Module 2: Information Users and Information Seeking Behavior

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ModuleTwo: Information Users and Information Seeking Behavior: Theoretical Overview

Information – creation, accession, consumption, and dissemination – pervades everything we do and is a foundational characteristic of information communities. From studying the information seeking behaviors of varied and diverse populations to analyzing information activities in online settings, the importance of the exchange is foundational to understanding libraries, emerging information technologies and design, and the management of knowledge in organizations. Many researchers have explored various ways in which people interact with information. Theories of information behavior, such as those by Erdelez (1999), and various theories highlighted in Fisher, K. E., Erdelez, S., & McKechnie, L. (2005), illuminate the process of seeking, gathering, encountering, and utilizing information.  Libraries, in turn, respond with user-focused services and access.

Things to Read:

Note: Some of the articles you will be reading this term were published years ago (sometimes decades ago!), but because they are foundational pieces, and because this is a foundational class, we are assigning them so that you know the important articles in our field to which many more recent articles will refer.


Burnett, Gary (2000)  Information exchange in virtual communities: A typology.  Information Research, 5(4). Retrieved August 30, 2004, from 

Erdelez, S. (1999). Information encountering: It’s more than bumping into information. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 25(3). 

Fisher, K. E., Erdelez, S., & McKechnie, L. (2005). Theories of information behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.

Five Laws of Library Science.