Document Type

Changing Needs of Our Users

Publication Date



Librarians aim to foster an information-literate population. At the same time, we have been grappling with rapidly developing technologies and their impact on how we reach our users. In order to truly reach our audience, we first must know our audience. How does today's student decide where to look for information, in what format, and through which form of interaction? How do students evaluate the information they find? Gerri Foudy, Travis Johnson, and Neal Kaske, librarians at the University of Maryland, and Dan Wendling, a graduate student in the University's College of Information Studies Program, set out to learn about students' information-seeking behaviors from the students themselves. Funded by a research grant from the University of Maryland Libraries, a research study was developed, which used 240+ individual interviews and 12 focus group interviews (with 110 participants in total) to begin answering the following research questions:

  • What are contemporary university students' information-seeking behaviors and what role(s), if any, do libraries and/or librarians play in these behaviors?
  • What are contemporary students' mental models of the tasks performed by librarians?
  • Do these behaviors or mental models differ according to level of matriculation, from freshmen through graduate school?

The presenters will describe the research project and present the findings, focusing on how they may provide some insight into what technologies, techniques and information resources are being used by students, their information needs and expectations, and how learning about students' information-seeking behaviors can help make us better teachers.