Library Suggestions and Typologies of Information Needs

Andrew Kenneth Shenton, Andrew Johnson,


This paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of investigating information needs through scrutiny of library suggestions made by users. The method is attractive in drawing upon material that many libraries collect routinely and which may be used to present a picture of need that cannot easily be gained through other techniques. Nevertheless, insights achieved via suggestions analysis typically relate only to the library itself and often to its perceived weaknesses. There are ethical questions surrounding the use of suggestions data out of context, and researchers cannot know in advance that sufficient data relevant to their information needs focus will be elicited. Investigators must also decide on their stance regarding the wider applicability of their findings. Despite all these issues, suggestions data can play a pivotal role in inspiring the development of subsequent research into information needs, and may have considerable value when used in concert with other methods.


information needs; libraries; users

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)