chapter  4
56 Pages

A Framework for Evaluating Information Needs

If information needs data are to be routinely employed in the working environment then there is a requirement to place the slippery concept of information need in a comprehensive, precise and un-derstandable analytical framework. An evaluatory framework that can be profitably used at both a macro level-for effective strategic information management planning, and at a micro level-for the efficient carrying out of routine enquiry work and on-line searching. Its key function is to bring the user to their rightful place at the forefront of the information chain; but above all else it should insure that information delivery is targeted and relevant. Also, implicit in the form of the analysis, is that information needs are highly personal, varying even amongst those doing the same work in the same organisation. Indeed, this very fact is responsible for some information professionals shying away from studying need in the first place-they worry about the variability and dynamic nature of the data and what sense they can make of it. The traditional type of need (user) survey-like citation studies-have concentrated on building stereotypes of user behaviour and it is questionable whether, outside of research science, any of these stereotypes exist

in the real world, although the myths perpetuated by these studies fuel professional practice.