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Title:Adding to the Public Librarian’s Toolbox: A Guide to Anticipate and Respond to Complex Information Needs
Author(s):Montague, Kaitlin; Brody, Stacy; Matteucci, Kristen; Senteio, Charles
Subject(s):Anticipating information needs
Predicting information needs
Fulfilling information needs
Responding to information needs
Health information needs
Legal information needs
Social services information needs
Public library patrons information needs
Abstract:Public libraries must anticipate and address the information needs of the communities they serve. Some public libraries have foreseen complex information needs which require external expertise; consequently, they established partnerships with community organizations outside of their particular library system. We define “complex” needs as those that require multifaceted, precise responses (e.g., managing money, comparing forms of birth control, and locating online support communities). Additionally, we define “information need” as the patron’s desire to locate or obtain information which will satisfy a conscious or unconscious need (Westbrook, 2015). Since public libraries’ mission includes serving all members of their community, it is imperative that public librarians have tools to help them anticipate and fulfill various information needs. Recent social and economic shifts have increased the need for community members to turn to public libraries for complex information. In this poster, we identify and describe patrons’ increasing information needs, informed by LIS literature and our experiences as librarians and information science scholars. We also include selected examples we referred to of how public libraries have anticipated and addressed complex needs. We describe a novel framework we designed to help public librarians anticipate and build the capacity to address complex information needs. We focus on three specific categories of complex information needs: health (e.g., diabetes symptoms), legal (e.g., processing a FEMA claim), and social services (e.g., understanding COVID-19 unemployment benefits). In the framework, we elucidate how public librarians can better anticipate and address complex information needs by first using Warner’s classification model to determine the degree of complexity, then we describe how to apply Popper’s three world theory to take specific steps to anticipate and respond to complex information needs. Applying both Warner’s classification model then Popper’s three world model provides a unique, creative way for more public libraries to anticipate and respond to complex information needs. Westbrook, L. (2015). “I’m Not a Social Worker”: An Information Service Model for Working with Patrons in Crisis. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 85(1), 6- 25. doi:10.1086/679023
Issue Date:2020-10-13
Information Needs
Public Libraries
Critical Librarianship
Social Justice
Sociology of Information
Genre:Conference Poster
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-09

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