Information needs and information-seeking behavior of arts and humanities teachers: a survey of the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

Author:Tahir, Muhammad


The present era is called the "Information era." Information has become the most important element for progress in society. To thrive in this modern era, one needs a variety of information, no matter how well versed one is in a field or profession. Psacharopoulous (1982) discusses the necessity of information in the present age. We can reorganize the educational system and redefine scientific research only with the help of information.

Information plays a significant role in our professional and personal lives. People need information to work properly in their fields. Questions that provoked this study include:

* what constitutes a need for information?

* what people think at that particular time?

* what actions people take? and

* what problems are faced while seeking information?

Zhang (1998) stresses that a thorough understanding of user information needs and informationseeking behavior is fundamental to the provision of successful information services. Wilson (1994) points out that the scope of information-seeking behavior research is vast and many new concepts and methods are being developed with the help of this research. It is clear that the study of human information-seeking behavior is now a well-defined area of research. According to Devadason and Lingman (1997), the understanding of information needs and information-seeking behavior of various professional groups is essential as it helps in the planning, implementation, and operation of information system, and services in work settings. White (1975) states that if academic librarians are to realistically serve academic researchers, they must recognize the changing needs and variations in information gathering and provide services that would be most useful.

The study of information needs and gathering behavior dates back to 1948 when Bernal and others presented a paper on scientific information at the 1948 Royal Society conference (Bernal, 1960). During the past 30 years or so, a considerable body of literature has been produced dealing with information needs and information-seeking behavior of both individuals and groups in a variety of contexts (Anwar, Al-Ansari, and Abdullah, 2004). It is estimated that the number of publications on information-seeking behavior were more than ten thousand in the 1990s alone (Case, 2002). Many studies have been conducted to investigate the information-seeking behavior of library users based on their subject interest, occupation, information environment, and geographical location. Information needs and information-seeking behavior of academics have also been a popular area of research for the information scientists for decades (Majid and Kassim, 2000). Many authors have pointed out that the studies on information-seeking behavior and needs of social scientists are fewer than those involving the natural sciences, and the studies of humanists' information needs are fewer still (Line, 1969; Hopkins, 1989; Blazek, 1994; Challener, 1999).

In Pakistan , a number of studies on reading habits of different professional groups have been carried out by various individuals, associations, and institutions which partly indicate their information needs. Anwar (2007) reviewed different research studies on information needs and information-seeking behavior of different groups of people in Pakistan. He mentioned fifteen unpublished studies conducted on the subject so far. Shahzad (2007) conducted a survey to find out the information-seeking behavior of faculty members of Government College University, Lahore. He acquired the data from all three faculties, i.e., science and technology, social sciences and humanities. Anjum (1978) studied the information needs of humanities teachers at the University of the Punjab.

Knowledge of the information needs and information-seeking behavior of users is vital for developing library collections, upgrading facilities, and improving services to effectively meet the information needs of users. A review of the related literature reveals that no comprehensive study on the information needs and information-seeking behavior of arts and humanities faculty members at the University of the Punjab, Lahore has been conducted since 1978.

Objectives of the Study

Following are the objectives of the study:

* To investigate the methods and sources used by humanities teachers to acquire required information.

* To find out the importance of various information resources for their teaching and research.

* To study their information gathering activities.

* To study the purpose of their information-seeking.

* To find out what problems are faced by faculty members in seeking information.


The study used a survey questionnaire. A questionnaire was prepared after comprehensive literature search and discussion with subject experts. Both open and closed questions were included in the questionnaire. The population of the study consists of all full-time academic and research staff (total 120) working in 19 arts and humanities departments of the University of the Punjab, Lahore. These are divided among three faculties: Arts and Humanities, Islamic Studies, and Oriental Learning. Of 120 faculty members, 21 were on leave and eight could not be...

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