Information needs and seeking behaviour of students in two universities in Imo state, Nigeria.

Author:Ossai-Onah, Oyemike Victor


Information is an important tool used in the realization of any objective or goal of the library. Information is an important factor in any library because they are needed by users. Every library user needs information of increasing variety and diversity of levels, frequencies, volumes and with ease. Therefore, information need stems from a vague awareness of something missing and as culminating in locating information that contributes to understanding and meaning Library patrons seek information because they need information resources to survive in all sectors of life (Ajiboye and Tella, 2007, Fiankor and Adams, 2004, Fatima and Ahmad (2008)).

The information need (or need for information) is a factual situation in which, there exists an inseparable interconnection with "information" and "need", information needs can therefore be said to be the amount of positive information an individual or group of users need to have for their work, recreation and many other like satisfaction. Thus, information need arise wherever individuals find themselves in a situation requiring knowledge to deal with the situation as they see fit. In other words, lack of information needed to accomplish a task results in information need which several authors have variously described and explained ((Singh and Satija, 2006; Fiankor and Adams, 2004; Adeniyi, 2007)..

Information needs are diverse and constantly changing and not amenable to generalization. Information needs can be social, economical, political, cultural or educational. However, information need is characterized mostly by the information seeking behaviour of the person in need of information. Information seeking behaviour is a broad term, which involves a set of actions that an individual, such as undergraduates, takes to express information needs, seek information, evaluate and select information and finally uses this information to satisfy his/her information needs (Fatima and Ahmad, 2008). It is therefore described as an individual's way and manner of gathering and obtaining information for personal use, knowledge, updating and development. In other words, information seeking behaviour involves active or purposeful information as a result of the need to complete course assignment, prepare for class discussions, seminars, workshops, conferences, or write final year research paper. Though, Singh and Satija (2006) see information seeking behaviour as a human process that requires adaptive and reflective control over the afferent and efferent actions of the information seeker in which information seeking behaviour results from the recognition of some needs, perceived by the user, who as a consequence makes demand upon a formal system such as libraries and information centres or some other person in order to satisfy the perceived information need. Thus, they pointed out that information seeking behaviour essentially refers to locate discrete knowledge elements concerned with the three basic resources namely, people, information and system.

Information seeking behaviour is an area of dynamic interest among librarians, information scientist, communication scientists, sociologist, and psychologists. Information seeking behaviour is expressed in various forms, from reading printed material to research and experimentation (Bhatti, 2010). Information users make active and intentional attempts to seek up to date information from the library resources, including, electronic sources. It is worthy to also note that the advent of information technology has revolutionized the field of library and information services and has brought about considerable changes in the information seeking behaviour of users.

Though there seems to exist many reasons and sources of information to the information user, the university library occupies a central position in the information seeking process of undergraduate students in Nigerian universities.

Research Questions

The researchers seeks to ask the following research questions:

i. What kinds of information are needed by the undergraduate students in Federal University of Technology Owerri and Imo State University?

ii. What strategies for seeking information resources are adopted by undergraduate students in the institutions studied?

iii. For what reasons do undergraduates seek information in the two institutions?

iv. What types of information resources are consulted by the undergraduate students of the institutions?

v. What tools are used for information search by undergraduate students in the institutions studied?

vi. What problems are associated with realization of the undergraduates' information needs and seeking behavior?

vii. What are the strategies for satisfying information needs and seeking behavior of the undergraduate students in the institutions studied?

Literature Review

Information is needed because it affects peoples lives. People need information to obtain answers to specific questions. Therefore, information need arise whenever individuals find themselves in a situation as they deem fit. According to Singh and Satija (2006), the concept needs can be known through the various terms such as want (a state or fact of being without or having an insufficient, absence or deficiency of necessities), desire (an unsatisfied longing or craving), demand (to require, asking for what is due or asking for something, and requirement (a need, a thing needed, necessary condition).

Fiankor and Adams (2004) sees information need as the amount of positive information an individual or group of people need to have for their work, recreation and many other like satisfaction. This however implies that lack of information needed into accomplish tasks results in information need. Their concept of information need also means the need for information whenever individuals are faced with situation that requires knowledge to handle such situation. Therefore, information need is a gap in person's knowledge, when experienced at the conscious level as a question, gives rise to a search for an answer. According to Tackie and Adams (2007), literature on information needs and information seeking, acknowledges that work related information seeking is different from everyday information seeking. In their view, information influencers, such as accessibility, availability, and familiarity of source consumed determines the suitability of the information.

Adelani (2002) in his study drew attention to the fact that there are spectrums of factors affecting information needs and this include age, educational level and linguistic ability of the user as well as other job related factors such as rank and length of experience, the nature of work (i.e. management, research or teaching) the subject field, the stage that a project has reached, size of the immediate work team, nature of...

To continue reading