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Documenting the user needs and preferences
for a specialized environmental library
The research team:
Asim Qayyum - PI
Tania Garcia
Carlos Suarez
School of Information Sciences and Technology,
University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras
Project Sponsors
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) &
Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE)
The study objectives
1. To investigate the information seeking needs
of users in a specialized environmental
How can the library provide them with an effective
and accessible research collection?
2. To investigate the user needs and
preferences for resource requirements and
operating procedures, and,
3. To investigate the user needs for
digital/electronic resource access.
Research Questions
RQ1: How and why do the users utilize the resources in a
specialized environmental library?
RQ2: What are the user needs for effectively seeking and
utilizing the conventional and electronic resources
in an environmental library? How the information
can be organized to meet these needs.
1) Documenting the identified user needs in a planning
document, which outlines some short term and
long-term goals.
2) Reorganizing a sample of the existing holdings to
meet the user needs and expectations, and training
the library staff in the process.
3) Initiate the digital delivery of information by
constructing a prototype electronic document
repository, and providing basic training to the library
staff in its usage.
Justification & Literature Review
Considerable knowledge reorganization, service level
improvement, and facility enhancements are anticipated
It will be the first step towards the creation of a modern
environmental information processing facilities.
Direct beneficiaries will be current user community
Help expand the client base of this special library.
The content will be accessible beyond the library walls
and geographical restrictions.
This research is justified as most literature on analyzing
needs of library users focuses on the public and
academic libraries (Hepworth, 1998; Hernon & Altman,
1999; Kim & Little, 1987)
Planning a methodology
 Needs analysis –
пЃ® A community information needs analysis is a
structured, planned, and formal study that
identifies the information requirements of the
people within a library’s jurisdiction”
(Westbrook, 2001)
пЃЇ The needs assessment can then be focused
on two main areas;
пЃ® Evident and tangible needs related activities,
пЃ® Information use activities.
The study instruments
пѓ� A combination of active and passive data
collection methods were used.
• Active – 9 interviews & 2 focus groups
• Passive – SCT User lists, reports &
documents, and other resources.
Target audiences
пѓ� Five classes of current and past library users,
Educators, environmental professionals, graduate and
high school students, general community members.
пѓ� One class of nonusers, or people who have never
been to this library, and
пѓ� One class of staff members of the Center and the
affiliated library.
Interview themes & topics
пѓ� Personal preferences and needs of users when they
use a library,
� Usage/Non-usage of center’s current resources,
пѓ� Knowledge (or lack of) about the various existing
services offered by the center,
пѓ� Opinions and beliefs (sensory perceptions) regarding
the current facilities and its staff,
пѓ� Suggestions regarding future upgrade of services
and facilities,
пѓ� Facilities that should be made available in a future
Grouping the Study Findings
Accessibility requirements
Purpose of visit and information sought
Role in supporting environmental education
Things that people liked
User suggested improvements on:
Personnel, layout, electronic, resources
Marketing needs
Problems identified
Miscellaneous suggestions
Study findings
1. Accessibility Requirements
Extend hours of operation by 2-3 hours every day or
have an evening-librarian-by-appointment option to
facilitate the library clients.
Open the library on Saturday (perhaps only for a few
hours from late mornings to mid afternoon).
Prepare a plan for seeking student volunteers in
coordination with LIS school management and faculty.
Improve physical and visual signage to help the clients
reach the center easily.
Online and paper maps should be made available.
Study findings
2. Purpose of visit and information sought -1
To access the local environmental experts.
Facilitate quick access to information
sources and common request
Recommendation: Create information products
from tacit and explicit knowledge of the local
experts (reports, articles, speeches, interviews,
presentations available on-site and on-line)
Implement a “Frequently Asked Research
Questions” or something similar).
Identify relevant “community cases”
experiences for quicker access.
Study findings
2. Purpose of visit and information sought - 2
To access local collections (books and journals
focusing on PR environment, government
environmental planning reports)
To work with some historical data &
To access educational (course related)
materials and previous project reports.
Study findings
3. Support for environmental education
Needs to promote its services in the academic
institutions in the region, which can possibly utilize
the library resources available at the center.
Workshops and seminars should be offered to
instill environmental education, awareness and
leadership among students.
A long term collections development policy should
be formulated.
More local funding options should be explored to
build a sustainable collection.
Study findings
4. Things that people liked
Presence of a competent and knowledgeable librarian
The presence of librarian who was able and willing to assist.
Presence of other people (library clients) in the library who are
experienced professionals, and have some familiarity with similar
projects or works that a user is pursuing.
Easy access to the library, its freely available resources, and
availability of quality information were cited as a reason for
repeat visits.
The library memberships were not limited to any particular groups,
organizations, or individuals.
A user feedback mechanism needs to be in place to ensure that the
library management remains aware of the critical user needs and staff
Librarians should preferably have a some environmental education or
practical experience in a related field.
Study findings
5 User suggested improvements Personnel
Librarians specializing in specific areas are a necessity
for special libraries.
This was a major concern echoed by the nonusers of the
library, who were used to going to other public or
academic libraries and not finding expert help.
Need for a full time librarian to be available at most
User wish lists also included the need for people who
have experience in educating library patrons, and the
need for people who have expertise in computing.
Study findings
5. User suggested improvements –
Physical layout
The furnishing of the main hall should be rethought to create
more seating space.
The big conference table in the main hall should be
replaced by smaller tables that seat 2-3 people.
The thematically and alphabetically arranged resources on the
shelf should be reorganized using a standard knowledge
organization schema.
The library should have better instructions for self-use placed
on the photocopiers, and should routinely inspect and update
its electronic equipment.
Information should be made available to the users, through
in-library postings and mailing lists perhaps, pointing out all
the audiovisual and other facilities available in the library
Similarly, information about the available software (e.g. GIS)
and hardware resources should also be made available to the
Study findings
5. User suggested improvements Electronic
Te library needs to fast track the implementation of a
library cataloguing software.
• A suggested application, Mandarin, will help in
resource organization.
пѓ� The reports generated by the center, reports from
local sources, the substantial number of newspaper
cuttings, and other similar documents should be
digitized and classified using a digital library to
improve organization and accessibility.
пѓ� Machine translation software, or a similar solution,
should be sought to solve the English-Spanish
conversion problems.
пѓ� The online presence (website architecture) should be
Study findings
5. User suggested improvements –
Information Resources
The library should source more material in
Resolve copyright issues for online access.
Locally focused collections need to be
Develop and implement a policy for the
preservation of paper and digital resources
of historical value.
Study findings
6. Developing marketing practices
A mailing list of community leaders and teachers
should be maintained so that new additions,
activities, or other events can be advertised.
The center should prepare some posters, flyers, and
leaflets outlining its strengths, and these printed
items should be handed out to its visitors, distributed
electronically through e-mail, and posters be placed
in educational institutes.
Workshops and seminars should be conducted
regularly to show some new research and community
related works to the students.
Study findings
7. Problems and misc. suggestions
Sources to secure information not existing in the library
need to be development. Implementing an Inter-library
Loan process is one such procedure.
Users currently make an appointment with the staff member
of the center to resolve this problem, but in some cases the
information is simply not available.
Users stated that spaces dedicated to research or study
are insufficient. The work area needs improvement.
Better electronic searching tools are needed (from
information resources guides to OPAC)
No theft prevention system is in place. The library should
establish procedures to ensure that all books and other
resources are accounted for, and that it remains
knowledgeable about any missing materials.
Cataloguing requirements
Library has many different information resources focused on
environmental subject, arranged as:
Books, journals, maps, geographical information systems, data series
on CD-ROM, electronic databases (e.g. ADENDI, LEXJURIS), technical
reports, government documents, manuscripts and a variety of graphic
Most collections are organized in alphabetical order or thematically
Things to do:
Create collection development policies and procedures
To catalog and classify all resources using knowledge organization
The cataloguing process should use MARC (Machine Readable
Promote library’s new acquisitions.
Professional tools/Software/Equipment needed for
knowledge organization
пѓ� SIRS Mandarin installation (Library Automation
System). (All modules).
пѓ� Implementation of:
пЃ® Anglo American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2,
2002 rev)
пЃ® Use of Library of Congress Subject Headings
(In English)
пЃ® Library of Congress Classification Scheme
Website redesign and new architecture
of SCT online presence
Organization system/ Navigation system
The prototype was organized by language (EnglishSpanish).
Content categories were organized by topics and
consistent metadata terms are used.
“Top-down” style to facilitate the searching process.
The navigation system shows the users where they are
during the process (path).
Website Architecture:
Search system / Labeling system
The prototype uses six main labels with sub-categories
The prototype uses a blog to discus relevant information
about local and international environmental issues on
Website Architecture
Current website
Suggested architecture
The digital library snapshots
A lab report for ciudad Cristiana
A case report for Industrial pollution
Metadata is compiled using Dublin Core in Greenstone Digital Library
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