Independent business owners often prefer informal information sources to formal ones such as library collections. Part of these preferences is rational because contextual and application-oriented information is usually available from informal sources, which are theoretically the best matches for this kind of information. This suggests that, in addition to outreach strategies, efforts to integrate informal sources of business-relevant information can improve public libraries' ability to support independent business owners' information needs.
KNEXT is a three-year collaborative project between Kent State University (KSU-SLIS) and the University of Maryland (UMD-CIS), which partners with local public libraries, small business development centers, economic development organizations, and community advocacy groups to bring advanced data analytics and business intelligence (DA&BI) services to public libraries in order to support small businesses, entrepreneurs, and community advocates within two recovering communities in Ohio and Maryland.
To understand issues about information accessibility within communities, research studies have examined human, social, and technical factors and contexts by taking a socio-technical view. While this view provides a profound understanding of how people seek, use, and access information, this approach tends to overlook the impact of the larger structures of information landscapes that shape people’s access to information.
Information accessibility problems include diverse types of human- and system-driven barriers that make it difficult for individuals to access desired information. These issues have been studied in two main streams: (1) a human-centered view based on the understanding of individual-level characteristics such as physical impairment and economic status, and (2) a technology-focused view that emphasizes system-based factors such as the information filtering techniques and interface designs.
This paper presents the findings from a project about how international students seek and acquire information during their settlement in an unknown geo-spatial environment. Through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and cognitive mapping with twenty international students, this study examines their information needs, information sources, and settlement experiences in the host country.