Statement of Competency 10

Competency 10: Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors. 


In order to provide adequate service, it is essential for library and information professional to understand contemporary views regarding information-seeking behaviors. Traditional information retrieval systems were based on the collection and classification of texts, which imply certainty and order. Modern theories, however, acknowledge the importance of the user’s perspective, and consider user experience when designing systems.

Kulthau (1991) studied the Information Search Process (ISP) from the perspective of high school seniors writing a research paper. Conclusions indicate common feelings of confusion, doubt, and anxiety, which “may be anticipated by systems and intermediaries in order to improve information provision in early formative stages” (p. 370).  The formulation of a focus is correlated to an increase in confidence and interest. Findings indicate that although systems and intermediaries are suited to answer well-defined questions, improvement is needed in the preliminary stage of research, when cognitive aspects of information seeking are affected by feelings and overall experiences (p. 371).

Bates’ (2009) research on information behavior concluded with the observation that research is a complex activity affected by social, cultural, and technological factors (p. 2388). People interact with information in a variety of ways, including “berrypicking,” or picking up bits of knowledge here and there (p. 2383). Wilson (2000) identified a trend towards determining information needs before designing systems (p. 49). Fulton (2010) describes Elfreda Chatman’s research into information seeking behaviors in daily life contexts of ordinary people. Chapman’s theories helped “facilitate the development of policies and practices to help people experiencing everyday information problems” (p. 238). Savolainen (2009) studied how Everyday Life Information Seeking (ELIS) is influenced by “cognitive, emotional, cultural, and situational factors” (p. 1786). Monitoring daily events and seeking problem-specific information are two ELIS modes identified by this study. Preferred resources range from human to internet sources, and are highly influenced by ease of access and immediacy. The study of how humans interact with information has had profound effects on the work of library and information professionals, who use this research to design systems, services, policies, and programs.


The following evidence is submitted to satisfy Competency 10:

  • Information seeking behavior: Interview and discussion, a blog post from INFO 200 Information Communities
  • Information sources survey: Opera enthusiast community, an assignment from INFO 200 Information Communities
  • Digitization Project Planning, an assignment from INFO 284 Digitization and Digital Preservation

INFO 200 Information seeking behavior: Interview and discussion

The purpose for this blog post was to gather knowledge about the information-seeking behaviors of members of an information community. Since my focus was on the opera enthusiast community, I interviewed an acquaintance, who is one of its members. The interviewee answered questions concerning her interest in opera, preferred information sources, information-seeking patterns, type and purpose of information sought, and the social context. This post provides evidence that I understand how to analyze the information needs and behaviors of members that make up an information community. This type of data is a component for designing services and recommending resources for its members.

INFO 200 Information sources survey: Opera enthusiast community

This assignment was an initial survey of information resources available to a specific information community. The purpose of the assignment was to obtain an understanding of existing resources, on which to base recommendations for improvements of materials, access, and services in my final paper. The community I chose, who are opera enthusiasts, use a range of sources, including both research-based and community-based information. Each resource is analyzed in terms of its position within the information cycle, scope and context, credentials and authority, purpose and intended audience, design and currency, and biases and value. This exercise shows my ability to investigate and determine the usefulness of resources available to community members. This type of survey is an important starting point that may indicate the need for improved service.

INFO 284 Digitization Project Plan

The purpose of this paper for INFO 284 was to plan and detail the practical elements of a digitization project, such as the selection of materials, copyright permissions, preservation, technical production, in-house or out-sourcing, and metadata. I chose to examine the feasibility of digitizing a collection of student art works at an international school in Switzerland. An understanding of the information needs and behaviors of potential users was critical to all aspects of the project. The selection of materials, creation and delivery of digital reproductions, and formulation of a metadata structure that organizes, describes, and facilitates discovery of the collection are all designed to serve the identified user group. I feel that my work is very strong, and could be used to ground future digitization projects at my school.


Understanding information-seeking behavior is fundamental in providing access to resources and designing tools, systems, and programs that facilitate resource discovery. Prominent user-based theories help library and information professionals provide better service to patrons. The above evidence clearly demonstrates that I have mastered the basic concepts of information-seeking behavior.


Bates, M. (2009). Information behavior. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis, pp. 2381-2391. Retrieved from

Fulton, C. (2010). An ordinary life in the round: Elfreda Annmary Chatman. Libraries & the Cultural Record, 45(2), 238-259. Retrieved from

Kulthau, C. C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371. Retrieved from

Savolainen, R. (2009). Everyday life information seeking. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis. pp. 1780-1789. Retrieved from – .U2FyPVfcfro

Wilson, T. D. (2000). Human information behavior. Informing Science, 3(2), 49-55. Retrieved from