chapter  1
4 Pages

Introduction

This Guide offers up a systematic method of identifying, evaluating and comparing information needs. Its purpose is to provide high quality, structured and standardised data that can be routinely fed into the design, evaluation and auditing of information systems, like the Internet, libraries, OPACs, and commercial on-line services. The thinking behind the Guide is that in the Information Wild West, in which we find ourselves, there is a great risk of information systems running wild-and running free of the (end) user. There is a real danger-and the danger signs are already there, that criticising information systems —the Internet is a case in point, is seen as being politically and educationally incorrect. The guide provides the where-withal to put (beguilingly simple, but increasingly complex) information systems in their place-within an evaluatory framework, behind the user and not in front of them. Ironically, the author believes that it will be an information system-the Internet, that will, in fact, force information needs concerns to the top of the information agenda in the new millennium. The current concern with information passports to aid journeys into cyberspace offers some grounds for optimism. After all, without personalised

information needs assessments, these passports will fail to get off the ground. Without these passports, or something similar, we are surely in for an information future of true Orwellian proportions.