[Hpn] Fw: Help Seeking in an Electronic World

Sonny Covington Sonny Covington <icanamerica@usa.com>
Wed, 06 Jun 2001 05:42:18 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "J Cravens" <seesignatureforaddress@unv.org>


Final results from IMLS National Leadership Grant "Help-seeking in an
Electronic World: The Role of the Public Library in Helping Citizens
Obtain Community Information Over the Internet" have been released by the
University of Michigan School of Information and the University of
Washington Information School. The two schools investigated the ways
public libraries harness the power of the Internet to provide digitized
information to their communities, and explored public library
involvement in community networks.

Professor Joan Durrance of the University of Michigan and Assistant
Professor Karen Pettigrew of the University of Washington headed the
study, which conducted national surveys as well as case studies of three public
library-community networking systems in Northeastern Illinois; Pittsburgh,
PA, and Portland, OR. The study revealed that a majority of libraries
distribute community information in digitized form, for which community
networks are primary vehicles. We found that: users seek community
information about employment, volunteerism, social service availability,
local history and genealogy, local news, computer and technical
information, as well as other people; the Internet has not replaced the
role of social ties in citizens' information behavior but is instead
supplementing their information-seeking behavior; and that people
believe they are accessing hard-to-get and higher quality information more
easily with decreased costs in time and money.

Community networks have a multiplier effect-they provide benefits to
community organizations, to individuals, their families and their
neighborhoods, as well as to the larger community. CNs overcome a
variety of barriers including those associated with geography and the digital
divide; they mobilize community organizations as information providers,
and they contribute to community building. Overall this study showed that
while networked community information services are strengthening
American communities and enhancing the roles of public libraries, most
indicated that they lack the tools needed to show this. The next phase
of this on-going research project focuses on creating tools designed to
help librarians demonstrate the impact of public library community
information services.