An Assessment of User Information Needs in the District Central Libraries at Tamil Nadu, India.

Author:Thanuskodi, S.


The Library is a social institution. Libraries form a vital part of the world social and educational system. They are entrusted with the responsibility of carrying knowledge to the doors of those who required it, so that it can be fruitfully utilized both by the educated and the uneducated. Knowledge is available through books, films, recordings and other media. People in all walks of life use library resources for their day-to- day life. Large number of people turns to libraries to satisfy a desire for knowledge or to obtain material for some kind of leisure time activity. In addition, many people enjoy reading books, news of the world, of the nation, of the region, and of the locality that are provided by their local library.

The objectives of the public libraries have been explained in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Public Library Manifesto 1994 which states, the Public library is a living force for education, culture and information, and an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare in the minds of men and women. The Public library, a local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for life long learning, independent decision making and cultural development of the individual and social groups. The UNESCO Manifesto for Public Libraries, in the third revised version in 1997, attempts at capturing the current global aspiration of all the nations in freedom, prosperity and development through public libraries. The manifesto mentions public libraries as a centre of information making all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users. The manifesto also emphasized that in each country in South Asia, there is a need to establish a public library network, which is in conformity with the other networks in the countries.

In the words of Dr. S.R. Ranganathan, Public libraries are to produce material happiness, mental joy and spiritual delight. They are social institutions charged with the duty of providing the means for the perpetual self-education of one and all, and contribute to the circulation of ideas, the harnessing of leisure, the demands of democracy, the spread of literacy, and the success of commercial and industrial organizations. Dr.S.R. Ranganathan also suggested that, a library is regarded as a public institution, which is also expected to convert the potential users into actual users. The library Act of 1998, Finland quoted that the objective of the public libraries is to promote equal opportunities among citizens for personal cultivation for literacy and cultural pursuits for continuous development of knowledge, personal skills and civic skills for internationalization and for lifelong learning

Review of Literature

According to Flaherty (2016) the public library staff members throughout the United States is providing assistance on a variety of health topics. The researcher gave the example of query to the public library staff members, they referred to the libraries' print collections, and 69% of the time when print was provided it did not answer the question or it addressed the question with information contradictory to prevailing medical evidence. When staff referred to or used electronic resources, authoritative medical information on the topic was supplied 79% of the time. It appears that there was no standardization on handling health queries in most libraries that were visited. The study explore the public libraries are trusted institutions providing community access to health information, it is imperative that staff are using appropriate health information tools which are readily and freely available.

Cushing (2016) state that the types of personal technology assistance requests the staff received and how they responded to such requests in US state. In total, 130 of the 234 libraries (55.5%) in the state responded to the survey and representatives from 10 of those libraries participated in follow-up phone interviews. While public librarians are willing to tackle these patron requests, they have little preparation or specific continuing education in this area to provide them with support. The highlights of survey on subsequent interviews explore how public libraries provide personal digital technology assistance, over 95% of survey respondents received patron requests for assistance with personal digital technology, and over 71% of survey respondents received patron requests for assistance with personal digital content. Interview participants report a lack of resources about how to assist patrons with personal information queries.

Donnelly, Francis P (2015) has conducted a study on the regional variations in average distance to public libraries in United States. Average population- weighted distances and the total population living within one mile segments of the nearest public library were calculated at a regional level for metropolitan and non- metropolitan areas, and at a state level. This study used GIS to calculate average distance to the nearest public library and population centroids for census areas were used to calculate weighted distances. This analytical report states that there are significant regional variations in library access across the United States. Residents of the South live substantially further from a public library compared to other regions.

Shakeel Ahmad Khan (2015) discussed the user's perception of services quality provided by the Central Public Library of Bahawalpur. The researcher used survey among library users was administered in Public Libraries in Bahawalpur district and was undertaken with questionnaire as a data collection tool. The study finds that Central Public Library of Bahawalpur is offering good quality of services for its users and also they are satisfied with all services provided by the Public Libraries in Bahawalpur district. The analysis of data showed that Users demanded e-resources of information in the library and suggested that library should provide training programs for its users to make the better use of library services. Study concluded that The Central Public Library of Bahawalpur is offering good quality of services to its users as the library users were found satisfied with different library collections and services.

Oyewo Abiola Oluwaseunfunmi (2015) examined the information needs of young adult patrons of public libraries in Nigeria, with the Oyo State Public Library as a case study. The researcher used survey of mental and intellectual development of young adults via the provision of resources and services fitted for their information needs in Public Libraries in Nigeria and was undertaken with questionnaire as a data collection tool. In this study Out of 110 questionnaires distributed, 108 questionnaires were retrieved out of which 92 were found usable. The main purpose of the study was to evaluate the information needs of the young adult users of the Oyo State Public Library Nigeria, the resources and services available to meet these needs and to determine the level of satisfaction with these resources and services. The findings include that the main reasons why the young adult patrons visit the library is to make use of the photocopy facilities (93.5 percentage) and the young adult patrons mostly expressed satisfaction with library open in hours (86.9 percentage). In expressing their level of satisfaction with the available infrastructure, mostly indicated satisfaction with the ventilation and lighting (54.3 percentages). The respondents' perceived constraints to effective use of library resources and services included lack of qualified library staff (59.8 percentages). The study indicates dissatisfaction by young adult patrons with the Library's services due to its inadequate infrastructure, collections, and trained library staff and appropriate recommendations were proffered.

Sunilkumar, M and Jayakumara (2015) has assessed the job oriented Information seeking behavior of public library users in Mysore. This study was conducted in 18 branch public libraries in Mysore city. The result of the study revealed that majority 166 (90.21percentage) of respondents are male, about 76 (41.30 percentage) users are P.G Degree, nearly 58 (31.52 percentage) users mentioned U.G degree 'more number of users visit the library daily. Regarding searching of job related information, more number 88 (47.82 percentage) of users use newspaper. Nearly 64 (34.78 percentage) respondents use 'employment news'. Finally the study indicates that the users are satisfied with the job oriented information available in the library.

Thavamani, K (2014) studied on the Information use pattern of Connemara public library, Chennai. The majority of 88.50 percentage respondents are satisfied with availability of the information sources like newspapers and magazines section being situated separately in the library. The results of the study, also indicates that majority of the users 92 (46 percentages) are college students. The users have good opinion about the reference sources.

Padma P., Ramasamy K. and Chinna Ayyar (2014) state that the majority of respondents use the branch library at Usilampatti for preparing themselves for various competitive exams; 30 percentage respondents use the library once a week; Majority of users visit the library to read newspapers and reference books, 11 respondents (22 percentage) opined that lack of adequate library staff is their major problem. 37 respondents (74 percentage) opine that the quality of internet service offered by the library is good; 32 respondents (64 percentage) are highly satisfied with the information they access from magazines and journals; 24 respondents (48 percentage) rated the quality of overall library services as very good.

Kotti Thavamani (2014) studied on "User Behavior and Awareness among the Different Public libraries in Chennai District, Tamil Nadu" This paper aimed to know the...

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