relatively broad and unfamiliar questions. WebBrain is one example of a product where entering terms will result in the generation of related terms that may be useful in helping to visualise and conceptualise the domain (Figure 11). Recent developments in university library gateways have started to address the cognitive problem of where should I go for information bearing in mind that most students enter university unaware of different electronic sources. Gateways and portals have tried to address this problem bringing together material from different sources, allowing metasearching or indicating relevant sources according to subject domain or discipline (Figure 12). In this case a range of potentially relevant databases is suggested to the user based on the discipline the student is studying. One common interface can then be used to search several databases reducing the knowledge the user needs to have of individual databases and their native interfaces. Currently, however, technological problems and commercial issues still limit this kind of solution. Other cognitive processes such as chaining (Ellis, 1989) have been recognised for some time and services such as the Web of Science and SCOPUS enable users to follow

Knowledge of information behaviour 47

Figure 11. Dening the topic (WebBrain)

Figure 12. Identifying resources (Ex-Libris Metalib)

articles using the characteristics of one article such as the author chain or the citation chain (Figure 13). A similar notion, but also capitalizing on the fact that it is easier for the person to recognise relevance, rather than specify relevance, is the use of relevance feedback. Thus we see that many IR products offer features such as More like this or Find similar. However, being able to dynamically dene and search for other similar characteristics of information artifacts, such as style of presentation, and then search for them is limited. Searchers nd it difcult to narrow and broaden a search in a systematic way (Hepworth, 2003; Bilal, 2001). Some search engines, however, do now allow search within previously retrieved documents and hence indirectly rene the search. Teoma (see Figure 14) used a clustering algorithm to present results according to identied themes. This enabled the searcher to recognise and dene the subset of the original

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Figure 13. Chaining (SCOPUS)

Figure 14. Rening the search (Teoma)

query that was really of interest and hence rene the search and so increase precision and reduce information overload. In the past only expert users of command line online databases could do this. Furthermore, Teoma provided links to experts that reected the users liking for tips and suggestions from experts supporting a form of knowledge management. Surfwax, a metasearch engine, enables one to get an overview (Figure 15), a sitesnap, of web sites. This allows the user to quickly browse a synopsis of the content of sites before choosing the most useful. Hence, acknowledging the need for users to scan and browse and get an indication of content thus helping the user to sift and choose the most relevant items without going to numerous irrelevant sites. In other words, helping to deal with information overload. Surfwax also extracts potentially useful search terms and makes these available to the user possibly helping them to identify useful terms for searching a cognitive process that most users nd difcult. Unlike most other systems it is also possible to incorporate a searchable thesaurus that may be helpful when searching a body of work concerning a particular subject such as law or education.

Knowledge of information behaviour 49

Figure 15. Synopses (Surfwax))

It is generally agreed that to recognise relevance is cognitively easier than to dene a topic. This, to some extent, explains the success of Yahoos hierarchical subject headings. The original offering of hierarchical subject headings (Universal Decimal Classications) with broader and narrower related categories helped the searcher to dene and identify what they wanted. In addition, the manual quality control also contributed to the popularity of Yahoo, hence offering a degree of order and ltering by authority not offered by the other early internet search tools hopefully enabling the user to identify good quality information from the mass (Figure 16). On the whole, the current online databases have simplied their interfaces and functionality over the last 15 years due to the broadening user base. Unfortunately, however, they tend not to proactively help the user deal with common problems such as too much, too little or irrelevant results. Differences in cognitive ability are not catered for, other than simple or advanced which possibly caters to different levels of knowledge. For example, no design concessions are made to people with dyslexia. Connative needs Few attempts seem to have been made to design information services and products according to connative needs, such as different learning styles, of the individual. However, some search engine providers like Kartoo have done so. In theory presenting

Figure 16. Browsing subject categories (Yahoo)

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information in a three-dimensional, pictorial, fashion should appeal to the holistic and visual learner. Most systems are designed from the perspective of the serialist, that is, hierarchical and sequential. Whether or not Kartoo developed as a result of people consciously designing for the holist or whether it reects the preferences of the designers is unknown (Figure 17). Affective needs Affective needs such as feelings of anxiety and confusion during the literature review at the start of a PhD or the insecurity of the rst time user tend not to be catered for by information products or services. Some web based information services do, however, reect the emotional dimension of the consumer. For example, the young carers site shown previously (see Figure 7) indicates an awareness of the feeling of isolation experienced by the young carer, as does the MENCAP site (Figure 18). The MENCAP site, it should be noted, also enables accessibility through the use of signs and sound hence relating to the cognitive ability of the user and their connative style. Coping with a severe learning disability is very challenging emotionally and can be associated with despair. Hence, the positive images of smiling individuals which are there to counter these feelings and provide positive emotional support. Behavioural needs A range of IB behavioural characteristics are catered for by information products and services. It is difcult sometimes to separate the behavioural needs from the psychological needs, such as cognitive, since the same words are used to describe a mental activity and a behaviour, such as browsing or chaining. Behaviour can be observed and may be described in terms of the mental activity that drives it. However, behaviours can be observed and seen as needs that have to be supported. For example, the opportunity to physically browse subject headings or browse lists of thesauri or lists of sources, such as in the Ovid databases, supports a cognitive need of recognizing and identifying useful terminology, dening a topic or identifying resources. Search behaviour such as passive searching may be supported proactively by sending notice of relevant new information to consumers. The need to store previous selections of databases, searches and results via a personal bookshelf is increasingly available and meets the behavioural (and cognitive) needs of the consumer (Figure 19).


Figure 17. Connative needs Kartoo

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Figure 18. MENCAP site

Figure 19. Personalised spaces (Metalib)

The need to share information has been recognised and increasingly services enable the distribution of information via e-mail. Some information services have also recognised the need for discourse between communities of practice, to share tips and to provide emotional support. As a result, for example, the MSTrust web site provides a venue for electronic discussion between people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and with

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experts. This emulates the sharing of information during face-to-face encounters at therapy centres. Another example is the need of students to capture citations that have been recognised by CSA who have ensured that Refworks, a database for storing references, is integrated into their database products (Figure 20). Conclusion and recommendations It seems to be clear that knowledge of the consumer of information is of increasing relevance today due to the growing quantity of, and value placed on, data, information and knowledge. A number of trends in society have been highlighted that support this view. It can also be seen that there is a great deal of knowledge about the information consumer coming from a number of elds but in particular information science, where the information consumer has been the focus of study for many years. This has been partly because of the need to develop and run information services that meet the needs of particular audiences and it has also been an area of general intellectual enquiry. Drawing on the literature and previous research, areas of knowledge that relate to this domain have been mapped in this article and then illustrated through examples of electronic information products and services. It was therefore possible to indicate the value and applicability of this knowledge to information product design and to show the extent to which current electronic information services relate to the cultural, social, psychological and behavioural needs of information consumer. However, many services are still system driven, despite conforming to human computer interface design guidelines, and are not fully people-centred. In other words, although we can nd examples where knowledge of the cultural, social, psychological and behavioural needs of the consumer of information is applied this is still not generally the case. Nor is the full range of factors taken into account. Individual needs and those that stem from the wider cultural and the local social context are, therefore, only partially catered for. There does seem to be a need to consolidate our knowledge and to apply current knowledge in the design and development of information products and services. This will enable us to evaluate these solutions. For example, do people with severe fatigue really prefer information conveyed in pictorial form? We could then learn from this experience and build on this substantiated knowledge. There is also a need for further research, whether we are developing paper based, hybrid or electronic information products or services, we need to get inside the brain and under the skin of the consumers of information, understand their culture, their learning context, their needs, their choices, current barriers, potentially useful relevant technologies and possible solutions. In other words, we need to understand the phenomena in society i.e. cultural, environmental and social factors as well as individual factors that are linked to how people learn, their IB and satisfying their information needs so that we can continue to


Figure 20. Capturing information (CSA and Refworks)

develop successful information products and services. This is hardly surprising, since with most other products or services aimed at the consumer this would be the norm. Even if a product or service is being provided to a broad cross section of society it is still possible to identify clusters of characteristics that cut horizontally across the community and inuence their need for data, information and knowledge. Furthermore, it is possible to identify clusters of needs that run vertically through the community. Knowledge from one area can sometimes help another. For example, making information available and accessible to people with learning difculties may present solutions that could be appropriate for others, such as people who have difculty reading. I would argue that IB research involving people with special needs may be a particularly fruitful area for research since solutions that address these extreme situations are likely to provide insights into how to better design in general. We are probably in the early stages of understanding the information consumer and IB. However, in our discipline a signicant amount is already known due to the long-standing role of researching and providing information services but this knowledge needs to be codied and applied more generally. One of our responsibilities should be to ensure that this knowledge is accessible to people outside our own discipline who are involved in the development of information products and services.

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Hert, C. (1997), Understanding Information Retrieval Interactions: Theoretical and Practical Implications, Ablex, Greenwich, CT. Hofstede, G. (2001), Cultures Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA. IBM (2006), Web accessibility, available at: www-306.ibm.com/able/guidelines/web/accessweb. html (accessed 30 January 2006). Ingwersen, P. (1996), Cognitive perspectives of information retrieval interaction: elements of a cognitive IR theory, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 52 No. 1, pp. 3-50. Khan, M. (2006), An evaluation of accessibility of the Ex-Libris Metalib interface using the JAWS screen reader, unpublished Final Year Project, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough. Kuhlthau, C. (1991), Inside the search process: information seeking from the users perspective, Journal of the American Society of Information Science, Vol. 42 No. 5, pp. 361-71. Leckie, G., Pettigrew, K. and Sylvain, C. (1996), Modeling the information seeking of professionals: a general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals and lawyers, Library Quarterly, Vol. 66 No. 2, pp. 161-93. Marchionini, G. (1997), Information Seeking in Electronic Environments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Miller, S. and Mangan, C. (1983), Interesting effects of information and coping style in adapting to gynaecological stress: should a doctor tell all?, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 223-36. Nicholas, D. (2000), Assessing Information Needs: Tools, Techniques and Concepts for the Internet Age, Aslib, London. Nikoi, S. (2006), Living and working in an information dryland: a study of the information behaviour of NGO development workers in the Northern Region of Ghana, unpublished PhD, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough. SCONUL (2004), The seven pillars of information literacy model, available at: www.sconul.ac. uk/inf_lit/sp/model.html (accessed 31 January 2006). SENDA (2001), Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001, available at: www.opsi.gov.uk/ acts/acts2001/20010010.htm (accessed 30 January 2006). Spink, A. (1997), Study of interactive feedback during mediated information retrieval, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 48 No. 3, pp. 382-94. Spink, A., Bateman, J. and Jansen, B. (1998), Searching heterogeneous collections on the web: behaviour of Excite users, Information Research, Vol. 4 No. 2, available at: www. informationr.net/ir/4-2/paper53.html (accessed 28 November 2005). Vakkari, P. (1998), Growth of theories on information seeking: an analysis of growth of a theoretical research program on the relation between task complexity and information seeking, Information Processing & Management, Vol. 34 Nos 2/3, pp. 361-82. W3C (1999), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, available at: /www.w3.org/TR/ WAI-WEBCONTENT/ (accessed 30 January 2006). Williams, P. (2006), Exploring the challenges of developing digital literacy in the context of special educational needs communities, ITALICS, Vol. 5 No. 1, available at: www.ics. heacademy.ac.uk/italics/vol5-1/webpages/Williams_nal.htm (accessed 29 May 2006). Williamson, K. and Manaszewicz, R. (2002), Breast cancer information needs and seeking: towards an intelligent, user sensitive portal to breast cancer knowledge online, paper presented at Information Seeking in Context Conference, Lisbon, 11-13 September 2002.

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Wilson, T. (1999), Models in information behaviour research, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 249-70. Wilson, T., Streateld, D. and Mullins, C. (1979), Information needs in local authority social services departments: a second report on Project INISS, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 120-36. About the author Dr Mark Hepworth is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Science, Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University, UK. Following a career in the online industry running customer support services and then research and development Dr Mark Hepworth joined Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and helped to develop their Masters programme in Information Studies. After six years he left to join Loughborough University, where he teaches information retrieval and user-centred services. His research is in the area of information behaviour and needs, and understanding those factors that affect peoples interaction with information. This has led to work associated with independent learning and the concept of information literacy. It has also included working with groups of people where particular situations, such as having a severe learning difculty, or loss of sight, or Multiple Sclerosis, have provided a forum for investigating peoples information interactions and the development of people-centred information solutions. Dr Hepworth can be contacted at: m.hepworth@lboro.ac.uk


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A grounded theory model of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior

The patient-chart cycle of informative interactions
Michelynn McKnight
School of Library and Information Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Purpose Critical care nurses work is rich in informative interactions. Although there have been post-hoc self report studies of nurses information seeking, there have been no observational studies of the patterns of their on-duty information behavior. This paper seeks to address this issue. Design/methodology/approach This study used participant observation and in context interviews to describe 50 hours of the observable information behavior of a representative sample of critical care nurses in a 20-bed critical care unit of a community (non-teaching) hospital. The researcher used open, in vivo and axial coding to develop a grounded theory model of their consistent pattern of multimedia interactions. Findings The resulting Nurses Patient-Chart Cycle describes their activities during the shift as centering on a regular alternation between interactions with the patient and with the patients chart (in various record systems), clearly bounded with nursing report interactions at the beginning and the end of the shift. The nurses demeanor markedly changed between interactions with the chart and interactions with the patient. Their attention was focused on patient-specic information. They had almost no time or opportunity to consult published sources of information while on duty. Originality/value Libraries often provide nurses with information services that are based on academic models of information behavior. Clinical information systems are designed more for medico-legal record keeping than for nursing care. Understanding the reality of nurses on-duty information behavior may guide librarians and systems designers in the provision of more appropriate systems and services. Keywords Nurses, Visual media, Medical management, Medical information systems Paper type Conceptual paper

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1. Introduction Service oriented professionals have different information seeking and use behavior from that of scholars (Leckie et al., 1996). Healthcare information systems are in a very rapid state of change driven by many societal forces, including legislation, regulation and jurisprudence. What is the recognizable and consistent pattern of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior? This observational study produced a grounded theory model of this behavior. It used analysis of participant observation and in-context interview data to describe and understand their informative behavior while on-duty in a community hospital.

Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 57-73 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723885

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1.1 Nurses Nurses work with people and data sources in an information ecology built by tradition and rituals from a pre-digital era. Their tools for gathering and recording information are rapidly changing from paper systems to digital systems. Many of these tools are designed primarily to create medical records for legal purposes without regard for their impact on nursing care. Registered nurses (RNs) are the largest group of professional health care providers (Blythe and Royle, 1993; Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004, pp. 117-118). The American Nurses Association and its constituent member nurses associations represent more than 2.7 million registered nurses (American Nurses Association, 2004). Most nurses work in hospitals and the majority of hospital employees are nurses. Hospital nurses spend more time with individual patients than do other health care workers in hospitals (Marriott and Mable, 2000) and they enter more data into patient-specic medical records than any other health care providers. 1.2 Critical care nurses Critical care (also known as intensive care) nurses are responsible not only for following orders and performing routine duties, but also for maintaining a constant surveillance of their patients without help from nurses aides. Critical care nurses, like other hospital nurses, are responsible for the coordination of all care for the patients in their charge (Thelan et al., 1998, pp. 3-11). Their behavior in this information ecology can literally be a matter of life and death. 2. Previous research Most studies of health care providers information seeking behavior have been done in academic contexts rather than in front line health care (McKnight and Peet, 2000). Most studies of health care providers information behavior are studies of physicians or students, and few of those are observational (Case, 2002, p. 247; Dawes and Sampson, 2003; Detlefsen, 1998; McKnight and Peet, 2000). Most of these studies used surveys, interviews, or focus groups. The post hoc self-report data gathered in such contexts reected peoples reported current satisfaction with and memory of their behavior and may have varied from their true behavior. Most studies of nurses information behavior (including those reviewed by Leckie et al., 1996) used only post hoc self-report data gathered from surveys and interviews and investigated the use of only one kind of information. In a noteworthy exception, a multidisciplinary group of researchers (physicians, computer scientists and an anthropologist) from Pittsburgh (Forsythe et al., 1992) conducted a participant observational study of physicians expressed questions on rounds, in morning report and in clinical settings in a large teaching hospital. After both videotaping and audio taping were found to be impractical for the study, eld notes were used to record 65 speakers in 35 hours of observation. The transcribed textual data included 121 pages containing 1,554 unequivocal information requests. The researchers coded the questions in 11 categories, on the basis of the kind of information and the forms in which the requests were expressed. The results of this study were quite different from those of non-observational studies. There have been some observational studies of nursing report at shift change, notably Ekman and Segesten, 1995; Kelly, 1999; Lally, 1999; Lange, 1993; Parker et al.,

1992; and Richard, 1988. Blythe and Royle (1993) did a brief ethnographic study of nurses on duty in several types of hospital units. Potter et al. (2004) used human factors engineering to develop a map of a single registered nurse (RN) and a patient care technician (PCT) working together to care for six patients during one shift on a general acute medicine unit. The researchers recorded physical activities, information processes, time measurements and motion patterns from which they developed a map of the nurses walking pathways between tasks. There have been no previous observational studies of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior pattern. Without such understanding, it is difcult for information professionals to provide critical care nurses with the information systems they need to perform their professional duties. This study seeks evidence to help answer the question What is the observable information behavior pattern of on-duty critical care nurses? 3. Research design This is a study of the nurses behavior patterns and not of the content of the data or the data communication channels they used. It used participant observation and in-context interviews to describe 50 hours of the observable information behavior of a representative sample of critical care nurses in a 20-bed critical care unit of a non-teaching community hospital. The narrative data was veried by member checking and triangulation from other sources. The researcher used the constant comparative method in open, in vivo, and axial coding to develop a grounded theory model of their consistent pattern of multimedia informative interactions. Creswell (1998, p. 56) explains that The centerpiece of grounded theory research is the development or generation of a theory closely related to the context of the phenomenon being studied. Also, nurse researchers Baker et al. (1992, p. 1357) clearly describe how:
[The] researchers purpose in grounded theory is to explain a given social situation by identifying the core and subsidiary processes operating in it. The core process is the guiding principle underlying what is occurring in the situation and dominates the analysis because it links most of the other processes involved in an explanatory network.

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Deductive research begins with a preexisting theory from which testable hypotheses are derived, but grounded theory begins with observations from which generalizations can be made. Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss rst described grounded theory research as sociologists in the 1960s and explained its further development in several books (Glaser, 1978, 1992; Glaser and Strauss, 1999, Strauss, 1987; and Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Dey (1999, pp. 3-9) summarizes the structure of current grounded theory research practice into stages of: (a) initiating research, (b) selecting data, (c) collecting data, (d) analyzing data, and (e) concluding research. Inherent to the grounded theory method is the practice of concurrent activities (b), (c) and especially (d). Research concludes (e) when the categories developed in (b), (c), and (d) become saturated and no new patterns emerge. In the present study, the researcher usually was an observer as participant, but occasionally was a participant as observer when assisting in patient care tasks. While in the eld, the investigator interacted with the participants, took descriptive notes or made audio recordings of interviews with the participants. This was an effective way

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to observe and understand critical care nurses information behavior rst-hand (Janesick, 2000). 3.1 Research context The site selected for this study is a 20-bed critical care unit in a 275-bed community nonteaching hospital. This hospital was chosen because it had an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to monitor the ethical treatment of humans involved in research studies. (Even thought the majority of US hospitals are not teaching hospitals, research is rarely conducted in community hospitals, so most do not have an IRB. This hospital had a recently constituted IRB so that oncology physicians could enter their patients in clinical trials.) This non-prot hospital is in a suburban city and has no afliation with any university. A total of 58 RNs work in this unit; there are no LPNs or Nurses Aids. Each RN is responsible for the total care of two or three patients each shift. Shifts are regularly scheduled as eight or 12 hours, but may often run longer depending upon circumstances. Other health care workers are here for an entire shift (for instance, the Unit Secretary and monitor technicians) or visit the unit as their required (for instance, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, dieticians and case managers). 3.2 Participants The six RN participants in this study constituted a purposeful representative sample of the staff in gender, education and experience. See Table I. As the participant observer researcher, I accompanied each RN participant for one shift for a total of 50 hours of eld work. I made observations on weekdays (7 am to 7 pm), weekday nights (7 pm to 7 am), weekend days and weekend nights. No shift was on a public or national holiday.
RN population Number: Gender: Female Male Education: Diploma AD BS MS Ethnicity: European American African American Chinese American Experience: Range (years) Median (years) Mean (years) 58 47 11 3 24 29 2 51 3 4 NA 8 9.3 RN participants 6 3 3 0 3 3 0 5 0 1 2 to 22 7 8.3


Table I. Unit RN population and participants

Note: A nursing division director provided the population data. He stated that age data and experience range data were not available from the human resources database

3.3 Participant observers experience, conceptual stance and entry into the eld At the time of the research, I had 18 years of experience as a hospital librarian. I had signicant familiarity with health care vocabulary and hospital culture, at least from the viewpoint of an ancillary professional service. My previous experience with nurses information seeking was in a hospital library setting. Although I was familiar with nursing literature, I refrained from reading any critical care nursing texts until the later stages of this research. During the observations, I dressed as a hospital employee, but not as a nurse. The hospitals vice president of nursing; director of emergency, critical and post-critical care; and the manager of the critical care unit were supportive of the study and were aware of how rarely research is conducted in this environment. They understood that they would not pick, nor be told, who the participants would be. The IRBs of both the University of North Texas and the hospital approved participant recruitment, informed consent, measures for privacy and condentiality protection (not only for the participants but also for patients, visitors and other persons present) and the research plan. Participants were recruited with yers and visits to six staff meetings. I emphasized to them that: (a) I was not a nurse and would not be judging anyones professional competence, (b) I would protect participants condentiality as much as possible and (c) I was in no way a change agent for the institution. 3.4 Data collection EasyScriptw speedwriting method (Legend Company, Newton, Massachusetts) was used to record all observations. Earlier studies of physicians had determined that taking any kind of audio or video recording equipment into a patient care area was too intrusive (Forsythe et al., 1992; Osheroff et al., 1991). I accompanied each participant for an entire shift, taking notes in EasyScriptw on a small stenography pad. I recorded observed actions, conversations and some on-the-scene memos. From time-to-time I asked questions in context. In my eld notes, people were identied by role (e.g. RN, patient, doctor, family member) rather than by name and all names of diseases, procedures and drugs were blinded by using {disease name}, {procedure} or {drug} in place of the actual word. Such data is irrelevant to this study and could compromise condentiality. The nurses were used to talking to someone about what they were doing because they occasionally are accompanied on duty by nurse externs (newly hired nurses who go through a preceptorship with an individual nurse for a period before working in the hospital), or LPN students (from a local vocational school) doing clinical observations. As a participant observer, I frequently helped the nurse with small tasks such as moving a patient or unwrapping components of a patients meal while the nurse participant was present. As the data gathering continued I progressed from mostly observing (with little participation) to a combination of observation and participation. At one point I noticed and alerted the nurse participant to a change in a cardiac rhythm on an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor. Sometime toward the end of the shift, when the nurse could take a short break, I engaged the participant in a private, audio-recorded interview. The interview usually lasted 20 to 25 minutes. During a day shift this interview took place in the staff lounge or staff room. Sometimes at night it was possible to do the interview at the nurses

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station, but the background noises of various alarms and machines made that less than desirable. As soon as possible (within 24 hours) I transcribed all of the observation notes and the recorded interview. I noted words that I could not hear or read as [unintelligible] in context. I used the following member check technique (Glesne, 1999, p. 23) to verify the accuracy and validity of my observations. I gave each participant a copy of the transcript within hours of its completion and asked the participant for revisions. Most made no revisions at all, and the few revisions they did make were minor. All participants said that reading the transcript was interesting to them; some reported new insights into their own work, including the frequency of some of their activities. 3.5 Data analysis Several complementary ethnographic methods were used to analyze the data. Open coding (for phenomena repeatedly observed) and in vivo coding (phenomena described in participants words) began immediately after the transcription of eld notes and interviews from the rst observation. Axial coding (expressing relationships between codes) and additional open and in vivo codes emerged from constant comparative analysis of continued observation and analysis until the point of saturation (no additional concepts). The hierarchical axial codes emphasized observed information seeking from many sources and observed information use in many ways. I used N6w qualitative research software (QSR International, Melbourne, Australia) to record my concurrent coding and to index the data for ease and accuracy in later retrieval. The observational data gathered for this study includes 4,236 paragraphs of text. (Fewer than 250 of these paragraphs described activities that were not information behavior.) The concurrent memos constitute an addition 406 paragraphs of narrative data. Analysis continued after the end of the observations with selective coding, triangulation from other sources (e.g. critical care nursing textbooks, and conversations with nurse educators and nurse managers not involved in the study), incremental grounded theory development and selective review of the theory building by experienced qualitative data analysts. 4. Findings the nurses patient chart cycle model 4.1 Nurses informative interactions during a shift in critical care: a narrative with selected examples from the data The basic unit of hospital nursing practice is the shift, a work period for which nurses are paid by the hour. The nurse usually cares for the same patients throughout a given shift, but that may change if one of those patients is transferred to another unit, or if the nurse is assigned a patient being transferred from another unit. (Critical care patients usually transfer to the unit from the Emergency Department or the Surgery Department. A patient may also be discharged or die during a shift.) The following narrative, explanations and examples from the data illustrate the observed informative interactions. The examples chosen are representative of many similar observations. Some pronoun changes have been made in the data presented as examples: Feminine pronouns for the nurses are used consistently to improve readability and preserve condentiality. Although the majority of the nurses on the unit are female, in no way does this stylistic convention imply bias against the male

participants. Also, for the sake of readability and condentiality, masculine pronouns are used consistently for other health care workers, the patient, the patients family members and visitors. The nurse arrives on the unit and goes straight to the time clock in the staff room where she swipes her identication badge through the card reader. She uses the staff restroom quickly because it will probably be hours before she has that opportunity again. In her rst observable information behavior, the nurse checks the stafng roster to nd out (a) who her assigned patients are and what rooms they are in as well as (b) what nurse had each of those patients for the last shift. She goes to the nurses station and locates the heavy binders containing some paper records for each patient. Some of the papers are part of the patients permanent medical record and some are not, but for the duration of this shift this collection, and the computer records for this patient, are collectively the chart. She nds the nurse who was in charge of one of her patients during the last shift. Usually, one of them says Lets do report and the ritual begins. During report, the nurse going off duty does most of the talking. The nurse going off duty begins with a rapid description of the patients condition and medical history. Most of this information can also be found in the patients record, but there are some variations. The nurses conscientiously refrain from gossip or conjecture, but they do pass on some information, especially social information, which is important to the patients care that will not be in the record. The nursing coming on duty asks questions and makes comments. Both use mutually understood jargon and abbreviated terms. At shift change times, one sees pairs of nurses at the nurses station, in the staff room or anywhere they can nd a place for this interview. Because this is an oral process, the unit is closed to visitors at shift change times to protect the privacy and condentiality of the patients. Report example:
Previous nurse: {procedure} last {day of week}. New nurse looks at printout New nurse: Did the doctor order. . . Previous nurse: He didnt say. New nurse: Was he sick prior to {procedure}? Previous nurse: Hed been ill . . . {another kind of procedure} . . . but nothing else. New nurse: They start him on any solid [food]? Previous nurse: Yeah . . . stated feeding today . . .

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Immediately after taking report the nurse studies each patients record in detail. During these observations parts of the patient record (the chart) were in computer systems and parts were on paper. A few functions moved from paper systems to online systems during the observation period. Most, but by no means all, of the paper and online documents the nurse uses are part of the patients permanent medical record. In the participants hospital, the paper parts of the chart included a form identifying the patient, one or two of the patients nearest relatives, and health insurance company (or

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other payer). It also included consent, disclosure and agreement forms signed by the patient or patients guardian as well as some handwritten notes made by the physicians, the nurses, and other health care providers as well as print-outs from various hospital systems. The chart stays in a secure area inside the nurses station. The nurse generally carries what she needs from it on a clipboard she can carry to other parts of the unit. She also keeps personal notes (for her own use) that will not be part of the chart. The nurse uses a laptop computer on a wireless network to access most of the online systems. The laptops are secured to stands on wheels so that they can roll anywhere on the unit. Even though they are intended for nurses to use standing up in or near a patient room, the nurses nearly always use them at the nurses station where they can sit down. Chart example:
RN at nurses station retrieves a monitored vital signs printout from the printer. RN copies the numbers from the printout into the paper chart. Researcher asks why. RN: The monitor system records vitals every 15 or 30 minutes. You can put the printout in the chart like this [points to a printout with a patient bar code sticker attached] but it may be lost from the chart. Because I know it may disappear, I copy it here. I know this form will stay with the chart. If not, some day in court some lawyer may say Did you take vital signs? and if the record isnt there, Im screwed.

So, after taking report for each of her new patients, the nurse sits down to study the charts (both paper and online) for each of her patients. She will return to the chart many, many more times during the shift, but this will probably be the only time when she does not add something to it. Only after report and studying the charts does the nurse make her rst visit to the patient. It may have been more than an hour since the patient last saw a nurse. The nurses demeanor changes dramatically when she enters the patients room; she is clearly in a different role. While studying the chart she was concentrating and shutting herself off from all the activity around her. When she enters the room she is very alert to everything within the room. The rst time she enters a patients room, she introduces herself to the patient (and any visitors who may be in the room) and writes her name on the white board on the wall beyond the foot of the patients bed. Often the nurse arrives with something to give to or do for the patient immediately; it may be a pain medication or a fresh pitcher of water. The nurse is adept at donning procedure gloves from a box on the wall in the room, taking notes on paper and juggling all the things in her hands and pockets. She begins with friendly banter but is really assessing the patient at the same time. Even though she had just studied the patients chart, she may ask the patient about their history and present condition while she is doing a physical assessment. This gives her an idea of how much the patient understands about his condition as well as his present mental clarity or confusion. The nurse assesses vital signs and asks the patient about pain. She notices skin color, texture and condition and feels in several places to note temperature, edema (tissue swelling with uid) and pulses detectable from different parts of the body. She feels and inspects several large veins that lie close to the surface. The nurse checks the patients equipment to make sure it is functioning correctly. She notes the level of intravenous mediations in the hanging medication bag and urine in the Foley (urinary

catheter urine collection) bag, either of which may need to be replaced. She reads cardiac rhythms and vital signs on the monitor and presses buttons to create printouts on one of the printers at the nurses station. She takes the patients temperature and listens with a stethoscope to heart, lung and bowel sounds. She inspects IV and surgical wound sites and does other assessments appropriate for the patients diagnosis. Before leaving the room, she makes sure that the patient can reach the nurse call button, and tells the patient to push it to summon her at any time. Patient example:
RN checks remote monitor for patient, then goes to patients room. She introduces herself [and asks for permission for researcher to enter and observe; patient assents.] She checks the IVAC [intravenous drug administration system] then goes back to the nurses station to get a tympanic [ear] thermometer. When she comes back she checks the patients temperature and looks at the eyes and skin. RN: Can you squeeze my hand? Patient: I think so [squeezes her hand]. RN: Im going to look at your incision, OK? Patient: [laughing] Thats cold! RN: I have some medications for you. [Puts meds in IV]. RN: Are you hurting? Patient: No, no RN: Youre going to let me know if you do hurt, OK?

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After this rst visit to the patient, the nurse goes back to the nurses station and begins entering information from the visit into the chart. She adds to the notes she has already taken in the room on her personal note sheet. She enters information in various parts of the paper chart. Next, she logs into the computer system, logs on for the particular patient, and goes through several screens before she starts entering data into that system. When the nurse has nished this session with the chart, its time to go check on the patients again. This will be the pattern for the rest of the shift-time with the chart, then time with the patient and then back to the chart again. The hospital critical care nurse does not do medical diagnosis or issue medical orders. Her work includes brief interruptions for informative interactions with health care workers (housekeepers, engineers, clerical workers) and other health care providers (physicians, therapists, other nurses, etc.). In a community hospital, most, if not all, doctors are not hospital based and tend to visit hospitalized patients before and after their ofce hours. The nurse will see her patients doctors only very briey. The nurse is responsible for the execution or coordination of all of the doctors orders for her patients during her shift. This requires informative interaction with a number of different of health care providers including dieticians, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, and others. The nurse also coordinates activities of other hospital workers on behalf of her patient.

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Health care workers example:

Doctor writes progress notes in patients chart. RN reports blood glucose levels to doctor. They discuss the patients blood glucose levels.


Doctor: Where do you record nger sticks? RN shows him. Doctor: His [bacterial] culture? RN reads lab reports to doctor. Doctor writes new orders for lab tests. RN tells Doctor blood gas levels. Doctor: The x-ray looked slightly worse. RN: Hes passing gas no major poop but is passing gas. Doctor: [smiling] much to the nurses dismay!

The nurses workow is also punctuated with informative interactions with the patients family, friends and visitors. Some of the nurses most difcult information interactions may be with the people who are closest to the patient. When the nurse is in the patients room and a there is a visitor, she picks up many subtle clues about the visitors relationship to the patient and the patients disease. She may notice signs of strain or signs of support among family members. Some may have a great need for information about the patient; some may not want to know. Some may be unable to accept what is happening or be unable to deal with the disruption in their lives. They may have unrealistic expectations for the patient or they may be unable to make necessary decisions about the patients care. The nurse cannot ignore them because they, too, are important in the patients care. A family member may spend more time in the patients room than any other person. The nurse knows she is not only caring for the patient, but the patients family as well. She must communicate openly with the family, encourage effective coping behaviors and often provide emotional support. Family, friends and visitors example:
Family member: Do we need to stay here? RN: Hes going down, but its not {unintelligible}. You know it could be any time, but my guess is that it wont be tonight. Most of the time we can make an educated guess . . . If you go home, well call you if it looks like hes going to pass . . . I know you live only {number} minutes away. . . Let me look at his [vital] signs. RN explains to family member the medications the patient is receiving. Family member: Keep him comfortable. RN: Hes probably not responding to pain. Hes not responding to any external stimuli so hes probably not experiencing pain internally.

Family members are all watching the monitor anxiously. RN: We may see some brief drastic changes on the monitor. The respiratory distress and the pneumonia will get worse until the system cannot take it anymore. Family member: How long does it take? RN: Im not an expert . . . I cant tell you here tonight . . . It might be a day, it might be a week.

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Finally, toward the end of the shift the nurse will press on to make sure that everything has been done for the patients and entered into the chart before it is time to do report with the patients new nurses. 4.2 Grounded theory model of the core process All of the nurse participants in this study demonstrated a consistent and easily observable pattern of information behavior during their on-duty shifts. Information seeking, and recording or passing on of information is a nearly constant process for the entire shift. The consistent process pattern, illustrated in Figure 1, included the following ve (three major and two minor) observable informative interactions: (1) Report: Informative interaction between the nurse who has been caring for the patient and the nurse who is about to begin caring for the patient at the

Figure 1. The Nurses Patient-Chart Cycle: informative interactions

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beginning and end of each shift, as well as whenever a patient is transferred from one unit to another. This is commonly called report. (2) Chart: Informative interaction with the patient record, commonly called the chart, in paper or automated systems. (3) Patient: Informative interaction with the patient The nurse repeats interaction number two and interaction number three alternately throughout the entire shift, interspersed with brief episodes of: (4) Health care worker: Informative interaction with other health care providers or health care workers, primarily to coordinate the care of the patient. (5) Family, friends, and visitors: Informative interaction with the patients family, friends and visitors on behalf of the patient. All ve kinds of informative interactions can and often do happen in multiple media. The nurses work shift is dominated by this cycle between informative interactions with the chart and with the patient. The care of each patient is bracketed by report at the beginning and the end of the nurses period of responsibility for each patient. Necessary informative interactions with other health care workers, and with the patients family, friends and visitors are minor interruptions in the patient-chart cycle (Figure 1). 5. Discussion This study used observer participant data and in-context interview data to develop a grounded theory model describing the core processes of the information behavior of individual on-duty critical care nurses in a community hospital. The researcher gathered more than 4,000 paragraphs of narrative data from 50 hours of observation of a representative sample of six on-duty critical care nurses in a community hospital critical care unit. Using open, in vivo and axial coding of this data, the researcher developed a grounded theory model, the Nurses Patient-Chart Cycle which describes the core process of critical care nurses on-duty information behavior. 6. Conclusions On-duty critical care nursing is a constant process of informative interactions. The Nurses Patient-Chart Cycle describes the relationship of three major kinds of informative interactions report, with the patient and with the patients record (commonly called the chart) and two minor kinds of informative interactions, one with other health care workers and the other with the patients family, friends and visitors. All of these informative interactions are multi-directional and happen in many media. The nurses shift begins with an oral report from the nurse or nurses previously caring for the patients in her charge this shift. (A similar report is exchanged whenever a patient transfers onto or off of the unit.) Report is followed by a period of time gathering information from the chart. At the end of the shift, the nurse spends time concluding entries in the patient record before giving report to the nurses about to care for the same patients. Most of the shift in between is a constant cycle of informative interactions with the patient and the patients chart. There are brief interludes of the informative interactions with other health care workers or with a patients family, friends and visitors. The researcher observed that the participant nurses made a


conscious change in exhibited affect between when they were interacting with the patient in the patients room and when they were interacting with various information systems outside of the room. No matter how stressed and busy they might be, they always presented a relaxed and calm demeanor to the patient. All nurses displayed and expressed frustration with their on-duty time management challenges, especially charting. They were skilled at multi-tasking, but feared making serious mistakes by missing something important. Most believed that their data recording systems (both on paper and online) had too many redundancies that wasted their time. This is an example of temporal factors as qualiers of access to information (Savolainen, 2006). As reported in other studies (including Pettengill et al., 1994) lack of time was the factor that most discouraged nurses from using knowledge based information sources and published research, even when libraries and computer services were available. m (2000) statements that As Their observed behavior was consistent with Bystro soon as information acquisition requires an effort people as sources become more popular than documentary sources, and that The more information types needed, the greater the use of people as sources. It is interesting to consider this specic model of information behavior as it ts into the person-in-context of some of T.D. Wilsons more general models of information ms (2005) broad theory of behaviour (Wilson, 2005). It is also consistent with Bystro information activities in work tasks. Findings for other questions in this study about the kinds of information sought, the sources of information, barriers to informative interactions with people and systems, and how the information is used have been published elsewhere (McKnight, 2004a,b). 7. Reliability and validity Member checking, the participants review of the researchers transcript of her eld notes, helped verify the accuracy of the data. After reading the transcripts, the participants all commented that they had not realized how often they had some interactions. On duty, the nurses concentration was clearly on the patients care and not the classication of their informative interactions. The use of thick description (McKnight, 2004a) enriched the credibility of the data and the reliability of the ndings. For additional triangulation of the model, nursing managers and nursing professors reviewed some of the data and approved the ndings. Several of the latter remarked on the value of seeing nursing as an information process. 8. Limitations As in all such ethnographic research, this study described the behavior of one group of people at one time in one setting and the results are not generalizable to all settings. The participants were all volunteers who expressed pride in their profession but did not appear to restrain themselves from expressing their frustrations. It is possible that some of the nurses in the unit who did not volunteer were not as happy with their jobs. The participant nurses could, of course, alter their behavior because of the presence of the researcher. While the researcher occasionally detected some performance behavior at the beginning of a shift, the opinion of this researcher is that the nurses work was so constant and intense that they could not keep that up very long.

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Some words were missed (a) because low voices or background noise prevented the researcher from hearing or (b) because the speech was too fast for the researcher to record. The latter occasionally happened during shift change report when the nurse going off duty rapidly recounted to the new nurse a large amount of information about the patient. The content of some long clinical discussions and of the data the nurses entered in to the chart was not recorded for two reasons this content was not the focus of the study and recording it would have risked betrayal of patients condentiality rights. To protect patient privacy and condentiality, patient conditions were not noted in the data. Therefore, the data could not be systematically analyzed to determine any correlations between the seriousness of an event and the nurses demonstrated urgency in information seeking. The fact that the researcher (participant observer) in this study is not a nurse is both a limitation and a strength of the study. This study did not begin with a particular nursing theory or formal process, but rather with observation of nurses information behavior. The participant nurses knew that in no way was the researcher assessing their professional skills. The participant observer was not considering how best the nurse should care for the patient, but was focusing on the observed information behavior. 9. Implications Nursing school faculties teach nursing students the formal Nursing Process (Thelan et al., 1998) and principles of nursing research utilization (including evidence based practice). Nursing students may spend hours writing a single care plan for a single patient. Librarians serving schools of nursing often teach nursing students how to use information retrieval resources for their school work and research papers. These activities require time for both information gathering and also thoughtful reection. Individualized nursing care plans with accurate nursing diagnoses, interventions and outcomes are not generated by checking boxes on a form or on a screen. No one can retrieve reliable literature and systematically review it while watching monitors, checking on patients, administering and verifying therapies, and answering telephone calls. The intelligent and educated participant nurses in this study are all passionate about giving their patients the best care possible. They are well aware of the difference between the nursing process and medical practice. They respect research-informed practice and want the best of what academia and libraries can give them to support the care of their patients. However, their duties leave no room for such pursuits. One implication of the Nurses Chart Patient Cycle, is that there is neither time nor opportunity for these on-duty critical care nurses to use most of these academic skills. Given the economic realities of health care, hospital administrators are unlikely to pay nurses for off duty time for such pursuits. What they do, they have to do on their own time. Librarians and other information professionals serving working nurses in hospitals must be wary of using academic models for delivery of their information services. On-call ready reference service (an expert reference interview followed by information retrieval incorporating literature ltering and simple highlighting of pertinent passages) would provide these nurses with more reliable knowledge based information than they currently get by asking people.

It does not matter whether the knowledge-based information is delivered on paper or online nurses still do not have time to read more than a few paragraphs (if that) on the job. Libraries and systems developed for researchers and academics to retrieve primary peer reviewed research literature may be too cumbersome and time consuming for on-duty nurses use (McKnight, 2004b). 10. Further research As described in part 3, there have been many studies of report, the rst informative interaction in the Nurses Patient Chart Cycle. Studies of the interrelationship of the second informative interaction, the chart, and the third informative interaction, the patient, could be useful for improving both clinical care and clinical information systems. Studies of nurses patient care interactions and studies of the use of clinical information systems are common. However, neither of these two informative interactions exists without the other and they rarely are studied in relationship to each other. They are studied as if they were unrelated information contexts. Many studies predict, suggest or report that online clinical information systems will (or do) reduce the amount of time that nurses spend in documentation. If that is so, more holistic studies of nurses on-duty information behavior could be expected to reect increased time with the patient in relationship to that spent with the chart. The participants in this study clearly believed that documentation in various redundant online systems reduced their time with the patient. Additional holistic studies after online systems have been in use and rened for a few years would be very valuable. As Ingwersen and Jarvelin (2005) write:
Modern work is increasingly knowledge work . . . research in Information Seeking should be extended both toward work tasks and toward information (retrieval) systems (or technology) in relationship with each other.

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The Patient-Chart Cycle might be described as lop-sided with the nurses apparently spending much more time in the chart part of the cycle than in the patient part. Further research could support or refute that hypothesis. A related question would compare the patient and family members concepts of what the nurse does most of the time with the reality of the amount of time she spends processing information. It would be useful to replicate the study in different kinds of units and in different hospitals to check on the accuracy of the model in other settings. Other studies could measure the quantities of time that nurses spend in the ve informative interactions of the model. People choose to become nurses because they want to care for patients. Few may have realized how much information processing they would do on-duty. The Nurses Patient Chart Cycle illustrates nursing as an information processing occupation. Clinical information systems, library services and knowledge based information systems built with an understanding of the Nurses Patient Chart Cycle can improve nurses informative interactions and allow them to do more of what they do best, care for patients.
References American Nurses Association (2004), Nursing World, available at: www.nursingworld.org/ pressrel/index.htm (accessed September 2 2004).

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Baker, C., Wuest, J. and Stern, P.N. (1992), Method slurring: the grounded theory/phenomenology example, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 17, pp. 1355-60. Blythe, J.B. and Royle, J.A. (1993), Brief communications: assessing nurses information needs in the work environment, Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, Vol. 81, pp. 433-5. m, K. (2000), The effects of task complexity on the relationship between information Bystro glund, L. and Wilson, T. (Eds), types acquired and information sources used, in Ho The New Review of Information Behaviour Research: Studies of Information Seeking in Context, Taylor Graham, Cambridge, pp. 85-101. m, K. (2005), Information activities in work tasks, in Fisher, K.E., Erdelez, S. and Bystro McKechnie, L. (Eds), Theories of Information Behavior, ASIST Monograph Series, Information Today, Medford, NJ, pp. 174-8. Case, D.O. (2002), Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior, Academic Press, Amsterdam. Creswell, J.W. (1998), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design, 2nd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Dawes, M. and Sampson, U. (2003), Knowledge management in clinical practice: a systematic review of information seeking behavior in physicians, International Journal of Medical Informatics, Vol. 71, pp. 9-15. Detlefsen, E.G. (1998), The information behaviors of life and health scientists and health care providers: characteristics of the research literature, Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, Vol. 86, pp. 185-90. Dey, I. (1999), Grounding Grounded Theory: Guidelines for Qualitative Inquiry, Academic Press, San Diego, CA. Ekman, I. and Segesten, K. (1995), Deputed power of medical control: the hidden message in the ritual of oral shift reports, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 22, pp. 1006-111. Forsythe, D.E., Buchanan, B.G., Osheroff, J.A. and Miller, R.A. (1992), Expanding the concept of medical information: an observational study of physicians information needs, Computers and Biomedical Research, Vol. 25, pp. 181-200. Glaser, B.G. (1978), Theoretical Sensitivity, Sociology Press, Mill Valley, CA. Glaser, B.G. (1992), Basics of Grounded Theory Analysis, Sociology Press, Mill Valley, CA. Glaser, B.G. and Strauss, A.L. (1999), The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, Aldine de Gruyter, New York, NY, (originally published in 1967). Glesne, C. (1999), Becoming Qualitative Researchers: An Introduction, Longman, New York, NY. Ingwersen, P. and Jarvelin, K. (2005), The Turn: Integration of Information Seeking and Retrieval in Context, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 316-23. Janesick, V.J. (2000), The choreography of qualitative research design, in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 379-99. Kelly, R. (1999), Goings-on in a CCU: an ethnomethodological account of things that go on in a routine hand-over, Nursing in Critical Care, Vol. 4, pp. 85-91. Lally, S. (1999), An investigation into the functions of nurses communication at the inter-shift handover, Journal of Nursing Management, Vol. 7, pp. 29-35. Lange, L.L. (1993), Information seeking by nurses during beginning-of-shift activities, Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer Application in Medical Care, American Medical Informatics Association, pp. 317-21.

Leckie, G.J., Pettigrew, K.E. and Sylvain, C. (1996), Modeling the information seeking of professionals: a general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals, and lawyers, Library Quarterly, Vol. 66, pp. 161-93. McKnight, M. (2004a), An observational investigation of on-duty critical care nurses information behavior in a nonteaching community hospital, Dissertation Abstracts International, 65/03, 740A (UMI AAT 3126579). McKnight, M. (2004b), Hospital nurses: no time to read on duty, Journal of Electronic Medical Resources in Libraries, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 13-23. McKnight, M. and Peet, M. (2000), Health care providers information seeking: recent research, Medical Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 19, pp. 27-49. Marriott, J. and Mable, A.L. (2004), Opportunities and Potential: A Review of International Literature on Primary Health Care Reform and Models, Health Human Resource Strategies Division, Health Policy and Communications Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa,, available at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/phctf-fassp/english/eng-manual.pdf (accessed September 2 2004). Osheroff, J.A., Forsythe, D.E., Buchanan, B.G., Bankowitz, R.A., Blumenfeld, B.H. and Miller, R.A. (1991), Physicians information needs: analysis of questions posed during clinical teaching, Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 114, pp. 576-81. Parker, J., Gardner, G. and Wiltshire, J. (1992), Handover: the collective narrative of nursing practice, Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 9, pp. 31-7. Richard, J.A. (1988), Congruence between intershift reports and patients actual conditions, IMAGE: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 20, pp. 4-6. Pettengill, M.M., Gillies, D.A. and Clark, C.C. (1994), Factors encouraging and discouraging the use of nursing research ndings, Image the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 26, pp. 143-7. Potter, P., Boxerman, S., Wolf, L., Marshall, J., Grayson, D., Sledge, J. and Evanoff, B. (2004), Mapping the nursing process: a new approach for understanding the work of nursing, Journal of Nursing Administration, Vol. 34, pp. 101-9. Savolainen, R. (2006), Time as a context of information seeking, Library & Information Science Research, Vol. 28, pp. 110-27. Statistical Abstract of the United States (2004), US Census Bureau, Washington, DC, available at: www.census.gov/prod/www/statistical-abstract-03.html (accessed September 2, 2004). Strauss, A. (1987), Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1998), Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Thelan, L.A., Lough, M.E., Urden, L.D. and Stacy, K.M. (1998), Critical Care Nursing Diagnosis and Management, 3rd ed., Mosby, St Louis, MO. Wilson, T.D. (2005), Evolution in information behavior modeling: Wilsons model, in Fisher, K.E., Erdelez, S. and McKechnie, L. (Eds), Theories of Information Behavior, ASIST Monograph Series, Information Today, Medford, NJ, pp. 31-6. About the author Michelynn McKnight, PhD, AHIP is Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Dr McKnight can be contacted at: mmck@lsu.edu To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints

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What is enough? Satiscing information needs

Chandra Prabha, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Lawrence Olszewski and Lillie R. Jenkins
OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., Dublin, Ohio, USA
Purpose This paper seeks to understand how users know when to stop searching for more information when the information space is so saturated that there is no certainty that the relevant information has been identied. Design/methodology/approach Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students participated in focus group interviews to investigate what leads them to satisce their information needs. Findings Academic library users describe both qualitative and quantitative criteria, which lead them to make rational choices determining when enough information satisces their need. The situational context of both the participants specic information need and their role in academic society affects every stage of their search from the selection of the rst resource, to ongoing search strategies, to decisions on how much information is enough. Originality/value These ndings broaden the scope of earlier user research, which tends to focus on the more static views of habitual information-seeking and -searching behavior, by applying theoretical frameworks for a richer understanding of the users experiences. Keywords User studies, Academic libraries, Information retrieval, Consumer behaviour Paper type Research paper


Introduction The current information environment is rich, characterized by a proliferation of information sources and providers, a multiplicity of methods for accessing information, and a redundancy of content from multiple sources. In this overloaded information environment, many information users tend to experience a sense of information inadequacy and anxiety. How do individuals navigate this complex landscape of information? Furthermore, how do individuals assess the information they nd as being enough to satisfy their specic need? In this complex information environment, understanding how individuals choose to satisfy their information needs takes on new urgency. Insight into information seeking can be gained by understanding how users seek information sources and how they choose content to meet their needs. Yet the library and information science literature has neglected to study how individuals decide what and how much information is enough to meet their needs or goals. Research on information-seeking and -searching behavior has paid ample attention to sources of information sources used. The process of seeking and searching for information also has received considerable attention from researchers, resulting in
Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 74-89 Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723894

q OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Jonathan Vespa, Intern, Research, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. to this paper and to Eric Childress and Robert Bolander, Research, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. for their insightful comments and suggestions.

several models, many of which are centered on information seeking and searching in academic or professional settings. Though the models delineate the processes, they have not shed much light upon how users recognize what or how much information is enough to accomplish their objectives. The present article extends the information-seeking, -searching, and -gathering process to include how and when individuals stop looking for information, given a goal or a task that creates the need for information. Individuals are motivated to seek information to satisfy their needs (Wilson, 2005). Given the information glut, how do individuals manage information in such a way as to provide a sufcient answer? This, in essence, is what is meant by satiscing. Satiscing, as dened by Herbert Simon (1955), may be applied to library and information science as an information competency whereby individuals assess how much information is good enough to satisfy their information need. Scholars from different elds have drawn on the satiscing concept to reect on the contrast between choosing what is satisfactory and choosing what is best (Byron, 2004, p. 1). To amplify this central thesis relating satiscing to search-stopping behavior, this article presents examples of satiscing information needs in relation to the academic tasks that create a need for information in the rst place. Role theory and rational choice theory provide a framework for understanding why users decide to stop looking for more information when searching for information to meet their needs. Role and rational choice theories in human information behavior Both role theory and rational choice theory are attempts to explain human behavior. Role theory explains individuals preferences by situating their search for information in a social context within a social system (Mead, 1934; Marks and MacDermid, 1996). Rational choice theory, on the other hand, addresses how individuals decide how much effort is needed to nd information in order to accomplish their objectives. Role theory The term role has its origin in theatre as a part played by an actor, which was written on a roll of paper (Biddle and Thomas, 1966). The term began to be used in a technical sense in the 1930s when social scientists recognized that social life is akin to theatre where actors play their predictable roles (Biddle and Thomas, 1966). More cogently, role theory explains that: When people occupy social positions their behavior is determined mainly by what is expected of that position rather than by their own individual characteristics (Abercrombie et al., 1994, p. 360). George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), Ralph Linton (1893-1953), and Jacob Moreno (1889-1974) contributed to the development of role theory (Borgatta and Montgomery, 2000). Each attempted to explain behavior from their distinct disciplinary perspectives. Mead, who approached it from a philosophical perspective, viewed roles as coping strategies that individuals learn as they interact in society. Linton, who studied from an anthropological angle, distinguished status from position in playing a role. Moreno, who studied from the viewpoint of a psychologist, saw roles as habits and tactics that individuals learn. In effect, Roles provide behavioral guidelines, prescriptions or boundaries in the form of expectations (The Gale Group, 2001). Role theory acknowledges the particularity of the situation including personal motivations, perceptions of information needs and priorities for information seeking (Mead, 1934; Blumer and Morrione, 2004).

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Including the information-seekers social role helps to understand how individuals seek information in different roles. However, role theory does not explain individual differences seen among those playing the same role. Rational choice theory, on the other hand, is useful in this pursuit because it addresses how individual incentives and intentions inuence the information choices users make. Rational choice theory The origin of rational choice theory has been traced back to logic, mathematics and statistics, although much of it developed in economics (Green, 2002). Rational choice theory is based on the premise that complex social behavior can be understood in terms of elementary individual actions because individual action is the elementary unit of social life. Rational choice theory posits that individuals choose or prefer what is best to achieve their objectives or pursue their interests, acting in their self-interest (Green, 2002). Stated another way, When faced with several courses of action, people usually do what they believe is likely to have the best overall outcome (Scott, 2000). Rational choice theory does not specify that all individuals work toward (or even desire) similar goals, nor do they assess costs and benets similarly. Rather, actors assess costs and benets according to their own preferences, values or utilities (Friedman and Hechter, 1988, p. 202). In other words, individuals act with the express purpose of attaining ends that are consistent with their hierarchy of preferences. Rational choice theory has been adopted by several elds including anthropology, political science, psychology, consumer behaviorism, and sociology. Sociologists use rational choice theory to explain human behavior in terms of individuals goals and motivations (Green, 2002). In its purest form, rational choice theory assumes that it is possible to know and evaluate all of the possible choices. According to this theory, individuals compare the expected benets they derive from taking various courses of action in pursuit of their objectives and then choose one that promises to maximize the benets relative to the effort or cost required. In economics, individual actions that are based on individual preferences are dened as rational if they can consistently compare expected benets from all of the alternative courses of actions. In other words, individuals make a cost-benet analysis prior to selecting the optimal course of action to achieve a desired goal (Wikipedia, 2006). In many real-life situations, individuals may not have at their disposal the full range of all possible choices with which to assess and compare the benets of each choice in relation to the effort or cost; therefore, the premise of rational choice theory has been challenged and debated widely by scholars. Simon (1955) proposed the concept of satiscing, recognizing that in many situations it is neither possible to know the entire spectrum of options, nor is it possible to compare the benets each may offer. In practice, satiscing translates into a judgment that the information is good enough to satisfy a need even though the full cost-benet analysis was not performed. Satiscing Simon denes satiscing as a decision-making process through which an individual decides when an alternative approach or solution is sufcient to meet the individuals desired goals rather than pursue the perfect approach (Simon, 1971, p. 71). When individuals satisce, they compare the benets of obtaining more information against the additional cost and effort of continuing to search (Schmid, 2004). In fact, in


many organizations, problems are considered resolved when a good enough solution has been found, that is the manager satisces as she looks for a course of action that is satisfactory (Choo, 1998, p. 49). Theoretically, decision makers consider all potential alternatives until the optimal solution emerges (Stroh et al., 2002). However, such an exhaustive analysis would require additional time and expenditure which information seekers must weigh against the likelihood that they will nd additional information of sufcient value to offset the cost of continued searching. The consequences of putting time and effort into nding optimal solutions can be costly; therefore, decision makers must be willing to forgo the best solution in favor of one that is acceptable (Stroh et al., 2002, p. 94). In so doing, information seekers . . .satisce. . .and choose the one [solution] that produces an outcome that is good enough (Stroh et al., 2002, p. 94). The foregoing examples suggest that users may satisce their need for information based on what they are able to nd and thus stop looking for more information. Users may also stop looking for information prematurely if the information systems are difcult or unusable. The very abundance of information makes it crucial for information seekers to decide what information is enough to meet their objectives. This paper examines the theoretical concepts role theory, rational choice, and satiscing by attempting to explain the parameters within which users navigate the complex information-rich environment and determine what and how much information will meet their needs. Previous studies and models on information seeking and searching Studies The information-seeking and -searching research that explicitly addresses the topic of what is good enough is scant, though several studies make oblique references to the stopping stage, or to the shifting of directions for want of adequate information. Kraft and Lee (1979, p. 50) propose three stopping rules: (1) The satiation rule, where the scan is terminated only when the user becomes satiated by nding all the desired number of relevant documents; (2) The disgust rule, which allows the scan to be terminated only when the user becomes disgusted by having to examine too many irrelevant documents; and (3) The combination rule, which allows the user to be seen as stopping the scan if he/she is satiated by nding the desired number of relevant documents or disgusted by having to examine too many irrelevant documents, whichever comes rst. The stopping rules suggested by these authors imply an emotional or affective response to the nature of the retrieved documents or their surrogates and do not address the inuence of role and rational choice theories and the concept of satiscing on information-seeking behavior. Dalton and Charnigo (2004, p. 414) found that several [historians] mentioned that they had called a halt to research when they felt they had enough to write, even if other sources promised to yield additional information. Some had tailored their research topics to minimize travel. This study illustrates how historians satisce their search for information in the context of research. In another study of historians, Duff and Johnson (2002) note that time and money are important constraints on how much information historians can gather, which illustrates how Stroh et al. (2002) dene

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acceptable. Lack of sufcient time and money clearly leads the historians in this study to settle or satisce when they believe they have enough information to meet their objective. Barrett (2005, p. 326) observes that undergraduates employ a coping strategy in their search for information, often seeking to nd enough information to fulll assignment requirements with the least cost in terms of time or social effort. This comment once again exemplies how undergraduates (information seekers in a different role) satisce their need for information. Barretts study of the information-seeking behavior of undergraduate students excludes how graduate students satisce. Some attention has been given to the topic of how the situation inuences users decisions to determine what information is good enough (i.e. appropriate). Leckie et al. (1996, p. 185) found that when:
[. . .] confronted with too much unevaluated information, engineers will often select sources based on authors they already know and have used, and lawyers will tend to use their notes from other cases, as well as familiar digests, citators, and other ready reference sources. . . It is often important that the information be obtained immediately or within an acceptable period of time. Its usefulness and impact will decrease if it is obtained either too early or too late.

Furthermore, they note that the cost involved with accessing a particular source will also affect whether a professional decides to use it. The importance of the need, time factor, and monies available will determine how much effort and expense a professional will spend, seeking information from any given source (Leckie et al., 1996, p. 185). Although lawyers, as a professional group, fall outside the academic community, this example illustrates a practice of satiscing behavior. Meho and Tibbo (2003, p. 585) come to the following conclusion about the ending stage of research:
The ending stage marks the end of the research cycle of a project. Although it is not discussed in this paper, an ending stage was assumed as all interview questions were geared toward discussing the entire research cycle of a project.

More importantly, they suggest that when researchers cannot nd relevant information, they try to use alternative sources or methods (Meho and Tibbo, 2003, p. 585). In other words, Meho and Tibbo (2003, p. 585) report that these scientists are satiscing by searching for new information. . .or continu[ing] working with whatever information had been obtained. However, they do not directly address the ending stage or the factors leading to it. A very extensive analysis of what is good enough is undertaken by Zach (2005, p. 31), who found that senior arts administrators:
[. . .] may reach the point of making the decision to complete the information-seeking process several times during the course of exploring an issue; they may then cycle through some or all of the steps one or more times before attaining the desired level of comfort with the results of the process. Sometimes it may be that additional information is necessary to provide greater clarity or understanding of the issue, but often it is that the administrator simply wants more time to process the input before taking the nal step.

No administrator in the study applied predetermined criteria to make the decision to move forward to the next phase. The decision was made when the administrators felt satised with the inputs available to them or the decision was forced by external time

constraints. Sometimes the two primary factors comfort and time were in conict with each other, in which case they often resorted to satiscing. Administrators also agreed that the type of task or decision inuenced when they would stop the exploration process. However, the essential element of the decision to move on was the belief that they had enough information to complete the task or make the decision, even if they knew that more information might be available. Models Information-related actions begin with the recognition of the need for nding information to address a situation or solve a problem, and end when the individuals resolve the situation or abandon the pursuit. Understanding how individuals satisce their need for information may be viewed as recognizing how much effort individuals are willing to invest in nding information, in relation to the trade-offs of information quality, time constraints for achieving an objective, solving a problem, or addressing a situation. Satiscing the need for information is an integral component of the larger body of literature on information-seeking and -searching models. Library and information science research has identied several models for information-seeking and -searching behavior. A benchmark model, proposed by Taylor (1968), suggests that librarians consider users objectives and motivations in providing answers information seekers will accept. Taylors model recognizes that individuals evaluate information in relation to the objectives that create their need for information. Krikelas (1983, p. 13) suggests that the characteristic of the problem may be a more critical indicator of potential behavior than various personal or work characteristics. In other words, the nature of the problem may indicate how much or what information is needed to satisce. Krikelas also discusses Voigts (1961) model, which describes three types of information needs identied by scientists. The scientists rst type of information need is to keep current in relevant elds of study. The second need is the scientists need for some specic piece of information (Voigt, 1961, p. 21). The third type of information need, which occurs with the least frequency, is the need for an exhaustive search the need to nd all of the existing relevant information on a specic subject or topic, as in the case of a dissertation topic (Voigt, 1961). The exhaustive search is the type that provides the scientist with enough information to determine that the search process can stop. The three types of needs monitoring, nding specic data, and searching exhaustively require varying amounts of search effort. By connecting the information need to the information problem, Krikelas, like Taylor, acknowledges that individuals decide how much information is needed in relation to the nature of the problem. Marchionini (1995) observes that the determination of when to stop looking for information may depend on external functions like setting/context/situation or a search system or on internal functions like motivation, task-domain knowledge, and information-seeking ability. In other words, all or some of these factors may inuence the decision about how much information is enough. Foster (2004), like Marchionini, remarks that both external and internal contexts serve to frame information needs, thereby framing the conditions under which those needs become satised. He discovers that users knowledge that they had enough information emerged as an iterative

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process of questioning whether they had acquired sufcient material to meet the present information need. Wilson (2005) generalizes a theoretical model of a continuing information-seeking cycle which recognizes the episodic nature of information seeking. Although this model focuses on the information-seeking process, it does not explicitly explore the conclusion stage; therefore, the factors that individuals employ in deciding when to stop information seeking are not identied. Kuhlthau (2005) depicts the information-search process as a sequential set of intellectual stages: becoming aware of the lack of knowledge or understanding (initiation), identifying a problem area or topic (selection), exploring the problem (exploration), dening the problem (formulation), collecting relevant information (collection), and explaining what the person learned (presentation). This model does not address the effort required to transition through the various information-seeking stages. Ellis (1989) proposes a behavioral model based on the analysis of a detailed description of information-seeking activities by social scientists. In this model, the decision of whether the information found is sufcient to meet a users needs is dependent upon chasing and evaluating references as well as systemically identifying content that is of interest to the user. Ellis characterizes six different types of information activities: starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring and extracting. He emphasizes the information-seeking activities, rather than the nature of the problems or criteria used for determining when to stop the information search process. In a subsequent article, Ellis (1997) observes that even in the nal stages of writing, individuals may continue the search for information in an attempt to answer unresolved questions or to look for new literature. In Dervin et al.s (2003) sense-making approach, ending an information-seeking episode involves the act of making sense of the situation or resolving the problem with information gathered for that purpose. After nding that information, the information seeker will most likely end the search episode, determining that enough information has been found. Dervin uses the term outcome to denote the information-seeking objective. Accomplishing that objective implies the conclusion of the information-seeking episode. Since this model emphasizes the importance of the situation in seeking information and recognizes the episodic nature of information seeking, it does not explicitly address the factors associated with stopping behavior, although sense-making recognizes that given the incomplete nature of reality, the information-seeking process is only ever partially fullled. In that sense, satiscing is a key element in Dervins sense-making approach. Findings of research on satiscing of academic information needs In an attempt to identify how and why academic users satisce their information needs, a major research project utilized online surveys and telephone, focus group and semi-structured interviews (IMLS, 2003). In Phase III of the study, a random sample of seventy-eight academic users participated in focus group interviews to identify how and why they get information. A total of eight focus group interviews were conducted in spring 2005. The median number of participants per focus group was ten and focus group participants included 31 faculty, 19 graduate students, and 28 undergraduate students. The students and faculty were interviewed in separate groups because the

students may have felt uncomfortable freely expressing their opinions in the presence of faculty. The participants were asked to recollect academic tasks that led them to perform thorough searches. Participants then were asked what made them decide that the information they had was enough while engaged in doing thorough searches. In other words, what criteria did the participants employ to stop looking for information, i.e. to satisce? Another question asked participants to think of a time when they were in a situation where they needed answers or solutions and they did a quick search for the information, without a thorough evaluation of its credibility, even though they knew there were other sources available and decided not to use them. Responses to ending thorough searches Some of the criteria that the participants mentioned may be viewed as quantitative, as exemplied by the student who stopped searching for information once he had acquired the required number of journal sources for an assignment. Other criteria mentioned by participants are qualitative, as exemplied by the remark that when the same information is repeated in several sources, the search is terminated. The criteria students and faculty use for stopping the information search are shown in the lists below. The academic tasks or situations that prompted the information search are also shown in order to provide a context for the criteria students and faculty mentioned. Undergraduate and graduate students Undergraduate and graduate students discussed writing research reports or preparing presentations as examples of academic tasks. Responses of undergraduate and graduate students were combined (see below) Situations creating the need to look for information (meeting assignment requirements): . writing research reports; and . preparing presentations. Criteria used for stopping the information search (fullling assignment requirements): (1) Quantitative criteria: . required number of citations was gathered . required number of pages was reached; . all the research questions were answered; and . time available for preparing. (2) Qualitative criteria: . accuracy of information; . same information repeated in several sources; . sufcient information was gathered; and . concept understood.

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Quantitative criteria Some students concluded their search as soon they had collected the required number of sources. One graduate student said, We had to research a certain topic, and we had to have ten sources, and they all had to be journal sources or peer-reviewed sources. Another student said that as soon as he collected enough information to write the number of pages for the report, he stopped the search. This student said, I dont feel the need to expound on the subject beyond the number of required pages. Another student said that when he found all the information he was trying to research and all the questions had been answered, he stopped looking for information. For many students, the amount of time available for doing the assignment and the relative reward (the value being in terms of the nal grade in the course) inuenced when they stopped looking for more information. Qualitative criteria A graduate student who was looking for the temperature that the Chinese used for making ceramics 500 years ago kept looking for that information until she found the answer in a book. She was then convinced of the accuracy of the information and purchased the title. Some students said that they knew that it was time to stop looking for information when a great deal of the information was repeated in several sources. After Ive read everything in the article for like the third time through, Ill just quit. I am like, I have enough, remarked one undergraduate student. Some students stop looking for information once they judge that they have sufcient information to write the assigned report, or when they understand the concept well enough to articulate their thoughts in a report. Faculty Faculty referred to both teaching and scholarly or research needs as prompting them to perform thorough searches. As shown below, faculty mentioned preparing lectures to deliver to students, preparing and delivering presentations for classes, and designing and conducting workshops as situations creating the need to look for information. Situations creating the need to look for information (meeting teaching needs): . preparing lectures and presentations; . delivering lectures and presentations; . designing and conducting workshops; . meeting scholarly and research needs; and . writing journal articles, books and grant proposals. Criteria used for stopping the information search (fullling teaching needs): (1) Quantitative criteria: . time available for: preparing lectures and presentations; delivering lectures and presentations; and designing and conducting workshops; and . fullling scholarly and research needs. (2) Qualitative criteria: . every possible synonym and every combination were searched; . representative sample of research was identied;

. . . . . .

current or cutting-edge research was found; same information was repeated; exhaustive collection of information sources was discovered; colleagues feedback was addressed; journal reviewers comments were addressed; and publishers requirements were met.

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Quantitative criteria Deadlines dictated how much time faculty invested in nding information sources. One criterion - amount of time available - was mentioned frequently by many faculty members as affecting their decision to stop looking for information. Usually if there is a deadline and then I turn it in . . . said one faculty member. Another faculty member who had recently written a grant proposal said that if an article he wanted was not easily available, he did not include it in the bibliography. Faculty distinguished between the time available for delivering a lecture or a presentation and the time available for preparing it. Limited by time constraints, one faculty member stopped searching once he had enough information to produce a presentation for class lectures. Faculty were likely to spend more time looking for information to prepare for a two-hour seminar as opposed to a 50-minute classroom lecture. Qualitative criteria Some faculty stopped their searches when the topic had been searched using every possible synonym and in every combination. Others stated that as long as they represent research legitimately, sampling was okay. However, the representative sample must include information that is current, cutting edge, or unique to the topic. Other faculty said that when they saw the same information repeated in several sources, they stopped looking further. Occasionally, they found an exhaustive collection of material on their topic in one location. For example, a music faculty member who was looking for information to write a biography found about fty boxes of valuable material at the Library of Congress. Since the material covered the entire life of the individual of interest, the faculty member decided at that point that he could stop looking for information. A few participants sought comments on their manuscripts, including bibliographies from their colleagues who are also experts in that eld. Once the comments from colleagues were addressed, they submitted the manuscripts to the journal publishers. A few faculty members said they consider the search completed once they address journal reviewers suggestions or publishers requirements. Faculty seem to apply qualitative criteria for stopping their search for information when fullling scholarly or research tasks such as writing journal articles, books or grant proposals. In summary, the conditions that lead students and faculty to stop looking for more information are both qualitative and quantitative in nature: (1) Quantitative criteria for stopping: . requirements are met; . time constraints are limited; and . coverage of material for publication is veried by colleagues or reviewers.

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(2) Qualitative criteria for stopping: . trustworthy information was located; . a representative sample of sources was gathered; . current information was located; . cutting edge material was located; . exhaustive search was performed; and . exhaustive collection of information sources was discovered. Responses to quick searches An overwhelming number of participants went to the Internet for quick answers. Of these, a good number preferred Google to search the internet. They gave a number of specic reasons for choosing the Internet. Participants valued the internet for nding information quickly and conveniently. They valued the opportunity the internet affords for familiarizing themselves with topics about which they know little. Human sources of information (such as parents or friends) are a common information source for undergraduate students. The objectives of the situations or problems that led them to nd information quickly rarely called for a formal or systematic approach to searching. Role and rational choice theories in human information behavior As noted, the objective of the research was to discover how users decide when to stop looking for more information. Role and rational choice theories and the concept of satiscing, a derivative of the rational choice theory, were introduced to help place information-seeking behavior in a larger social context. Student responses are separated from faculty responses. Undergraduate and graduate students Undergraduate and graduate students tend to view any assignment that the instructor described as a research report as requiring a thorough search for information. Whenever the research report had specic requirements such as the number of citations to journal literature, a required number of pages, or the time allotted for class presentations, fullling specic requirements took precedence over doing a thorough search. Some students were indeed aware that they could search endlessly and explore the topic in great depth but chose not to do so; instead they satisced their information needs by remaining within the boundaries of what was required for the assignment. For students, the relative reward (the value being in terms of a nal grade) was a key factor in deciding the amount of time to invest in assignments and clearly suggests the operation of rational choice theory. The quantitative and qualitative criteria students employ indicate that they are acting rationally in choosing to stop looking for more information. Faculty Faculty responses can be placed in two groups, qualitative and quantitative, based upon the information-seeking task chosen. The amount of time they spent searching for information tended to depend on the amount of time they had at their disposal when it came to giving lectures, making presentations, or conducting workshops. However, faculty occasionally mentioned that the time available was a factor in stopping to look

for information when they were pursuing their research and scholarly endeavors such as writing journal articles or books. Faculty are acting rationally in juggling the amount of time they allocate to prepare for class lectures or presentations. When pursuing scholarly endeavors, such as publishing an article, they are acting rationally in not concluding their information search until they receive feedback from colleagues or reviewers. The larger objective is to publish the article, and thus they will invest whatever effort is needed to accomplish that goal. These faculty members employ several criteria to decide how much information is enough for their purpose. Some of the criteria are qualitative, or intrinsic, judgments, such as the credibility of the source of information; other criteria are quantitative, or extrinsic, assessments such as time constraints. Based upon their responses in the focus group interviews, faculty indicate that they make rational decisions in determining when to stop their search for more information. Discussion and conclusions Studies of information seeking and searching make oblique inferences to satiscing in the context of disengaging from the information-seeking process. Previous studies mention several factors utilized by individuals when determining when to stop looking for information. These factors include the: . users objectives or motivations for wanting the information; . characteristics of the information need; . external variables such as setting, context, and situation; . internal variables such as motivation and searching skills; and . phase of the project (ending phase). Role theory, rational choice theory, and satiscing are introduced to determine how these concepts can contribute to a deeper understanding of human information behavior. The Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) study Sense-making the information conuence (IMLS, 2003), which asked students and faculty explicitly how they decide how much information is enough, reveals that the participants approaches to information sources and strategies, and the amount of time and effort they devote to searching, correspond directly to the perceived importance of their objectives. Although these ndings support previous research and theories, they are not generalizable because of the small sample size. However, these results are important since the study directly asks users to explain their information-searching behaviors in the current information environment and their responses substantiate information behavior theories and ndings from previous studies. Undergraduate and graduate students tend to stop looking for information when they nd the required number of sources for an assignment. This behavior supports the theory of Kraft and Lee (1979) that individuals nd the desired number of documents and then stop. This also supports Barretts (2005) ndings that undergraduate students seek to nd enough information to fulll course requirements. Faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students indicate that time constraints inuence when they stop looking for information. This nding corroborates the results of the study of historians information-seeking behavior by

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Duff and Johnson (2002) and Dalton and Charnigo (2004). They report that historians stop their information-gathering process because of time and nancial constraints. Dalton and Charnigo (2004) also state that some historians develop research topics based on the proximity of primary sources, a factor inuenced by the limitations of time and money. Zachs (2005) study indicates that art administrators stop looking for information when they feel comfortable that they can complete the task, even if they think that additional information may be available. The comments by all participants in the focus group interviews support this type of satiscing information-seeking behavior. All the participants in the focus group interviews said that the rst place they look for information is the internet, closely followed by human sources. The rationale for this behavior is the immediacy and convenience of acquiring the information. Leckie et al. (1996, p. 185) report that engineers and lawyers say it is very important to obtain information immediately or its usefulness. . .will decrease if it is obtained either too early or too late. With the ubiquitous accessibility of internet search engines, cell phones, and text and instant messaging, immediate access to information is the expected norm. Role theory helps to explain why students and faculty practice different search behaviors. The students criteria for stopping an information search are inuenced by the requirements of their class assignments. Facultys criteria for stopping an information search are based on publication requirements and deadlines and the amount of time available for preparing and delivering lectures and presenting papers. Time constraints are an overwhelming factor for faculty in deciding how much effort they are willing to invest in satiscing their information needs. In describing their information seeking and searching, participants mentioned their rationale for choosing specic strategies and sources. The situational contexts of the participants information-seeking experiences affect every stage of their search from the choice of their rst source (Google in many cases, or human resources such as family, friends, and colleagues) - to ongoing strategies (depth of search, value judgments on resource authority, browsing and searching) and then decisions on how much information is enough. Implications for library and information science practice and research In order for libraries to stay relevant, their systems need to emulate internet search engines. Such features as simplied searching and the collocation of all types of information (e.g. books, journals, articles, web pages, etc.) facilitate users search experience which obviates the need to understand the complexity of library systems. Both OCLC (De Rosa et al., 2005) and Williams (2006) indicate that users want their library systems to be as easy to use as Google. The ndings of the focus group interviews also indicate that libraries need to promote the library resources that are available to users. Both the OCLC report (De Rosa et al., 2005) and many of the focus group interview participants (IMLS, 2003) state that they were unaware of the full-text sources available through library-hosted databases. Those who are aware of them tend to nd them difcult to use because of the need to know specic subject coverage of databases, a knowledge that is often difcult to comprehend when doing interdisciplinary research. In addition,

participants indicate that the inconsistent search protocols of library web sites and online catalogs discourage effective use. A vast amount of human computer interaction (HCI) research attempts to understand the search process. HCI addresses how users conceptualize searching and how the design of systems impacts users satiscing their information needs. The ndings from Phase III of the research project (IMLS, 2003) broaden the scope of earlier user research, which tends to focus more on the process of information seeking and searching. This research often portrays users information-seeking behaviors as static and habitual. Satiscing, an idea introduced as early as 1955 (Simon, 1955), helps to explain how individuals make information choices. Schmidtz (2004, p. 30) views satiscing as a humanly rational strategy.
References Abercrombie, N., Hill, S. and Turner, B. (1994), The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed., Penguin Group USA, New York, NY. Barrett, A. (2005), The information-seeking habits of graduate student researchers in the humanities, Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 324-31. Biddle, B.J. and Thomas, E.J. (1966), Role Theory: Concepts and Research, Wiley, New York, NY. Blumer, H. and Morrione, T.J. (2004), George Herbert Mead and Human Conduct, AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, CA. Borgatta, E.F. and Montgomery, R.J.V. (Eds) (2000), Encyclopedia of Sociology, Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. Byron, M. (2004), Satiscing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Choo, C.W. (1998), The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge, and Make Decisions, Oxford University Press, New York, NY. Dalton, M.S. and Charnigo, L. (2004), Historians and their information sources, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 65 No. 5, pp. 400-25. De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Cellentani, D., Hawk, J., Jenkins, L.R. and Wilson, A. (2005), Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report to the OCLC Membership, OCLC, Dublin, OH. Dervin, B., Foreman-Wernet, L. and Lauterbach, E. (Eds) (2003), Sense-Making Methodology Reader: Selected Writings of Brenda Dervin, Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ. Duff, W.M. and Johnson, C.A. (2002), Accidentally found on purpose: information-seeking behavior of historians in archives, Library Quarterly, Vol. 72 No. 4, pp. 472-96. Ellis, D. (1989), A behavioural model for information retrieval system design, Journal of Information Science, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 237-47. Ellis, D. (1997), Modelling the information seeking patterns of engineers and research scientists in an industrial environment, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 53 No. 4, pp. 384-403. Foster, A. (2004), A nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 228-37. Friedman, D. and Hechter, M. (1988), The contribution of rational choice theory to macrosociological research, Sociological Theory, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 201-18. (The) Gale Group (2006), Role Theory: Foundations, Extensions, and Applications, The Gale Group, Chandler, AZ, available at: http://cultures.families.com/role-theory-foundationsextensions-applications-eos (accessed 19 June 2006).

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Green, S.L. (2006), Rational Choice Theory: An Overview, Baylor University, Waco, TX, available at: http://business.baylor.edu/steve_green/green1.doc (accessed 25 June 2006). IMLS (2006), Sense-making the information conuence: the whys and hows of college and university user satiscing of information needs. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Ohio State University, and OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., the project is being implemented by Brenda Dervin (Professor of Communication and Joan N. Huber Fellow of Social & Behavioral Science, The Ohio State University) as Principal Investigator; and Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC Consulting Research Scientist III) and Chandra Prabha (OCLC Senior Research Scientist), as Co-Investigators, available at: http://imlsosuoclcproject.jcomm.ohio-state.edu/ (accessed 28 June 2006). Kraft, D.H. and Lee, T. (1979), Stopping rules and their effect on expected search length, Information Processing & Management, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 47-58. Krikelas, J. (1983), Information-seeking behavior: patterns and concepts, Drexel Library Quarterly, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 5-20. Kuhlthau, C.C. (2005), Kuhlthaus information search process, in Fisher, K.E., Erdelez, S. and McKechnie, L. (Eds), Theories of Information Behavior, Information Today, Medford, NJ, pp. 230-4. Leckie, G.J., Pettigrew, K.E. and Sylvain, C. (1996), Modeling the information seeking of professionals: a general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals, and lawyers, Library Quarterly, Vol. 66 No. 2, pp. 161-93. Marchionini, G. (1995), Information Seeking in Electronic Environments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Marks, S.R. and MacDermid, S.M. (1996), Multiple roles and the self: a theory of role balance, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 58 No. 2, pp. 417-32. Mead, G.H. (1934), Mind, Self & Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. Meho, L.I. and Tibbo, H.R. (2003), Modeling the information-seeking behavior of social scientists: Elliss study revisited, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 54 No. 6, pp. 570-87. Schmid, A.A. (2004), Conict and Cooperation: Institutional and Behavioral Economics, Blackwell, Malden, MA. Schmidtz, D. (2004), Satiscing as a humanly rational strategy, in Byron, M (Ed.), Satiscing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, pp. 30-58. Scott, J. (2006), Rational Choice Theory, University of Essex, Colchester, available at: http:// privatewww.essex.ac.uk/ , scottj/socscot7.htm (accessed 20 June 2006). Simon, H. (1955), A behavioral model of rational choice, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 69 No. 1, pp. 99-118. Simon, H. (1971), Designing organizations for an information-rich world, in Greenberger, M. (Ed.), Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 37-72. Stroh, L.K., Northcraft, G.B. and Neale, M.A. (2002), Organizational Behavior: A Management Challenge, 3rd ed., Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ. Taylor, R.S. (1968), Question-negotiation and information seeking in libraries, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 178-94. Voigt, M.J. (1961), Scientists Approaches to Information, American Library Association, Chicago, IL.

Wikipedia (2006), Rational choice theory The Free Encyclopedia, available at: http://en. wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title RationalWikipediaar;choice_theory &oldid 57891348 (accessed 7 May 2006). Williams, L. (2006), Making E visible, Library Journal, Vol. 23, available at: www. libraryjournal.com/article/CA6341888.html (accessed 23 June 2006). Wilson, T.D. (2005), Evolution in information behavior modeling: Wilsons model, in Fisher, K.E., Erdelez, S. and McKechnie, L. (Eds), Theories of Information Behavior, Information Today, Medford, NJ, pp. 31-6. Zach, L. (2005), When is enough enough? Modeling the information-seeking and stopping behavior of senior arts administrators, American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 56 No. 1, pp. 23-35. About the authors Chandra Prabha is a Senior Research Scientist, Lynn Silipigni Connaway is a Consulting Research Scientist, Lawrence Olszewski is Director, and Lillie R. Jenkins is a Market Research Specialist, all based at OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., Dublin, Ohio, USA. Chandra Prabha is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: chandra@oclc.org

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Purls of wisdom
A collectivist study of human information behaviour in a public library knitting group
Elena Prigoda
Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, and


Pamela J. McKenzie
Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
Purpose The authors aim to apply a collectivist theoretical framework to the study of human information behaviour and the construction of meaning in a knitting group held in a branch of a large Canadian (Ontario) public library. Design/methodology/approach The research design was naturalistic and consisted of active participant observation of ve knitting group sessions and semi-structured interviews with 12 group members. Field notes were taken, and both observations and interviews were audio taped and transcribed. Field notes and transcripts were coded qualitatively. Findings Information practices and contextual factors are mutually constitutive. The location of the circle in a public library, the physical characteristics of the act of knitting, and the social meanings of the activities taking place within the group, including the signicance of gender and caring, are integrally linked to HIB in this setting. Findings are described verbally and illustrated through a model. Research limitations/implications This study applies collectivist understandings to enrich concepts such as the information ground that have previously been studied largely from constructivist perspectives. As a small-scale naturalistic study, results are context-specic and must be applied tentatively. Practical implications This study provides an example of how programs in public libraries can provide opportunities for information behaviour and the construction of meaning for members of the community. Originality/value This study contributes a collectivist approach to research on everyday-life information seeking and on the library as a place. Keywords Information transfer, Women, Crafts, Public libraries, Communities, Canada Paper type Research paper

Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 90-114 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723902

Introduction This article considers human information behaviour (HIB) and the construction of meaning in a knitting group held in a neighbourhood branch of a Canadian public library. Group participation can be seen both to ll information gaps and to full participants need to socialise, form a caring community, and participate in craft, and the knitting group is a site for collectivist information practices. We understand HIB as taking place within a broader set of information practices, linguistic and conversational constructions, [. . .] entities that are produced within existing discourses (Tuominen et al., 2002, p. 278). We therefore emphasise the

concrete and situated activities of interacting people, reproduced in routine social contexts across time and space (Rosenbaum, 1993, p. 239) and we seek to understand HIB a broad term covering all aspects of information seeking, including passive or undetermined information behaviour (Spink and Cole, 2004, p. 657; see also Case, 2002) in relation to information practices situated within collective social practices. Theoretically, this study builds on three bases. First, we contribute to the literature in everyday-life information seeking by taking a collectivist approach to addressing the social, cultural, and physical contexts of information practices in a group setting. Second, we draw on the literature of leisure activity and, in particular, on studies of handcraft group involvement and the meaningful (and often gendered) communities they provide for members. Finally, we contribute to the discussion of the public library as a place and address the varied and sometimes unexpected ways that public libraries can contribute to HIB. We will focus on the ways that a semi-private space created by a group of public library users becomes a discourse community and a site for information practices, and on the role of HIB in contributing to the caring atmosphere so valued by group participants. In this way we hope to achieve a greater understanding of both everyday-life information seeking and of the uses of public libraries as spaces. Theoretical framework Human information behaviour has become an increasingly important research focus in LIS. HIB in everyday life has gained serious recognition since the work of Wilson (1981), who theorised about discovering information during the course of ordinary everyday activities, and Savolainen (1995), who coined the term everyday life information seeking, or ELIS. Since that time, ELIS has been studied in a variety of settings and from a number of theoretical perspectives. A collectivist perspective understands information needs, seeking and use to be a part of or embedded in a cultural, social, or organisational practice. Collectivist approaches question the validity of universalistic models and argue against studying users in general (Talja, 2005, p. 86). Collectivist approaches move away from the perspective of an individual user within a context, a monologic actor affected by environmental variables (Talja, 2005, p. 86); instead, they aim at capturing eld differences in information practices and relevance criteria (Talja, 2005, p. 88). In other words, collectivist approaches aim at understanding the ways that discourse communities collectively construct information needs, seeking, sources, and uses. The unit of analysis in collectivism is therefore the group rather than the individual, and attention during the research process is focused externally onto the characteristics of the environment (Hartel, 2003, p. 233). The environment in our case is textile handwork knitting performed jointly by women in a Canadian public library branch. A brief introduction to each of these elements will contextualise the ways that participants in a specic local setting understand information needs, seeking, and use within a broader discourse community. The environment: leisure and textile handwork Hartel (2003) argues that studies of everyday life information seeking have focused on sombre situations, such as those in which access to information is perceived as

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compromised or there is a major life change like an illness (Hartel, 2003, p. 229). She calls for scholarly consideration of the informational aspects of leisure activities, and suggests a collectivist analysis using the work of Robert Stebbins as a starting point. Hartel (2003) advocates the adoption by LIS scholars of Stebbins concept of serious leisure: the systematic pursuit of an activity that is sufciently substantial and interesting for the participant to nd a career there in the acquisition and expression of its special skills and knowledge (Stebbins, 1992, p. 3). Stebbins distinguishes serious leisure from casual leisure, activity that is done passively and requires no expertise, such as daydreaming, chatting with friends, or being a couch potato (Hartel, 2003, p. 230). Although Stebbins critique of dichotomous understandings of work and leisure is particularly useful to ELIS, his distinctions between work, serious leisure, and casual leisure may not be appropriate in all cases. Aitchison, (2003, p. 41) argues that dening leisure in relation to full-time paid work:
[. . .] has traditionally meant dening leisure in relation to mens work and therefore only offers a useful denition to a minority of women as the majority is not engaged in full-time paid work. . . Thinking of leisure as free time is also problematic for women whose freedom may be relative freedom dependent on the nancial support of a male partner or free time constrained by the need to provide support and care for others.

Researchers are beginning to pay serious scholarly attention to hidden, unwaged, and often marginalised forms of work, particularly caring work, done in the course of what might be considered serious or casual leisure activities; for example, feeding the family (DeVault, 1991), engaging in small talk (Coates, 2000; Green, 1998; Tardy, 2000), or participating in crafts such as textile handwork (Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001; Piercy and Cheek, 2004; Cerny et al., 1993). Visser (1994, p. 13) observed that handwork in particular is marginalised:
[M]any people nowadays seem to think of crafts as an amusement for primary-school children, when it is not a therapeutic device or a harmless activity to while away the time. The word crafts has come to be used for hobbies, outlets for creativity. And crafts that are not done for money are by that very token, in the modern world, activities not to be taken seriously. Such crafts are practiced in merely free (that is not working, and not paid) time. . . Where craft is used to denote skill expended on things handmade for normal, everyday use, the connotation can still be patronizing, for art (a term unquestionably of praise) has been reserved since the nineteenth century for things, chiey painting and sculpture, made, not to be used, but only contemplated for their beauty; it also became a term for the skill required to make them.

Canadians have a long tradition of handcraft, including knitting, as both work and leisure (Scott, 1991), and knitters have ascribed many kinds of meaning to the activity. Knitters who worked from home to provide garments for a non-prot distribution network claimed that they knit neither for the small income nor as a creative outlet. Rather, they saw knitting as an activity that enabled them to avoid idle time, a means of occupying the mind to stave off worry or loneliness, a link with past and future generations, an appropriate demonstration of their competence as women and mothers, and a source of accomplishment and pride as they decoded a difcult pattern or nished a garment. A nished handwork project therefore serves as a physical

manifestation of a knitters effort, talent, and productive use of time (Stalker and Harling, 2000). Knitters also identied the practice of knitting as both a gendered occupation and a collective pursuit, whether undertaken alone or in the company of others (Macdonald, 1988). Knitters often create functional items for friends and family and there exists a long tradition of knitting for charity: during World War I, men and women alike knitted items such as socks and balaclavas for soldiers, and the Seamens Church Institute of New York and New Jersey provided sailors with sweaters, scarves, and watchcaps (Macdonald, 1988; Scott, 1991). Recently the Afghans for Afghans program (Afghans for Afghans, 2005) has sent many knitted blankets, some of which were collaborative efforts, to Afghanistan. Although often practised alone, knitting is an activity increasingly undertaken by people in groups. The role of craft in creating communities and identity, especially among women, has attracted the attention of researchers in various disciplines. Textile guilds are fairly formal and organised, with regular meetings where members meet to work on and discuss current projects. Some guilds provide formal educational programs and workshops, and the combination of novice, experienced, and master crafters in the guild setting allows members both to participate in a leisure activity and to interact with and learn from others sharing a common interest in a craft. (See Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001; Piercy and Cheek, 2004; Cerny et al., 1993). A number of knitting guilds are active in Canada (Canadian Knitwear Designers and Artisans, 1998-2004). The environment: joint engagement in activity There is a growing tradition in LIS research of studying the ways that people nd information unexpectedly as they engage in other activities (Williamson, 1998, p. 24) such as reading newspapers (Savolainen, 1995), or chatting informally (Williamson, 1998). Research on information seeking (Foster, 2005) and information behaviour (Wilson, 1999) is increasingly taking this dimension into account as, for example, in Pettigrews (1999) and Browns (2001) studies of the exchange of human service information in seniors foot care clinics and beauty salons. The concept of the information ground (an environment temporarily created by the behaviour of people who have come together to perform a given task, but from which emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information. (Pettigrew, 1999, p. 811; see also Fisher, 2006)) provides a starting point for a collectivist analysis. Collectivism can enrich the information ground concept by providing a deeper understanding of the nature of the other activities performed and of the cultural, social, or organisational practice of the discourse communities in which they are embedded. Ethnographies of peoples activities in public and semipublic places (e.g. Wiseman, 1979; Kenen, 1982), have addressed the ways that groups of people come together collectively to understand and interact within a domain. For example, both a foot care clinic and a beauty salon could be conceptualized as close-contact service encounters (McCarthy, 2000); participants activities are performed in fairly intimate physical proximity in a room where other dyads are doing the same thing. McCarthy (2000) found that hairdressing salons provided an interactional environment in which casual conversation is facilitated (e.g. a fairly standard set of phases such as an initial

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discussion of how the hair is to be cut followed by hair washing and then cutting; and long periods of activities that create little background noise). However, the eld is circumscribed by those topics relevant to the business at hand, and to topics that construct and reconstruct the satisfactory ongoing client-server relationship (McCarthy, 2000, p. 96). Researchers in other hair salons found that both the patterns and the topics of conversation varied depending on the type and location of the salon and its clientele, but few such studies of social interaction (see Tardy, 2000, for example) have addressed questions of interest to HIB researchers. A collectivist analysis of information practices in a public or semiprivate locale can provide insight into the nature of such broader contextual characteristics, and can analyse the ways that these might facilitate or constrain information seeking, or might themselves be enhanced or hampered by the seeking of information. While the information ground aims to provide generalisable propositions about the kinds of HIB occurring when people come together, a collectivist approach attends to the particularities of a discourse community: the specic constructions of activity, information needs, seeking, and sources in local interactional settings. Such settings vary considerably and our goal is to theorise the relationship between a specic physical and social setting and its information practices. The environment: women in a Canadian neighbourhood public library branch Despite their prevalence among public library users, little is known about the ways that women make use of the physical space, resources, and social environment of the public library. Elsewhere (McKenzie, 2006) we have analysed library use by this knitting group and a group of women attending a child/caregiver story time in the same public library branch. We identied several physical, social, and organisational characteristics of womens use of this space. First, a public library programme room is not a value-free place. Participants who choose to be there share a number of characteristics of which they may not be aware. They have at some level chosen to be present in a public library and, in this particular case, in a library branch in a fairly afuent neighbourhood, and they behave in ways that permit them to remain. Participants in a weekday library programme are by denition aware of the programme, interested in participating, and able to get to the library and participate during normal working hours. A participants appearance and behaviour provides clues about her age, taste, income, and level of experience: for example, the complexity of the knitting project chosen and the degree to which she asks for assistance. Relationships among strangers entering the programme room are therefore facilitated because participants may identify one another as likely having interests and preferences in common simply by walking into the room. Second, both programmes support activities consistent with traditional womens work. When participants jointly engage in this work, the public space of the programme room becomes a site for the sharing of activities, the shared enactment of womens identities, and the performance of caring. Women came to the library programmes at the invitation of friends and, conversely, relationships begun in the programme room extended beyond it. Finally, the rearrangement of the generic programme room to accommodate each groups activity means that the physical space becomes a different sort of social space

for each new programme. In addition to the physical arrangements, the organisation of the public library itself and its relation to extra-local social and political organisations has a role in coordinating the activities taking place within the librarys walls. We found that, together, these physical and social elements had several implications for womens use of public library spaces. Because our public library-hosted knitting circle is the site for the communal practice of textile handwork, we argue that it is therefore simultaneously a site for both serious and casual leisure, as well as for work. In addition, the social meaning of knitting, the characteristics of knitting as a physical act, and the parallel performance of a similar activity by a number of people have implications for the ways that members of this setting engage in information practices. The themes of gender, leisure, work, public, and private, all intertwine in this setting and contribute to the discourse community in which activities (including HIB) take place. Our study, therefore, focuses on the interconnections between context, discourse community, and information practices within a specic setting. Research questions Our analysis in this article addresses the following questions: RQ1. What kinds of HIB take place in a knitting group held in a public library? RQ2. How does the public library setting contribute to HIB and the information practices of the discourse community? RQ3. How does the activity of knitting contribute to HIB? RQ4. What meaning does the group hold or provide for participants and how do these relate to information practices? Research design To explore these questions we conducted a naturalistic participant observation study assisted by audio recording and followed by semi-structured interviews. The study received ethical approval from The University of Western Ontario and adheres to the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (Public Works and Government Services, 2003) and we have used pseudonyms throughout to protect anonymity. Lincoln and Guba (1985, pp. 229-31) suggest that a naturalistic approach is appropriate when the phenomena under study are represented by a multiplicity of complex interactions, are characterised by a high degree of both investigator-phenomenon interaction and context dependence, and are difcult to explain by ascribing conventional causal connections. Researchers undertaking a naturalistic inquiry accept that: . realities are multiple, constructed, and holistic; . knower and known are interactive, inseparable; . only time- and context-bound working hypotheses (idiographic statements) are possible; . all entities are in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping, so that it is impossible to distinguish causes from effects; and . inquiry is value-bound (Lincoln, 1985, pp. 36-8).

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Accordingly, we have employed several methodological practices that facilitate naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln, 1985, pp. 39-44). First, we collected data in a natural setting. Second, we as the researchers were the major research instruments. Third, data analysis was inductive, and the research design was emergent. Our foci of observation, analytical coding categories and frameworks, and the questions we asked in the interviews evolved as the analysis progressed. Fourth, data interpretation has been idiographic, striving to nd patterns rather than causes and effects. Finally, the great strength of naturalistic inquiry is its sensitivity to individual contexts; its corresponding weakness is that ndings from any single study cannot be widely generalised. We recognise our ndings to be context-dependent, and we therefore apply them tentatively. Data collection Between September and December 2004, one or both of us observed a total of ve sessions of a knitting group that met year-round on a weekday afternoon at a branch library of a large (. 100,000) Ontario public library system. At the time of our observation the group was comprised entirely of women, ranging in age from approximately mid-thirties to mid-eighties. The number of participants on any day ranged from 13 to more than 20 knitters and meetings lasted approximately two hours. In order to gain access to the group, we sought permission from the library system, the branch, and the group itself. We made a short presentation of the research goals and methods to the group, and provided members with letters of information and consent forms. Only the activities of knitters who had given their consent were observed, recorded, and transcribed. Participant observation takes a naturalistic approach to observation with ongoing and intensive observing, listening, and speaking (McCormack Steinmetz, 1991, p. 42). Participant observation is the most appropriate form of data collection for a collectivist study of ELIS as it allows participant-observers to participate rst-hand in HIB in the natural setting, rather than solely relying on the memories and descriptive abilities of participants in interviews. For this study, we both participated actively in the knitting group, recording our observations once we left the library. Active participants have a job to do in the setting in addition to the research (McCormack Steinmetz, 1991, p. 45). The job in this case was knitting, and through knitting while observing a number of advantages are attained. The role of the observer is also that of the apprentice (McCormack Steinmetz, 1991) where the participant-observer is learning not only through observing, but also through direct contact with fellow participants and the expertise shared. In this way, we were able to experience HIB in the natural setting of the group. Also, by knitting, we were able to achieve insider status thereby gaining and sustaining access to the members of the knitting group (Carey et al., 2001; Jorgensen, 1989) and building trust (Lincoln, 1985). We recorded eld notes about the physical environment, the activity of the session, and the situation of the knitting group participants in addition to the information shared among participants. Field notes were completed as soon as possible upon leaving the knitting group sessions. In addition, we audio taped each session and transcribed these for analysis. We attended to participants comfort levels during the audio-taping, and chose unobtrusive locations (e.g. on the oor under the table, on a

shelf in the corner of the room) to minimise their obtrusiveness. We found, as McCormack Steinmetz did, that after a short while, people relax and seem to be unaware of the tape recorder (McCormack Steinmetz, 1991, p. 82). Following our observation, we conducted individual interviews with a convenience sample of 12 knitting group participants. We originally planned to interview a smaller, purposive sample, but after being involved with the group for several weeks we became aware that limiting the number of interviews might appear to value the contributions of some knitters over others, and might adversely affect relationships among group members. We therefore decided to interview any participants who were willing. The interviews were semi-structured, and we developed the questions following the rst few observation sessions based on our observations to that point. These included general questions about the interviewees identities as knitters, what impact the group has had on their lives knitting and otherwise, and what it is about the group that inuences them to return week after week. The interview guide from which we worked can be found in Appendix A. Interviews varied in length between ten minutes and one hour. We audio taped and transcribed the interviews. Data analysis The rst author performed the initial qualitative coding of session and interview transcripts and eld notes and identied themes related to the research questions (Strauss and Corbin, 1991). She used N-Vivo Qualitative Research Software to assist in the analysis. This initial code set included categories for method notes, topics discussed by the knitters, (described more fully in our ndings section), the manner of communication (e.g. storytelling, chatting, gossip, information seeking or sharing, referral, teaching), relationships within the group (e.g. talk about the backgrounds of members, history of the group, meaning of the group, roles of individuals within the group, caring, community, identity as a knitter, meaning of the group, role of teaching), and about the handcraft and activities related to it (e.g. show and tell, productivity, and hands, which we used when we wanted to make note of what knitters hands were doing as they were talking or listening). These initial categories were useful for bringing together like instances and allowing us to compare single instances over time or across individuals. Our analysis developed as we collected more data, examined and re-examined our previous experiences both individually and collectively, created memos and diagrams to describe our analysis, and presented our emergent ndings to the knitters themselves as a form of member checking. The analysis presented here and the diagram appearing as Figure 1 is therefore the outcome of many months of collective renement of the initial coding process. A major concern with the analysis and presentation of qualitative data is the establishment of the validity of the coding scheme and thereby of the analysis that emerges from it. Drawing from the tradition of content analysis, some writers on qualitative research methods suggest that the validity of qualitative studies will be increased by verifying the inter-subjectivity of the assignment of codes through such measures as inter-coder reliability. Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest that trustworthiness is a more appropriate measure for evaluating qualitative research than the quantitatively-based reliability and validity. Trustworthiness is a measure of the rigour of naturalistic research, established through techniques that provide truth value through credibility, applicability through transferability,

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Figure 1. Model of factors affecting human information behaviour (HIB) in the public library knitting group

consistency through dependability, and neutrality through conrmability (Erlandson et al., 1993, p. 132). We have used Lincoln and Gubas (1985) suggested means for establishing trustworthiness in naturalistic studies: . Prolonged engagement: We participated in the knitting group over the course of several weeks, and we continued to attend meetings when possible even after we had completed the data collection. . Learning the context: Both of us have been recreational knitters for many years. The rst author has worked in a knitting shop in the community in which we observed and in fact some of the participants recognised her from this role. . Building trust: Our own skills as knitters and our full participation in conversations allowed us to be legitimate participants in the group. We received conrmation of our acceptance during the weeks when one or other of us was absent, the rst author for a job interview and the second author for other data collection. On these occasions the knitters always asked where the other researcher was and how she was doing. . Member checking: We present emerging analysis to participants for their reection (see the excerpts from the interview with participant 15 in our discussion). . Peer debrieng: We discussed our observations, interviews, and our ongoing analysis at length over the course of several months both during and after the data collection period. We sought comparisons and looked for both conrming and contradictory evidence in the work of other researchers both in LIS and elsewhere.

Finally, we ensured several forms of triangulation: . of participants through multiple interviews; . of methods through a combination of observation and interviews; and . of settings through ongoing comparison with a study of another group of women using this same public library space (see McKenzie et al., 2006). Thus, although the analysis we present here began with the initial coding set, it is the result of many months of joint reection on the data, on the emerging analysis, and on the research process. Results: types of HIB in the knitting group The knitting circle met in one of two programme rooms located within the library yet separate from the browsing and administrative areas. Knitters sat around a long table placed in the middle of the room. The table held work in progress, patterns and diagrams, skeins of yarn, extra needles, nished projects, and sometimes cups of coffee. A storage cabinet in one of the rooms was allocated to the group and held some supplies. While the group centred on knitting, on occasion other crafts were practised or displayed. Most knitters sat in the same region of the table, if not the same seat, every week they attended. The knitting circle had been operating for almost 10 years, almost entirely in the same library branch. One member was responsible for starting the group and still organised it. Her description of the groups evolution illustrates the relationship between serious leisure (knitting) and casual leisure (chatting), and shows how the balance between the two, and the consequent information-seeking focus, changed over time:
I was just fresh from 30 years of teaching, and I guess I saw it more as a teaching thing. And at that time I used to bring in people to show them about dyeing yarns, and I brought in people who were, who had no, like, I mean, somebody who was a bre artist who knits gures and that. But I discovered though that, they werent necessarily interested in that. They just wanted to visit with each other and compare knitting. Sometimes it was hard to get them to be quiet when we had a guest in. And so I thought, hmmm, okay, we dont need to do that. Once in a while Ill come across somebody with an idea, and, like, you know, once I had somebody come in and show them how to hook rugs, and things like that. But you know, theyre mildly interested in that. The knitting, its become more, I think, of a womens support group.

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Each group meeting followed a similar pattern. At the beginning of the meeting the organiser or another member typically called the group to attention. During this time, knitters shared news of former members, on one occasion reading an e-mail message aloud. They discussed plans for group activities such as the annual holiday lunch or knitting for a charity, or announced of community events including local and nearby knitting and craft shows or upcoming library activities. Although this was the most formal part of the meeting, spontaneous informal conversation might also occur:
One of the announcements was to tell us that shed obtained a group discount card from [chain craft shop], that if we gave any local location the name of the group wed get a 10 percent discount. [Group organiser] had written the name and information on one of her cards, which she passed around. Someone on the left end of the table talked about whether her

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personal membership gave her a better discount so she didnt need to take a card, but someone else suggested that maybe she could combine the discounts. There was much discussion about what the groups name was, and [Group organiser] quizzed the group on the name and had us repeat it. [Knitter to my left] said That names too long. We should be called something shorter like Hells Angels. Laughter. She and I joked about knitting leather [Field notes PM].


During the announcement period, anyone with a nished project was invited to show and talk about it to the assembled group. Following the announcements and show and tell, participants knit and had informal conversations in pairs, trios, or groups as large as the entire circle. As might be expected, much of the information and resource sharing surrounded the primary activity of the group: knitting. Knitters compared notes about specic materials and sometimes traded patterns and other materials. They passed around nished projects, and books and newspaper articles on a variety of topics, sometimes systematically circulating them, sometimes placing them in the middle of the table and retrieving them as needed. On one occasion, a member of the group brought in 100 or more magazines and pattern booklets to share, most of which were taken by the end of the session. Those having difculty asked others for knitting assistance. Some members in the group were approached more often than were others, but everyone we observed being asked was willing to help as much as possible. Participants described their knitting-related information seeking in the interviews:
Investigator: So if somebody has a question, who is it that they usually go to? Knitter 1: To Knitter 2, or to all the girls can help. Everyone [is] very beautiful here. I can ask, you know, or actually rst [I go to] Knitter 2, but any girls can help. Theyre very nice. Investigator: Is there anybody people mostly go to for advice, or that youve mostly gone to advice? Knitter 3: Theres quite a few actually. We help out each other, cause um, I mean when we rst started [one knitter] was the one that we went to, but then as more joined . . . I mean for example today I needed some advice about a little dog sweater Im making. Investigator: With the spots. Knitter 3: With my spots, and so I went. . . I knew [another knitter] does a lot of, and so you know, weve kind of clued in on who can help us with what.

Experienced members of the knitting circle served as expert information sources for those with less experience. Knitters provided both solicited and unsolicited advice on patterns, materials and techniques. They also discussed a wide variety of other topics. Our eld notes identied conversations about health (colds, vaccines, surgeries, chronic illness, falls, end-of-life planning), books, family (particularly parenting and grand-parenting), consumer information, current events, political activism and charitable activities, community information, and animal behaviour, as well as a variety of personal anecdotes. Such conversations could vary uidly between dyads or triads and larger groups. Our most notable example was a discussion that took place over a period of two weeks. It began when an octogenarian knitter initiated a discussion with the rst author about

her recent experience in planning her own funeral. A lengthy one on one conversation then evolved into a group announcement:
Same individual called groups attention, spoke about details of planning funeral, and told group about open house at funeral chapel, how the girl who helped her there was young and nice, how there would be free lunch at the open house. Did not recall date [Field notes EP].

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The following week, this knitter brought some yers, which she distributed. This brought on a discussion about other peoples experiences with planning, or not planning, funerals. An excerpt from the second weeks eld notes gives an indication of the number of participants and the range of the discussion:
Knitter 4 brought in yers. I asked where she got them girl from chapel gave them to her. Knitter 5 didnt want to hear about it, left room (not sure if because of funeral talk though). Other people wanted yers Knitters 6, 7 and 8. Knitter 9 said she and her husband had talked about it at length after last week.
1 Hands: 1 2 knitting, 2 not listening.


Knitter 10 noted that the open house is only for those above 60 was peeved. Wondered why chapel would dissuade under 60s from attending dont they want people to plan early? Elena recalled Knitter 11s conversation from last week wondered why they wouldnt want under 60s. Knitter 12 said when friends parent died, had planned funeral themselves but daughter was told that she would have to pay for engraving the date of death on the tombstone, and will ght this. Other people chimed in. Knitter 6 (?) knew someone with the same experience. Knitter 4 said she is not trying to push the idea, but that they were nice there. Knitter 13 said she would have the city bury her[1]. (Was pretty quiet today). Canada Pension Plan gives money for funeral. Knitter 10: when I buried my mother. Got around $250 - $275 from CPP. Was not much although her mother had worked for 30 years. Knitter 7 from [another province], got $2,000 to pay for mothers funeral. Also talked about cost of cremation Knitter 10 said $6,000. Hands: everyone knitting [Field notes EP].

This entire conversation covered a wide variety of the kinds of HIB issues typically studied by researchers: consumer information, referrals to community information sources and social service information. It also illustrates several active and incidental forms of HIB that have been discussed by researchers. However, we propose to go further to explore the relationship between the HIB taking place within the knitting

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circle and important contextual factors: the location of the circle in a public library, the characteristics of the act of knitting, and the social meanings of the activities taking place within the circle, including the signicance of gender and caring. Figure 1 shows the complex relationships among the physical, social, and cultural contexts in which the knitting circle operates. The remainder of this article will describe the complex ways in which these factors and the information practices of the circle exist in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping (Lincoln, 1985, pp. 36-38). The public library and HIB As we have described in more detail elsewhere (McKenzie et al., 2006) and summarised above, the fact that the knitting circle meets in a public library programme room has implications for the kinds of people likely to be present within the room and the shared values of the group. Public libraries offer space and facilities for groups of people to meet and undertake a variety of activities, meaning that users will often encounter and interact with those outside their usual social circle (Goulding, 2004, pp. 4-5), and our participants speculated about the similarities and differences among members:
Knitter 3: I nd that one of the interesting dynamics of the group, theres really different socio-economic members in the group. Theres probably different educational levels in the group, but those arent blatant. When the conversations going around the table, I nd theres a lot of common denominators. Even when it comes to books and movies. Everybody around that table seems to have something to contribute, because somebody who maybe isnt as well read is an exceptional knitter, so I think the individual talents in the group really come through.

Involvement with the public library was what brought many knitters to the group in the rst place. Several learned of the group in the librarys newsletter or from librarians themselves:
Investigator: Okay, so can you tell me about how you started coming to the knitting group? Knitter 9: Yeah, we had just moved to town, and when youre a senior its kind of hard to make contact, you know, people of similar interest. But the library has been our home away from home. And I just saw the notice are you interested in knitting? and one Thursday I just plucked up my courage and I just came. And that was three or four years ago, and Ive been coming ever since.

Leckie and Givens extensive review of the literature on information seeking and public libraries states that in the context of a public library, informing is most likely to happen through users interactions with texts (i.e. print, images, sound and other media, in hard copy or in digital form), and with human intermediaries (such as librarians and other patrons) (Leckie, 2005, p. 3). Our eld notes document the use of library materials:
Knitter 14 had a book out open in front of her, Knitting without tears, with a library spine label. We talked about it and she said shed been needing some help and Knitter 2 suggested this book and its been helpful but sometimes its hard to follow the instructions. She had the book open to a section on heels, German heel and some other kind [eldnotes PM].

and resources: Knitter 2 left to photocopy something from my magazine [Field notes EP]. In addition, they supplemented the librarys collection with their own materials. Knitter 7 lent Knitter 4 a book of poetry. Knitter 4 has book on hold from library has 200 holds on it [Field notes EP].

In the course of the interview, the knitters described their use and appreciation of the public library.
Investigator: do you have a library card? Knitter 9: I most certainly do. Investigator: now you said, when you moved to town the library was your home away from home. Knitter 9: Yeah. Investigator: So how do you use the library? Knitter 9: Well, just to pick up books, and movies sometimes. And sometimes I read magazines if theyre there. Investigator: And you come to the knitting circle. Knitter 9: . . .my husband comes to [another] program. Its something hes just taken up since weve moved to town. Investigator: Um, so since you live in the neighborhood is this the branch you come to? Knitter 9: Yes it is, and almost invariably. Ive been to the central one. And I havent really investigated it yet, but no, the staff [here] are just so wonderful. They recommend books, you know you would like this, or try this author, or theyll hold movies because they think well like it. And they just spoil us and we love it. Knitter 3: I like the atmosphere of the library too. Ive always been a library person, and I like coming to the library, I like the fact that after you knit you can get your books or whatever you want.

Purls of wisdom


Although the knitters came from a variety of backgrounds their participation in this group signalled a shared commitment to the library and its functions as well as a commitment to knitting as an activity. Role of knitting as an activity The physical act of knitting both facilitated and constrained HIB in the knitting circle. Participants at knitting groups are participating in handwork their hands are busy but their minds can easily stray to other matters. In this way knitting is conducive to chatting, and chatting is justied because participants are still being productive. For this reason, knitting groups are increasingly termed Stitch & Bitch since participants can use the gathering to share not only skills but everyday life information and human services information. Lydon (1997, p. 3) described the use of knitting in a Vipassana Buddhist meditation class. During the rst hour of the class, participants did needlework in silence. During the second hour of the class, participants continued to work on their projects while also speaking deeply to the others about their lives. The meditation teacher observed that, everyone agreed that the hour of concentration practice was what allowed us to share so deeply (Lydon, 1997, p. 3). Knitting as a physical activity is also visible to other participants. Others can see what a project looks like, how much progress has been made, and how condently (or

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tentatively) the knitter is working. The shared activities and supplies associated with a project in the knitting circle, including the pattern, yarn and ongoing handwork served as non-threatening conversation starters. Knitters generally received an inquiry about their knitting project as supportive: Everyone asked what I was knitting at beginning of session, showed what they were working on [EP eld notes]. Such a query could lead either to a discussion of the materials and technique or to further conversations on a variety of subjects:
Knitter 10 talked about knitting this pink sweater for her daughter whos in [faraway city]. Shed intended to get it done by the time her daughter came home for Thanksgiving but shed have to send it. Some discussion about her daughter: did she come home? No, she stayed there, she and some friends went to [American location]. Theyre two hours from the US. Its a great opportunity for her. Later on someone asked Knitter 10 Was your daughter homesick to come home? No, shes got these new friends. One friend is from [nearby city] and two are from [European country], two more from somewhere else. I asked whether she knew people when she got there, Knitter 10 said No, she went not knowing anybody and has made friends with these girls. [Field notes PM].

Although the visibility and regularity of knitting as an activity facilitated simultaneous casual conversation, the relationship between knitting and talking depended on the skill of the knitter, the complexity of the project, and on what was being said. For example, during the announcement period, most participants tried to make eye contact with the speaker and their ability to do this while knitting determined whether they set their work aside:
When people make announcements to the whole group, many (most) will put their knitting down, make eye contact with the speaker. Eventually, will pick up knitting again. Knitter 4 hardly knits at all [EP eld notes]. [Group organizer] made several announcements at the beginning, and I thought about what I did with my knitting. I was on a wrong-side row and was able to attend and knit and still make enough eye contact. When I got to the end of that row I put my knitting on the table because I knew I could no longer make that eye contact and knit cables at the same time [PM eld notes].

During more casual discussions, participants kept knitting for the most part and worried less about making eye contact, as is evident from the eld notes describing the funeral planning discussion above. The exception to this practice, Knitter 14, was working on a project that tested her skills. The difculty of the project both led this knitter to borrow a book from the library (see above) and to remove herself physically from the group during casual conversation to isolate herself from the distraction: Knitter 14 concentrating on socks, pulled her chair back. Someone asked Pam what she was doing, Pam said she was concentrating on her socks [EP eld notes]. The physical characteristics of knitting as an activity therefore played a role in both facilitating and impeding HIB for the participants in the knitting circle. The practices of knitting and of knitting in a group also carry social meanings that further relate to the information practices in this collective setting. Social meaning of group activities Tuominen and Savolainen (1996) analysed the ways that previously received or sought information is discursively constructed or designed for accomplishing pragmatic social

action. We argue that the HIB taking place within the knitting circle becomes information practice as it takes several kinds of social action related to three social meanings of producing textile handwork in a group setting. First, studies of womens participation in textile handcraft guilds have found that group participation has social meaning in relation to the physical textile object and its production. Textile objects themselves carry signicance, and the hand crafting of objects contributes to womens individual development (creativity, aesthetics, technical skill, management of materials and time (Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001, p. 42). Second, guild participation enables the sharing of common interests, values, and traditions and the development of a group identity as a handcrafter (Cerny et al., 1993; Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001, p. 46). These two meanings are interrelated: producing hand-made goods may provide participants with a sense of success at producing something of value and worth, and with a sense of connection with other crafters that enables them both to learn from and to mentor others (Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001). A third meaning is related to the friendships made through membership in textile handcraft guilds, which may be as important to members as the activity itself (Piercy and Cheek, 2004, p. 31). Green (1998, pp. 176-7) argued that womens talk in leisure contexts, particularly those with other women, serves both as a prime site of leisure and as a forum for self empowerment and autonomy. Producing textile handcrafts simultaneously shows the womans uniqueness through her crafting ability and her relationship to a community, both the historical and contemporary crafting community from whom she learns patterns and techniques, and a larger community of family, friends, and other community groups with whom she shares the fruits of her labours (Carey et al., 2001, pp. 23-4; Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001, p. 42). Schoeld-Tomschin (2001, p. 43) argues that the creation of material objects accomplishes generativity, the guiding and nurturing of the next generation and the continuation of traditions and institutions. The sharing of patterns and techniques in a guild begins a natural cycle of the craft beneting the informant; thereby contributing to active participation in the guild which ultimately provided impetus for more individual craft production (Schoeld-Tomschin, 2001, p. 49). The sharing of information about patterns and techniques is an integral part of this cycle and serves to further the social bonds with other knitters both past and present (Cerny et al., 1993, p. 23; Piercy and Cheek, 2004). In the knitting circle we observed a pattern being shared visually, through the display of the nished product, as well as orally through the telling of the pattern and the situating of the pattern within the history of the group:
Someone brought up a woman known to many here who has a diabetic husband and knits socks for him. The story was told at least twice that she makes all her husbands socks and when his doctor saw them he liked them so much that he asked her to knit for him and now she makes all the doctors socks too. Someone near me was wearing socks from this pattern, cream colour with a single cable twist on the front, each side, and back. I did hear Knitter 2 explaining to someone (Elena?) that the pattern had originated in this group, (was perhaps hers?) and she basically told the pattern to her listener. You knit four times something with a twist and then its all the same. But when you get to the foot you only do the cable along the top so that it doesnt cause wear on the bottom of the sock [eld notes PM].

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The formal display of handcrafted items in a guild setting additionally demonstrates the crafters ability to manage time and materials, her technical and aesthetic skill, and her socialization, as the handwork was accomplished through afliations with other crafters (Cerny et al., 1993, p. 22): [Knitter] showed afghan stood up, held it, people were amazed [Field notes EP]. Even apart from the formal show-and-tell we participated in the assessment of one anothers progress on our projects, both positively: Knitter 14 was still working on her grey socks. I commented on how much shed got done [Field notes PM]. And negatively:
Investigator: Do you ever feel like you, have to produce a certain amount to come here? Because for me, I thought, [because Ive missed a couple of meetings], I thought well Id better knit something. Knitter 15: So they wont be . . . [laughs]. Investigator: So they know that Im really serious about being here. Knitter 15: Yeah, not just a pretend knitter [laughing] Well sometimes I did think, oh, I cant bring that in again especially I wasnt able to knit for a month because I had some things that I started in the summer that arent nished, and I was embarrassed to bring around. Yeah, I guess sometimes I have a little bit of that, you know.

Projects also demonstrated caring as knitters talked about the project or the person for whom they knit, as in the example of knitter 10s daughter above. Finally, the sharing of knitting-related information could be seen to constitute a different kind of caring: Through their craft production, the women assumed the role of caretaker to the craft, and a promoter of its continuation (Schoeld-Tomschin and Littrell, 2001, p. 47). Knitter 2 expressed her dismay at the attempt to turn knitting into a solely commercial enterprise by some knitting shops:
I bought some fancy yarn. And theyre handing out yers about, Do you have a problem, and well charge you $15 for 10 minutes help and that sort of thing. I hate to see that happen among women! I really do. I hate to see what, to me, what is a cultural skill, become a commercial thing . . . And so, I think that those are just skills that should just be matter of fact for women.

For Knitter 2, freely providing technical knitting information and help served both as care for women and as care for the craft itself and the free sharing of womens craft knowledge. HIB and social interaction in the knitting circle The knitting circle is therefore simultaneously the site for knitting and for chatting, for serious leisure and for casual leisure and, through both of those activities, for the work of caring for self and others. HIB in this setting relates both to the ofcial purpose of the group (knitting), to other topics arising in conversation, and to information related to relational work. When we asked participants what topics are discussed at the knitting group, a rst common answer was anything and everything.
Investigator: So what kind of things do you talk about at the knitting circle?

Knitter 9: Anything and everything, really. We talk about books, and, I notice people pass books back and forth, and good movies, um. Investigator: All right. Um, what kinds of topics do you discuss at the knitting circle? Knitter 10: [laughs] I bet youve had a lot of weird answers on this one. . . Um, oh my gosh. Its been health, death, um, illness, well I guess thats health, um, depending on someones stories youve got um, jokes, a lot of some of the older ladies have some really cool stories they tell which is really neat. Um, kids, grandkids, just about anything. Its not like any subject is taboo, so you can talk about anything in there. And it depends on where youre sitting and whos around you, as to what you talk about.

Purls of wisdom


As the interviews went on, however, participants revealed that there were certain topics they did not, or would not discuss. Chatman (1992) likewise found that, although retired women turned to friends and neighbours to provide emotional support and practical help for everyday matters, they identied some concerns as inappropriate to communicate with such secondary social ties. For example, disclosing a serious health issue might put a woman at risk of being moved to an institutional living environment. Chatmans respondents kept such serious problems from their secondary ties, turning to their family for information, referral, and support. Some of our participants expressed similar views, using the term personal to identify topics suitable and unsuitable for discussion at the knitting circle.
Knitter 3: Theres a whole lot of things I wouldnt share in this group. And thats probably another reason why I like the group. Because you can leave any kind of real serious difculties you might be having, you can leave them at the door and come in here and talk about things like recipes, fashion, men, you know. Im not here to discuss anything about my private life. If somebody started to open up and talk about that, it could change the nature of the group. . . I would become uncomfortable if it came to the level where somebody was crying when they were. . . Im not at a knitting circle for that kind of in-depth relationship. But as far as support and hows your husband doing, and how are you feeling, that kind of thing Im interested in. I wouldnt want to go very far down with the knitting group. For me its not there.

The distinction between suitable and unsuitable topics for discussion might usefully be explained by an examination of the relational issues involved. Tardy (2000) and Coates (2000) use Goffmans (1959) dramaturgical metaphor to analyse the ways that womens informal conversation serves as a backstage to the front stage of everyday life or the workplace. Both authors claim that the front-stage performance of femininity is that of the good wife and mother, the epitome of niceness (Coates, 2000, p. 242). They argue that niceness prevents women from expressing the range of their true feelings, and that the backstage environments created in conversation with other women allow women to subvert and challenge norms and explore alternate selves (Coates, 2000, p. 241). Tardy argued that an informal mother-child drop-in served as front-stage space and that participants did not discuss certain topics: the topics reported to be taboo are those that would negatively affect the fulllment of the idealized image of motherhood (Tardy, 2000, p. 446). Backstage talk such as that done by women friends allows for the discussion of front-stage performances, describing the feelings that accompanied the performance. During such talk, women will often say things which contradict the polite front maintained during the performance (Coates, 2000, p. 245).

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While some knitters reluctance to discuss family issues may be an indication that they consider the knitting circle to be front-stage space, backstage talk took place in the knitting circle as well. Backstage talk was more relational than instrumental. One knitter expressed her appreciation at being able, as a woman, to express herself among other women:
Knitter 4: This group this be my lifeline. I can express myself here theres so many different women, of different cultures. Even different backgrounds. Experiences. Um, and some of the women, when they can, theyre quiet by nature. I happen to be a rather extroverted person. I have to moderate at times, and I am careful and I have to, I havent had much patience in the past, with very very quiet women who dont feel they have anything to offer. And I try to do this with my group, my church group. And theyre nice women, but they were so programmed. Id say to them, well how do you feel about [inaudible]? And they were like um, uh.


Backstage talk also involved knitters families and the concerns they have for them:
Knitter 16: And my daughters been away for 20 years now, she went to school and went to [other city] and never lived with us after that. She has her own ways of doing things and . . . Knitter 2: And you can do everything wrong within the rst two hours of being there. Knitter 3: My husband has insurance, but he would never let me get insurance. He would never let me talk about it. Even lately I got a letter in the mail [about a living will]. Knitter 8: Well, he doesnt want to lose you, [Knitter 3], thats what it is.

Although anecdotes like these do not provide the kind of factual information generally considered in HIB research, we would argue that these exchanges are examples of information practice and that they take social action. In this case the exchanges do relational work through the provision of reinforcement. As Tardy (2000) and Coates (2000) have found, womens informal interactions not only provided assistance and created relationships but also provided the women with a sense that their experiences were normal (Tardy, 2000, p. 455). Knitter 2 is providing social information, normalising Knitter 16s experience and anticipating and validating Knitter 16s negative feelings about her daughter. Knitter 8 provides information that normalises the husbands behaviour and reassures Knitter 3 with a plausible explanation that shows him to be a caring person rather than simply someone who has failed to plan ahead. This kind of relational information seeking, and giving without seeking, that normalised, reinforced, and reassured, was common in the knitting group.
Knitter 14: Its amazing, the information thats shared. Some is entertaining, some is personal, and when its personal its always, theres always some support, theres more of a concern, its not intrusive, its just support.

In this way, HIB in and of itself formed a part of the womens caring for one another. Discussion On one level, it would be possible to reach the constructivist (Talja, 2005) conclusion that our public library-based knitting group is a site rich with information behaviour of various types, an information ground (Fisher, 2006). Participants in the knitting circle do indeed engage in the kinds of HIB identied by other researchers, including

active search/seeking (e.g. Wilson, 1997), active scanning/browsing (e.g. Erdelez, 1996), monitoring the context/information encountering/incidental information acquisition (e.g. Savolainen, 1995; Erdelez, 1996; Williamson, 1998), networking and eclecticism (Foster, 2005), and information seeking by proxy (McKenzie, 2003). Not only do the individual members seek knitting information from one another, they exchange information about health, family, and anything and everything else. The knitters relate to each other and compare ideas about dealing with family, the home, aging, and other topics. While many members of the group expressed reluctance about sharing very personal information, the information that they do share is very signicant and important, especially for those who use the group to achieve a sense of community. We argue, however, that taking a collectivist approach to the study of information practices in a naturalistic setting allows us to take the analysis further. By unravelling the knotted contextual strands we have been able to develop an understanding of the many and complex ways in which a discourse community collectively constructs meaning, and the ways that the information practices of that community relate to that construction. The interaction among the contextual strands was best articulated by Knitter 15, who told us three times that for her the value of the group was really not about the knitting:
Investigator: So what is it about this group that keeps you coming back? Knitter 15: I think its really not to do with the knitting. I think, in a way, I nd it kind of an interesting group to be in. And I like the social. . . I mean the knitting is part of it, but I, its probably less important than the people and socializing.

Purls of wisdom


As this participant was particularly reective and we spoke to her late in our data collection, we used her interview as an opportunity for member checking, further developing or validating themes that had arisen in interviews with previous respondents (Lincoln, 1985):
Investigator: One of the things were thinking is . . . how it affects the environment, or the sort of ability to share information, to be having something in your hand to work on. And something in common that brings you together. What do you think about that? Knitter 15: Well, my rst reaction to it is that obviously, for many people it makes them more comfortable, for then to be able to share, just the act of doing it, you know. But there are perhaps some people, I mean, for me its hard to talk and knit, Im not effective you know. . . But I think there are some people for who it makes them more comfortable, even just to hold it, not actually to knit on it [. . .] Investigator: But Im wondering, I guess, if having a piece of work that youre working on is somehow your excuse to be able to. Knitter 15: Yeah, yeah, I suspect youre right on that, and I wonder if that doesnt, you know womens groups over years, you know, have been, um, something that so they would meet together and share around an activity, and were it not for that activity it wouldnt have. Investigator: The opportunity would have taken place, yeah, yeah. Knitter 15: I think youre right.

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Investigator: And thats one of the things were interested in. We both think its not about the knitting, but in some ways it is about the knitting, because . . . Knitter 15: Yes, because we wouldnt be here, except for the knitting. And so its just like the old quilting bees, you know, those women wouldnt have taken that, or wouldnt have felt they could take that break, and sit and chat and just [inaudible] except that they had this sort of project that they were working on, an immense thing, maybe mending [inaudible] or something else, some other reason to gather.


Knitter 15 touches on the interplay among unpaid work, serious leisure and casual leisure in the knitting circle, and hints at the relationship between these activities, HIB, and the creation of front-stage or backstage places. Responsibility for childcare, housework, and other domestic responsibilities have been identied as constraints on womens participation in leisure activities (Day, 2000, pp. 107-8). Because womens time is often fragmented, many take snatched spaces for leisure and enjoyment, rather than planning leisure activities (Green, 1998, p. 262). As this participant has realised, the knitters group allows for the simultaneous performance of family-based caring work and the experience of leisure with and receiving care from other women. We contend that information practices and the complex context are in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping (Lincoln, 1985, pp. 36-38), constituted by and constitutive of one another. Conclusion Although our small-scale naturalistic study does not produce broadly generalisable ndings, the method does permit a deep engagement with the particularities of an individual setting, and enables the identication of some factors that may be transferable to other settings. This method is therefore particularly well suited to analysis within a collectivist framework, as it allows us to develop an understanding of individuals perspectives through the interviews and of the collective setting through participant observation. Although the information ground provided a starting point for our study, the concept as it is currently articulated is framed in constructivist assumptions and is therefore limited in its utility for our analysis. Information ground data have been collected through a variety of methods including observation, interviews, and surveys (Fisher and Naumer, 2006), but data analysis to date has consisted largely of content analyses of respondents perspectives on such issues as the kinds of information grounds visited, the kinds of information exchanged in information grounds, the directions in which information ow occurs, and the value of the information and the information sources (e.g. relevance, quality, accessibility). Fisher and Naumer have acknowledged these limitations and call for research: on how information needs are expressed and recognized at information grounds, and how information is socially constructed among different actors . . . . [R]esearch also needs to address how peoples perceptions and participation in information grounds change over time, the life cycles of information grounds (how they are created and sustained; what causes them to disappear or transform), and how they can be used to facilitate information ow (Fisher and Naumer, 2006, p. 106). We agree with this assessment, and offer our collectivist analysis which provides a window into the ways that members of a setting collectively construct information itself, negotiate and express information needs and evaluate the authority of

information sources, and the ways in which information practices and social settings may be mutually constitutive. We argue that the collectivist approach has much to offer HIB researchers looking to deepen their understanding of information practices within specic contexts.
Note 1. Although these no longer exist at the time of writing, the Ontario provincial government and municipal governments have provided funding for the funerals of people receiving social assistance. See, for example, www.london.ca/ResearchStatistics/links_best_practices/ Community_Plan_Revised_January.pdf References Afghans for Afghans (2006), Americans are making. . . afghans for Afghans, available at: www.afghansforafghans.org (accessed 6 September 2006). Aitchison, C.C. (2003), Gender and Leisure: Social and Cultural Perspectives, Routledge, London. Brown, C. (2001), in Campbell, D.G. (Ed.), Information encounters in the beauty salon, Beyond the Web: Technologies, Knowledge and People: Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference Laval, of the Canadian Association for Information Science, 27-29 May, 2001, Universite bec, pp. 136-48. Que Canadian Knitwear Designers and Artisans (2006), Knitting Guilds in Canada, available at: www.canknit.com/guilds.html (accessed 6 September 2006). Carey, R.F., McKechnie, L.E.F. and McKenzie, P.J. (2001), Gaining access to everyday life information seeking, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 319-34. Case, D.O. (2002), Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior, Academic Press, New York, NY. Cerny, C.A., Eicher, J.B. and DeLong, M.R. (1993), Quiltmaking and the modern guild: a cultural idiom, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 16-25. Chatman, E.A. (1992), The Information World of Retired Women, Greenwood, Westport, CT. Coates, J. (2000), Small talk and subversion: female speakers backstage, in Candlin, C.N. (Ed.), Language in Social Life, Longman, London, pp. 241-64. Day, K. (2000), The ethic of care and womens experiences of public space, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 103-24. DeVault, M.L. (1991), Feeding the family: the social organization of caring as gendered work, in Stimpson, C.R. (Ed.), Women in Culture and Society, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. Erdelez, S. (1996), Information Encountering on the Internet, Information Today, New York, NY, pp. 101-7. Erlandson, D.A., Harris, E.L., Skipper, B.L. and Allen, S.D. (1993), Doing Naturalistic Inquiry: A Guide to Methods, Sage, Newbury Park, CA. Fisher, K.E. and Naumer, C. (2006), Information grounds: theoretical basis and empirical ndings on information ow in social settings, in Spink, A. and Cole, C. (Eds), New Directions in Human Information Behavior, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 93-111. Foster, A.E. (2006), A non-linear model of information seeking behaviour, Information Research, Vol. 10 No. 2, available at: http://informationr.net/ir/10-2/paper222.html (accessed 6 September 2006). Goffman, E. (1959), The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Doubleday, New York, NY.

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Stalker, L. and Harling, L. (2000), Wool and needles in my casket: knitting as a habit among rural Newfoundland women, unpublished Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St Johns. Stebbins, R.A. (1992), Amateurs, Professionals, and Serious Leisure, McGill-Queens University Press, Kingston. Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1991), Basics of Qualitative Research; Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques, Sage, Newbury Park, CA. Talja, S., Tuominen, K. and Savolainen, R. (2005), Isms in information science: constructivism, collectivism, and constructionism, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 No. 1, pp. 79-101. Tardy, R.W. (2000), But I am a good mom: the social construction of motherhood through health-care conversations, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 433-73. Tuominen, K. and Savolainen, R. (1996), A social constructionist approach to the study of information use as a discursive action, Information Seeking in Context: Proceedings of an International Conference in Information Needs, Seeking and Use in Different Contexts, Tampere, Finland, 14-16 August, 1996. Tuominen, K., Talja, S. and Savolainen, R. (2002), Discourse, cognition, and reality: toward a social constructionist metatheory for library and information science, Emerging Frameworks and Methods: CoLIS 4. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Seattle, WA, USA, July 21-25, 2002. Visser, M. (1994), The language of things, in Hickey, G. (Ed.), Making and Metaphor: A Discussion of Meaning in Contemporary Craft, Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies, Mercury Series Paper, 66, Canadian Museum of Civilization and Institute for Contemporary Canadian Art, Hull. Williamson, K. (1998), Discovered by chance: the role of incidental information acquisition in an ecological model of information use, Library & Information Science Research, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 23-40. Wilson, T.D. (1981), On user studies and information needs, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 3-15. Wilson, T.D. (1997), Information behaviour: an inter-disciplinary perspective, in Vakkari, P., Savolainen, R. and Dervin, B. (Eds), Information Seeking in Context: Proceedings of the International Conference on Research in Information Needs, Seeking and Use in Different Contexts, Taylor Graham, London, pp. 39-50. Wilson, T.D. (1999), Models in information behaviour research, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 249-70. Wiseman, J. (1979), Close encounters of the quasi-primary kind: sociability in urban second-hand clothing stores, Urban Life, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 23-51.

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Appendix. Preliminary interview guide Information sharing . Why do you attend a knitting circle? . What is it about the knitting circle at [this branch] that makes you come back? . What percentage of the conversation would you say revolves around knitting? . Can you remember an instance where you obtained a recommendation from a member of the group that you would not have known about? Eg. A service/recipe/? Tell me about that instance?

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. .

. .

Did you follow this recommendation? What process did you follow? Did you seek advice from anyone prior to following recommendation or that stopped you from following the recommendation? Do you ever recommend services to people in the group? OR Can you remember an instance where you shared something with the group? What sorts of information do you bring to the group? (charitable contributions, social events, What makes you choose these things to share? Is there anything you wouldnt feel comfortable sharing/relating to the group? Are there times when you dont feel comfortable knitting? If someone is making an announcement, for instance will you put your knitting down? What sorts of situations would inuence you to stop knitting?

Contexts . How long have you been attending the group? . How did you hear about the group? . Have you attended other knitting circles? How does this one differ? . How often do you come? . Do you see members of the group outside the knitting circle time? . Do you use [this branch] library? How? (knitting books, magazines, ction, programs, research) . Do you ask the librarians for help? Do you know their names? . Is there anything about the setting that you feel could be improved/bothers you? . What is your favourite time of year for knitting? The knitting circle? Positioning . How do you see yourself compared to other members of the group? With respect to knitting? . Are you a prolic knitter? How many projects have you completed in the past six months? . Who do you see as the biggest contributor of knitting expertise in the group? . Who do you see as the biggest information contributor in the group? . What is your relationship with the other members of the group? New members: How has attending this knitting circle changed you knitting practice? Knowledge of community? The shape of your week? How you nd information about knitting, other things? (Are you more likely to save questions until [the day the knitting circle meets?]) About the authors Elena Prigoda is Instruction & Liaison Librarian in the Gerstein Science Information Centre at University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Pamela J. McKenzie is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. Pamela J. McKenzie is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: pmckenzi@uwo.ca

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Affordance theory: a framework for graduate students information behavior

Elizabeth (Bess) Sadler
Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, and

Affordance theory


Lisa M. Given
School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Purpose This study seeks to apply ecological psychologys concept of affordance to graduate students information behavior in the academic library, and to explore the extent to which the affordances experienced by graduate students differed from the affordances librarians were attempting to provide. Design/methodology/approach In-depth, qualitative interviews with graduate students and academic librarians explored how the students perceived and used the librarys various opportunities for action (e.g. books, databases, instructional sessions, librarians, physical space, etc.) and compared these perceptions and behavior with librarians intentions and expectations. Findings Findings indicate a disparity between expectations and experience and point to graduate students as an underserved population in this context, especially in terms of the librarys outreach efforts. In addition, because graduate students are increasingly teaching introductory undergraduate courses, communication methods that bypass graduate students tend to miss undergraduate students as well. Practical implications Practical implications discussed in this paper include possible methods of improving communication channels between graduate students and academic librarians, and considerations for information literacy instruction. Originality/value This paper presents a unique perspective by using affordance theory to frame students and librarians expectations about library services. The ndings are particularly valuable for their implications for library-patron communication and information literacy. Keywords Ecology, Graduates, Academic libraries, Librarians, Information media, Qualitative research Paper type Research paper

Introduction Graduate students have various information needs and use many information sources to meet those needs. The academic library is one vital resource as it serves as a central hub for students to access online materials, personal help, and other resources to guide their academic work. Existing research in library and information studies explores graduate students interactions with e-journals and other internet resources (e.g. Aiken et al., 2003; Liew et al., 2000; Gullikson et al., 1999), library collections (e.g. Smith, 2003),
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Information Science. Interview questions about affordance were developed, in part, with the guidance of Dr Stan Ruecker, Humanities Computing Program, University of Alberta.
Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 115-141 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723911

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and other relevant topics. However, few studies examine the holistic role of the academic library where systems and users interact within a broader social frame. Although digital resources play key roles in students academic lives, focusing on these to the exclusion of other areas of interaction risks overlooking signicant elements of the library experience. In this study, graduate students information behavior is examined in light of theory from ecological psychology, with a particular focus on the role affordances play in shaping students informational activities. An ecological view of information behavior Rather than focusing attention only on newly introduced technologies, Bonnie Nardi and Vicki ODay propose using ecological models to examine library use. In Information Ecologies (Nardi and ODay, 1999), they critique the rhetoric of inevitability that is often used to frame technological change as uncontrollable and predestined. This view, they argue, makes users feel powerless to inuence technology, or to choose between available technologies. An ecological model instead views technology not merely in terms of new features, but as a catalyst in a complex and ever-changing ecosystem. The introduction of e-journals to a library collection, for example, changes more than how users view journals; it may also change which journals users select, how often users visit the library, and the kinds of questions users ask at the reference desk. By adopting holistic views of users library-based interactions researchers and librarians can best decide what technological changes users require, as well as the potential effects of new technologies on the library environment. In keeping with these principles, Williamson (1989) has formulated an ecological model of information use. In her studies of the information behavior patterns of elderly people, she found that much of the information gathering people do is spur-of-the-moment, or even accidental in nature. Williamsons ecological model focuses on the individual in a particular physical, social and cultural environment, with the understanding that information behavior must be understood in context or not at all (Williamson, 1989, p. 25). Although the scope of the information behavior in Williamsons study extends beyond information retrieval, the central role that context plays in her theories resonate with the literature on relevance (e.g. Park, 1993). These ecological approaches to the study of information behavior can provide a more holistic, richer understanding of the ways that individuals locate, use and understand the information around them. Many researchers have examined university m, 2005; Saumure and students informational activities (e.g. Given, 2002; Heinstro Given, 2003; Whitmire, 2004); while some of these do attend to emotion, social context, and other ecological elements that can affect students information behavior, few studies use ecological theory to purposefully explore undergraduates or graduates academic and informational activities. Ecological psychology as a theoretical framework In psychology, the idea that an individuals behavior (including information behavior) cannot be studied in isolation from that users environment was fore-grounded by James Gibson, the principal founder of a school of thought known as Ecological Psychology. The world, as dened by Gibson, consists only of those things perceived by an organism in its environment; for example, time is constructed not as a linear

measure of centuries and eras, but as the passing of events directly perceived by an organism (Gibson, 1979, p. 12). Thus, although on paper we measure time numerically, in our lives it is more likely to resemble personal and often deeply contextual measurements like soon after my grandfather died or right before I graduated from university. Central to Gibsons view of the world is the concept of affordance, or the opportunities for action offered by the real world. A reptile in a desert might perceive a large rock as a place to sunbathe or a place to hide; a human might perceive the same rock as a weapon or a building material. There is no correct use for the rock, only the affordances perceived by various perceivers. It is this relationship between organisms and the environment that is the crux of the concept of affordance. According to Gibson, the affordances of the environment are what is offers the animal, what is provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. [An affordance] refers to both the environment and the animal [and] implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment (Gibson, 1979, p. 127). Two views of affordance Ecological psychology and its concept of affordance have been inuential in many elds, and the ideas are still evolving. Donald Norman introduced the idea of affordance into the realms of graphic design, human computer interaction (HCI), and even popular consciousness with his book The Psychology of Everyday Things (Norman, 1988). Norman sought to address how human beings can interact with tens of thousands of objects, many of which are encountered only once. When you rst see something you have never seen before, how do you know what to do? he asked. His answer: The appearance of the device could provide the critical clues required for its proper operation (Norman, 1999, p. 39). While Gibsons affordances were rooted in visual perception of the natural world (hence the term ecological psychology), Normans idea of affordance has more in common with industrial design. In his book, Norman suggested that our past knowledge and experience [are] applied to our perception of the things about us (Norman, 1988, p. 14), an idea that clashed with the accepted wisdom of Gibsonian purists. According to Normans school of thought, in the human world it becomes especially important to recognize both an objects intended uses (i.e. real affordances) and the affordances perceived by the user (or perceived affordances). The intended affordances of a designed object constitute only a portion of the affordances a human being might perceive in it (Norman, 1999, p. 17). One illustration of this is Binghams (2000) description of a knife:
A knife could provide an opportunity for cutting, hammering, driving a screw, chiseling, scraping, forking, reecting light, branding, throwing a projectile, drawing a straight edge, measuring a length, picking ones teeth, cleaning ones nails, scratching a message, and so on, ad innitum (Bingham, 2000, p. 34).

Affordance theory


While a knife may be designed for cutting, the affordances offered by the knife are not dened by the knifes designer, but by the person using the knife to meet his or her current needs. However, where Gibson would say that the knife cannot have any affordances on its own, that instead an affordance only comes into being when an object is imbued with meaning by one who can use it for some purpose (Gibson, 1979),

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Norman would claim that this does not change the fact that the knifes designer meant for it to cut, (a real or intended affordance for the knife). Although debates about the nature of affordances continue in the eld of ecological psychology (see, for example, McGrenere and Ho, 2000), the study of the differences and overlaps between intended and perceived affordances also forms an important area of research in the study of usability. Since their popularization, the concepts of ecological psychology and the design principles they inspire have been applied in many contexts, including software design (e.g. Ruecker, 2003; Baerentsen and Trettvik, 2002), analysis of work team organization (e.g. Birchall and Rada, 1995), and Nardi and ODays (1999) examination of libraries as information ecologies, which also added social values and context to the discussion of affordances. Research questions This study explores whether viewing the academic library through an ecological lens allows libraries to better understand patrons needs, and be better able to meet those needs in ways that t well with users established patterns of interaction in the library context. In any designed environment, the affordances envisioned by designers and the affordances perceived by users may differ. This happens, for example, when library patrons see opportunities that were not envisioned by the creators of a tool or a service, or when patrons overlook potential opportunities that librarians have intentionally placed in their paths. This study examined two questions: RQ1. What affordances do graduate students perceive in the academic library context? RQ2. To what extent do these differ from the affordances envisioned by academic librarians? Research design The project used a qualitative methodology to examine how eight University of Alberta graduate students used the academic library. Use was dened in the context of library resources, including the library building itself, physical books and journals, communications with librarians, and online services provided by the library system. Of the students, six were full-time doctoral students, and two were full-time masters students. Participants ages ranged from 28 to 47, with six males and two females, and they were studying in the academic disciplines of anthropology, economics, education, political science, psychology, and sociology. Social science disciplines were chosen because it was expected that graduate students in these disciplines would make use of a wide range of library resources, and also because of the researchers familiarity with the resources typically used in these disciplines. Of the doctoral students, four were in the process of writing their dissertations and two were completing courses. Of the Masters students, one was writing a masters thesis and the other was completing his rst year of coursework. All six doctoral students had served as the primary instructor for a course, and all eight participants had worked as teaching assistants; two students were teaching courses at the time of the interview. Of the participants, seven had worked as research assistants, although only one was employed in that capacity during the study.

To compare the affordances perceived by the students with the expectations set by the library, three academic librarians from the University of Alberta were also interviewed. Each of these librarians was responsible for designing and evaluating on-line and/or in-person services in the library system. Participants were recruited through invitations emailed to departmental lists and through snowball sampling. Interviewees were selected using maximum variation sampling to achieve a broad representation of gender, age, academic discipline, and topic of study (e.g. although two sociology students were included in the study, their areas of research were very different). Data collection and analysis Data were collected in the fall and winter of 2004/2005 using in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews and task-based computer explorations. Each session lasted approximately ninety minutes, and was audio-recorded using a digital iPod recorder. All interviews were fully transcribed for analysis. In-depth interviews are recommended when a researcher wishes to understand a situation from anothers point of view. The aim is not only to understand what the participant does in a given situation, but also to explore their attitudes and feelings, as well as the broader context in which a behavior takes place. (see Mellon, 1990; Lincoln and Guba, 1985; Seidman, 1998). Interview guides were used in the interviews to guide the conversation (see Appendix 1 and 2); however, the dialogue with each participant was allowed to ow naturally, in order to explore each participants course work, research activities, teaching, and overall information behavior related to their academic work. When individuals mentioned activities that could be perceived as opportunities for action (e.g. talking with librarians, studying in the library, putting resources on the reserve list for a course), additional follow-up questions were asked to explore the affordances involved. In addition, the librarys reference linking service was examined in detail. This allowed for examination of a case study regarding a specic affordance the library was attempting to provide, and how it was being perceived by its intended users. The data analysis used a grounded theory approach, with emergent themes coded into TamsAnalyzer. TamsAnalyzer (Weinstein, 2004), an open-source tool for qualitative analysis, was used to create transcripts and codebooks, and to tag the transcriptions for analysis. This allowed the data, created in digital format, to stay in a digital format throughout the transcription and analysis process. Major themes to emerge from the student interviews included anxiety about dependence on technology, anxiety about time pressure, and a lack of awareness of library services. Major themes to emerge from the librarian interviews included a reliance on web-based communication and information literacy classes for communication with graduate students. These themes are discussed in more detail in the sections that follow. Findings and discussion: an overview Each affordance discussed was assigned to one of three categories, according to whether it was intended by the librarys service designers, and whether it was perceived by the students (i.e. there can be no affordance that was neither intended nor perceived). Figure 1 provides a summary of these three affordance categories and the most signicant ndings for each; a more thorough discussion of each category follows.

Affordance theory


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Figure 1. Summary of ndings for intended vs. perceived affordance categories

Affordances perceived by users, whether anticipated by the library or not, provide those users with some opportunity for action. Examples of perceived affordances that emerged in this research include the ability to nd books using a library catalogue (a use both intended by librarians and perceived by users), and the use of journal databases to locate articles for friends who do not have legal access to that material (a use never intended by the library, but perceived by some users). An affordance gap occurs when the designers of a tool or a service believe they are providing an opportunity for action, but this opportunity is not recognized by users. Examples of affordance gaps discussed in this paper include a lack of awareness of information literacy instruction programs (i.e. where librarians intend to provide useful instruction, but study participants were unaware of this service), and using the library web page to announce new services (i.e. where librarians intend to provide information, but study participants did not see these announcements). Affordances that were both intended and perceived One class of affordances consists of those affordances that were both intended by librarians and perceived by users. Figure 2 highlights this category. Graduate students in this study made use of many library resources in exactly the ways the library intended. The catalogue was often cited as a tool students used to nd information, as were journal databases, the internet, the library web site, and librarians themselves. Alice, a doctoral student in sociology, described some of the library resources she uses for her dissertation:
I use the library catalogue, and the internet, and database searching all the time. [. . .] Journal articles, either like MLA, the Philosophers Index, Academic Search Premiere, some of the art history stuff, humanities abstracts, yeah, all kinds of things.

Affordance theory


Figure 2. Summary of ndings for affordances both intended and perceived

There was a high degree of satisfaction with many of these services, especially the catalogue, reserving books, and interlibrary loan (ILL). David mentioned the librarys ILL agreements as an impressive service:
If I dont nd a book or journal I need Ill go to the [University of Toronto library online catalogue] and then Ill order it through interlibrary loan. [. . .] I just put the call number in my interlibrary loan request and I get it immediately.

Interviewees also cited on-campus library branch transfers as a useful service. Cassandra, who has a small library in her department, is an especially heavy user of this service. Im constantly bringing books in through [on-campus] interlibrary loan. I have books shipped here [to the department library]. All the books I request I just have them brought over here. She was especially pleased with the time and effort this saved her, particularly in the winter, when trekking across campus could be uncomfortable and time consuming. Librarians as formal sources of information Although there was unanimous awareness that librarians could be used as a resource, some users were reluctant to do so. David, a sociology PhD student, said he [doesnt] use reference librarians very often and Bernard, though a frequent and enthusiastic user of the library, echoed a frequently cited point of anxiety: Youre afraid to go up to the resource person and ask a dumb question. This nding echoes studies of library anxiety, which point to the perception that library staff members are unapproachable as a major reason for library anxiety among university students (see, for example, Mellon, 1986; Van Kampen, 2004). Alice, who usually works from home, was willing to consult a librarian, but was frustrated by the online reference system. Here, she describes her attempt to use the Ask Us a Question chat reference service:

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There was some problem. I got online and I was talking to a librarian from Michigan or something like that. They were helpful, but we got cut off. The connection went. So I logged back on and someone else picked me up and there is no mechanism for getting back to the same person. It was frustrating because we had been chatting, she knew my problems, [and I had] to start all over again.


As more students become remote users of the library they face additional technical hurdles; not only must they overcome their hesitancy to speak to librarians, they also must struggle with technological barriers in order to be able to speak with a librarian. Technological barriers are also signicant contributing factors to library anxiety so much so that a recent re-writing of the Library Anxiety Scale added a new category just for technology (Van Kampen, 2004). When users did consult librarians, however, the results were favorable. Cassandra, who is on a rst name basis with the librarians in her departmental library, spoke glowingly of the many ways they help her:
The librarians here are really helpful. In terms of if Im looking for something specic, theyre the people I would go to rst. [. . .] These two in particular are really. . . I wouldnt even just say sympathetic. Theyre very proactive about the stuff that we do here.

It bears noting, however, that the librarians in Cassandras departmental library are not strangers to her. She has no anxiety about approaching them because she talks to them every day, often in informal conversations when she happens to see them in the hallway. This has moved Cassandras interactions with these librarians from a formal information-seeking behavior to a more serendipitous activity, the kind of information gathering preferred by most people to meet their everyday information needs (Williamson, 1989). Cassandras relationship with her departmental librarians was a case study in what user-librarian relationships can be, at their best. It will be discussed in more detail later in this paper. The library as a place to work All the participants recognized that the library offered them a physical space in which to work. There was also consensus that the aesthetics of a library play an important role in how likely students are to use the space, and how much time they want to spend there. Several students indicated that the aesthetic pleasure of certain libraries made them choose to work there instead of somewhere else. For example, Alice described the library at another university, where she had completed her undergraduate degree, fondly:
I loved the reserve room. It was in this beautiful old building. On the top oor of this building were beautiful study areas, dark wood, you know, like sequestered carrels and really nice direct lighting, stained glass overhead. It was just this really beautiful environment to study in, so I spent hours there actually.

Stan Ruecker (2003) has theorized that aesthetic pleasure is one of the factors determining whether an affordance will be perceived or used by a particular person. The ndings here seem to conrm that view, as do numerous studies in library and information studies that cite comfort as a factor in lowering levels of anxiety (e.g. Van Kampen, 2004). Even when the interviewees embraced the move toward virtual library use, the words they used to describe the experience (e.g. faster, easier) were a striking contrast to those they used to describe library buildings and physical

collections they have loved (e.g. beautiful, joyful, immersive). There was a feeling of ambivalence in the interviews, a nostalgia for the days of purely paper collections, but also a recognition that time pressures make the convenience of new technologies seductive. Aesthetic appreciation versus utilitarian functionality was also raised as an issue in the use of information technology in libraries. Although Alice seemed to have adjusted well to the librarys shift toward digital information resources, Bernard felt that something had been lost, and that those who would prefer to use the library as a physical space are being left behind:
The browsing experience in a library, with the physicality of the other books in front of you is very different from the browsing experience on a computer. Its not a pleasurable activity that I nd I can immerse myself in. . .My pet peeve with the library is that it is easier to nd things, it is easier in some senses to get articles, but the experience of using the library as a place of learning and as a place of community of learning is markedly diminished.

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He was also disturbed by his recent inability to physically browse through journal articles, which had previously been one of his favorite library activities:
The computer interface, especially with periodicals, it really reduces. . .the experience and the joy of using the library. It becomes much more utilitarian and instrumental and its just a chore to use the computer interface rather than the pleasure of going up to the periodicals and ipping through them. And. . .I go up to the periodicals room and theyre diminished. So many fewer of them. Ill think Well, Ill go and look and see whats up there, and you know the library has a subscription to it because its on their catalogue, but its not in the room. You cant just go up to that room and take it off the shelf because its now in fact internet access only.

Bernards objections extended beyond the aesthetic. With his limited budget and limited access to technology, working from home was not an option:
The browsing experience on a computer . . . its impossible if I dont have high-speed access. I think thats an extraordinary assumption on the part of the library that people do [have high speed internet at home].

While e-journals and other online resources are encouraging some students to work from home, other newly introduced technologies, such as wireless networks, are encouraging other students to work at the library, sometimes for the rst time. David, for example, seemed pleased by his newfound ability to study at the library:
Ive never worked well in a library. I think I just nd it sort of distracting. But its changing a bit now because I never had a laptop before and now I have a laptop, so technically I can actually go to the library and write in the library, and now youve got wireless in the library which makes it even easier to do a lot of the different tasks that need doing.

However, Bernards point about the uneven technology access among graduate students holds true here; many graduate students cannot afford the laptop that would make this service useful. Affordances that are perceived but were unintended A second class of affordance consists of those that are perceived by users but were never intended by a tools designers (Figure 3). Nardi and ODay (1999, p. 29) use refrigerator magnets to describe this category; although refrigerators were designed to

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Figure 3. Summary of ndings for affordances perceived that were not intended

keep food cold, they also happen to provide a convenient place to hang decorative magnets, and with them photographs, grocery lists, and childrens drawings. In a similar way, although Amazon.com was designed for people wishing to purchase books online, it has become a recommendation service and a database for nding bibliographic information, which is sometimes then taken and used to nd the referenced books at the library. Librarians as informal information carriers While librarians are sometimes perceived by users as friendly, librarians may not realize that their personal relationships can serve as unintentional conduits for information transfer. Indeed, several people in this study cited friendships or informal relationships with librarians as a source of new information. David, who is very involved with computers and studies the social effects of technology in his graduate work, reminisced about how he rst was introduced to computers:
One of the best things I remember is my friends dad was a librarian at the University of Winnipeg, and they had a modem hooked up to their Mac. [. . .] and so thats when I rst. . . this is in the eighties, right, when the internet didnt exist. Well it sort of existed. . . we started getting onto these BBSs [Electronic Bulletin Board Systems] and stuff and it was just this really neat thing.

Also, in a general discussion of libraries and how he has used them in the past, he several times cited a friend who works as a librarian as a source of information about libraries:
And then my friend was telling me about a library in San Francisco that has a tool library. This is my friend who is a librarian. She was saying you can become a member and you can borrow tools for whatever projects youre working on. Thats pretty neat.

Even knowing a library school student seems to have this effect. Alice mentioned that having a friend in the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program was

changing the way she thought about libraries and librarians. When asked what she would do if she needed help with the library databases she said that she would ask a reference librarian, and attributed this decision to her MLIS-student friend:
Since Ive been friends with Helen I feel kind of chagrined or sheepish with myself for not having [talked to a reference librarian] before. My thinking is changing. . . Its evolving into the library can be my friend.

Affordance theory

Librarians also provide information to people they are not intentionally helping. Of the graduate students interviewed in this study, Cassandra was by far the best informed about the library and its services and resources. For example, the University of Alberta had recently launched SFXs citation linking software (which they have called Get It) into their journal database. Reference (or citation) linking software gives users of a digital citation the ability to link directly to other information about the work cited, often including the full digital text. This ability can be found in the references list of a work, or in databases of journal articles or abstracts. The software is designed to save users time and effort in tracking down digital versions of scholarly journal articles (see Caplan, 2001; Grogg, 2002). Of the eight students interviewed for this study, Cassandra was one of only three students who were aware of this service. However, she insisted she did not go out of her way to learn about the library; rather, she got her information through a variety of informal channels, including casual conversations with her departmental librarian, and in the presentations this librarian gives at the start of each term to the classes Cassandra teaches. In describing how she knew about the Get It service and how to use it, Cassandra said:
Deanna, the librarian, mentioned it in class when she did her orientation in the fall. . . The rst or second week of classes I have her come in and give them the overview. And I said Oh, thats what that is. I was going to ask, but you know I go down there and I forget.


It is clear from these interviews that regular informal contact with librarians increases the serendipitous information gathering described by Patrick Wilson (1977), and more recently, by Nigel Ford and Allen Foster (Foster and Ford, 2003), Sanda Erdelez and Kevin Rioux (Erdelez and Rioux, 2000) and other scholars; in this case, the focus of serendipitous seeking is on information about libraries and information services. Information is also found where it is not specically sought, as an accidental concomitant of routine activities with other purposes, Wilson explains, and this friendly contact with librarians seems a perfect example (Wilson, 1977, pp. 36-37). Cassandra expressed the effortlessness of this information transfer when asked how new instructors were expected to nd out about library services: [The librarians] would say, You know what? We have this service! Because theyre talking to you every day. However, her experience is unusual, given the few departmental libraries on campus. For instructors without such personal relationships with librarians, a similar type of serendipitous information gathering may not be possible. Unsanctioned use of library resources Although most unintended affordances that users perceive are harmless or purely benecial, some have the potential to violate established library policies. One student, who spent a year doing eld research in another country, found that he was able to make friends and build good will by using his remote access to University of Alberta

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journal databases to locate articles for colleagues in need. He felt no qualms about this; on the contrary, he was pleased that he was able to provide help:
There was one girl, she was doing research on Kant. And it was hard to nd materials in [that country] because the libraries there are not computerized and the databases are quite limited where they and small, and theyre much more of a hassle. And I would go to the cyber cafe had a high-speed connection and go to the U of A web site and download articles for her and put them on a disk and she could read them on her computer, and that was neat. That was neat to be able to do for someone else.


Although this participants sense of helpfulness is admirable, he clearly had no conception of the legal implications of his actions. The library could face penalties if it were discovered that this kind of behavior was widespread. For example, many libraries sign agreements with commercial vendors that limit database access to specic, approved users (e.g. the institutions students and faculty); violating such agreements could result in a loss of privileges for that institution. Dependence on technology Just as some affordances can be harmful to the library, some can be harmful to users as well. In the case of information technology in libraries, some of the study participants saw the many conveniences offered them by the library as also offering a dark side. For example, some students expressed fears of becoming dependent on technology; they worried that technology would make them lazy, or that they would leave university not knowing how to conduct research in a library with fewer digital resources. David was especially worried about this; in discussing locating journal articles in a database, he said:
I fear its making me weaker. . . Ive lost all my old hardened skills and I dont know how to nd things. . . Every time you introduce a new level of software, a new level of technology, youre further disempowering people to do the work themselves, that maybe a previous generation of researchers could have done. Its a weird thing because often its framed as empowering people to do better research, yet youre disempowering them in a way, by controlling the basic technological foundations of the research itself.

There was also a perception among the interviewees that increased use of technology diminishes the serendipitous information gathering associated with physically browsing materials. Bernard was especially concerned, in this case:
In a way it was easier for me and more comfortable, and it still is, to go to the physical book or journal and photocopy it. I just like the books. . .[The library is] no longer a place where you physically go to get books off the shelf or to ip through journals, but its something that is mediated, kept distant through the databases. So while often [in a database] you can go to a journal issue and see all the issues, you see them only in title. You see the title, author, and will sometimes see an abstract, if they have that function, but you cant sort of ip through the book, and say oh this looks interesting. . . The things that stick out for you in the library are the things that youre thinking about, and it often seems to feed what youre thinking about in interesting ways. I nd a computer interface doesnt.

The importance of serendipity to the library research process has been echoed frequently in studies of academic libraries. Serendipity is increasingly thought to play an important role in the information seeking behavior of all kinds of scholars (e.g. Foster and Ford, 2003; Foster, 2004; Delgadillo and Lynch, 1999; Cobbledick, 1996).

The results of this study may also point to differences in the attitudes of social sciences graduate students toward e-journals versus their peers in the sciences and engineering. Although studies of science and engineering graduate students have found libraries shift towards e-journals to be overwhelmingly positive (e.g. Liew et al., 2000), the students in this study found the technology convenient, but also problematic. Their fears of dependence on digital resources, or their resentment of imposed mediation between themselves and the library materials may point to disciplinary differences that require additional research. Time sinks Another unexpected and negative affordance perceived by students was the belief that using library resources would waste precious time. Study participants universally expressed concern for their time and a constant fear of missing deadlines, which affected their attitudes towards many library services. In the case of library technology this often made them afraid to try a new technological tool or service. Here, Alice explained her reluctance to click on new buttons:
Sometimes clicking on links gets you into trouble. You never know. Computers freeze, they get hung up. If I dont know where Im going then Ill just not. . .Sometimes Im afraid to click on things. . .especially when your time is at a premium youre hesitant to click on something new which might waste more of your time.

Affordance theory


This worry had not only to do with a mistrust of the technology, but also with the loss of productive time resulting from a computer malfunction. David also expressed a hesitancy to try new features on the University of Alberta Libraries web site, or even to search databases with which he was familiar:
You can sink so much time into doing searches. In a way I almost do a lot less searches now because Ive wasted so much time in the past digging around. Ive become conservative with my searches.

This fear of wasting time was exacerbated by his fear that he was not performing effective searches. David, although comfortable with technology and computers, still had some concerns about his ability to search journal databases:
I dont think I use database searches very well. Its one of those things where I tend to get advanced and then miss out on some of the basics, so either Ive learned this and forgotten it or else I never really learned it.

However, David felt that his uncertainty and avoidance of the journal databases were problematic because there could be articles coming out that I dont know about, and Im not checking up on them. And there could be things that could be really useful for my own research and I just havent heard about them. Interestingly, he had never taken any formal steps to address this. He stated several times that he does not consult with reference librarians, and when asked whether he had ever taken any of the information literacy instruction offered by the library, the answer was:
No. No, I havent. Ive taken courses on campus before though. . . what is that called?. . . like computing courses. So I took a course in Flash [programming language]. But not through the library. I do take courses outside of my normal program, but Ive never taken any library courses.

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Alice, who also has never taken library instruction courses, believed that concern with time pressures was also keeping graduate students away from librarians and from information literacy instruction:
I know that they offer the instruction here but I dont know anyone who has taken advantage of it [because]. . .I think. . . well. . . I think its too bad, really. I think probably people are very busy and very stressed out. And they dont think that taking an hour or so to [take a library instruction session] will cut down on their research time. I think its one of those things that gets. . . its so abstract the concept of research that I dont know if people know that research can actually be facilitated by knowing how to orient yourself.


A lack of awareness among graduate students about information literacy instruction may also play a major role in their avoidance of it. This will be addressed specically as one of the major affordance gaps uncovered in this study. Affordance gaps The most problematic category related to the concept of affordances is non-affordances, or affordance gaps (Figure 4). This term refers to the gap in understanding created when the users of a system do not see or do not understand the opportunities for action that the designer of the system intended. As Norman notes, Affordances specify the range of possible activities, but affordances are of little use if they are not visible to the users. Hence, the art of the designer is to ensure that the desired, relevant actions are readily perceivable (Norman, 1999, p. 41). In the library, affordance gaps can take many forms. For example, the use of library jargon in public spaces can lead to confusion and can create affordance gaps. David ran into trouble, for example, when he mistook the term MARC (Machine Readable Cataloguing) for the word mark, which is used to select a particular article for later printing or emailing by the user. When asked during the interview to talk through the

Figure 4. Summary of ndings of affordance gaps

process he used to nd resources for a research paper, he described how he used the catalogue to search for records and then e-mail them to himself:
David: So I can request or hold this item. I can mark it, and I think from mark I can e-mail it to myself. [long pause] How do I e-mail this? Am I missing it? Do you see it anywhere on there? How can I e-mail this? . . . Thats weird because I was just at . . . I went to MARC display after I had marked it. I went to MARC display. Interviewer: Okay, so you think that the MARC display is going to give you something to do with your having marked the record, but it doesnt do that. David: No, its just showing me that [indicating a MARC record, which to him looks quite confusing].

Affordance theory


The intention of the catalogue designer in including a MARC record display was to provide this information for librarians and library cataloguing staff, a purpose quite removed from Davids attempted use. Reference linking software: the Get It service Although Davids experience is an example of a relatively minor affordance gap, many other examples in the interviews reect major gaps between the services that the library intends to provide and users ability to comprehend those services. One service in particular that this study examined was the SFX reference linking software, called Get It. The University of Alberta implemented the SFX reference linking software product in the summer of 2004, and according to Albert, one of the librarians interviewed for this study, the Get It name was chosen because librarians thought it expressed better the distinction between [citation linking] and a search service, which is not what this is. This is locating a known item. The software works well technically, and the respondents who used it spoke highly of it. Ernst, a doctoral student in psychology, enjoyed using it so much he changed his patterns of journal usage according to which e-journals are Get It compatible. He expressed a newfound favor for one journal in particular, because there I can use Get It, so I dont have to go through all those other steps to nd the actual article that I want. In at least some circumstances, then, the service is meeting the goals of saving users time and effort; however, the majority of interviewees did not know that this service existed or did not understand what it would do for them when searching the librarys databases. Although librarians were excited about the new service, there were no press releases or major announcements when the service was launched. Knowledge of Get It was expected to follow natural channels, in the words of one librarian, to nd students in the course of their everyday information behavior. The designers of the service did not anticipate that this would be problematic. Albert described the librarys expectations for how users would nd out about this new service:
When it works you dont really need to know much about it. When you see that button, click it, and then deal with the menu. My guess is that 80 percent of our users discovered it when they saw that button in a database they were using and wondered what it was and clicked it. . . Its not something you have to promote because it is in users faces as soon as you turn it on.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for the participants in this study. While the Get It service was liked by the students who used it, only three of the eight graduate students

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interviewed for this study had heard of it before participating in this study. Of these, only two had found out about it by the methods expected by the library. While Cassandra learned about it through her department librarian, Ernst and Fred were the only participants who actually saw the button and clicked on it to see what it did. In contrast to Alices fear of clicking on unknown buttons, these individuals seemed to be fearless explorers of new digital opportunities, frequently searching out new software packages to download and try. It may be signicant, however, that both Ernst and Fred had relatively new computers to use, which had been provided to them by the university. Also, they both had either the technical knowledge to x their computers themselves, or a technical support team they could call on without cost, should problems arise. Given the nature of the fears cited by Alice and other study participants who were reluctant to try new digital services, it may be that these kinds of technology supports can make a difference in how willing graduate students are to take risks with new digital opportunities. If a student is putting his or her own equipment at risk, along with the risk of paying out-of-pocket for any repairs, that student may be less likely to take a risk than one who works with a university machine that can be xed or replaced with no personal nancial consequences. The other ve study participants, despite daily usage of databases enabled with the Get It software, had never clicked the button, and in one case seemed never to have seen it. David, when explicitly shown the Get It button, responded, Ive never seen it before. Is that new? Bernard had noticed the button, but said he had Never used it. After some discussion of what the service did, he explained that he had never used it before because Until now I thought. . . that it will tell me what the call number is. Alice also said that she had never used it before. When asked to guess what it did, she speculated that it might link me to similar things. Clearly, the button is not as self-explanatory as the librarians who designed it had hoped. Unfortunately, graduate students were omitted from those outreach efforts that were used to let students know about this new service. Aside from the button itself, the library informed users about the Get It service by placing ads in the student newspaper, putting an insert into orientation materials for new undergraduate students, placing a link on the front page of the library web site, and designing new information literacy instruction sessions around the service. Although some graduate students undoubtedly read the student newspaper, the ad had no effect on the participants in this study. Since these students were all continuing graduate students, and orientation packages are mainly designed for rst year undergraduate students, the orientation materials missed them entirely. One might expect that such heavy users of the library web site would notice an announcement on the librarys front page, but all of the students indicated that they rarely paid attention to the front page; rather, they said that they came to the library web site with a task in mind and rarely deviated from that task to explore new features. Information literacy instruction By far, the most signicant affordance gap discovered in this study was the difference between the ways librarians perceived information literacy instruction (ILI) and the ways it was perceived (or not perceived) by graduate students. This gap was signicant because of the high importance placed on ILI by librarians, who viewed it as

their primary channel of communication with students, and the low importance placed on ILI by students, who were sometimes unaware of its existence. Again and again, when describing problems users had with understanding or using library services, the librarians in the study supposed that Maybe we didnt get things pitched properly in the [ILI] sessions. ILI sessions were where librarians assumed that user education about new services was taking place. Unfortunately, this study found that at least some graduate students were missing out on this instructional process. None of the graduate student participants had ever participated in an ILI session. Some were not aware that the library offered instruction at all, apart from orientation sessions for new students. Ernst, when shown the listing for upcoming information literacy instruction workshops, expressed confusion:
I dont know anything about these [courses], I dont know if these cost money, or what these are. Like actual courses that they take? I dont know, Ive never seen courses from the library.

Affordance theory


This was signicant, because throughout the interview Ernst had been expressing frustration with the low levels of information literacy shown by the students in the classes he taught. He felt he was wasting class time explaining ILI topics, such as how to nd a journal article. He clearly had a need for instruction, and his students clearly had a need, but even when he saw an ILI session designed to teach students how to navigate the library, he did not recognize it as a solution to his in-class frustrations. Later, during a discussion of some of the basic facts about ILI sessions, he reected on this:
Ernst: Theyre free? Oh, yeah, had I known that. . . Wow, thats a great resource to send students to. When I think of course I think of a full term course where students have to pay money and go and sit and commit themselves to an entire three months. That was what I thought, with that other thing that I was looking at, the learn to use the humanities library. When it said course details, I thought, well no, I probably wouldnt want to recommend to them to take an entire course because it really wouldnt help me in this class. Interviewer: Yes, but that class is just for one hour. Ernst: (laughing) Yeah, it actually says that right there, but I just read the top and stopped. . .I just looked at course details and then my own biases said, Oh its a course. Never mind.

We see another example here of the confusion terminology can cause, as well as this users lack of awareness about the nature of ILI. At the end of the interview, Ernst noted that he was excited to be able to tell his classes about ILI sessions; however, the library must also make it easy for students to know what sessions are offered, and make it easy for them to register. Alice, for example, wanted to take an ILI course about using ProCite to manage the citations for her dissertation. A friend had recommended an ILI session that was offered by the library, but Alice encountered problems when she went to the library web site to register. She could not nd a listing for it on the upcoming instruction portion of the library web site. Instead, she found that the only sessions advertised were for classes being offered within the coming few weeks, and ProCite was not among them. There was no way to be notied the next time a ProCite course was being offered, and no section of the site listed all the courses offered by the library. Alice expressed her frustration with this service:

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The upcoming instruction only tells you the classes that are happening right away. So you wouldnt know from that list that there even are courses on ProCite. I would like a lot more information on [library instruction courses]. . . This can still be upcoming, but they should have another section for courses offered through the library services.


These examples demonstrate several affordance gaps. First, librarians assume that students who need ILI know about it. This implies that, second, the librarys channels of communication about ILI are effective. Third, there is an assumption that students who know about and need ILI will be able to sign up for it. In this study, none of these assumptions played out.

Inattentional blindness This failure in communication is not due to lack of trying on the part of the library. The three librarians interviewed in the study were dedicated, thoughtful people who devoted energy and effort to the services they designed, which they genuinely hoped would help users. However, this study found an over-emphasis on the use of technology alone for communication with library patrons. Again and again, the primary method of communication about library services was to place announcements on the librarys web site, or to put a new button on an existing web-based service. When a button was found not to be working (i.e. when web statistics showed that no one was clicking on it), the button was changed; for example, the Ask Us a Question button on the front page of the library web site was changed to better reect the nature of this online reference service, resulting in a dramatic increase in the numbers of users accessing the service. Unfortunately, while this approach was useful in that case, different approaches may need to be used depending on the nature of the service and users perceptions of that service. In addition, designers should remember that web statistics are notoriously difcult to interpret. As Ben, another University of Alberta librarian, noted: We can tell you the number of clicks on a button, but not whether those are unique visits, or return visits, or even whether the total number is high or low. So, while web statistics are useful in diagnosing obvious problems (e.g. when no one is using a service), they cannot diagnose more subtle or complicated communications problems. Another problem with relying on the library web site for communication with users is that users often (quite literally) do not see much of the web site. This is true both for pages that users never visit, and for pages they visit frequently. For example, Alice did not know prior to participating in this study that she could recommend a book for purchase by the library. There is a link on the main page of the library web site (a page she visits several times each day), yet she has never noticed this link. This same pattern, of looking at something daily and yet never seeing it, was echoed in several of the interviews. Sometimes a potential affordance is missed because the labeling is not what the user expects. David, for example, when asked to explicitly inventory every item on the main library web page, found several new items he had never seen before, including a faster method of reaching his favorite search screen, and the ability to request an interlibrary loan. He notes:
Oh, thats cool. I never saw that there. Request an interlibrary loan under quick links. Ive always gone around looking for request ILL.

Of particular relevance to the discussion at hand, very few of the participants had ever seen the upcoming instruction portion of the librarys web site, even though it is on the front page. This is partly due to the fact that this information is on the bottom portion of the page, which on most computer monitors requires that users scroll down the page in order to see it. Some users did not even realize there was a bottom portion to the web page; they had never scrolled down before. When these users were asked to perform the exercise of explicitly naming every item on the web page, they stopped about half way through the page, believing that they were done. Cassandra was one of these users. When asked to scroll down, she saw the upcoming instruction links for the rst time:
Interviewer: Do you see that upcoming instruction section? Do you ever look at that? Cassandra: (laughs) No! Ive never seen it before.

Affordance theory


However, even users with large monitors did not notice the upcoming instruction links. All of these examples can be referred to as inattentional blindness, or the inability to see things one is not expecting, especially when focused on another task. While the term tunnel vision has long been used to describe a state of excessive focus in which peripheral stimuli may be missed (Norman, 1988, p. 164), it is only recently that researchers have known just how true this is; when a person is paying close attention to a task, unexpected objects fail to capture attention, even when the object in question would otherwise be noticed (Simons, 2000, p. 147). In other words, the web site of an academic library is the perfect place for users to overlook new services. Graduate students visiting the page do so with specic tasks in mind; they know where they are going (or believe they do), and their attention is focused intensely on the task at hand. There was some recognition among the students in this study that they do not notice library services that are outside their immediate frames of attention. For example, David was not surprised that he had never seen the quick start guides before:
Interviewer: Do you ever use these quick start guides over here? David: No, I dont even know what they are. Ive never. . . by the time I get here [on the web site] Im sort of on my path to nd what Im looking for.

Ernst expressed the same kind of tunnel vision. Here, he is looking at the bottom half of the library web site, possibly for the rst time:
Interviewer: How about upcoming library instruction? Do you ever look at that? Ernst: No, Ive never seen that. Oh, look, APA style. I never even noticed it! Ill be brutally honest, I see the databases and the catalogue. Thats it.

The librarians at this university also know (from focus groups and server logs), that visitors to the library web page are not visiting many areas of the site outside of their favorite destinations: in effect, the databases, the catalogue, and a few other areas like my account and interlibrary loan. The librarians interviewed in this project seemed frustrated by users lack of diverse use of library services, but did not know how else to communicate with users or promote new services.

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A different approach: the personal touch A major theme to emerge from this research was that for every affordance gap, there were also instances of communication that personally touched and/or informed library users. In almost every case, these moments sprang from human contact, not from a well-designed web page. Alice did not know about or participate in information literacy courses until a friend recommended one to her. She also had never consulted reference librarians until her friend in the MLIS program talked her into it. During the interview, David several times asked for information about a service called RefWorks, which was not examined specically in this study. RefWorks is an online citation manager, similar to ProCite or EndNote, that library patrons can use to save, organize, and format citations found in the library catalogue or in RefWorks-enabled databases. When asked what he thought Get It was, David immediately assumed it was RefWorks, and he also mentioned that RefWorks was something he would like to take an ILI course to learn how to use. Two other students, Alice and Bernard, also showed a great deal of knowledge about RefWorks. The librarians in this study were surprised that students knew about RefWorks, as it had not been publicized in any way at that time. There were not even any links on the library web site to this service. In the course of the interviews, it emerged that one of the liaison librarians was putting paper yers in students mailboxes, telling them about a new library service called RefWorks that they should try, because the librarian thought it might be helpful. And, nally, there is the case of Cassandra and her departmental library. The importance of Cassandras relationship with the librarians who work there, and the effect on her teaching and research, cannot be overstated. Cassandra believes that the undergraduate students she teaches are more likely to approach the librarians because they have met them before, both in class and in informal settings such as department parties, and so are not intimidated by them. It is also illuminating to contrast the experiences of Ernst and Cassandra, for example, if each wanted to have a librarian give an ILI session in their class. After learning about ILI courses, Ernst wanted to bring a librarian into his class to give instruction, but did not know whom to approach. When asked how he might arrange such a visit, he had this to say:
I would probably talk to someone who had somebody in their class already and nd out who they used in order to do that. If that didnt work then I would probably just go to the nearest library, probably [the Science and Technology library], and go to the desk and ask one of the people at the reference desk how I would go about doing that.

Ernst mentioned several times that he never goes to the library, but does all his work remotely from his ofce or from home. Also, he never speaks to reference librarians. So while he might actually venture over to the library to ask someone how to get a librarian to visit his class, it would be a departure from his usual behavior. On the other hand, for Cassandra, the task of nding a librarian was almost effortless. She regularly asked librarians to teach information literacy skills to her classes, unlike other graduate students interviewed here, who were unaware of this service:
Interviewer: What gave you the idea to have [librarians] come into your classes? Cassandra: Actually, they do it for everyone. . .Well, they offer it. And then you can invite them or not. They would say You know what? We have this service! Because theyre talking

to you every day. And they make it clear to everyone, and everyone gets an e-mail from them. They just basically let everyone know that We would like to do this, the library is here, we want the students to use the library, and you know there are some very specic things that they cant get anywhere else.

Affordance theory

Conclusions Overall, the affordances that graduate students perceive in the academic library context are varied and support a range of information activities. Students discussed a number of intended affordances, for example, including: . Opportunities for nding and retrieving information resources (e.g. online catalogues; shelf-browsing; electronic and print journals; library web site; interlibrary loan); and . The use of physical and remote spaces that facilitated research and teaching (e.g. study spaces; wireless networks; remote access to library resources; information literacy instruction for their students); Students also described a number of unintended affordances, including: . Dependence on technology, and the fear that digital library services were causing their paper-based library research skills to atrophy or that their skills would not transfer to other library environments; and . Unauthorized distribution of library resources to friends, including downloading e-journal articles for colleagues unafliated with the university. While many of the students perceived affordances did not differ dramatically from those intended by librarians, it is notable that this was primarily the case for traditional library services (e.g. reference services; book browsing). There were remarkable shifts, however, between students perceived affordances and those of librarians for newer, digital technologies and for some specic services (e.g. information literacy instruction (ILI)). Two of the most striking differences that emerged in this study, between students and librarians perceived affordances, were related to ILI and to communication with patrons about new library services. In this university, librarians were using ILI and the librarys web site almost exclusively for their communication with graduate students, yet the participants in this study were not aware of ILI services and did not read notices on the library web site, even with repeated visits. One of the most powerful themes to emerge in this study is that personal contact with librarians is an effective communication tool, possibly the most effective tool the academic library has at its disposal. Building effective communication channels between the library and its patrons is vital (and yet, perhaps, more difcult) as new technologies and services continue to be added to the academic librarys repertoire. If the library is to ensure a high prole for existing affordances, and examine patron-dened affordances that librarians have not yet considered, academic librarians must focus their energies on promotional dialogue with faculty and students. The results of this study show that relying too heavily on one channel (namely, the librarys web site) is ineffectual; rather, librarians must use various channels, including personal contact, to assess patrons needs and guide their information behavior. Further, relying


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on web hit statistics as markers of users needs and preferences is insufcient; librarians must use methods such as interviews, focus groups, or questionnaires to talk directly to users and assess their needs and knowledge of existing services. By taking an ecological approach to the study and implementation of library tools and services, researchers and librarians can apply an holistic frame to patrons complex information behavior and gain a more complete view of the role of the library in supporting academic activities. Limitations and future research This study examined the information behavior of a small group of students at a single university. Although the results seem clear in this specic context, further research is needed to examine the applicability of these ndings to other contexts. This study was designed as an exploratory study, in part, to investigate the viability of ecological theory (and affordance theory, more specically) in the context of the academic library environment. Expanding this project to other institutions, to other academic library patron groups (e.g. undergraduates), and across disciplines, will extend the usefulness of these ndings, particularly as they relate to recommendations for library practice. This study, in documenting the rich and context-bound experiences of graduate students at this institution, serves as a baseline for more advanced, different, and larger-scale qualitative studies that use an ecological framework. With additional research, a more complete ecological model of graduate students information behavior (where perceived affordances reect one, of many, elements in students academic achievement) could be drawn. This type of modeling would be particularly helpful for library practitioners, in designing services that best meet students academic needs, and would also extend researchers general knowledge about the decisions students make in locating and selecting information resources to complete their academic work. In particular, there are a number of areas of further research indicated by the results of this study. First, there appear to be signicant disciplinary differences among graduate students in their attitudes toward digital library services, like e-journals. The graduate students in this study had signicant concerns with digital library services that have not surfaced in previous studies (the majority of which have focused on students in the sciences). Also, there appears to be a relationship between the level of technical support a student is receiving and their willingness to explore new digital affordances. Further research is needed to determine the signicance of this relationship and implications for library practice. Further research is also indicated in the area of examining graduate students as an underserved population. Given that most graduate students change universities between their undergraduate and graduate years, and given that many graduate students may not begin graduate programs directly after receiving their undergraduate degrees, the widespread assumption that graduate students already know how to use the university library, and thus do not require library orientation classes of their own, seems unwarranted. Given the large numbers of graduate students teaching undergraduate courses, outreach to graduate students might be expected to be doubly efcacious, reaching not only the graduate students themselves, but also, by extension, their undergraduate students. Many libraries make special efforts to assist faculty with their teaching and research needs, but do not extend the

same outreach to graduate students, even though the graduate students are often engaged in similar teaching and research behavior. Finally, further use of an ecological lens to study library services and information behavior seems warranted. In this study, many aspects of graduate students information behavior were examined which had not been brought to light by library-sponsored usability studies. Perhaps this is because many usability studies focus too narrowly on a particular service, without attempting to examine the role it plays in the larger context of the library information ecosystem. By examining students and other patrons library activities within the context of the broader environment, an holistic picture of individuals information behavior can emerge.
References Aiken, M., Vanjani, M., Ray, B. and Martin, J. (2003), College student internet use, Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 182-5. Baerentsen, K. and Trettvik, J. (2002) in Bertelsen, O.W., Bodker, S. and Kuuti, K. (Eds), An activity theory approach to affordance, Proceedings of the 2nd Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Aarhus, Denmark, 19-23 October 2002, pp. 51-69. Bingham, G.P. (2000), Events (like objects) are things, can have affordance properties, and can be perceived, Ecological Psychology, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 29-36. Birchall, A. and Rada, R. (1995), The design of systems for learning and working in librarianship, Connectedness: Information, Systems, People, Organizations, Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, 7-10 June 1995. Caplan, P. (2001), Reference linking for journal articles: promise, progress and perils, Portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 351-6. Cobbledick, S. (1996), The information-seeking behavior of artists: exploratory interviews, Library Quarterly, Vol. 66 No. 4, pp. 343-72. Delgadillo, R. and Lynch, B.P. (1999), Future historians: their quest for information, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 60 No. 3, pp. 245-59. Erdelez, S. and Rioux, K. (2000), Sharing information encountered for others on the web, New Review of Information Behaviour Research, Vol. 1, pp. 219-33. Foster, A. (2004), A nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 228-37. Foster, A. and Ford, N. (2003), Serendipity and information seeking: an empirical study, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 59 No. 3, pp. 321-40. Gibson, J. (1979), The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Houghton Mifin, Boston, MA. Given, L.M. (2002), The academic and the everyday: investigating the overlap in mature undergraduates information-seeking behaviour, Library & Information Science Research, Vol. 24, pp. 17-29. Grogg, J. (2002), Thinking about reference linking, Searcher, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 56-61. Gullikson, S., Blades, R., Bragdon, M., McKibbon, S., Sparling, M. and Toms, E. (1999), The impact of information architecture on academic web site usability, The Electronic Library, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 293-304. m, J. (2005), Fast surng, broad scanning and deep diving: the inuence of personality Heinstro and study approach on students information-seeking behavior, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61, pp. 228-47.

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Liew, C.L., Foo, S. and Chennupati, K.R. (2000), A study of graduate student end-users use and perception of electronic journals, Online Information Review, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 302-15. Lincoln, Y. and Guba, E. (1985), Naturalistic Inquiry, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. McGrenere, J. and Ho, W. (2000), Affordances: clarifying and evolving a concept, Proceedings of al, Canada, available at: www. the Graphics Interface Conference, May 2000, Montre graphicsinterface.org/proceedings/2000/177/ (accessed 9 January 2006). Mellon, C. (1986), Library anxiety: a grounded theory and its development, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 47, pp. 160-5. Mellon, C. (1990), Naturalistic Inquiry for Library Science: Methods and Applications for Research, Evaluation, and Teaching, Greenwood Press, New York, NY. Nardi, B.A. and ODay, V.L. (1999), Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. Norman, D. (1988), The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, New York, NY. Norman, D. (1999), Affordance, conventions, and design, Interactions, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 38-42. Park, T. (1993), The nature of relevance in information retrieval: an empirical study, Library Quarterly, Vol. 318, p. 51. Ruecker, S. (2003), Affordances of prospect for academic users of interpretively-tagged text collections, PhD dissertation, University of Alberta, Edmonton. Saumure, K. and Given, L.M. (2004), Digitally enhanced? An examination of the information behaviours of visually impaired postsecondary students, Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, Vol. 28, pp. 25-42. Seidman, I. (1998), Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences, Teachers College Press, New York, NY. Simons, D. (2000), Attentional capture and inattentional blindness, Trends in Cognitive Science, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 147-55. Smith, E.T. (2003), Assessing collection usefulness: an investigation of library ownership of the resources graduate students use, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 64 No. 5, pp. 344-55. Van Kampen, D. (2004), Development and validation of the multidimensional library anxiety scale, College and Research Libraries, Vol. 65 No. 1, pp. 28-34. Weinstein, M. (2004), TAMS & TAMS Analyzer, available at: http://tamsys.sourceforge.net/ Whitmire, E. (2004), The relationship between undergraduates epistemological beliefs, reective judgment, and their information-seeking behavior, Information Processing and Management, Vol. 40, pp. 97-111. Williamson, K. (1989), Discovered by chance: the role of incidental information acquisition in an ecological model of information use, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 23-40. Wilson, P. (1977), Public Knowledge, Private Ignorance, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

Appendix 1. Interview guide for graduate student interviews The interview will consist of three sections. In the rst part, demographic information will be collected about the participant. In the second part, the user will be asked about their favorite tools available on the library web site. In the third part, the user will be directed to the Get It reference linking software and will be asked some questions about how the use it, or how they think they might use it.

Over the course of the interview, it is expected that various opportunities for action will be discussed. Whenever one of these features is encountered in the conversation, some or all of the following questions will be asked: (1) Do you remember how you rst became aware of this feature? (Prompt: Did someone recommend it? Did you read about it somewhere?) (2) How well would you say this feature works? Does it behave the way you expect it to? (3) How easy would you say it is to access? How easy is it to use? Do you need any special knowledge to use it? (4) How strongly would you be motivated to use it? Do you think it is useful? Is it worth the effort? (5) How would you rate yourself as a user of this kind of tool? Are you a beginner, or do you feel like you know it very well? (6) Do you feel you have the support you need to use this it? (Prompt: Technical support? Training? Documentation?) Is there anything that would keep you from using this tool? Section 1: Demographic questions (1) Tell me about yourself: Where did you grow up? How old are you? What were your experiences of libraries like where you grew up? (2) How comfortable are you using computers? When were you introduced to computers? Do you remember when you started using computers in libraries? (3) I would like to know more about your academic background. Where did you do your undergraduate degree? What did you major in? (4) And what degree are you working on now? In what department? What stage of your degree are you currently working on (e.g. coursework, thesis, dissertation)? What areas do you like the best? Do you have a specialty? (5) Do you currently have other work in your academic area? Are you someones research assistant? Do you teach? Note: Questions about affordance were developed, in part, with the guidance of Dr Stan Ruecker, Humanities Computing Program, University of Alberta. Section 2: Information seeking preferences (1) How often do you use library resources? Which kinds of resources do you use the most (e.g. books, journals, reference librarian, computer labs, study space). (2) How often do you use the library web site to nd resources for your coursework/thesis? (Prompt: All the time? Only for unfamiliar topics?) (3) Has there ever been a time, either in the physical library or on the library web site, when you couldnt nd what you were looking for? Could you tell me about that? (4) Has there ever been a time when something didnt work the way you thought it would? Could you tell me about it? (5) What is one tool available on the library web site that you couldnt live without? (Prompt: A tool could be a list of resources, or a search feature, or a subject database. . . almost anything that lets you do something.) (6) Ask affordance questions about any tools the user identies. (7) Where do you go off of the main page of the library web site? Could you point at places you remember going, and places you go regularly?

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Section 3: Reference linking software (1) Have you ever used the journal databases? If so, how do you use them? What are they good for? What are they not good for? (2) Im going to use one of the databases available through the library web site to search for journal articles about a certain subject. [Let user pick database and subject, if they have a preference. If not, have sample ready.] Now, when you look at this article that weve found, do you see this button that says Get it? What do you think that does? (Prompt: Does it always get full text? What happens if the library doesnt have the full text in a digital format? What happens if the library doesnt have the full text even in paper?) (3) If I wanted to make sure I was looking at all the relevant journal articles on this subject, what should I do next? (Prompt: Do I need to search other databases, or have I searched them already?) (4) Ask general affordance questions outlined above.


Appendix 2. Interview guide for librarian interviews The interviews with librarians will also consist of three sections. In the rst part, the librarian will be asked questions related to the nature of their job and the decision making processes that go into the design of the library web site. In the second part, the librarian will be asked questions about specic tools that have been identied by users as being of particular interest or use. In the third part, the librarian will be asked questions related to the implementation of the SFX reference linking software which constitutes the Get It tool on the library web site. Section 1: Job questions (1) Please tell me about your position. What is your title? What do you do in a typical day? What kinds of decisions do you make? (2) When a decision is made about making a major change to the library web site, please describe for me how that decision is made. Is it a group process? Is one person or a certain committee in charge? (3) What kind of information do you want to make sure you have about a new piece of software, or a new kind of feature, before you make it available to users? (4) Is there any evaluation of new web site features after they are made public? What kind of shape does that take? Section 2: Specic tools (1) Several people identied [insert tool description here] as being very important to their use of the library. Could you tell me about how your group made the decision to implement it, or the software package of which this feature is a part? (2) What do you think people like so much about it? Why do you think people identied that tool as being especially useful? Section 3: Reference linking (1) Could you walk me through the reasons why the library wanted to implement reference linking? (2) What were the reasons the library decided to go with SFX over other software packages?

(3) What about evaluation? How do you think the software is working? What sort of sense do you have of how well people are using it and liking it? (4) What are some of the issues and challenges the library faced, either during the implementation of the SFX software, or in the time since it has been available for public use?

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About the authors Elizabeth (Bess) Sadler is a metadata librarian at the University of Virginia. Her research interests include individuals information behavior, visual communication, and digital libraries. Dr Lisa M. Given is an Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include individuals information behavior, the social construction of knowledge, web usability, and information issues in the context of higher education. Dr Given is a Scientist of the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, Associate Editor for the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, and sits on the editorial board of Library and Information Science Research. She is currently President of the Canadian Association for Information Science. Dr Given is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: lisa.given@ualberta.ca


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Information creation and the notion of membership

Ciaran B. Trace
School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Purpose This article aims to examine a particular sub-set of human information behavior that has been largely overlooked in the library and information science (LIS) literature; how people are socialized to create and use information. Design/methodology/approach Naturalism and ethnomethodology were used as theoretical frameworks to examine what a group of fth grade students were taught about documents, how this information was imparted to them, and how social factors were manifested in the construction and form of those documents. Two concepts are shown to be critical in the explication of students as document creators and users: the notion that there is a stock of knowledge that underlies human interaction (some of which relates to recorded information), and that this socialization process forms part of a schools hidden curriculum. Findings Students were socialized to be good (in the sense of being competent) creators and users of documents. Part of the role of being a student involved learning the underlying norms and values that existed in relation to document creation and use, as well as understanding other norms and values of the classroom that were captured or reected by documents themselves. Understanding document work was shown to be a fundamental part of student afliation; enabling students to move from precompetent to competent members of a school community. Originality/value This research demonstrated that people possess a particular stock of knowledge from which they draw when creating and using information. Competence in this aspect of human information behavior, while partly based on ones own experience, is shown to be largely derived or learned from interaction with others. Keywords Knowledge, Information media, Ethnography, Curricula Paper type Research paper


Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 142-163 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418 DOI 10.1108/00220410710723920

Introduction Spink and Cole (2006, p. 3) state that humans have sought, organized, and used information for millennia as they evolved and learned patterns of human information behaviors (HIBs) to help resolve their human problems and continue to survive. However, before humans can seek, organize and use information (or indeed, for that matter, share, forage, exchange, interpret, or make sense of it), they must rst bring it into existence. This article presents ndings from a dissertation research study (Trace, 2004) which broadens the concept of human information behavior to include a particular facet or sub-set of this framework that has been largely overlooked in the LIS literature information creation. As a concept in human information behavior, information creation research focuses on how and why people are socialized to create information in various contexts (whether in everyday life or in the working world). In the process, the fundamental skills and knowledge that come into play in creating information, and the larger role that genres (or physical forms) of information play in society, are examined.

This study examined how and why a group of fth grade children were socialized to create and use documents in a classroom setting. Specically, this research analyzed what students were taught about documents and how this information was imparted to them. The study delved into the underlying norms and values that were learned by students in the process, as well as touching upon other norms and values of the classroom that were captured or reected in documents themselves. The research also examined why knowledge about creating and using documents was an important, if hidden, component of an educational setting; in the process discovering the role that documents play in relation to notions of student identity and school membership. Using Cases (2006) framework, it is evident that the research described above has a home within the categories that have been used to bring together and synthesize the human information behavior literature. Case states that, after occupations, non-employment roles are the second most prevalent way to study human information behavior. As a study of students (associated with a demographic encompassing both children and adolescents), this research joins prior work that has looked at human information behavior in the K-12 environment. Up until this point, such research has primarily looked at students learning in the school library, their information seeking behavior in the electronic environment, or childrens human information behavior in everyday life (Todd, 2003). The research described in this article also nds resonance (if not always absolute concordance) with a number of existing theories and methods that have been used to study human information behavior. Among these are the constructivist approach (Dervin, 1983, 1999; Kuhlthau, 2004) in which context is paramount and people are viewed as actively constructing an understanding of their worlds, heavily inuenced by the social world(s) in which they are operating (Bates, 2005, p. 11); studies that use ethnography as a methodology (Chatman, 1992) allowing the researcher to become immersed in a culture, identify its many elements, and begin to shape an understanding of the experience and world view of the people studied (Bates, 2005, p. 12); and studies which have eschewed macro theory in order to look at individuals within society, including the study of small group interactions and processes (Chatman, 1999; Kuhlthau, 2004). Key denitions Two concepts are shown to be critical to the explication of students as both document creators and users: the notion that there are social norms and realities that underlie human interaction (our so called stock of knowledge), and the notion that there is a hidden curriculum in schools. However, before any explanation of these concepts is given, the particular genre or type of recorded information or everyday text (Stillar, 1998) that formed the basis of this research study the document must be dened. With the ratio of adults to children in a classroom it is not surprising that prolic amounts of recorded information are needed to organize, schedule, monitor, assay, and provide continuity to a myriad of everyday activities that happen in and around the classroom. Such documents are typically referred to by teachers as paper or paperwork and consist of those textual objects that are created and used as a by-product of teaching. These are documents to which students usually have had some prior exposure, as many American elementary school classrooms share document types in common. Examples of such documents include: agendas, lists of student jobs in the classroom, lists of students who have to stay in for lunch, roll books, book check

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lists, and homework charts. A second type of everyday document that students encounter in the classroom are those that students will have some hand in creating themselves, either as part of homework assignments or to meet other school obligations. Again, these are documents that exist as by-products, not as direct products, of the learning process. These everyday documents help to get work done rather than being the nal outcome that represents a part of the ofcial curriculum of the classroom. The most common examples of these documents include: homework cover sheets (acting as a contract between student and teacher), pop quiz sheets, note cards that students use to gather data for their language arts/social studies or science projects, homework pages, and eld trip forms. Stock of knowledge As part of the process of studying how people make sense of the world around them, ethnomethodology pays attention to the social norms and realities (the so-called cultural knowledge or stock of knowledge) that underlie social interaction. For Leiter, an understanding of such commonsense knowledge stems from an engagement with, and an understanding of, three phenomena drawn from the work of the tz: the qualities of this stock of knowledge, how people phenomenologist Alfred Schu see and experience the social world, and the practice of commonsense reasoning. According to Leiter (1980, p. 5), our stock of knowledge consists of recipes, rules of thumb, social types, maxims, and denitions. . . The stock of knowledge also consists of social types or idealizations of people, objects, and events that serve as points of inference and action. Leiter describes six particular qualities that are ascribed to our stock of knowledge. The stock of knowledge is socially derived; while a small part of this knowledge emanates from a persons own experiences, a larger part is derived or tz notes, parents and handed down from interactions with others (including, as Schu tz, 1962, p. 7). The stock of knowledge is socially distributed in that teachers) (Schu what one person knows is disparate from the next. This social distribution of knowledge itself forms part of the stock of knowledge at hand. The stock of knowledge is built upon and expressed in everyday language. The stock of knowledge has an open horizon of meaning in that meaning is derived from the relevant and situated contexts in which they are used. Finally, because of its contextual nature, the stock of knowledge is not a neatly and logically ordered storehouse of information and typications (Leiter, 1980, pp. 5-7). Leiter describes how people see and experience the social world (what he calls a sense of social structure) in terms of it being a factual environment. Again drawing tz, he ascribes to people a number of views of the social world. The social from Schu world is experienced in terms of having a past, present, and future; as being intersubjective; as factual and taken for granted; and nally that people address the world and its objects pragmatically in that people are interested only in those features of the world that are relevant to the project at the moment (Leiter, 1980, pp. 7-9). According to Leiter, the nal phenomenon that commonsense knowledge refers to is the practices of commonsense reasoning. He states that it is through the use of commonsense reasoning that people create and sustain the sense of social reality as a factual environment. Leiter sees this reasoning as a method (what ethnomethodology calls an ethnomethod). It is a method by which people turn their personal experiences into objective reality. Furthermore, this process of reasoning

involves making decisions regarding when to use certain bits and pieces of the stock of knowledge we have at hand (Leiter, 1980, pp. 10-11). The hidden curriculum The origin of the term hidden curriculum is usually attributed to Phillip Jackson in his book Life in Classrooms (Marsh, 1997, p. 33; Gordon et al., 2001, p. 189; Margolis, 2001, p. 4; Lynch, 1989, p. 1; Jackson, 1968). According to Margolis, Jackson argued that the hidden curriculum emphasized certain skills that, while marginally related to educational goals (the ofcial curriculum), were essential for students to make satisfactory progress in school. These skills include learning to wait quietly, exercising restraint, trying, completing work, keeping busy, cooperating, showing allegiance to both teachers and peers, being neat and punctual, and conducting oneself properly (Margolis, 2001). Jackson sees the dichotomy that exists between the hidden and the formal curriculum as representing the demands of institutional conformity versus the demands of scholarship (Jackson, 1968. p. 33). LeCompte, in her study of kindergarteners, also expresses the difference between the hidden and the ofcial school curriculum in terms of the socialization to schooling being two dimensional. For LeCompte, this consists of a behavioral, or an orientation-to-tasks component (this part forms the hidden curriculum) and an academic or intellectual component (this forms the ofcial or formal school curriculum) (LeCompte, 1980). LeComptes explication of the ofcial curriculum documents the intellectual or academic component of education (or what Jackson would call the goals of schooling). This consists of preparation for, and the actual cognitive learning of such activities as reading, writing, spelling, and math. LeComptes listing of the behavioral components of the socialization process of the hidden curriculum mirrors Jacksons lists of skills: adhering to norms for timeliness, peace and quiet, a task orientation, and conformity to authority, maintaining a friendly attitude toward peers, and practicing basic morality dont lie, cheat, steal, and/or break things (LeCompte, 1980, p. 107). The notion of a hidden curriculum draws attention to the fact that schools do more than simply transmit knowledge (a curriculum) from teacher to student. There is another layer of learning that happens in schools that is not directly afliated with the ofcial curriculum. Socially approved knowledge, in the form of social norms and regulations, such as how to get on with teachers and peers, are also consciously or unconsciously negotiated as part of the educational process of schooling. The research on the hidden curriculum in schools has suggested that what students learn revolves around negotiating relationships with others, meeting expectations, dealing with authority, and how to simply get through the day. In this article I argue that a concept I call document work can and should also be looked at as part of the activities of the hidden curriculum. By document work I am referring to a myriad of behaviors and activities that students learn and that relate in some manner to documents. Document work can be examined as part of the notion of a hidden curriculum for two reasons. First, documents can act as a tool to communicate and sanction the ideal norms advocated in the classroom. The second reason, and the one that forms the heart of this article, is that learning about documents themselves is a skill or activity that in and of itself forms part of the subset of the hidden curriculum. Such work ts into Jacksons description of these behavioral and orientation to tasks activities that are

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being performed according to rather well-dened rules which the students are expected to understand and obey (Jackson, 1968, p. 8). Document work, therefore, functions both as an articulation and as an enactment of the hidden curriculum. There are different ways of thinking about or giving meaning to the hidden curriculum. Although there is general acknowledgment of the concept of education as a socialization process, how that socialization comes about and what it says about our notions of society have differed substantially over time and within and among disciplines. The idea that children learn or are socialized to become students (and that this socialization has a particularly adult agenda) is not new. As LeCompte asserts, but perhaps overly harshly, schools are not now, and have never been, established to meet student needs so much as they have been structured to carry out a process of socialization to certain aspects of adult life (LeCompte, 1980, p. 106). To date, there have been two prominent theoretical approaches to the analysis of the hidden curriculum within the sociology of education the functionalist and neo-Marxist views (Lynch, 1989). As Sieber states much research on schoolings hidden curriculum has suggested that the school serves as a form of workplace where pupils initially learn and rehearse role behaviors and develop cultural competencies essential to participate in public, organizational work settings (Sieber, 1979, p. 207). While such a view resonates with the inculcation of document work in the classroom, it is also possible to take an interactionist perspective to an analysis of the hidden curriculum. With an interactionist perspective, the focus moves from the general societal level to what actually happens in the classroom. In particular, an interactionist perspective looks at ways in which classroom interaction is constructed and reconstructed on a daily basis. The nature of a hidden curriculum is positioned not so much within a framework determined by societys structure or students socio-economic background but in terms of the day-to-day negotiations that occur in interactions between and among people in the classroom setting. Research design Theoretical framework and research questions This research study is concerned with the beginning of the life of the document, with the creator (or the recorder), and how the record reects the social nature of the world around it. In particular, both naturalism and ethnomethodology were used as theoretical frameworks in order to better understand the nature of documents and document creation in a fth grade classroom. Naturalism was used to broadly understand what was happening in the social setting; ethnomethodology to start looking specically at the processes evident in social interaction that related to documents and as a framework within which these processes could be understood. The use of ethnography as a methodology also inuenced the nature of the research. The particular character of ethnographic research differentiates it from quantitative studies. At the heart of ethnography is the concern for members meanings; understanding a social situation in terms of what is meaningful to members of the social group being studied. Such an approach necessarily inuences the relationship and the timing that exists between data collection and data analysis, and when analysis occurs within the study. As an ethnographic study, broad research questions were determined prior to entering the eld. This was necessary in order to situate the study and delimit, to some extent, what would be examined in the setting. A shifting

and tightening of emphases occurred as questions become clearer in the setting and linkages could be made to the relevant literature. Therefore, within this particular theoretical and methodological framework, the following preliminary questions, with their subsequent renements, were investigated: RQ1. What was going on in the classroom with regard to document creation and use? What was the available cultural knowledge in the classroom that referred or related in some way to documents? What were the social norms and the institutional realities that resided in or formed a part of the schools hidden curriculum and that related in some way to documents? Did this stock of knowledge relate directly to the creation and use of documents? Or did documents reect or represent a further layer in human negotiation, a textual rendition of more general norms and institutional realities? RQ2. What was the process by which students accomplished the creation and use of documents within a classroom setting? What did people have to know (individually and collectively) to create and use documents in a school context? How was this stock of knowledge used, and what were the processes or procedures (ethnomethods) by which they were produced and substantiated? RQ3. What larger function and role did documents play in the school environment? What did documents embody? What did they achieve? What ties existed between documents and the social systems that they served? What roles did records play in relation to notions of school identity and the ethnomethodological concept of membership? Population This study, in typical ethnographic fashion, focused on one research setting where a detailed analysis of aspects of small social groups and the operation of a particular social process could be observed (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993). Criterion-based selection was used to identify the population to be studied. In selecting a school and then a classroom as the eld site the intent was to work with what is termed a complete or naturally bounded population (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993). The study was also bound by logistical constraints; meaning that the school had to be close enough to be visited almost daily over the course of an academic school year. Within the school setting itself reputational-case selection was used as a way to hone in on specic instances of the study population (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993)[1]. The research population was drawn from a Southern Californian Elementary School; specically rooms 5 and 6 of River Forest Elementary (River Forest Elementary is a pseudonym, as are the names of teachers and students described in this study). Rooms 5 and 6 together formed one of two fourth/fth grade combination classes in the school. At the time of the study, River Forest Elementary employed 33 teachers and an administrative staff of 27, to provide education to over four hundred students, ages four through 12. The 2000 census painted a picture of the afuence of the urban community in which the school was situated; a community where over seventy percent of the population listed management, professional, and related as their occupations. The demographics of the student body, however, did not closely match that of its immediate neighborhood. The school strove instead to mirror families economic and ethnic backgrounds with the larger metropolitan community.

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The ethos of the school could best be described as progressive, following the John Dewey philosophy of education, where learning was project-centered and authentic. There was a heavy emphasis on educating the whole child: academic; social; emotional; and physical. The teaching philosophy extended to concept based learning, facilitating students learning through doing, and an importance placed on student collaboration as a facet of learning. The educational philosophy of the school also extended into the general physical layout and organization of the campus. The classrooms were based on multi-age groupings where two age groups were combined in one classroom. Such a structure allowed for a deeper student-teacher rapport, as teachers stayed with students for two years instead of the customary one. The school also viewed this arrangement in terms of modeling a family structure, where older children took a leadership role and younger children were exposed to a wider range of skills and competencies, as well as having a wider social network. The broader age range also allowed the teachers to engage with a more diverse curriculum, with an accompanying wider set of instructional strategies that was adapted to the students skill levels. A total of 59 students and three teachers called rooms 5 and 6 home during the 2002-2003 academic school year when this study was undertaken. The three teachers who taught in this fourth/fth grade classroom (Ms Lyons, language arts and social studies; Ms Carson, math and science; and Mr Beckner, math and writers workshop) agreed to be observed and interviewed as part of the research process. A total of 22 students (of a total of 29 students in the fth grade), and their parents, also returned consent and assent forms agreeing to participate in the study. Student assent forms and parental consent forms asked for permission for students to be observed in the classroom during the school year; for students to answer brief questions related to their written work; and for certain materials created by either parent or child (as they related to the childs education at the school site) to be look at and copied[2]. Data collection and analysis It should be pointed out that it was difcult to study document creation and use because it is an aspect of life that is so common and so prevalent that it is almost invisible to us. When we create and use documents in our daily life there is little or no talk or active thought given to this activity. The relative lack of dialogue around document creation and use makes understanding the role that documents play in the world of others more difcult to examine and comprehend. Any study of documents or document creators therefore involves studying social meanings produced through conversation, studying social meanings produced through other methods such as textual representations, as well as studying social meanings produced through actions that occur, or do not occur, around text. Discovering the social norms and realities of any setting can also be difcult. As Feldman states, they may be so embedded in the culture of a setting that no one talks about them or is even aware of their existence (Feldman, 1995, p. 20). In order to discover social norms, ethnomethodologists typically look for certain types of situations. One situation, which Feldman states, is relatively rare, is breakdowns in social interaction. A second situation is one in which norms are so thoroughly internalized that breakdowns are nearly impossible. The focus in this instance is on the widely accepted and taken-for-granted practices (Feldman, 1995, p. 4). Feldman talks about two ways, other than Garnkels method of breaching, in which ethnomethods

can be discovered in such a setting. The rst way is to consider what Feldman says would constitute unacceptable behavior within the particular context and how you know such behavior is unacceptable. The second method suggested is to look at the types of cues or signals that are given to members that help them know how to act (Feldman, 1995, p. 20). For this research study, I used Feldmans strategies (considering what it unacceptable, and looking for the cues that members are provided within social situations) in order to uncover what the expected norms and regulations were in relation to document creation and use. Such stock of knowledge centered on what students need to know about creating and using documents in order for them to be able to function as students and members of this particular social world. These acts of socialization in and around documents were examined through an analysis of teachers talk and through quasi-verbal behavior (written media such as the instructions that teachers write on the blackboard). After nine months of eldwork, the data gathered for this study therefore consisted of: . ethnographic eldnotes written contemporaneously with the events or as soon after the events as possible and capturing aspects of school life in what is called real-time rather than end-point descriptions (Emerson, 1995, p. 60); . examples of documents generated in the classroom; and . a selective photographic record of daily life in this setting. As an ethnographic study, data collection and analysis were ongoing during the nine months spent in the eld. A sustained period of data analysis also took place after eldwork had been completed, as emerging themes continued to be linked to the wider research literature. Data analysis took place through a method outlined by Emerson et al., 1995). For the purposes of the ndings outlined in this article, analysis began with a combination of close reading of the eld notes and open coding in order to discover general patterns or categories in the data. This preliminary analysis was further rened through initial written memos. A subsequent more focused coding, combined with written integrative theoretical memos, then elaborated and further contextualized the core themes identied in the research data. Findings Cultural knowledge in the classroom that referred or related to documents This study shows that there were social norms and institutional realities in this classroom, which resided in or formed a part of the schools hidden curriculum and that related directly to the creation and use of documents. This study shows that documents also reected or represented a further layer in human negotiation, a textual rendition of more general classroom norms and institutional realities. As alluded to earlier, research by LeCompte speaks to the notion of the hidden curriculum involving students being prepared for the work world. The expected norms in an elementary school that she studied included acceptance of authority, orderliness, task orientation, and time orientation (LeCompte, 1978). The hidden curriculum in rooms 5 and 6 expressed similar concerns, and documents served as a textual representation, an articulation, of these norms and values. During the rst weeks of school the teachers in rooms 5 and 6 introduced students to the general physical environment of the classroom. Students learned, for example, where their specic classes took place, where

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their student work would be displayed, where the teachers ofces were, and where to keep their backpacks during the day. It was during the initial weeks of the school year that the teachers also spent the most time consciously imparting to students what documents they could expect to encounter in the classroom, as well as what these documents should look like, how they should be constructed, and where they should be kept. The particular part of the hidden curriculum that involved document work inculcated students into how to create, make use of, and understand the texts they encountered in the context of this particular institution. As such, documents were treated as distinct physical entities within the classroom, with a required job, form, structure, and location. In the following ve sections the information students learned about documents and how that information was imparted to them is presented in more detail. These ndings indicate that students learned that school documents existed and were managed as distinct physical objects; that documents were entities that controlled, reected, and organized their environment; that documents could serve as evaluative instruments; that documents could hold students accountable; and that documents had a role to play in managing social relationships within the classroom context. These assumptions were shown to be both explicitly and implicitly imparted to students during the course of the school day. At the beginning of the school year, teachers often explicitly referred to rules and regulations concerning document creation and use. As the year progressed, these references generally become more implicit. At this later point in the school year rules and regulations were represented, for example, through teachers direct disciplining of students. Although the teachers in my study were the primary conduit of the socialization processes students themselves also engaged in this activity amongst themselves and with their teachers[3]. Documents exist and are managed as physical entities. At the beginning of the school year students were taught how certain documents should be constructed, in particular what the elements of a document should be. Of the three teachers, Ms Lyons most often imparted the general rules for constructing documents to the students:
Write your name in the upper right hand corner. . . In this class for the rest of the year. . . in this room your name goes in the upper right hand corner.

In rooms 5 and 6, this meant that all student work had to have the students name in the upper right hand corner, generally accompanied by the days date. Such instructions were repeated with great frequency over the course of the school year. Ms Lyons often accompanied such verbal instructions with her own drawings on the blackboard in order to show the students exactly how their page should look. Students were often told to create their own example of that page along with her. This was done in a step-by-step process, with the nished document being checked either by Ms Lyons or her aide. The nished template then functioned as a reminder to the student of how their homework or assignment should look. That children must progressively master knowledge about documents (their structure, content, and form) is demonstrated in the iterative process that was often part of document creation in the classroom. During the course of the school year students also learned how to ll in documents and what aspects of documents to which they needed to pay attention. The documents that students most often worked with were homework cover sheets and school trip forms. With homework cover sheets, for example, students were instructed how and

where to ll in due dates, underline pertinent content of the document (such as difcult words, due dates, or specic instructions), and to demarcate places on the document where they and their parents had to provide a signature. Students were also taught when documents should be constructed, and that there were different expectations about the content of documents. One of the rst documents that students in rooms 5 and 6 were taught how to construct was the homework page. These were pages (whether written on single sheets or within a homework journal) that the students used to record the homework that they had been assigned for that day. It was always Ms Lyons who instructed the students how and where they should write down their homework and what should be recorded. During the rst week of school, Ms Lyons demonstrated the appropriate structure of a homework page and writing their homework in their homework journal or on a sheet of paper became a daily routine at the end of Ms Lyonss class. Students were taught that documents (whether their own or those created by their teachers) had certain organizational characteristics and as such needed to be managed in a way that was conducive to the classroom setup. By this I mean that documents had a specic place they should be kept (either physically within the setting of the classroom or within a more bounded personal space such as a binder), had a specic trajectory of circulation within the classroom, and that there were certain documents that should be kept together. Associated with these different values were different recommendations for whether this material should be kept or how it should be stored:
This is for you. This isnt going home, doesnt need to be signed off. See what you can recall. So dont roll them up. Were going to keep them [Instructions from Ms Lyons to the class about a pop quiz.]

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These rules speak to a wider concern for classroom management where the reality of teaching a large group of students necessitates a structured and organized system within the classroom setting. Documents are entities that can be used to control, organize and reect their environment. As students adjusted to the new routines of the classroom, and the new expectations that came with advancing grade levels, teachers also tried to give students a sense of the structure of their day; therefore providing them with a degree of autonomy or control over their own activities. Teachers used documents to great effect in this regard. Giving students a sense of the structure of their day was as simple as the teachers putting a notice on the classroom door so that students were reminded to go to an all school assembly on Monday mornings. The instructions on the blackboard were typically the rst documents that the students encountered when they entered rooms 5 and 6. The students were told that the purpose of these instructions was to help them get going in the morning. For example, in the case of Ms Lyons class, the instructions told her students what, if anything, needed to be done in the classroom and what they needed to bring to the rug to begin the days lessons. Having these instructions meant that students did not have to wait for a sign from the teacher to know how to proceed; instead students could prepare and be ready of their own accord when class began. In rooms 5 and 6, daily agendas also laid out what students would be doing during the day. In room 6 students learned that the daily agenda tended to be a bare bones outline of the days subjects, written in chalk on the top right hand side of the blackboard. In contrast, in room 5, Ms Lyons created a detailed paper chart with a breakdown of the

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exact topics that they would be covering for the day. The chart was divided into two, with an agenda for the morning class and an agenda for the afternoon class. The groups activities were further differentiated from each other by the use of color, which made it easier for the students to read and pick up on what they would be doing. Also conveying a sense of structure for the students was the role that the classroom bulletin board played in cueing them to what subjects and topics they would be dealing with during the school year:
[Ms Carson] asks them what they think theyll be working on this year. You can often tell by looking at bulletin boards.

As the documents on the bulletin boards changed over the course of the school year, they reected the ongoing ofcial curriculum of the classroom. During the rst week of class there was also a sense from the teachers that documents not only offered a degree of structure to students lives but that they could also provide a level of comfort to students during this difcult transition period:
Ms Carson moves the schedule over and erases the blackboard. She tells them [the students] to look at the temporary schedule. She calls it a rst week only schedule. Next week she says there will be two different schedules. Itll be on the charts so you dont have to worry she says.

Ms Lyons also talked about the daily agenda and the instructions on the blackboard that greeted the students at the beginning of each class in this light, telling the students that you dont ever, ever have to feel like you dont know whats going on in here. Although all these documents were presented as giving students some sense of autonomy or control over their activities, documents, of course, also allowed teachers to control, regulate, and manage what happened in the classroom. Teachers lists, for example, were an embodiment of a decision about which students were to work together on what projects. Another common document that students learned to interact with in room 5 was the roll book. As Jackson notes, this particular document has both a ceremonial and practical signicance (Jackson, 1968, p. 85). In both classes it served the practical role of keeping daily track of any student absences. In room 5, Ms Lyons also used the roll book in Jacksons ceremonial sense. She did so by employing it as a means to formally greet each student at the beginning of every class. It was her method of starting the day and connecting with the students before the morning lessons even began. Students also learned that there were appropriate times in the classroom when they could create and/or use documents and that there are other times when the teachers considered such work inappropriate. Teachers, and on occasions other students, played a role in enforcing this distinction both verbally and through gestures (such as pointing) that students came to recognize in class. The major context where document work was permissible was when the teachers were addressing the class during actual instruction. On these occasions, students were expected to listen carefully, stop all other activity, and follow along when told to do so. There were other situational contexts in which document work was expected, such as when students were working on assignments in class, whether individually or in groups. Students learned that they needed to be responsive and get any document work done quickly, and at a point in time where it met with teachers approval. The creation and use of students own documents (a separate but related aspect of document work that will be discussed in a

forthcoming article) was not allowed during class. Within the classroom context this rule was generally implicit rather than explicitly stated. It would appear that this rule was learned by students prior to beginning fourth and fth grade. The students actions and talk with regard to informal documents indicates that they understood, even if they did not always follow, this rule. Informal document work was, however, at least tacitly allowed during periods where students had earned their own free time, or when formal schooling had nished for the day (such as when the students were gathered outside on the patio for car pool). Although documents served to schedule and control the school day, students also learned that this sense of order could be broken. It could be broken in the sense of it being disrupted and it could be broken in the sense that it could also be renegotiated. During the rst week of school, for example, Ms Lyons commented that because the students had been so good she would change the order on the agenda and play speedball now instead of later. Such scenarios underscored the fact that documents were simply representations or theorizations of a persons will and were not always set in stone but could be subject to renegotiation or even manipulation after the fact. Documents can serve as evaluative instruments. Students also learned that documents acted as evaluative instruments. Documents served as evaluative instruments in two senses. First, students were evaluated on what they wrote. The evaluation of writing that students created as part of their formal course work demonstrated the notion of student as afliate, where scrutiny occurred around such elements as punctuation, neatness, quality of handwriting, spelling, sentence structure, spacing, documentary form, originality of ideas, and how the question was answered. However, when students were lling in everyday documents, such as quizzes and homework cover sheets, the teachers scrutinized these documents for the presence of more specic items such as names and dates, correct positioning of information on the page, and whether all information in the elds had, in fact, been lled in. Second, mechanisms for either informally or formally evaluating students in the classroom were also often captured and/or recorded in documentary form. Informal mechanisms (such as shadow les) were used by teachers as a means to record information about students for their own use. Formal mechanisms for evaluation had a wider trajectory and a presence above and beyond the classroom. This evaluation component in the classroom was perhaps inevitable in some form or another. As Jackson points out, tests are given more frequently at school than possibly any other environment (Jackson, 1968, p. 19). The students were of course aware, to a degree, that they were being evaluated whether through an engagement with the process itself or coming into contact with some of the everyday documents that facilitated or arranged that evaluation. Students took subject tests, reading tests and the Stanford Nines; they brought home forms for their parents to sign; and they acted as go-betweens as parents and teachers scheduled end of term and end of year conferences. In this elementary school, however, students were on occasions shielded from others formal evaluations of them. A case in point was the Stanford Nine results. The teachers, in handing back the Stanford Nine reports at parent-teacher meetings, counseled the parents not to share or discuss the results with their children. Ms Lyons also sometimes gave parents a script of what to tell their child about the parent-teacher conference[4]. Documents reect notions of expectation and accountability. Part of the process of learning to be a student involved learning what teachers require of them, and learning

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how to handle that requirement. Two notions or concepts that were prevalent in the classroom in this regard were expectation and accountability. Expectations about document work existed in relation to other teacher expectations. As students progressed through elementary school, an expectation of greater responsibility was coupled with a proliferation of exposure to documents as new types were introduced and as their documentary form and content tended to become more complex. To a large extent such expectancies revolved around whether or not students had actually returned documents (such as school trip forms and notes sent home to parents), whether the documents were organized in the proper manner, and whether they had been lled in or, if necessary, signed. There were also other expectations that teachers had of students which were reected or captured by documents themselves. Teachers expected students to be responsible not only for document work but for managing other aspects of their school life such as keeping track of their materials, getting on with others, completing their class assignments, etc. Documents were useful in managing these expectations, in holding students accountable so to speak, because they acted as tangible evidence that such expectations had been achieved or met. An example of documents being used to capture how students were meeting expectations was a system that Ms Lyons suggested, and that Mr Beckner instituted, two months into the school year. This was a chart for keeping track of how many pages of stories students had written for writers workshop. Mr Beckner told the class that it was now written in stone how many pages of stories they had composed. Consequences were announced for those who didnt meet the required goals: students could be kept in at lunch to catch up on their writing or would not be allowed to use a computer to compose their stories. Students did refer to this chart. It was displayed on the blackboard in room 5 and students would use it to check their progress, at times questioning me about the accuracy of the page count beside their name. Ms Lyons explicitly stated that this chart helped to keep the students accountable. There were other instances where documents were seen as a means of tracking students accountability: notes students had to write and send home if they didnt have their work done, and lunch lists on the blackboard which kept track of who needed to stay in at break and nish work. According to Ms Lyons their kids were successful because they [the teachers] always check up on them. Another mechanism for holding students accountable was Ms Lyons record book, in which she checked off who had turned in work. She collected this information in front of the students and on occasion made comments to the class based on their performance in completing this task. A similar mechanism, but with a different structure, were the homework charts in room 6. Here, Ms Carson and Mr Beckner marked off who had handed in their homework and who had work outstanding. When students turned in work a check or a sticker was placed beside their name. These homework charts were always on display in the classroom above the blackboard. It must be said, however, that it was not always necessary for direct consequences in order for teachers to hold students accountable. Sometimes the teachers believed that the mere fact that a document existed would alert the students that they were being held accountable for an activity. Students, and indeed their parents, were cognizant of the fact that documents were being created about them, and they were particularly aware of the fact that there were implications of having an ofcial school record. For example, according to a school

administrator the forms the school used to report incidents involving students (such as name calling and disruptions on the play ground) were once pink in color. The students disliked the fact that the forms were pink because they thought that the color of the form indicated that this document would become part of their ofcial school record. The forms were subsequently redesigned and at the time I carried out my eldwork were blue. During my time in the eld I also overhead parents on a number of occasions checking with the teachers to ensure that certain things (particularly issues surrounding learning difculties) would not become part of their childs ofcial school record. From Ms Lyons, students learned that knowing how to create and manage documents was a prerequisite for middle school. As such, she viewed knowledge about how to create and use documents in an anticipatory sense. The students were told that teachers expected them to learn how to manage documents in elementary school. This process, however, was one of striving to attain mastery. Ms Lyons warned students that by the time they reached middle school they would no longer be expected to be novices and because of this their middle school teachers would not remind them to do things. Therefore, familiarity and comfort with creating and managing documents was seen as a necessary skill in order to mark their passage from elementary to middle school. The notion that students would be held to different standards as they progressed through school was also raised by a visiting teacher. Ms Isaacs met with the class in May to talk to the students and give advice about issues they would face as they moved on to the next grade level. Two of the issues she talked about specically involved documents. The rst piece of advice was about writing informal notes in class. The second piece of advice was about the importance of keeping good records. In her talk to the students, Ms Isaacs noted that the creation of appropriate documents was a sign of students maturity and independence:
Ms Isaacs talks about people getting crushes on one another. Those little notes you write each other are normal, she says. She asks what happens to those notes [in the classroom]. Megan says they get lost and other people nd them. Ms Isaacs talks to the class about how humiliating this can be. Be very careful what you write down, she tells the class. Ms Carson pipes in that email is even worse. Ms Isaacs says its best not to trust [these notes and emails]. She says it is best to tell these feelings directly. Ms Isaacs has one of the fourth grade girls come up to the teachers desk and she pulls a calendar book out of Ms Isaacs bag. Ms Isaacs says they [students] have social plans, they need to keep track. She calls it a sign of maturity. Keep track of yourself, she says. She also tells the girls that they can keep track of their (girls are reluctant to say the word) period. This is a sign on independence, she says about the calendar. This shows your parents youre growing up. She tells the class that in sixth grade they get a big planner.

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Documents are social entities. Another aspect of learning to be a student involved knowing how to live with others in this community. Knowing how to live with others involved students learning how to manage relationships. Documents were important in this regard because they could serve as relationship building entities. At a very basic level, students learned that a teachers approval could be gained by managing and using documents in a manner that made their teachers life easier (for the teachers there was a sense that paperwork was a burden or at least a constant and sometimes overwhelming presence in the classroom). Naturally, the opposite also held true, that a student could gain a teachers disapproval by managing and using documents in a manner that made their teachers life more difcult. A teachers approval, for example,

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could be gained by handling documents in a manner that was not disruptive to the class (Ms Lyons talked about the students needing to be ready and serious about this), by being organized, by lling in all the necessary information to complete the document, and handing in documents in a prompt and orderly manner. This was an important skill for students to learn, and also in which to demonstrate competence. Ms Lyons, the teacher who most often dealt with the general classroom paperwork, cued the students to appropriate and inappropriate behaviors (such as rustling papers) related to documents on a number of occasions throughout the school year. In rooms 5 and 6, document work also existed as a group activity. Students learned to manage their working relationships with each other through the construction and use of documents. As such, the use of document work in the classroom served as a representation of the schools ethos about student collaboration as a facet of learning. Particularly in science, the students worked together in groups to complete projects and in the process had to collaborate to collect and record information. In rooms 5 and 6 students also came in contact with documents that served to create and build relationships with others. Ms Carson and Mr Beckner, for example, created such documents for the students in the form of certicates. These certicates were given to each student after they completed a math or science assignment. Containing bright, cheerful and sometimes funny pictures, the certicate congratulated the student on completing their assignment. Although no doubt serving to motivate the students to turn in work, these certicates also forged a tangible and personal connection between the student and the teachers. In room 5, Ms Lyons often had students create cards for people who had helped out in the classroom on various projects or who had come to the class to talk about various subjects or issues. These were documents that allowed the students to form a bond with the recipient and express, in textual form, a range of emotions not necessarily found in other more ofcial classroom documents. The larger function and role that documents played in the school environment Using an ethnomethodological framework, the function and role of documents within the elementary school can also be understood in terms of what it means to be or to become a student; to be a member of a school community. Coulon has a term for the process by which one joins a new group afliation (Coulon, 1995, p. 55; Coulon, 2004, p. 110). Coulon states that to become afliated to a group requires a progressive mastery of the common institutional language. Furthermore, once people are afliated, members do not have to think about what they are doing. . . they know the implicit conditions of their conduct, and they accept the routines woven into the fabric of everyday social practices (Coulon, 1995, p. 27):
In the language of ethnomethodology, being a member is a technical term meaning sharing the language of the group in question. It means sharing a common world, common perspectives, and ways of categorizing reality. It conveys the impression of living in a unied and uniform culture when its members are at ease in the following senses: They have naturalized and incorporated the innumerable details of daily life, including minute details of behavior, clothing, and talk that allow the members to recognize each other instantly (Coulon, 2004, p. 109).

In the context of an elementary school environment, this membership comes into being through a process which acknowledges the fact that students begin as novices. Like any new members of a setting, children are neophytes and must learn over a period of time what it means to be a student. The notion of membership and afliation also

encompasses the idea that children are thought of as being, what has been termed, precompetent, not incompetent and not fully competent but. . . developing into or toward competency (Austin et al., 2003, p. 51). At the beginning of a school year, the process of membership begins when students are initiated into the new world through a process of routinization (Coulon, 2004, p. 110). As already demonstrated, the structured and self-contained nature of the school classrooms at River Forest Elementary were a particularly rich site for a study of students afliation into school life. In September, children in rooms 5 and 6 began to learn many of the rules and regulations that would shape their lives as students over the academic year. What the teachers told students that they expected of them was couched in terms of students being in school, having a good time, learning, and being responsible. For the teachers, the sharing of rules was talked about in terms of the students needing to feel okay, that the students know who they are, and that the students feel that they are in the right place. An important addition to this message was that the teachers let the students know that they would impart the necessary information to them so that the children were ready to be students. The expectation the teachers had of students was further framed within the context of the students progression through elementary school. In this instance, with the students becoming either fourth or fth graders, the teachers had a greater level of expectation in terms of trusting students to do things. The actual rules and regulations imparted to the students during the rst weeks of the school year covered a myriad of activities and behaviors such as the materials (school supplies and books) the students needed to have in class every day, the types of foods that were appropriate to bring to school for snacks and for lunches, the structure of the school day, how to use the pencil sharpener, where and when to look for directions, how to behave with peers, how and when to ask to go to the bathroom, and where to sit. Coulon states that becoming an insider is a process that is found every time someone enters a new institution (Coulon, 2004, p. 110). I would argue that every time a student changes grade level, and perhaps to a greater extent when a student changes schools or makes the leap from one stage of schooling to the next (for example moving from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school), this process of becoming an insider begins again. What has been established in this article is therefore one other and new facet of the parameters of what it means to be part of such a social group. In the process of becoming an insider, of gaining competence as a member of the school community, a student must have knowledge of document work. While it is important to have uncovered what students learned about documents and their use at school, and the relationship of document work to the concept of afliation or membership, it is arguably just as important to probe the larger picture that lies behind these specic inculcations. If we know the explicit norms or stock of knowledge that students learn about documents, we have to ask ourselves in a larger sense why this is so. In order to comprehend this we need to understand what ethnomethodology calls a members sense of social structure (Leiter, 1980, pp. 68-105). Ethnomethodology teaches us that the stock of knowledge, the norms uncovered about documents in this study, are accomplishments that rely on this sense of social structure. According to Leiter, the sense of social structure means that people do not perceive the social world as a set of random, unpredictable, unique events and appearances. In fact, people understand the social world to be orderly, meaningful,

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and factual (Leiter, 1980, p. 71). It is important to note that this sense of the social world as factual is not imposed from outside but is something that members both create and sustain among themselves. The teachers at River Forest Elementary, therefore, saw their world in this light and they took that reality for granted. But more than this, I would argue that not only did they assume the immediate social world to be factual, but an analysis of the broader message of the hidden curriculum which in a sense serves as a larger structure for that social world shows that the school was also treated, or seen, as a rational enterprise. At River Forest Elementary, therefore, the hidden curriculum served to depict this organization as a rational enterprise. Garnkels study of a psychiatric clinic showed that peoples use of records could only be truly understood as a particular reection and representation of how that organization understood or saw itself. In Garnkels case, making sense of clinic records meant rst, understanding that organization as a medico-legal entity (Garnkel and Bittner, 1999, pp. 186-207). Garnkel showed that it is only in identifying and understanding the exigencies that are particular to individual organizations that documents can be fully understood. Therefore documents (and what we understand about them as part of the hidden curriculum) also have a role to play in both perpetuating and constituting this belief about rationality. Leiter, commenting on Zimmermans study of case workers in a public assistance agency, speaks to the notion of documents as factual objects. In Zimmermans study ofcial documents were treated as objective and factual (Zimmerman, 1966; Zimmerman, 1969). Leiters report of Zimmermans study indicates that factual means that the information found in ofcial documents was accepted without question (Leiter, 1980, p. 79). In my experience, a more consistent notion of factual as it exists at River Forest Elementary is not that the information contained within documents are necessarily always believed, but that the factual nature of documents existed in another sense. Documents facticity lay in their recognizability over situated appearances. That is, that a document was factual when it was recognizable as the same object in a variety of situations (Leiter, 1980, pp. 78-80). Leiter says that without this property, objects and events would be idiosyncratic appearances in a swirl of other unconnected appearances (Leiter, 1980, p. 80). The appearance of everyday documents in the classroom supports such a thesis. Documents are treated as structural, consistent, and explicit objects. Students, in their interaction with these objects, are seen as having a trajectory of learning in which associated knowledge of documents is perceived as being both evolving and accumulative. Therefore, the idea of rationality is what the social norms of document work achieve on a grand scale, at the institutional level. Process by which students accomplished the creation and use of documents If the school, as a rational enterprise, has been established here, this fact arguably remains hidden to many of the people who are actively engaged in its construction and replication. Ethnomethodology can provide some insights into such members processes. Although ethnomethodology concerns itself with the role that the stock of knowledge plays in making sense of our experiences, it is more interested in the processes or procedures (ethnomethods) by which they are produced and substantiated via social negotiation. Although a true ethnomethodological investigation was beyond the scope of the study reported in this article, it is still useful to at least begin to examine how ethnomethodology could bring us beyond the norms and rules of the

classroom to an understanding of the processes by which students, for example, know how to both interact with and also to read documents (how students recognize documents as documents, and how reading documents works to activate a variety of courses of action). In order to begin to understand how knowledge of these processes might illuminate our understanding about documents, and how people interact with them, Ill turn briey to one example, which uses two ethnomethodological concepts: the documentary method of interpretation and reexivity. Ethnomethodology proposes that what an object is is an accomplished phenomenon (Austin et al., 2003, p. 37). As Austin et al. state, in ethnomethodology there is no predened or predetermined sense of what an object is; instead objects are understood as being actively constituted through peoples talk and actions. How people do this is through what ethnomethodology terms, the documentary method of interpretation. How this may work in relation to documents can be illustrated by co-opting an example. In Austin et als work, the object under study using the documentary method of interpretation is a normal school lesson. Looking at these same exigencies, but using a different object to study, we can arrive at conclusions about the process of creating and using documents. For example, in order to perceive a particular school document as a usual school document requires that the persons knowledge of a normal school document is adjusted to his or her knowledge of this school document. This reiterates the fact that current situations themselves inform a members knowledge of normal structures. Moreover, what is learned in this process is referential, becoming part of a participants knowledge of a school document. What is learned in the process also has an historical dimension in that future occurrences of the same or similar situations will elaborate what the previously current scene was (Austin et al., 2003, p. 37). The process of constituting a document also introduces the notion of reexivity. As Coulon states, the social signicance of objects. . . arises in the meaning that they take on in the course of our interaction. Furthermore, even if some of these signicances are stable over a period of time, they still have to be renegotiated at each new interaction (Coulon, 2004, p. 111). By this Coulon means that rules and social norms must always be interpreted in the process because their meaning lies not in the rule itself but how the rule is used in action. What we learn from this, therefore, is that any meaning given to documents will only arise in the course of interaction, as meaning does not reside purely in the document itself. Discussion In this study, acquisition of knowledge about how to create and use information has been shown to be not so much incidental or indeed purposeful, as hidden. An as yet unanswered question in this article is why document work is hidden and in what sense is it hidden? According to Margolis et al. (2001) there are a number of ways of interpreting or understanding the notion of a curriculum being hidden: that the curriculum has yet to be discovered or that it has been hidden by someone. The authors also note an explanation of the concept of hidden put forward by Martin; that the curriculum has been revealed to some, while remaining hidden to others (Margolis, 2001, p. 1). According to Martin until learning states are acknowledged or the learners are aware of them, however, they remain hidden even if sociologists, bureaucrats, and teachers are all aware of them. Thus a hidden curriculum can be found yet remain hidden, for nding is one thing and telling is another (Margolis, 2001, p. 1; Martin,

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1994, p. 162). Margolis et al. are also concerned with the question of why hiddenness exists or why it is necessary. The authors pose a number of questions to probe this concept. Is the curriculum simply hiding in plain sight to remain undetected? Is the curriculum itself another hiding place adding another layer of meaning that hides from us? Is the curriculum hidden behind the scenes? If this is the case, Margolis et al. state that it is necessary to know the hands and mechanisms that have done the hiding (Margolis, 2001, pp. 1-4). It seems to me that document work is hidden in the sense that it has yet to be discovered; it is hiding in plain sight. Again ethnomethodology gives us a framework in which we can start to understand this puzzle. Coulon, quoting Garnkel, states that reication and forgetting happen because society hides from its members its activities of organization and thus leads them to see its features as determinate and independent objects (Garnkel, 1984, p. 182; Coulon, 1995, p. 25). Perhaps, therefore, document work exists within the classroom but remains hidden not because there is any conscious conspiracy for it to stay obscure but because it makes organizational sense for it to be that way. While this research has uncovered the vital (yet hidden) role that document work played in a school environment, it has also shed light on other important and new aspects of human information behavior. An emphasis on sociological insights into the social norms and values that underlie human interaction is not novel in the context for human information behavior research (see, for example, Chatman, 1999). However, like Sonnenwald and Iivonen (1999) this research does highlight the fact that within a cultural, social, political or, in this case, institutional context, norms and cultural behaviors are often present with respect to human information behavior. What is new is that the stock of knowledge uncovered in this research has been shown to extend to a very basic unit of our analysis information. It has been shown that people have a stock of knowledge about genres of information both how to create that information and how to use it. This research also conrms that this stock or cultural knowledge that people use to make sense of the world around them, while partly based on ones own experiences, is largely derived or learned from interactions with others. This was demonstrated by the K-12 students in the study who were taught by their teachers, and occasionally by other students, how to create, make use of, and understand the documents they encountered in the context of the school environment. This nding emphasizes the social contexts of human information behavior; with knowledge about information being transmitted or conveyed from one person to another. This research also uncovered the pivotal role that knowledge of how to create and use information played in relation to notions of institutional membership or afliation. As a child, understanding the nature of a particular genre of information and how to create it has been shown to be a fundamental part of their afliation; moving the child from precompetence towards competence and establishing them as members of a school community. Conclusion and future research This paper contributes to the process of expanding the HIB research perspective by introducing the concept of information creation. Although more research will need to be done to establish to what extent these ndings hold true in other settings, this study

does open up many possible avenues for future research. A primary and as yet largely unexplored question is whether, and to what extent, the stock of knowledge uncovered here also extends and has a relationship to the stock of knowledge that lies behind other human information behaviors (seeking, sharing, foraging, exchanging, interpreting, or sense making). Like Coulon, I am particularly interested in how a novice can move from novice status to one of membership. How this process works has been the focus of this article, particularly those parts that dealt with notions of interpretation and construction of the social world within the classroom setting. As the idea of afliation or learning the code also means that people should be able to transpose the code to other situations, to innovate, to create new variations and signications for the code (Coulon, 2004, p. 116) this is also an obvious next step in a research agenda on information creation. The notion of student resistance (what students construct and use documents for, of their own volition) and an accompanying literate under-life that ourished in a school environment is therefore the subject of a forthcoming research article. These ndings will take human information behavior from the realm of how embedded social norms and realities are represented in both verbal and textual interactions related to documents, to how familiarity with such understandings allows people not only to function within the rules but also outside them. If schooling is really about the process of socialization to certain aspects of adult life (LeCompte, 1980, p. 106) then it makes sense that the ndings uncovered here can also be examined in the context of the adult working world (Trace, 2002). A study of information creation can shed light on whether, or to what extent, a stock of knowledge about how to create and use information is acquired in an organizational context. It may be that after many years of schooling we have a basic stock of knowledge about information creation that we can take with us to any work environment. Or it may be that certain organizational settings will require knowledge of new information genres and what can be achieved with them. If this is the case, in our HIB research we will need to continue to study how that knowledge acquisition takes place; whether the acquisition of that knowledge is incidental, purposeful or hidden; and nally, whether this knowledge is also seen as a prerequisite (or one of the prerequisites) for being considered a competent member of that particular workplace or environment.
Notes 1. In reputational-case selection instances of a study population are chosen based on the experience and recommendation of an expert or experts. In this study the reputation not only of the teachers but also of the students was a consideration. One of the chosen teachers in turn recommended focusing the research on fth rather than fourth graders; advising that due to their age, length of time in school, and their established network of relationships between other students and with their teachers, these students would provide a richer and more detailed set of research data. 2. Of the 22 students in my study, twelve are female (Elene, Alanna, Megan, Chloe, Sabine, Michaela, Eva, Jennifer, Sarah, Abbie, Fay, and Briony) and ten are male (Nathan, Colin, Adam, Joshua, Kyle, Dylan, John, Ryan, Jamie, and Matt). Two of the students are African-American (9.1 percent), 12 of the students are Caucasian (54.6 percent), ve of the students are Asian or Asian-American (22.7 percent), and three of the students are Latino (13.6 percent). Six students (27.3 percent) came from families earning $35,000 or less per year, ve students (22.7 percent) came from families earning between $35,000 and $59,999 per

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year, one student (4.6 percent) came from a family earning between $60,000 and $89,999 per year, one student (4.6 percent) came from a family earning between $90,000 and $119,999 per year, ve students (22.7 percent) came from families earning between $120,000 and $249,999 per year, and four students (18.2 percent) came from families earning $250,000 or more per year. The students in my study were born between October of 1991 and March of 1993. 3. On one occasion my eld notes captured a fth grade boy, Matt, imitating the teachers in this respect. I arrive in a little before 8:30. Alanna looks the blackboard and says we did Weekly Reader yesterday. Ms Lyons, who is at her computer says ah, but some students didnt bring them in. Matt is up at the front of the class, sitting on Ms Lyons chair, pretending to be her. He has a Weekly Reader in one hand and is calling on students by name. I put my hand up, indicating to him that I havent been called. Matt calls out Miss Trace, and I answer here. Sabine comes over to Ms Lyons to talk about the fact that she left her homework in the car. Ms Lyons, seeing what Matt is doing, asks him if everyone is here. Matt says ah, I havent put my checks. . . but slides off the chair when he sees that Ms Lyons is looking at him. She calls on him good naturedly and sends him next door on an errand. Ms Lyons tells him to hurry back to teach class. 4. The teachers also asked me not to include the Stanford Nine results as a category on a list I had created to ask the students what they would keep at the end of the school year. References Austin, H., Dwyer, B. and Freebody, P. (2003), Schooling the Child: The Making of Students in Classrooms, Routledge Farmer, London. Bates, M.J. (2005), An introduction to metatheories, theories, and models, in Fisher, K.E. (Ed.), Theories of Information Behavior (ASIST monograph), Information Today, Medford, NJ. Case, D.O. (2006), Information behavior, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, Vol. 40, pp. 293-327. Chatman, E.A. (1992), The Information World of Retired Women, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. Chatman, E.A. (1999), A theory of life in the round, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 50 No. 3, pp. 207-17. Coulon, A. (1995), Ethnomethodology, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Coulon, A. (2004), Becoming a member by following the rules, in Perret-Clermont, A. (Ed.), Joining Society: Social Interaction and Learning in Adolescence and Youth, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 109-18. Dervin, B. (1983), Information as a user construct: the relevance of perceived information needs to synthesis and interpretation, in Ward, S.A. and Reed, L.J. (Eds), Knowledge Structure and Use: Implications for Synthesis and Interpretation, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, pp. 153-83. Dervin, B. (1999), On studying information seeking methodologically: the implications of connecting metatheory to method, Information Processing and Management, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 727-50. Emerson, R.M., Fretz, R.I. and Shaw, L.L. (1995), Writing Ethnographic Field Notes, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. Feldman, M.S. (1995), Strategies for Interpreting Qualitative Data, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Garnkel, H. (1984), Studies in Ethnomethodology, Polity Press, Cambridge. Garnkel, H. and Bittner, E. (1999), Good organizational reasons for bad clinic records, Studies in Ethnomethodology, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp. 186-207. Gordon, T., Holland, J. and Lahelma, E. (2001), Ethnographic research in educational settings, in Atkinson, P. (Ed.), Handbook of Ethnography, Sage, London, pp. 188-203.

Jackson, P.W. (1968), Life in Classrooms, Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York, NY. Kuhlthau, C. (2004), Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd ed., Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT. LeCompte, M. (1978), Learning to work: the hidden curriculum of the classroom, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 22-37. LeCompte, M.D. (1980), The civilizing of children: how young children learn to become students, Journal of Thought, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 105-27. LeCompte, M.D. and Preissle, J. (1993), Ethnography and Qualitative Design in Educational Research, 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego, CA. Leiter, K. (1980), A Primer on Ethnomethodology, Oxford University Press, New York, NY. Lynch, K. (1989), The Hidden Curriculum: Reproduction in Education, A Reappraisal, Falmer Press, London. Margolis, E. (2001), Peekaboo: hiding and outing the hidden curriculum, in Margolis, E. (Ed.), The Hidden Curriculum in Higher Education, Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 1-20. Marsh, C.J. (1997), Perspectives: Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum 1, The Falmer Press, London. Martin, J.R. (1994), What should we do with a hidden curriculum when we nd one?, Changing the Educational Landscape: Philosophy, Women, and Curriculum, Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 154-69. tz, A. (1962), Collected Papers I: The Problem of Social Reality, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. Schu Sieber, R.T. (1979), Classmates as workmates: informal peer activity in the elementary school, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 207-35. Sonnenwald, D.H. and Iivonen, M. (1999), An integrated human information behavior research framework for information studies, Library and Information Science Research, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 429-57. Spink, A. and Cole, C. (2006), New Directions in Human Information Behavior, Springer, Dordrecht. Stillar, G.F. (1998), Analyzing Everyday Texts: Discourse, Rhetoric, and Social Perspectives, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Todd, R.J. (2003), Adolescents of the information age: patterns of information seeking and use, and implications for information professionals, School Libraries Worldwide, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 27-46. Trace, C.B. (2002), What is recorded is never simply what happened: record keeping in modern organizational culture, Archival Science, Vol. 2, pp. 137-59. Trace, C.B. (2004), Documenting school life: formal and informal imprints of a fth grade classroom, PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Zimmerman, D. (1966), Paper work and people work: a study of a public assistance agency, PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, . Zimmerman, D. (1969), Record keeping and the intake process in a public welfare agency, in Wheeler, S. (Ed.), On Record: Files and Dossiers in American Life, Sage, New York, NY, pp. 319-54. Corresponding author Ciaran B. Trace can be contacted at: trace@wisc.edu To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints

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Note from the publisher

Emerald at 40 This year Emerald Group Publishing Limited celebrates its 40th Anniversary. As anyone with more than two score years under their belt (or approaching it) will know, 40 represents a milestone. It marks a point at which we have, or we are supposed to have, come to terms with the world and reached a good understanding of what we want from life. And for those of a more contemplative persuasion, it prompts us to reect on our earlier years and how we got to where we are. It is perhaps not so different for a company. In many ways, to reach the age of 40 for an organisation is quite an achievement. Emeralds own history began in 1967 with the acquisition of one journal, Management Decision. The company was begun as a part-time enterprise by a group of senior management academics from Bradford Management Centre. The decision to found the company, known as MCB University Press until 2001, was made due to a general dissatisfaction with the opportunities to publish in management and the limited international publishing distribution outlets at this time. Through the creation and development of the journals, not only was this particular goal achieved, but also the foundations of a successful business were laid. By 1970 the rst full-time employee was appointed and by 1975 there were ve members of staff on the pay roll. In 1981, there were 20 members of staff and three years later the company had grown to a size that meant we had to move to larger premises one half of the current site at 62 Toller Lane. Through the 1990s Emerald came of age. In 1990 the rst marketing database was introduced and several years later we acquired a number of engineering journals to add to our increasing portfolio of management titles. The IT revolution also began to impact on the publishing and content delivery processes during this period. Writing in 2007, it seems hard to remember a time when information was not available at the click of a button and articles were not written and supplied in electronic format and yet it was only 11 years ago that Emerald launched the online digital collection of articles as a database. The move was seen as pioneering and helped to shape the future of the company thereafter. The name of the database was Emerald (the Electronic Management Research Library Database) and in 2001 we adopted this name for the company. So, how does Emerald look in 2007? Emerald has grown into an important journal publisher on the world stage. The company now publishes over 150 journals and we have more than 160 members of staff. Emerald has always stressed the importance of internationality and relevance to practice in its publishing philosophy. These two principles remain the cornerstones of our editorial objective. The link between the organisation and academe that was so crucial in the foundation of the company continues to inuence corporate thinking; we uphold the principle of theory into practice. Emerald also continues to carry the tag of an innovative company. Through our professionalism and focus on building strong networks with our various communities, we have launched and developed initiatives such as the Literati Network for our authors and a dedicated web site for managers. These innovations and many more,


Journal of Documentation Vol. 63 No. 1, 2007 pp. 164-165 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0022-0418

help to set us apart from other publishers. For this reason, we feel condent in stating that we are the worlds leading publisher of management journals and databases. It is important to us that we continue to strengthen the links with our readers and authors and to encourage research that is relevant across the globe. In more recent history we have, for example, awarded research grants in Africa, China and India. We also opened ofces in China and India in 2006, adding to our existing ofces in Australia, Malaysia, Japan and the USA. We would like to thank the editors, editorial advisory board members, authors, advisers, colleagues and contacts who, for the past 40 years, have contributed to the success of Emerald. We look forward to working with you for many years to come. Rebecca Marsh Director of Editorial and Production

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