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Members Use of Information and Changing Visions of the Parliamentary Library

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Title: Members Use of Information and Changing Visions of the Parliamentary Library
Author(s): Watt, Iain
Subject(s): Legislative libraries Information seeking and use
Abstract: The assumption underlying parliamentary libraries is that Members have a fundamental need for high-quality information services to support their decision-making processes. This assumption can be questioned. The historical importance of the parliamentary library is assessed as a necessary myth projecting the modernity of the parliament and the legitimacy of its decisions. The standard narrative of parliamentary library history—that the evolving visions of parliamentary libraries are responses to the needs of Members—is not supported by the evidence. The origins of the service visions lie more in the copying of other services, responses to expert opinion, and wider professional developments. The library no longer signifies modernity and the myth has become a liability. An alternative paradigm of Members’ information work is proposed, based on the concept of bounded rationality and, in particular, the work of Gigerenzer on “fast and frugal” decision making. Recent research confirms the importance of heuristics in decision making by Members. In this model of decision making, the parliamentary library makes its impact through improved environmental understanding and the framing of matters for decision, rather than the delivery of information at the point of decision. Giving easier access to information, and focusing on information for specialist Members, may have more impact on the quality of information actually used than efforts to improve product quality. A focus on the deployment of library competences in new areas of parliamentary information work is part of a vision for the future.
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Citation Info: In Library trends 58(4) Spring 2010: 434-458.
Genre: Article
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16686
ISSN: 0024-2594
Publication Status: published or submitted for publication
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-08-10
 

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