Evaluation an Evaluation of Public Library Programming

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Short Paper #1

Susan Lee

One of the primary sources that I selected is a 2013 program report on youth services in the Boston Public Library (http://www.bpl.org/kids/files/2012/01/YS_Program_Rpt_06.21.13.pdf). The other primary source that I selected is the 2014 Grand Island Public Library Progress Report (http://www.grand-island.com/home/showdocument?id=9193) focused on its services promoting lifelong learning and literacy. Although it is not dedicated solely to its youth services, a large portion of the report is dedicated to children’s services.

The Boston Public Library report is 129 pages long. In order to implement consistent and high-quality youth services, Boston Public Library conducted surveys and in-depth interviews with patrons, library staff, and several other public libraries respected for their youth services. It is thorough, containing information about providing effective youth services, use of marketing, volunteer program information, and technology as well as challenges that public libraries face. It also includes a summary of youth services provided by the Boston Public Library, its mission and goals, community demographics, staff and organization, space design, programming, target audience descriptions, and special collections. It contains detailed information such as youth services budget allocations, patron statistics, and programming attendance numbers.

The Boston Public Library report is divided in four sections: the first is a survey of current library offerings for children and teens, as well as anecdotes from staff and patrons (both parents and teens); the second contains comparisons between Boston Public Library and several other innovative and respected public library systems (in both suburban and urban areas); the third section contains goals that the Boston Public Library has; the fourth section contains its short and long term goals for the future of Boston Public Library complete with strategic recommendations. There are also appendices at the end that contain the best practices peer libraries interview summaries, patron and staff survey results, and meeting minutes. The report helps identify both strengths and weaknesses in the Boston Public Library System as well as recommendations for improvement. They recognize gaps in service and a need to address it but not how or why.

The central question that is drawn from this report is how do you measure the outcome of youth services programs with pre-existing goals and priorities at the end of the year? It is an annual process that is on-going and changing. Is the year successful if you have executed a set number of early literacy workshops or story times with a set number of families or children reached, a set number of library cards issued to youth, or desired percentage of parents reporting improvements in academic performance in their teens? The goals should be realistic, specific, and attainable.

In comparison, the Grand Island Public Library report is a more concise eight-page long document. Similarly, it also outlines the services and programs it offers including an on-site literacy-based Children’s Discovery Center with a large book collection, rotating schedules of programming including art classes, bilingual reading programs, and story times. The report offers statistics regarding its youth service activities including the number of programs held and attendance counts but it doesn’t differentiate between them unlike the Boston Public Library report summary. Teen Summer Reading Programs are counted as an activity just like toddler story times and outreach community events. Calendars, budgets, demographics, descriptions and trends are not provided.

The short report seems to be a positive-based document aimed at its community, specifically their patrons and tax-payers to advertise and promote its services rather than a critical look. The use of photographs and book cover images instead of charts and graphs is indicative of a “feel-good” approach. The report identifies its Grand Island, Nebraskan community as “diverse” and states that it meets their needs but does not identify how or why unlike the Boston Public Library report.

They extrapolate a 27% Hispanic or Latino population from a 2010 U.S. Census but what about the rest of the population? Communities are rapidly changing especially in the four years between that census and the time the report was written. They also cite a 2010 National Citizen Survey conducted by the city instead of conducting their own survey or interview. The report describes their Spanish-language programming and collection offerings so we can assume there is a large Spanish-speaking population though. The report also states that 2,000 grade school kids enrolled in their summer reading program. While that number is impressive, there is no baseline measurement to other similar programs or a follow-up on participants for further information.

Enrollment or attendance is not a complete measurement of success or analysis. If they enrolled, did they complete the program? If so, how many books did they read? Was it more than they would have read or the same amount? Did they enjoy the program? What did they not enjoy about it? A survey could have been an effective method of reaching its young patrons or their parents. Like the Boston Public Library, they identify recent changes to their technology, marketing, and programming that have been made. They also go into depth analyzing and updating their collections – including electronic sources and describe their teen volunteer activities. Unlike the Boston Public Library, they describe changes made to their social media and website improvements in order to increase public outreach.

The Boston Public Library report recommends library branches “reimagine and invest in space, staff and services for teens.” Although they did not consult with anyone or go into details, the Grand Island Library report states that they devoted more space to create a teen-centered area. It may not be as detailed but the Grand Island Library progress report does identifies future goals and priorities which consists of 9 bullet points though it does not describe any solid plans. The central question is what services and benefits does the public library provide to the community.

Whereas the Boston Public Library progress report is a detailed well-researched primary document seemingly produced for internal use and the benefit other public libraries in achieving and maintaining a consistent and high quality youth service program, the Grand Island Library progress report is a summary of its programs, services, and their value as well as advertisements of recent changes. Any public library struggling or already excelling in youth services would do well in referring to the Boston Public Library report. It is like a how-to manual with descriptions of exceptional youth services. The Grand Island Library report would be more beneficial to its direct community.

One thing missing in the Boston Public Library report is the feedback or input from library non-users. They describe a focus on early childhood literacy and increasing readership among patrons but they don’t or can’t include non-patrons or non-library users. There is a brief mention of outreach within the Boston community while the Grand Island Library report mentions mobile outreach via crates of children’s books being delivered to local preschools and improved public transportation/ pedestrian and bicycle access to the library, which would be beneficial to youth or low-income families. Information or feedback from non-library youth users is the thing missing from both reports and would be useful in any future planning. But it is likely lacking due to a variety of factors despite what outreach both library systems have made.

The question becomes centered on how do you find these types of people that haven’t already been tried? To what extent do you divert limited resources away from existing users to reach non-users in order to serve the latter? Is there a way to alter the habits of non-users? Both the Boston Public Library and Grand Island Public Library already do outreach to schools and community events. It becomes like a see-saw or perhaps a merry-go-round.


Sensory Storytime – Evaluating via OBPE

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Final Report

Susan Lee

OBPE: Sensory Storytime

Enabling libraries to measure outputs, or results instead of inputs, outcome-based planning and evaluation (OBPE) is detrimental to knowing whether or not library programs and services are both successful and satisfying. Rather than relying on potentially overworked and non-bias library staff to evaluate and report on important library services, it provides a fresh, new ‘outside’ look at library programming and services to maximize potential, serve the community, and prove value without a doubt.

Part of the Ferguson Public Library’s Strategic Plan is an expansion of programming, to meet the growing demand for a “broader range and greater quantity of library programming.”[1] In 2014, the library offered a total of 1,973 programs and events which were attended by roughly 56,000 adults and children. Their average yearly operating budget is between 9 and 10 million dollars, with the bulk from city funds. Cuts to the budget, operating hours, and staff remain an ongoing issue so the library needs to continually prove their importance and worth to their community. One of the library’s goals is to serve as “an active promoter of emergent literacy activities,” continually evaluating programming for young children under the age of four. In addition to traditional morning programming and additional weekend programming, one of their on-going goals was to hold at least four Sensory Storytimes a year for children with special needs.[2]

The Sensory Storytime program is one of Ferguson Library’s pride and joys. It was been made possible several years ago due to grant funding. The start-up program was initially paid for in 2009 by an Abilis Foundation grant and the next year with a $1,500 grant from Stamford Education 4 Autism. The program led to national attention for the library. The program spread to other public and school libraries across the country, with training assistance from Ferguson Public Library staff. [3]

As one of four urban libraries in the Stamford Connecticut area, two of the library’s core principles are access and equity. On a typical Saturday afternoon in the library, a group of children between the ages of three and five years old sit in a circle on colorful stools near their parents, doing therapeutic exercises such as pulling on exercise bands or blowing bubbles through straws as they sing along to popular children’s songs for an hour. Each parent and child has a name tag. The lights are dimmed in the quiet room on the third floor of the building.

The program is designed around Sensory Integration Occupational Therapy. The songs chosen are usually simple, and encourage color discrimination, self-identification, name learning and direction following. Tools and accessories such as therabands, puppets, stuffed animals, feathers, bean bags, bubbles, and toothbrushes are distributed to accompany book-related sensory activities. Tactile components are helpful to have. During actual storytime, board books are passed to each child so they can follow along with the librarian leading the program.

Some of the books used are “Jump!” by Scott Fisher, “Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell, and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” by Richard Egielski. Some instructors use other visual supports to illustrate the movements and activities that children should make or follow. Instructors attempt to stimulate all five senses and promote learning at the same time. Unlike typical storytime programs, the emphasis is on activities and not books. At the end of the program, children are given free play time with library toys while parents socialize. This is a typical Sensory Storytime program, an event specifically created and aimed at children with autism or children with a different sensory processing issue although all children are welcome to participate.

Disability-friendly library programming was not common to the Ferguson Public Library until 2002, when it was introduced by then-librarian Barbara Klipper after a patron requested autism programming focusing on children. The public library built a special collection for and two computer workstations with touchscreens, special software, and oversized monitors. Having two young children on the autism spectrum, Klipper stepped forward to helm the programming after recognizing a need to make public libraries more inclusive for persons with disabilities outside of building planning. The public library typically discourages noises and movements but Sensory Storytime encourages both. A grant helped her dream program to come to fruition, and train librarians throughout the state in the Sensory Storytime model, so more children could become involved. Klipper has also taught webinars on Sensory Storytime programming for ALSC and ALA. She has also written books on the topic including the recent “Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Sensory Storytime was born seven years later in 2009, marketed to the Stamford community as fun for all ages and recommended for children with sensory disorders. The program still runs, now titled as Sensory Storytots, under the direction of youth services librarian Caroline Ward.[4] The Ferguson Public Library describes the Sensory Storytots program as:

For ages 18 months through 3 years with autism, Asperger’s or sensory processing issues. Led by a special education teacher, small group size.  Introduce young children to the library with this welcoming “parent and me” program designed to accommodate their special needs.

Simply put, Sensory Storytime is a program that combines the books, songs, and movement activities of a typical preschool storytime with therapeutic activities from Sensory Integration. It can also include non-therapeutic activities such as “sensory diet” activities, singing and games like bean bag parade or balance beam to get children to expel energy and self-regulate behavior. Picture schedules made on poster board with visuals show children what the program is about and what activities to expect:

Participants are encouraged to act out in a positive way and in a comfortable, opening environment. Participation itself is a mark of success. Adults or parents are typically apologizing or attempting to curtail their children’s behavior, they are rewarded. It is a positive step yet it is hard to measure as an outcome. Repetition is a good thing in the program.

Although the program is catered to children with autism or sensory processing issues, Sensory Storytime is ideally suited for all children. The most important elements include parent participation, predictability and repetition, personalization, peer inclusion and a program plan/picture schedule (Klipper). Children with special needs and normally-developing children can learn from each other and gain awareness by exposing one to the other. In specific ways, the program is different than regular programming. It’s an attempt to attract members of the community to the library who might not otherwise be able to visit and gives them an opportunity to socialize. Inclusion in the program is especially important for all children because according to Klipper, we all learn best through our senses.

While regular children’s story-time programs can have one adult librarian leading, Sensory Storytimes require or recommend close one child-to-one parent ratio so parent or caregiver participation is encouraged and recommended. Parents can network among each other, guide the activity, and act as a leader with their child. Indeed the Sensory Storytime programs are in line with the Ferguson Public Library’s mission statement to “provide free and equal access of information, ideas, books, and technology to educate and enrich the Stamford community.”[5]

The dedication to those with special needs does not end at one program; the Ferguson Public Library has a Special Needs Center on the first floor of their youth services department, to serve the informational and access needs of families who have children with disabilities. Some of the highlights include a collection of Braille children’s books, specialized magazines and software, learning kits, and DVDs on disability-related topics.[6]

In the face of budget crisis and economic downturn, public libraries are typically under heavier scrutiny and the need to justify every dollar spent. In hard times, patrons tend to rely more heavily on free public programming and services offered by places like libraries. It is common for ‘extracurricular’ or non-basic programs like art and music to be eliminated first. Some taxpayers may be critical of programing and services that target a very specific or narrow audience. Although Sensory Storytime is renowned and popular despite limited admittance, the program was undergoing retooling and evaluation while on sabbatical from January of this year until its return in late April of last month.

Outcome-based planning and evaluation (OBPE) can be vital to a library’s programming efforts. Although it is acknowledged as overwhelming to start, it should be an important part of any library’s planning and evaluation effort. It can consist of several small measures, some of which can involve the community as well as staff and volunteers. The most recent Sensory Storytime was led by a special education teacher in a room on the first floor of the Ferguson Public Library. There was little mention of it through social media or on the library’s website. Perhaps the library staff was not interested or able to lead it themselves, or there wasn’t enough support for the program within the library.

The library’s vision and mission statement are both sound, encompassing library programming as a significant cornerstone. The Sensory Storytime program is solid. Yet there is opportunity for growth. The Sensory Storytime program used to be advertised on the Ferguson library website, the local newspaper, flyers, and word of mouth. It can be expanded to social media, schools, and local Autism groups. The library does not take attendance counts so statistics were not available. Although that can be something that can be easily changed and begin to be tracked, the programming attendance is capped at an average of ten children. A high number of children in attendance are not the goal. Outcomes should focus beyond simply numbers. The type of information gathered and the methods can be simple, easy, and effective.

Community support and feedback would be vital to evaluation and any positive changes. Collecting the information can be as easy as reaching out. Surveys can be crafted to gain feedback from parents or guardians before attendance about their expectations and immediately after attendance about their experience. They’re the stakeholders in this case. Questions should be carefully crafted for the desired outcome of the library; in this case it is producing the best Sensory Storytime program for its community.

Some of the participants may not have much more to say than ‘Thank you’ but even that can be valuable and rewarding. The library should craft its questions to produce responses without force or manipulation. Any feedback, even negative, is beneficial. This is an important information gathering step. It can be vital to find out whom Sensory Storytime is reaching and who it is missing – if it is fulfilling a goal of bringing new families into the library. There is a threat that it can be forgotten and obsolete during its hiatus. The program is currently on hiatus from its normal Saturday afternoon time slot and has been since the winter.

Families who didn’t come in regularly except for that program may have disappeared. Children with autism and developmental disabilities can be found in every community but often their parents or families won’t bring them to the library because their children who find it a challenge to sit still. Community resources beyond funding can be useful. These are potential threats or problems. Flyers or information may be placed with an autism society, community outreach or therapy organizations, and therapists who work with children with these types of issues. The library can ideally partner with local organizations, perhaps holding more Sensory Storytime sessions, outside the library walls. A time or date change may be something to consider with adequate feedback or information. The library can survey the community to measure interest. This can be an initial outcome.

Every five years, the Ferguson Public Library produces a strategic or long range, plan with approval from their Board of Trustees. Every year, they produce an organizational chart, operating budget for the upcoming year, and financial statements. Their current emphasis is on toddler storytime and bookmobile stops. The Ferguson Public Library has social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. Programming impact can be advertised and measured on social media. The organization and leadership for the programming can be faulty. It’s too heavily reliant on outside, irregular funding for one, the scheduling is sporadic, and there is no discernible advertising for its return. The teacher isn’t a library staffer as it usually is.

Previously, Sensory Storytime required registration via a phone number. An RSVP was required for Ferguson’s program in order to talk to parents or guardians beforehand about their child’s specific sensory processing disorders so the librarian will know to avoid such things as bright lights, loud noises, or other sensations. An online registration page would be easy and cheap to set up. It would not only help track attendance better, but also help the library maintain a contact database online. Participants would be culled from those registered since they are attending the program as library visitors.

Programming registration could require email when signing up. Surveys or questionnaires could be sent out, with permission. Registered attendees can opt-out of being contacted if they wish. The Sensory Storytime instructor could set up a web-page or email information to registered attendees before or after the program. Opening lines of communication or maintaining contact would be beneficial for the library and patrons. Focus groups and time consuming interviews wouldn’t be conducive for the patrons or library staff in this case. An impartial party could observe the program for additional analysis.

There are free survey forms online or the library can utilize easy to design webpage with fields for names, the child’s age, contact info, etc. Having them be anonymous is an option, for privacy’s sake. Having attendee’s information on file ahead of time would allow library staff to prepare for any additional accommodations that need to be made to the program. Parents can be the library’s biggest supporters. The notes at the bottom of one of their programming flyers state that “this program is inclusion-friendly. If your child needs any special accommodations, please let us know.” The librarian can plan accordingly.

Information can be saved for future reference such as what other services or resources would the parents or community member like to see from the library, what challenges they face when they visit the library, or if they are new, what factors into preventing them from regularly visiting. The library could receive tips on interacting with your child or obtain recommendations for their collections. asking caregivers to rate the program on that issue on a scale from one to five and having them write down their score or comments on paper provided at the end of the time would give incremental feedback. The form must be short since the children present may be kept waiting while the parents fill it out. A longer form or more thorough questions can be sent via email though. If sending them home with a form or link may be too much of a time commitment, the library could follow up afterward with an email containing a survey link post-program if further feedback is needed. Obtaining this insight will help the library recognize, understand and meet their community’s needs.

Another longer term goal would be to recruit more help through teen volunteers by encouraging Sensory Storytime attendee’s siblings or other relatives to come in as well. It gets them into the library and provides support, perhaps utilizing their experience with special needs children to expand their program and services.

OBPE can help the Ferguson Library more accurately gauge community interest, measure community support, and meet community needs in order to run a more successful program. When Sensory Storytime first started, it was entirely run on stipends and grant money. The second year, the program continued with additional grant money. The library would have an orientation session each month followed by four sensory storytimes held on four Saturdays in a row, which would continue until their budget ran out. It is set-up as a potential stop-and-go arrangement. It could be cancelled or put on hold for a month or longer until more funds arrive. It can both disappoint children and induce a lack of confidence from adults or others in the community due to inconsistency. The patrons cannot depend on the service and may forget about it, requiring the library to start all over in terms of advertising, attendance, and good will.

Grant money should be viewed as additional funds, or a subsidy. The outside funding via grant money is not included in the library’s regular budget. The Ferguson Library specifically relies on outside grants to support special library activities. The funds can be conditional It could affect their programming model and operation of an entirely grant funded Sensory Storytime program. The library staff could find funding outside of grants, within the community, by locating a sponsor or hold a fundraiser. Regular funds would allow a more consistent Sensory Storytime programming. The wording of the program description may play a role. Promotion and market research are two key factors in OBPE.

Sensory Storytime is described as a sensory-rich mix of songs, movement and a story…fun for all children… appropriate for preschoolers with autism, Asperger’s or sensory processing issues. The library can set themes for each session for example, like animals or Valentine’s Day. A name change can change the perception of the program and promote it as more inclusive to everyone with any and all abilities. The library could focus on the programming experience, and study how the children can develop their social skills, and participate.

Several aspects of Sensory Storytime became popular and adopted by other Ferguson youth services librarians for their regular storytimes such as the picture boards and bean bag games. While this can be seen as positive, it detracts from the uniqueness and specialness of Sensory Storytime which is already set up as inclusive for all children. I was provided with some teaching materials and old PowerPoints. There was no data available on programming attendees or RSVP numbers. The library didn’t have staff meeting notes or budget information beyond the grants received.


Dresang, E. T., Gross, M., & Holt, L. E. (2006). Dynamic Youth Services Through Outcome-based Planning and Evaluation. Chicago: American Library Association.

Klipper, Barbara. Formerly Ferguson Library barbaraklipper.librarian@gmail.com

Ward, Caroline. Youth Services Lead cward@fergusonlibrary.org

[1] Strategic Plan, Ferguson Public Library: http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/sites/default/files/Ferguson%20SP%20FINAL%20for%20web_1.pdf

[2][2] 2009 Budget Presentation: http://www.boardofreps.org/committees/fiscal/budget/2008-09/presentations/080331_pres_lib.pdf

[3] 2012 Annual Report: http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/news/annual%20reports/AnnualReport2012.pdf

[4] Okyle, Carly. School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/2014/05/diversity/program-diversity-do-libraries-serve-kids-with-disabilities/

[5] Strategic Plan: http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/news-events/long-range-plan

[6] About the Center: http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/kids/special-needs/about

Short Paper on OBPE

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Short Paper #2

Susan Lee

I find the indicator elements of OBPE among the most important. OBPE focuses on output measures, specifically how much a service or resource is used, instead of input measures, which was the library’s prior primary focal point, as well as measurable objectives. It is not a whole organizational plan and evaluation method but intended to be used in accordance with the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of the library organization and its strategic plan. It allows for the involvement of youth as a representative force, allowing them to express themselves and participate throughout the process as part of the program. It also helps educate library staff to “work smart,” assists them in enhancing youth services by opening up communication lines throughout the community, and attaining instant feedback on library programs and services. These were the basic OBPE concepts that I found were most important

OBPE is helpful in managing library services and programming but libraries and library staff can encounter obstacles when implementing it into their organization. The initial obstacles of introducing such a new program are the typical start-up costs, time, and training. These can be overcome with proper budgeting and time management after the initial costs, which tend to be the most impactful. Grants and donations can be solicited as well to help cover additional costs including stipends for staff who take on additional workloads and paperwork (hard copy or digital). Instead of creating a new position, OBPE-related duties can be distributed among current staff with the needed skills and knowledge, or given the proper training. Over time, OBPE can save a library organization time and funds in the long run. Having proven and established outcomes from library services can aid in funding and community support. The additional skillset will make employees more valuable to the organization and give them more relevant experience for the future.

Creating organization interest and sustaining interest within the library system can be a problem. The central point of OBPE is that it is ongoing. It doesn’t end after a few months or one year. It occurs throughout the life of a program and service, adapting as the library changes. The ‘old regime’ within the administration may not want to take on additional duties, or as they retire or turnover occurs, new staff members must take over. Identifying or selecting a library staff member or members that are committed and genuinely interested to both lead and participate can make the transition easier. Having a chain of command and written training guidelines or policies can lighten transition loads.

OBPE provides a more holistic model for planning and evaluating children’s services. Involving young people within the community to participate in a library’s OBPE of its youth service is an important aspect of the program and vital to its success. It is hard to identify their needs or obtain direct feedback without their involvement. There is a lack of prior research regarding youth services in this area. The focus was on academic or public libraries in general or adult services. Consulting with OBPE creators or libraries with more OBPE experience would ease concerns and answer any questions that staff may have.

Speaking with youth and figuring out how to communicate with them can be daunting. It is one obstacle. As Dresang pointed out, while many have no issue surveying adults regarding library services, some consider it “meddling” with children’s privacy. The attitudes of library staff towards the youth may be an obstacle. There can be a tendency to treat children as a lesser, or ‘other’ foreign element instead of respecting them in their own right. Young people know their needs and can communicate them better than a grown-up could for the most part. The children’s librarian, or staff members willing to take on the formation of a youth advisory board or council, would be ideal to lead the way. Improvements and potential for improvements can be identified and implemented much easier. The youth are a valuable data source.

Encouraging the youth’s involvement or soliciting their help can be as easy as approaching local schools or putting up a sign-up sheet in the library. Perhaps teachers can identify students that would be a good fit. The library staff can highlight benefits for participating including improving library services, improved literacy, volunteer hours, and learning leadership skills. These things could appeal to their parents or guardians when obtaining their permission for signing up. There could be rewards such as gift cards or a pizza party for participating. It can be a challenge to select children; staff must decide what traits, age, or other characteristics they are looking at when selecting participants.

Existing library policy or strategic plans can oppose an OBPE program. Often they focus on short term or immediate results rather than long lasting outcomes. Policies and plans must be rewritten and altered if youth service policies prohibit changes OBPE ends up recommending. It’s looking past seats filled, the number of reference questions answered, and circulation numbers. It can be a challenge to change the staff’s outlook to a more forward-thinking point-of-view, and drive change over time. OBPE’s focus on long-term outcomes versus formative and summative outcomes can be different. Feedback can be difficult to hear, especially if it is negative. OBPE allows for more open communication. Expected feedback should be both positive and negative. Nothing is perfect although library staff may be proud and work diligently; there is often room for improvement overall. Staff may not be receptive or open to criticism. It can be hard to hear in a professional or public service capacity.

Selected staff members can be assigned to filter feedback or comments regarding library services and programming and condense them into one report. That is not to say negative comments will be erased or purged but combined with positives, and suggestions for improvements can be added as a counterpoint. Perhaps an independent, impartial party or a library staff member who does not work with youth services can review the feedback first. Feedback can be used to determine future budgets and allocation of resources, which will make planning easier and improve services.

OBPE focuses on youth services and technology; IT staff is sometimes a separate department from library staff. They would be the most useful when fielding computer service or programming-related issues, and considering technical changes. They may not be inclined to step away from their regular duties, or comfortable enough to be included. Creating an open dialogue can be accomplished if the mutual benefits of OBPE are conveyed: creating more successful programming, the potential for additional funding, improving youth services, measuring current use, and encouraging more young people to use the public library.

Evaluating Library Service

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 Evidence A: Collection Management

Library 266

Collection Management

Evaluation & Professional Resource Collection

For a Law School Library

Section: Legal Career Guides


The University of San Diego is a prominent, private Catholic institution built on 180 acres of in the heart of Southern California, overlooking Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Its architecture is Spanish-renaissance inspired.

It was first built in 1949 with an adapted mission statement of advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service” added in 2004. In the fall of 2013, the university had 5,665 undergraduate students and 1,774 graduate and paralegal students, as well as 882 law students.

The University of San Diego School of Law prides itself on the “excellence of its faculty, curriculum and clinical programs.” They enroll approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from the United States and around the world each school year. The law school focuses on curriculum offerings in “the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law and taxation.” Their School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

The University of San Diego also offers an ABA-approved Paralegal Program, offering a quality education to people that want to find a job in the legal profession or pursue a career in law. The paralegal profession is growing at a rapid rate. According to the Bureau of Labor StatisticsOccupational Outlook Handbook, an 18% growth in the profession is projected between 2010 and 2020. After graduating the program, students are prepared to work with attorneys in the private or public sector, in law firms, banks, corporations and government agencies. One of their required courses is Legal Research where the bulk of coursework is done in the law library. Their website links to several resources for paralegals. They also offer employment assistance for on average 250 to 300 paralegal students who graduate from their program each year through resume workshops, resume mailings, and job listings.

Pardee Legal Research Center (LRC) serves both the USD School of Law and the Paralegal Program by offering another avenue for career guidance through library materials.

Per their library policy, the LRC “serves the law school, the university and the community as a legal research facility.” Their extensive collection includes reference materials, multi-volume sets, serials (including statutes and reporters), tax materials, periodicals, looseleafs, and microforms, most of which do not circulate. Its mission statement is to “support the curriculum and programs of the law school, support the university in the pursuit of its mission, promote the advancement of legal scholarship, and meet the legal information needs of the university community.” Its priority is to serve its law students and faculty first and foremost.

The law library collection policy identifies 4 collection levels: basic works and reference materials that introduce and defines the subject, instructional support for law school curriculum including sustained areas of independent study but not in-depth research, research level specifically major published source materials necessary for advanced scholarly research such as journals and journal databases, and supporting patrons by providing materials out of the scope of their collections via interlibrary loan services.

Their collection development policy describes their evaluation factors for prospective purchases such as potential for use, authoritativeness, format, and price. It also describes their format selection guidelines such as ease of use, instruction value, and trends in legal information publishing.

The types of materials includes primary sources, secondary sources, Restatements, finding aids and reference tools, legal periodicals, newspapers, practice materials, self-help law books, and student hornbooks and study aids. Other materials include casebooks, continuing legal education materials, directories, law faculty writings, and law school related documents. Legal career is one of their listed subject areas although they do not specifically offer instructional or research assistance. Paralegal Studies materials are supplemented by the USD Paralegal Program purchases.

An online catalog search for library materials about legal career guides or assistance generated 652 results for items in the library and 202 online resources.  There were 354 print books, 272 microform books, 187 E-books, 20 DVDs, 14 E-Journals, and several serials. The bulk of the results were in the English language, with 4 in French, 1 in German, 1 in Slovenian and 1 in Spanish.

One of the top results includes “The legal career guide: from law school lawyer” by Gary A. Munneke and Ellen Wayne, printed in 2008 by the American Bar Association. Another top result is “Managing your legal career: best practices for creating the career you want” by Richard L. Hermann, published in 2010 by the American Bar Association. Many of the titles seem to be published by the American Bar Association such as “Careers in International Law,” edited by Salli Anne Swartz (2012), “Landing a federal legal job: finding success in the U.S. government job market” by Richard L. Hermann (2011), and “Careers in administrative law & regulatory practice,” edited by James T. O’Reilly (2010) . There is also “Biglaw: how to survive the first two years of practice in a mega-firm, or, the art of doc review” by Sarah Powell, published by Carolina Academic Press in 2013. Kaplan Publishing, American Society of International Law, and Harcourt Legal & Professional Publications are other common publishers upon looking at titles.

If the patron expands their results to the San Diego Circuit, the results generate 475 results. If the patron expands their search to Worldcat, there are 34,840 results.


There is a lack of paralegal specific career guides in the library. Given that the USD Paralegal Program supplements the collection in that area, there is a surprising lack of titles. Under the subject term Legal Assistants –- Vocational Guidance – United States lists 5 items whereas Law – Vocational Guidance – United States lists 134 items. A general search of ‘legal career’ brings up 191 results;

The 5 items available for paralegals are “Fifty legal careers for non-lawyers” by Ursula Furi-Perry, published by the American Bar Association in 2008. Its contents describe positions available for those with paralegal training as well as general administrative or management positions in legal offices and for skilled non-lawyers. The second title is a practical handbook entitled “How to land your first paralegal job: an insider’s guide to the fastest-growing profession of the new millennium” by Andrea Wagner, published by Prentice Hall in 2001. The third title is “Paralegal Careers” by Angela Schneeman, published by West Legal Studies/Thomson Learning in 2000. It contains an introduction to the paralegal profession, education recommendations, and types of employers, salaries and benefits, along with other helpful career information. The cost of the book is $270. The fourth title is “Introduction to paralegalism: perspectives, problems, and skills” by William P. Statsky, published by West Publishing Company in 1997. The cost from the publisher without any discount is $232.95. The fifth title is “Life outside the law-firm: non-traditional careers for paralegals” by Karen Treffinger, published by Delmar Publishers in 1995. This title is no longer in print so no price could be located. Each of them is a print book and two of the titles are over 13 years old.

A more general search for paralegal-related titles generates results of 95 materials available in the library and 8 available online. The titles are on topics such as paralegal ethics, common practices, legal research, or paralegal education. Of the 95 titles, nearly half (45) are personal professor copies available only on course reserve. Graduates or non-student or non-faculty would not have access. None of the titles are practical guides or handbooks on career-related issues or resources such as interviewing, resume writing, or employer listings.

“The 2013 Legal Assistant’s Complete Desk Reference: A handbook for Paralegals and Assistants” by Ursula Furi-Perry, published by ABA Book Publishing would be a useful title for the LRC. It explores career opportunities for paralegals and day-to-day duties. The cost is $199.95. Cengage Learning owns DelMar Publishing. They offer a few legal career titles such as “Career Opportunities in Law and the Legal Industry” by Susan Echaore-McDavid, published in 2010 as an e-book. The cost is $54.45. The book contains a section on paralegals and legal assistants.

Professional Tools

The bulk of the top law library vendors are primarily research databases or online journal-based. Lexis Nexis, Access Law, American Law Media, Westlaw, and Translex are a few of the more popular resources. Other resources like Bloomberg BNA and Ashgate Law focus on academic textbooks and products for professionals that would be more ideal as research or reference works.

Many of the vendors focus on databases or journals so print or e-books on career guidance would not be something they would offer. One of the top publishers for printed materials is the American Bar Association. The ABA advertises directly to law libraries to strengthen their library collections with their annual print subscriptions, award-winning ABA magazines, journals, newsletters, books, and CLE products. They also offer discounts to libraries via its Law Library Collection.

The ABA has an extensive catalog of career path resources. Other possible resources are Aspen Law, which has a section on paralegal education. Most of the titles relate to performing paralegal job functions such as legal research, and assisting in fields such as litigation, contracts or real estate law. One of their published titles is “Internships through Employment: The Paralegal Job Hunter’s Handbook” which costs $65.95.

Thomson Legal & Regulatory, also known as Thomson Reuters, is owned by Westlaw. They are recognized as a leading provider of legal solutions to law schools. They offer Continuing Legal Education (CLE) materials for continuing education and professional career development. The materials are available online. They also offer legal academic resources for law students. Their catalog includes over 5,000 law books and CDs.

Summary & Recommendations

There are hundreds of titles regarding legal careers in the law library although many are general advice guidebooks and many others are bibliographic in nature, deeper looks at past judges such as Rufe McCombs or lawyers such as Johnnie L. Cochran. Books like “Guerilla tactics for getting the legal job of your dreams” by Kimm Alayne Walton, published by Harcourt Brace Legal and Professional Publications in 1995 are on par with the DVD title “The trials of law school: a journey in law, a journey in life,” produced by Porter Heath Morgan in 2006 and e-books such as “Full Disclosure: the new lawyer’s must-read career guide” by Christen Civiletto Carey in 2001. There are a handful of journals available such as “National Directory of legal employers” from the National Association for Law Placement.


There are few titles in the LRC collection related to the career of paralegals, and the ones that are in the collection are print books rather than more relevant e-books, journals or online-databases.


Although paralegal students are given access to the law library (with an extensive and updated collection of materials) just as law students, it seems the library collection policy or budget doesn’t include purchasing items solely for them. It is the Paralegal Program purchasing or providing materials, the bulk of which go on course reserves.

Although the Paralegal Program is small, with an average of three hundred students each school year, they should receive proper materials related to their field including career guidance. The LRC should work with the Paralegal Program faculty to put together a list of recommended and appropriate titles regarding career guidance to purchase for student use. Perhaps the LRC could obtain a discount from vendors for the Paralegal Program. A “wish list” is recommended since the average cost of legal titles may be prohibitive even with discounts from vendors or publishers and items could be purchased as budget allows, with priorities named as needed.

Resources Used:

USD Mission Statement http://www.sandiego.edu/about/mission-and-vision.php

About USD http://www.sandiego.edu/about/

About Copley Library http://www.sandiego.edu/library/about/

Collection Development Policy http://www.sandiego.edu/library/about/policies/coll_dev.php

School of Law http://www.sandiego.edu/law/school/about/index.php

USD Paralegal Program http://www.sandiego.edu/paralegal/

About USD Paralegal Program http://www.sandiego.edu/paralegal/about/gainful_employment_disclosure.php

LRC Circulation Policy http://www.sandiego.edu/law/library/policy-and-admin/library-policies/circulation.php

LRC Collection Policy http://www.sandiego.edu/law/library/policy-and-admin/library-policies/collection.php


LRC Mission Statement http://www.sandiego.edu/law/library/about/mission-statement.php

American Bar Association Publications http://www.americanbar.org/publications1.html

ABA Law Library Publications http://www.americanbar.org/publications1/discount_pricing_for_libraries.html

Law Library Vendors http://www.hg.org/publishers.html

Blinkx.com Review

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A Report on Blinkx.com: A video search engine

Susan Lee


Blinkx.com is the world’s largest search engine for multimedia (video and audio) content from a variety of websites including well-known ones like YouTube, Google TV, and CNN news, and smaller websites like Newslook and Go Viral. Blinkx.com crawls the web when you enter a search term, bringing back content that it thinks matches your search query. It utilizes well-researched technology and promotes itself as the go-to place for multimedia content but how effective is the website?


Based out of San Francisco and the UK, Blinkx.com is called “the world’s largest and most advanced video search engine” (Blinkx, 2011a). People can log onto the website and enter search words into the search box. The website will pull up relevant video from the Internet from categories that range from entertainment to cars to video games and technology. Founded in 2004 and launched in 2005 by Suranga Chandratillake,

Blinkx.com offers a wider reaching and more comprehensive alternative to sites like YouTube. The search engine features over 35 million hours of searchable video and audio from over 720 media outlets included network and cable broadcasting networks like CNN and PBS, and private video libraries. In 2005, the website launched Smartfeed, an RSS web feed for video content (Blinkx, 2011a). In 2006, Microsoft began to use Blinkx technology to power video searches on MSN, Google TV and live.com. Lycos, AOL, and Real Player are three other sites that use Blinkx as well. In 2007, they launched AdHoc, an advertising platform that allows advertisers to purchase space on their website to run ads alongside searchable content. In 2008, they launched Blinkx Remote with full-length TV shows. The next year, the website became one of Nielson’s top 10 video sites along with Yahoo, YouTube and Hulu (Blinkx, 2011b). This past summer, Blinkx partnered with Newslook, a video news service “that curates and contextualizes news videos… from prominent publishers such as the GlobalPost, Xinhua News Agency and UNTV (PR Newswire Inc., 2011c).

Blinkx.com is a pioneer of video searches online, utilizing technology developed at Cambridge University over a span of 12 years. Blinkx.com uses “a unique combination of patented conceptual search, speech recognition and video analysis software to efficiently, automatically and accurately find and qualify online video” (Blinkx, 2011a). Blinkx.com users can not only search for video content, they can also create playlists for themselves and their website or blog, or social network page. Users can perform contextual searches, basic or advanced keyword searches, full search index search, video or audio (full or preview clips) only, by category or channel, and use Boolean logic. Users can upload their own content as well (Blinkx, 2011b).

Blinkx.com is revolutionary in its search capacity by fully understanding its video content. They do this by listening to the audio via “speech-to-text technology” to index the content, looking at the images using advanced video analytics, and reading other information embedded in the video by using media-analysis plug-ins. They also automatically suggest related content or queries for further searching. Blinkx.com proclaims that their video content is more easily searchable “much deeper degree than the weak, manually-created, metadata-based approaches to video search of the past” (Blinkx, 2011a). They advertise themselves as “the world’s largest and most advanced video search engine, is your one-stop shop for video trailers, reviews, cast interviews, behind the scenes and extra footage from this summer’s biggest cinema stars” (PR Newswire Inc., 2011a).

The search process is fairly easy to use. There is an automatic safe search function to filter out adult, uncensored content. Users can turn it off after agreeing to a disclaimer though it isn’t recommended. There is a search bar on the main page, in the upper right corner. If you are looking for content, which you can sort by relevance or date, on a celebrity or TV show, that may be the easiest way although you can easily return too many hits that are not sorted in any particular order. A search on “The Big Bang Theory” returns 36,000 hits, with featured content of cast interviews from YouTube, Hulu, MSNBC and ForaTV rather than clips from the TV show itself.

The top link does not really have anything to do with the show; it is a tutorial on a video game with the show title in its misleading heading. Looking at the precision rate, 13 of the first 20 results are relevant, meaning it has a 65% rate. If you type in “Big Bang Theory TV Show,” you draw 224,000 hits; much of the results contain clips of the cast making public appearances or doing interviews again. If you browse by category – entertainment, you can browse content but there isn’t a real way to search for content. If you click on a video though, it brings up related videos on a topic or subject as well as popular videos.

A search on the American Library Association brings up 85,000 hits, none of them relevant and the top results are from 2007. Sorting by date brings up even more non-relevant results. Using advanced search brings up 332 results; the majority of them are more useful than earlier results. The recall rate is 85%. A general search on Reader’s Advisory brings back 90 videos; an advanced search brings back 32 videos. A larger portion of results, especially the first few pages, are more relevant than earlier searches. A search using “San Jose State University Library” brought back 3 results, one from Blip TV, one from YouTube, and the last one from Google TV. Two were more relevant in that they were directly related to the library sciences school; the 3rd is a presentation in the library facility from another school. An advanced search on the San Diego Public Library brings back 23 videos. Thirteen of the first 20 videos are relevant; the recall rate is 65%.

The more focused the search, the easier the user will be able to find what they want on this non-text search engine. If you use the advanced search features and Boolean logic, you will find better and more relevant results. It seems to have the same issues that YouTube and other websites with unfiltered and user-submitted content can have – unrelated and misleading content appear in the results. In fact, it doesn’t filter out YouTube’s faux results like it should. Most of the searches rely heavily on YouTube, bringing back the majority of the results from that website, which seemingly brings down the recall rates.

Stop words and stemming don’t seem to play a role in the search engine algorithms. Utilizing either manually garners the same results. Blinkx likes to push itself as a media phenomenon and the place to go for entertainment. A recent PR Newswire press release proclaims Blinkx as the place to go for Halloween costume tips, stating “whether you’re wondering how to apply your best “bewitching” makeup to put a spell on your costume competition or trying to prepare a ghostly gathering for your little ghouls and boys, blinkx has you covered” (PR Newswire Inc., 2011b). Yet more focused and non-pop culture geared searches generally have better recall rates than entertainment based ones.

Blinkx.com is a user-friendly website and very visual. Through partnerships with other media venues and companies, they have continually added a large variety of video content to their search engine outside of YouTube (though that site comes up more frequently). A ranking or rating system for video content could be employed to help weed out non-relevant results. The speech-to-text technology can be misleading. The words “American Library Association” can appear in a video but not necessarily in that exact order. A user can upload content with that title that doesn’t have anything to do with the American Library Association itself. The advanced search functions are pretty basic and doesn’t offer any tips for searching, or explanation of Boolean logic to boost search capabilities. While the site is useful, it isn’t perfect and has some flaws. It is more browser friendly than search query friendly if you are not looking for anything too specific.


Blinkx. (2011a). About Blinkx.com. Retrieved from http://www.blinkx.com/about

Blinkx. (2011b). News. Retrieved from http://www.blinkx.com/news

PR Newswire Inc.,. (2011a). No Tricks, Just Treats as blinkx Shows You “How To” This Halloween.

PR, Newswire Inc.,. (2011b). Your screening room for summer cinema blockbusters: Blinkx.

PR, Newswire inc., (2011c). Blinkx partners with newslook to offer professionally curated news content from around the globe.

Rubenking, N. (2005). Find info in a blinkx. PC Magazine, 24(2), 46


 Blinkx PowerPoint Presentation


ASSURE Lesson Plans

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ASSURE Model Instructional Plan


Lesson Title: Teaching young students to use the online databases at public library

Name: Susan Lee

Grade Level : Middle School/Junior High

Content Area:

Lesson Length: (45-50 minutes)

Analyze Learners

The classroom consists of 15 students, 8 females and 7 males. The students’ ages range from twelve to fourteen years old. These students are typically bright but from lower socio-economic background. The students have public library cards, are patrons, and have a general working knowledge of how to locate books in a library. But they don’t know what online resources are available or how to use them yet.

The majority have limited computer experience though they do know how to navigate the internet and create word processed documents from prior lessons. Many of their assignments this year require the students to use the library’s online databases to locate articles and book reviews.

Students often learn best by actively doing, participating and repeating tasks. The lesson is centered on group discussion, practice and group learning to enhance learning.


State Objectives
The Learning Objectives are as followed:

Students will learn how to access the online database available through the San Diego Public Library, obtain a working knowledge of what they will find in each database and learn how to search them i.e. locating articles using key search words, author, subject or etc.

Students will be divided into 5 groups with 3 in each group. Groups will be based on members’ level of knowledge and favorite subjects (i.e. English, History or Science) . Each group will be assigned one online database to learn about and then have to teach the rest of the class about that database.

A – Audience

B – Behavior

C – Condition

D – Degree

Middle to Junior High school students (audience) will be able to access and search at least 3 to 5 (degree) different online databases (behavior) available to them for free through the city public libraries when given a subject, topic or review assignment (condition).

Group 1:  Biography Resource Center; will be given a list of persons to search, some notable and some unfamiliar to most young students

Group 2: General One File; will locate 2 to 3 articles on a relevant subject pre-chosen by them.

Group 3: Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center; will find 2 to 3 relevant articles on a controversial issue or subjecting affecting youth today, using key words chosen by the students

Group 4: Literature Resource Center; will locate the biography of a pre-chosen author and 1-2 articles or reviews of one of his or her works.

Group 5: San Diego Union Tribune 1992-present; will locate an article about a notable area landmark in 1999, 2007, and the current year.

Each group will be given 15-20 minutes to familiarize themselves with their assigned database and complete their exercise. They will each show the class how to use the database and answer questions. Teacher will step in as needed.



Select Media, Materials, and Methods
1. Projector for opening PowerPoint presentation.

2. Classroom computers (5 available) for Internet research use.

3. Large paper, markers, colored pencils, etc. for group exercises.

4. Blackboard or dry erase board for students to use.

5. Photocopies of list of Children’s Databases available to San Diego Public Library patrons


6. Rewards for students.

Utilize Media, Materials, and.

Utilize Media, Materials, and Methods
1.         The projector is to be used for the opening PowerPoint presentation that introduces


Require Learner Participation

1.                                                                          Before the lesson begins, students will have to have filled out a survey to help teacher assess prior knowledge over computer use and online database usage. Survey will include questions that help determine if the student is a better at learning via visual or verbal or etc. learning styles and determine strengths/ weaknesses.


The students will have also had to pick a subject and list several ‘key search’ or words related to the topic.


Group #1 will


Group #2 will


Group #3 will


Group #4 will


Group #5 will



Evaluate & Revise
Evaluation methods for each of the following are included:

1.    Student Performance

2.    Media Effectiveness

3.    Instructor Performance

ASSURE Model Instructional Plan


Lesson Title: Teaching seniors to use the online databases

Name: Susan Lee

Grade Level (if appropriate) N/A

Lesson Length (Total Time): 40-45 minutes


Analyze Learners

1.    Number of Students – 12 (due to number of limited computers in the library)

2.    No. of Males/Females – 7 females, 5 males

3.    Age Range – 50 to 67 years old

4.    Mental, Social, Physical, Social Notes such as:

o      Disabilities – some hearing impaired or sight impaired due to age

o      Learning Differences – none noted

o      Cultural/Ethnic Notes – none noted

o      Etc.

5.    Current Knowledge, Prerequisites, and Notes about Learner Attitudes – some are new to internet use, may have memory impairment issues

6.    Learning Styles

(Estimate % of Students)

o      Visual – 15%

o      Auditory (Aural) 40%

o      Kinesthetic (Hands On) 45%

Other: Most are retired individuals with working class backgrounds and have families with younger children in them.


State Objectives

Senior patrons will learn how to access the online database, obtain a working knowledge of what they will find in each database and learn how to search them i.e. locating articles or needed information using key search words through direct hands-on of experience.

Senior patrons will learn why online databases are useful and how they could use them under different scenarios like locating an old news article in Proquest, locating a book review for a title they are interested in reading, Readers’ Advisory or assisting a child or grandchild in homework.

Senior patrons will use integrated learning practices in their lessons to help retain knowledge.

Even senior patrons with limited capabilities will be able to respond and participate in discussions and tasks. Teacher will also clearly show how the topics covered in the databases are relevant to their interests and day-to-day needs.

ABCDs of strong objectives are included:

A – Audience

B – Behavior

C – Condition

D – Degree

Senior patrons (audience) will be able to access and search at least 3 to 5 (degree) different online databases (behavior) available to them for free through the city public libraries when given a subject, topic or review assignment (condition)


Select Media, Materials, and Methods

12 library computers available for Internet research use (small class size is often more beneficial to most students)


Chalkboard or blackboard with chalk or erasable markers for lesson.


Photocopies of handout:




Microphone for teacher use during lesson if needed


Adaptive software and monitor equipment for seniors with vision impairment (monitors with anti-glare are helpful)


Teacher will guide the students to the SDPL website and show them how to access the databases from the links. Also how to access the databases at home or another location using their library card number.


Choose one database (Current Newspapers Collection) and show them how to do a basic search.


Teacher will point out common options such as customizing the search, saving, printing, etc.


Teacher will have student repeat the task independently at their own rate rather than focus on step by step instruction to give tasks more meaning.


Teacher will observe their work and step in as needed.


Review what they’ve done (Describe what they have just accomplished)


Repeat what they have done with a different database (Books in Print) to locate bibliographic information for titles.


Review what they’ve done to reiterate and give completed tasks meaning.


Repeat what they have done with a different database (Ancestry Library) for genealogical and historical research.


Review what they’ve done to reiterate and give completed tasks meaning.


Repeat what they have done with a different database (Fiction Connection) to find a book recommendation based on genre or other books they have liked.


Repeat what they have done with Health and Resource Center database as many often have health issues or questions.


Review what they have done. Or stop and answer any questions.


Repeat with Reference USA to locate a U.S business or health care business or WorldCat First Search to locate an item in an international library if there is enough time.


Briefly review the process they have learned and the results they have achieved so they feel rewarded and have accomplished something.


Utilize Media, Materials, and Methods

The chalkboard or blackboard will be used to introduce basic search concepts and clarify any questions during the lesson.

The computers with internet will be used to give senior patrons hands-on instruction and experience in using online databases.

The hands-on experience and repetition of exercises will help the students retain the information better.

Lesson plan is not terribly strict or formal to encourage interaction, a positive atmosphere and foster a more welcoming atmosphere. Teacher should be adaptable as needed to fit the students’ needs and allow them time to think and study what they are doing.

Emphasize how much they are learning i.e. using several databases to find information and be lifelong learners.


Require Learner Participation
1.                                                                          Senior patrons will fill out a survey at the beginning of class about their level of computer knowledge and use, and what they hope to get out of the session.

2.                                                                          Teacher will review the answers at the end of class to see if the session has met their needs, clarify any questions and reiterate that a librarian is always there to help them if they require further assistance.

3.                                                                          Senior patrons must be attentive to instruction and complete hands-on exercises in online database usage and keyword or subject searches.

Evaluate & Revise
Evaluation methods for each of the following are included:

1.    Student Performance

Teacher will gage effectiveness by monitoring the patrons’ work, how well they navigate the databases, and how well they can answer questions about the database.

2.    Media Effectiveness

Teacher will gage how the students respond to the presentation, and adjust accordingly for the future.

3.    Instructor Performance

Teacher will gage their performance according to how well the projected learning outcome was achieved, student responsiveness and student feedback in the form of a post lesson survey.

ASSURE Model Instructional Plan


Lesson Title: Teaching young ESL patrons to use the online databases

Name: Susan Lee

Grade Level (if appropriate) N/A

Lesson Length (Total Time): 40-45 minutes


Analyze Learners

1.    Number of Students – 10 (due to number of limited computers in the library)

2.    No. of Males/Females – 4 females, 6 males

3.    Age Range – 11-15 years old

4.    Mental, Social, Physical, Social Notes such as:

o      Disabilities – none noted

o      Learning Differences – due to language barriers

o      Cultural/Ethnic Notes – none noted

o      Etc.

5.    Current Knowledge, Prerequisites, and Notes about Learner Attitudes – some are new to internet use and don’t have full working grasp of English language

6.    Learning Styles

(Estimate % of Students)

o      Visual – 30%

o      Auditory (Aural) 15%

o      Kinesthetic (Hands On) 55%

Other: Young students; bright but often from immigrant families or second generation families where English usage in home is limited.


State Objectives

The patrons will learn how to access the online database, obtain a working knowledge of what they will find in each database and learn how to search them i.e. locating articles or needed information using key search words through direct hands-on of experience.

The students will have to do word association and learn key search terms as well as Boolean logic to get the most out of their searches.

The students will learn how to recognize a scholarly article. They will also gain a working knowledge of how to find reliable and trustworthy online articles for research purposes.

A – Audience

B – Behavior

C – Condition

D – Degree

Middle to Junior High school students (audience) will be able to access and search at least 3 to 5 (degree) different online databases (behavior) available to them for free through the city public libraries when given a subject, topic or review assignment (condition).

The focus will be in:

Biography Resource Center

General One File

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

Literary Resource Center

New York Times 1992-present

The patrons (audience) will be able to access and search at least 3 to 5 (degree) different online databases (behavior) available to them for free through the city public libraries when given a subject, topic or review assignment (condition)


Select Media, Materials, and Methods
1. Projector for opening PowerPoint presentation and projecting teacher’s computer screen.

2. Classroom computers (10 available) for Internet research use.

3. Aid of translator or 2-3 library volunteers who speak Spanish or dominant language to translate or assist students.

4. Large paper, markers, colored pencils, etc. for group exercises.

5. Blackboard or dry erase board for students to use.

6. Photocopies of list of Children’s Databases available to San Diego Public Library patrons


7. Exercise handouts for database searches with translations as needed.

8. Rewards for students.


Utilize Media, Materials, and Methods

The projector is to be used for the opening PowerPoint presentation that introduces the students to the resources available at the library.

The teacher points out how to access the databases from the main library website. Also how to access the databases at home or another location using their library card number and use the basic functions or attributes like the keyword boxes, the search button, how to sort and save search results, other basic features and other options in advance search.

Teacher will use projector to walk the students through the process with translators assisting as needed.

The computers with internet will be used to give patrons hands-on instruction and experience in using online databases.

The hands-on experience and repetition of exercises will help the students retain the information better.

Lesson plan is not terribly strict or formal to encourage interaction, a positive atmosphere and foster a more welcoming atmosphere. Teacher should be adaptable as needed to fit the students’ needs and allow them time to think and study what they are doing.

Emphasize how much they are learning i.e. using several databases to find information and be lifelong learners.


Require Learner Participation

The patrons will fill out a survey at the beginning of class about their level of computer knowledge and use, and what they hope to get out of the session.


Teacher will review the answers at the end of class to see if the session has met their needs, clarify any questions and reiterate that a librarian is always there to help them if they require further assistance.


The patrons must be attentive to instruction and complete hands-on exercises in online database usage and keyword or subject searches.

Evaluate & Revise
Evaluation methods for each of the following are included:

1.    Student Performance

Teacher will gage effectiveness by monitoring the patrons’ work, how well they navigate the databases, and how well they can answer questions about the database.

2.    Media Effectiveness

Teacher will gage how the students respond to the presentation, and adjust accordingly for the future.

3.    Instructor Performance

Teacher will gage their performance according to how well the projected learning outcome was achieved, student responsiveness and student feedback in the form of a post lesson survey.

Information-Seeking Behavior of Youths

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Evidence A: Information Seeking Behaviors of Youth

The Information Seeking Behavior of Youths

  1. Abstract

This paper will examine the history of research regarding the information-seeking behavior of children by examining past and current studies, information-seeking systems that have been aimed at children including their function and design, and evaluate the information retrieval systems that are available for children. The purpose of this paper is to help create an effective information retrieval system that is built to cater to the cognitive and developmental needs of children.

Keywords: information seeking behavior, information retrieval system, library, student, children, online databases

  1. Introduction

Typically information seeking systems, or more accurately information retrieval systems, is designed to help humans navigate large amounts of information in order to locate the single piece of information that is actually needed. It is through these systems that we “travel a narrow road towards our goals…with a sea of selective information… on one side and a spiraling abyss of confusion and information overload on the other” (Marchionini 1995, p2). The objective of the information retrieval systems is to “enable users to find relevant information from a stored and organized collection of documents” (Chowdhury 2010, p2).

Obtaining and using information are important skills in an increasingly information society. Information is described by Marchionini as “anything that can change a person’s knowledge” (1995, p3). In the hands of the right person, or user, it can change their entire existence. Thus, encouraging and making learning easier are important issues. A vital part of this is starting informational literacy early on. Public libraries are an important part of building informational literacy while knowledge workers build the information retrieval systems.

But information retrieval systems involve “time and effort to build, maintain and use” (Marchionini 1995, p2). The systems are typically designed with the user in mind since they are driving the entire information seeking process; it is the user who has the informational need. It is the user who “is the focal point of all information storage and retrieval systems because the sole objective… is to transfer information from the source to the user” (Chowdhury 2010, p225). The needs and characteristics of the user drive the type of information collected by the system, the nature and level of analysis made regarding stored information, and design of the user interface.

Actions taken by the user include “problem recognition and acceptance; problem definition and clarification; source selection; query articulation; query execution; result examination; information extraction; and reflection, iteration, and termination” (Marchionini 1995, p10). These processes can fluctuate depending on the user; factors include gender, age, race, and social status e.g. “abilities, experiences, and resources” – otherwise known as the personal information infrastructure (Marchionini 1995, p11). These processes are funneled into the information retrieval system through an interface through a query (Chowdhury 2010, p5). For an information retrieval system to be considered successful, the user is a key element. It is no wonder that the most effective information retrieval systems are the ones with interfaces designed with a specific user in mind.

Seeking information is “fundamentally an interactive process” (Marchionini 1995, p17). It makes sense that the user needs to be engaged and catered to so as to encourage a positive outcome. It is “naïve to believe that any single interface can serve the needs of all users for all tasks” (Marchionini 1995, p21). The user of the information retrieval system “defines the task, controls the interaction with the search system, examines and extracts relevant information, assess the progress” and decides when their need is met (Marchionini 1995, p33). Yet categorizing users is by no means an easy task.

Information-seeking behavior research has widely been focused in the library and information science field, moving from system-oriented perspective to user-centered perspective (Dresang & Koh 2009). It is widely considered that “information needs of children and young people are poorly covered in the literature of library and information science” in the past 20 or so years (Shenton 2004), which led to a lack of “effective tailoring of the content provision of information services and systems to meet young people’s requirements” (Shenton 2007). Many researchers, including Shenton, did not distinguish between the “information needs developmentally …or the qualitative differences” between children still developing, preteens and teens (Meyers et al 2009).

So where do you start and how do you create an effective information retrieval system when the user in general are the youth? Information retrieval is “a communication process” (Chowdhury 2010, p6) so it is essential there is an understanding of how young adults use information systems, particularly in an electronic environment. The Internet is a popular source for the youth and where they are most likely to go to find information.

  1. What it is or is about

Computer literacy and information literacy for children became a concern to both schools and libraries between the 1980s and 1990s when electronic information sources became available. Yet it was unclear how to effectively teach these new literacies. Among the schools of thought that followed were Mancall and Desking who created instructional guidelines to teach students how to use online databases for information retrieval (Cool 2004, p3). Aversa favored the methods distinguishing “system independent skills,” directly relating to the information retrieval process, from “system dependent skills” which directly related to the performing effective searches in the information retrieval systems (Cool 2004, p3). Montgomery compared teaching information literacy to teaching reading, emphasizing the need to teach “the mechanics of how to work the system…the development of cognitive processes of categorization, concept formation, and symbol manipulation” (Cool 2004, p4). Among these different ideas and methods of teaching information literacy, there was a consensus that new technologies could greatly improve the information literacy of youth.

In her article “Information-Seeking Behavior of Children Using Electronic Information Services during the Early Years: 1980 – 1990,” Colleen Cool points out that studies done up to that point “were not designed to test ideas about children’s information-seeking behavior” but a description of how to use the new systems in schools (2004, p5). Early research and studies focused on children’s use of electronic information systems – primarily the effectiveness of online retrieval versus manual retrieval, the types of materials retrieved, and the relevance of those materials. Data was collected on the techniques and methods that students utilized in their keyword or touch screen searches to locate the items they needed, focusing on their developmental ability and skill (2004, p11). Research found that online catalogs with too many steps and too much text were frustrating for students; often they would give up before locating the piece of information they were supposed to locate.

Other flaws Cool pointed out included the lack of examination of how students conducted their searches or how they made decisions in conducting their searches, and too narrow definitions and measurements of success – students were supposed to find one single piece of information again. There was little to no concern with their performance overall or their actual ability.

Later focus shifted to mental models, information strategies that consisted of bodies of research studying the behavior of children as they use the information retrieval systems. User-oriented studies concerned the children’s thought-processes when conducting information retrieval system searches, their mental strategies, and the search techniques that they use in order to create better information retrieval systems. Spavold’s 1990 observational study on children’s use of online databases in the UK showed that children worked best when they were “information providers, contributing to the database, as well as information searchers” (Cool 2004, p18). Meaning, children have a better understanding of the system when they help in its creation. They will understand how it works and create better search queries. Spavold noted that children with no exposure to the information retrieval system generally regard the process as “magic” and have trouble forming search queries (Cool 2004, p18).

Spavold discusses “mental map” model formed and preferred by children in their use of databases, over abstract or theoretical models they were given. Children are unable to think conceptually or in the nonfigurative. Spavold goes into depth about recreating and reflecting the mental processes they are able to replicate into the databases, so they have a “relevant cognitive framework” already in place (Cool 2004, p20). System designers must remember that children have different mental processes than adults and “be sensitive to children’s particular information abilities and needs” (Cool 2004, p28). It is worth noting that Spavold’s view of mental models differs than that of Marchionini and others in that it focuses on the experience of information searches in electronic databases rather than the information retrieval system in general. Carter’s 1989 two-year study showed that children could be taught Boolean logic and search strategies if given solid instruction.

Marchionini’s research towards the end of the 1980s looked at cognitive approaches children used in regards to information retrieval systems. Knowing their typical mental model and behavior would help information retrieval system designers in creating systems that fit their developmental abilities (reading skills, vocabulary knowledge, and translating topics into keywords). His study found that too complicated menus made the children confused and lose their place in the search query. In 1988, Marchionini and Liebscher compared the analytical, Boolean search strategy with the ‘browsing’ search strategy using two different groups of high school students. Both groups performed well although the Boolean search group had higher precision in performance. In a 1989 study, Marchionini found that all of the high school aged children in the study used natural language in their search queries. In a 1991 study, Marchionini found that junior high school aged children did better with menu-driven systems than command driven systems. His work suggested that children have a propensity for a “kind of exploratory and self-directed learning” and could be taught with effective training (Neuman 2004, p69). Ultimately, what these researchers found was that the “mental model” or “preexisting mental framework” will shape the user’s interaction with the information retrieval system.

Methodological approaches, the importance of indexing, and the study of the interaction between children and the computer were the most important ideas that came out of the 1980s – 1990s research. Spavold and others also reiterated the need to help young people develop confidence in their own abilities as they learn to navigate the information system, and cautioned against making the information systems too simple and easy (Cool 2004, p29).

The emergence of the electronic information resource (EIR) marked a shift from a focus on simply accessing information to learning from it. The emerging field of information literacy helped create a broader and better framework for learning in electronic environments and the issues involved. Young learners should be not only taught how to access information but shown a “broader range of information” and opportunity (Neuman 2004, p66). Mancall stressed “the importance of teaching logic and critical thinking skills” to students so they could master the research process on their own (Neuman 2004, p66). This technological skillset and experience (“abilities to access, evaluate, and use information to build knowledge, to think critically, and to solve problems”) are valuable in the real world. Entertaining and educational information retrieval systems are more appealing and useful to children if they “meet their cognitive and affective requirements.” Children can easily fall anxious and overwhelmed by information when using information-retrieval systems (Large et al 2008). The keys to use are simplicity and clarity often times.

So how do you create an effective information retrieval system aimed at youths?

  1. Brief history


  1. Major approaches or perspectives

The Constructivist Theory states that “knowledge is transformed by the learner” or more simply put “the individual seeks meaning from the information s/he encounters in order to construct his or her own knowledge” (Large et al 2008). Children make sense of the world around them by creating meaning from learned information and integrate it into their experiences. The Internet has increasingly become a more important source of information for children.

The K-W-L method used by teachers has been adapted by reference librarians to the information needs and information-seeking strategies of children, particularly since children not only need answers to their questions but also explicit bibliographic instruction (Pattee 2008). Working off the knowledge that children understand information and information needs differently, information workers must recognize that children often have difficulty expressing their needs. Hence, the K-W-L or “What do I know” about a topic, What do I want to know, and following their research, What I learned (Pattee 2008).

  1. Current developments

Early digital information systems were created using CD-ROM technology, which had many of the advantages of children’s books using visual interfaces and graphics. But by the late 1990s, the Web became the primary source for delivering information. Web search engines aimed at children in existence include Yahooligans!, Ask for Kids, Lycos Zone, and Kidsclick (Large et al 2008). But content from these search engines are limited to sites with pre-selected and age-appropriate material. The trend on these sites is to categorize and index content loosely (Large et al 2008). Yet studies have shown that children were disinclined to use them over adult-geared search engines such as Google or Yahoo, citing excessive “(over)use of color, distracting animation, and child-friendly but meaningless names.” And neither were these kid-friendly search engines much easier for children to use, or more likely to bring up relevant results. (Large et al 2008).

In “Children’s use of Yahooligans! Web search engine. III. Cognitive and physical behaviors of fully generated search tasks,” Bilal found that children preferred self-generated search queries or questions rather than fully assigned ones (2002). Children were more excited, in control, and enthused when they were able to choose their own research topic. They also tended to be more successful when they browsed rather than searched by keyword. However, that may be due to the poor design of the search engines than a reflection on the children’s behaviors themselves (Bilal 2002). Bilal also found that children tended to search for “specific answers to the task [assigned] rather than develop [an] understanding of the information found” (Bilal 2002).

One of the most current trends in the research of the information-seeking behavior of youths is to make the body of knowledge we have from adult information-seeking behavior relevant to children, preteens and teens.

In “Making Sense of an Information World: The Everyday Life Information Behavior of Preteens,” Meyers, Fisher, and Marcoux looks at “Tweens” – children between the ages of 9 to 13, ages distinct from children and young adults. Using Devin’s sense-making, Fisher’s information grounds, and Chatman’s normative behavior as frameworks for their study, they collected data on tweens information seeking behaviors through focus groups and interviews. The study was intended to help understand their information seeking habits and encourage their informational literacy (Meyers et al 2009). As stated in the article, “everyday-life information-seeking” is an area too little studied and possibly the most important.

Project CATE (Children’s Access to and Use of Technology Evaluation) looked at pre-teen (age 9 to 13) behaviors in an information service environment. The study found that the information-seeking behavior and information use of children was “decidedly social,” preferring to work in groups and marked their preference for “face-to-face information sharing venues” (Meyers et al 2009). Children liked to seek information from those most accessible, their peers or an adult expert such as a teacher. Teens tend to be “highly skeptical of libraries and books as sources of everyday information” (Meyers et al 2009), which is surprising considering the general public library emphasis on teen services. Further investigation into tween’s everyday information-seeking behavior was undertaken in a study entitled Talking With You: Exploring Interpersonal Information-Seeking, funded by the National Science Foundation (Meyers et al 2009). The study expected that tweens, assumed to be society’s most tech-savvy age group, would use “media-rich interpersonal information-seeking behavior” (Meyers et al, 2009), utilizing new technologies like e-mail, IM, web pages, message forums, Wikis, and blogs as well as old avenues like telephone, books, and teachers. Yet this was not necessarily true. Distrust and restrictions placed by adults garnered unease and a fear of seeking help from the tweens as they matured (Meyers et al 2009).

Shenton discusses young people’s information seeking behavior in relation to research from the last 35 years in his article “The Paradoxical World of Young People’s Information Behavior” (Shenton 2007). His research addressed the increasing popularity of the Internet for youth’s school and entertainment needs. One of the paradoxes that he points out in regards to modern information retrieval is that they “often demand that [users] demonstrate knowledge on the very matter of which they are ignorant” (Shenton 2007). Shenton’s study showed that children struggled with learning and using keywords or index topics, especially if teachers used natural language in everyday classes. The “limitations in the vocabularies of small children” are a very real problem, although the same problem can be encountered in those of any age. In Shenton and Dixon’s 2003 study, the youths in question were experienced with the Internet and web searches, yet they were often disillusioned with the results. The results would either be not being able to find the answer, an answer of “poor quality,” or that the child would be distracted while surfing the Internet. The finding was that “young people are often critical of particular information resources, yet continue to use them habitually” (Shenton 2007). In short, they would rather use the Internet, which is easy to access, than search for a print or other more authoritative source. Shenton and Dixon also found that youth were “source dependent.” Youth thinking tended to be linear – if they decided they had an informational need, they would go to a source they already knew. If the answer was not there, they did not tend to seek out a different source or find out about it in any other way (Shenton 2007).

Chung and Neuman’s 2007 study concluded that teenagers believed that “the process of information retrieval was a simple type-and-click operation” thanks in large part to Google (Shenton 2007). They lacked the ability to discern reliable sources from unreliable sources, and did not click past the first search result from a query for the most part. Burke’s work in the 1970s revealed that “content was being sacrificed for stimulus. Too much importance was placed on immediacy by students and teachers alike; students were not pushed to understand or reason. This is true still today when compared to Chung and Neuman’s study, and other current studies.

Researchers have been hard pressed to find patterns in young people’s information needs or behaviors so developing models of stages and sequences are hard to do without resulting in superficial constructs. Many young people prefer quick and easy short cuts to find information so flexible systems, strategies, or designs are often best (Shenton 2007).

The Radical Change Theory originally developed in the 1990s regarding children’s literature becoming more visual and graphic is now used to apply to youth’s information behavior based on “digital age principles of interactivity, connectivity, and access” and their new expectations regarding resources (Dresang & Koh 2009). The approach obtains evidence systematically to explain positive impacts of the digital age environment by identifying the characteristics and behaviors that modern children exhibit. The study looked at cognitive, non cognitive, and socio cultural factors, and identified three types of youth information behavior:

Type One: Changing Forms of Seeking Information and Learning (the cognitive aspect of information seeking), Type Two: Changing Perspectives (identity and value negotiation), and Type Three: Changing Boundaries (information access and seeking community) — Dresong et Koh 2009.

These types of behavior are not mutually exclusive and can help one understand how the digital age impacts youth’s behavior in general, not just their information-seeking behavior. Digital age youth are “creator(s) of information in a larger social context” (Dresang & Koh 2009). They express their opinions online via social media and message boards and shape their identity simultaneously. They create more sophisticated information forms via web pages, digital photos and videos, and presentations. There is more openness, flexibility, and diversity in online resources. Children are not limited to a card catalog or hardcover books. They can collaborate online for information seeking and information sharing, as well as for fun (Dresang & Koh 2009).

Large, Nesset, and Behesti’s article “Children as information seekers: what researchers tell us” examines the problems that can confront children as they search for information, evaluate information, and use the information for their information needs. They argued that both Piaget’s theory and the Information-Processing theory affect all study of information-seeking behavior of children. Piaget argued that children were unable to perform abstract and hypothetical thought, and could only master certain concepts at specific development stages. Yet later research showed that children could be taught certain concepts at younger ages if given proper instruction, emphasizing the need to adapt to a child’s age and developmental level when teaching or designing an information-retrieval system for them.

Information seeking for children is “by no means a simple and straightforward task” as researchers have found (Large et al 2008).Researchers noted that students encountered several common problems as they use information retrieval systems to conduct searches including the strict typing, spelling and vocabulary requirements for keyword searches and their lack of understanding subject headings in an OPAC system (Large et al 2008). Using synonyms to generate keywords is hard for children to do. Homonyms also pose a similar issue. Spell-checkers are more effective for adults than children as children can misspell words unpredictably, testing the spell checker program and producing questionable results. Children also either tended to give up after the first try or retype in the same search query, but expecting different results (Large et al 2008).

Browsing is often their preferred method of searching due to their undeveloped reading skills. Children tend to select reading material by looking at the cover of the book or item rather than the inside cover or back page, or inside the book. They would then locate the information they needed using sequential or selective access. Relevancy is judged based on the title or browsing the contents. Articles are usually short and arranged alphabetically to be easier to find (Large et al 2008).

  1. Emerging trends (if apply)
  1. Conclusion

While modern children tend to be experienced computer users, it doesn’t always mean that they’re efficient or effective information-seekers since information retrieval “calls more heavily upon linguistic and categorization skills than technological skills” (Large et al 2008). Children can encounter the same issues that adults do in information-seeking, only their problems are magnified though little research compares the information-seeking behaviors of children with adults (Large et al 2008).

Creating simpler information retrieval systems seems like an obvious choice but it is not an easy task. Teaching children to use Boolean logic, using as many synonyms as possible when entering keywords, and using natural language instead of subject headings or in addition to them would be a good start. Also, if children prefer working in groups for the social experience, allow them to search online together or connect to the system at the same time virtually. This may make the experience more fulfilling for them and make them less likely to give up after the first or second try if they do not receive the results they want. Teaching them to re-evaluate their search query is a good method. So would making the information retrieval system visually appealing, with attractive font size, illustrations, and vocabulary that would encourage the children to browse the system and search past the first page of results from a search query. Retrieval systems need to continue to adapt and adapt, depending on their target audience and user-base. Never assume the child doesn’t know anything or can’t learn.

  1. References

Dresang, E. T. (1999). More Research Needed: Informal Information-Seeking Behavior of Youth on the Internet. Journal Of The American Society For Information Science, 50(12), 1123-1124.

Dresang, E. T., & Koh, K. (2009). Radical Change Theory, Youth Information Behavior, and School Libraries. Library Trends, 58(1), 26-50.

Large, A., Nesset, V., & Beheshti, J. (2008). Children as information seekers: what researchers tell us. New Review Of Children’s Literature & Librarianship, 14(2), 121-140.

Meyers, E. , Fisher, K. , & Marcoux, E. (2009). Making sense of an information world: The everyday-life information behavior of preteens. Library Quarterly, 79(3), 301

Pattee, A. (2008). What do you know?. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 6(1), 30.

Shenton, A. & Dixon, P. (2004). The nature of information needs and strategies for their

investigation in youngsters, Library & Information Science Research, 26(3). Pp 296-310

Shenton, A. (2007). The paradoxical world of young people’s information behavior. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), 1.

Shenton, A. , & Hay-Gibson, N. (2011). Modelling the information-seeking behaviour of children and young people inspiration from beyond LIS. Aslib Proceedings, 63(1), 57.

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