Why Undertake Information Needs Assessments?
The main reason for undertaking needs assessments must be that the information profession has neglected doing so in the past and that has not got the information profession very far, and, indeed, continues to frustrate its progress. The profession lags behind most others in terms of salary, conditions, status and customer satisfaction, and many of its flagships, like public libraries, are heading towards the reefs —blown there by the hurricane force winds that have been generated by the Internet. While spaceage information systems, such as the Internet, grace our information centres and libraries, we still do not use suitably modern and effective management methods to ensure that these systems are providing consumers with what they need and want. To say that information systems are largely free from consumer evaluation and are rarely challenged with user needs (or use) data, would be to exaggerate, but not to exaggerate by very much. Rarely are high quality data fed into the design, evaluation and running of information systems, like the Intranets, libraries, OPACs, and on-line services. But why should this be, for would anyone really doubt that libraries, librarians,
information units and databases are there solely to service the needs of their clients?