Structural And Individual Influences On Information Behavior

Overview

This study proposed and tested a Person-In-Environment (PIE) framework to evaluate the relative impact of social-structural and personal factors on an individual's information behavior. In contrast to the focus on individual-level variables, the PIE framework integrates measures of an individual's information and socio-economic environments at the family and neighborhood levels. The PIE framework is applied to identify those factors influencing the use of public libraries by 12th-graders for schoolwork, ...
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Overview

This study proposed and tested a Person-In-Environment (PIE) framework to evaluate the relative impact of social-structural and personal factors on an individual's information behavior. In contrast to the focus on individual-level variables, the PIE framework integrates measures of an individual's information and socio-economic environments at the family and neighborhood levels. The PIE framework is applied to identify those factors influencing the use of public libraries by 12th-graders for schoolwork, non-schoolwork and Internet access. Drawing from the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS), this study analyzed a national sample of more than 13,000 students. Data from each of the respondents is mapped to his/her residential neighborhood, public library, and socioeconomic data using ArcGIS, a Geographic Information System. By integrating data from the ELS, the Public Libraries Survey and the U.S. Census, this study provides a multivariate analysis of both individual factors (such as demographics, academic motivation, and reading) and structural factors (such as the accessibility of public libraries and neighborhood income levels). Structural Equation Modeling is used to test the model. The study reveals that there exists prevalent information inequality. There is unequal availability of print and digital resources at the students' homes, schools, and neighborhood public libraries based on socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, and gender. The research also finds that school information environment, frequency of school library use, and race/ethnicity are the top three factors affecting the students' frequency of public library use. This study demonstrates that, even after controlling for individual differences, structural environment has a significant impact on an individual's use of information resources. It is thus paramount for information behavior research to incorporate measures of social-structural inequality. This study also has information policy implications; it shows that one cannot dismiss the lower level of information use as simply a matter of personal disposition. Structural inequality in information resources distribution can depress an individual's library use. More resources need to be devoted to schools and library systems in disadvantaged neighborhoods to facilitate their use and help rectify the information and digital divide.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243674036
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/7/2011
  • Pages: 130
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.28 (d)

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