Tag Archives: information needs

Situational Information Behaviour Exploring the Complexity of Refugee Integration

Article Authored By: Olubukola Oduntan & Ian Ruthven

Reviewed by: Latinx Group: Nancy Analco, Essy Barroso-Ramirez, Christopher Lopez, Carlos Luna , and Miguel Murillo

Link to article: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/ijidi/article/view/34033

Using Dervin’s sense-making theory, the authors explore the micro and macro challenges facing refugee integration within the framework of forced migration by analyzing findings from their research. This approach focuses on situations that abridge individual and contextual information needs, in order to identify systems host societies can implement in order to integrate refugees. Using situations as an approach can help interpret social complexity and capture intricate and complex details of social life by questioning events in terms of what happened first, second, and so on. Data was mainly gathered through a series of interviews using the sense-making situation-gap approach. Further, the information collected depicts the complexity of refugee integration as refugee’s experiences are not akin. Through their research, the authors were able to demonstrate that time and place are vital for situational investigation which focuses on a complex context such as forced migration.

Core Research Questions

What are the information challenges refugees encounter?

What are refugee information needs during refugee integration?

Do host societies successfully meet those information needs? If not, where are those information gaps/barriers? What causes them?

How does/Does the situation concept relate to information behavior in regard to individual and contextual needs within refugee integration?

In terms of approach to the research project, Oduntan & Ruthven’s employ Brenda Dervin’s situational sense-making methodology. As a theoretical concept “situation(al)” refers to a framework that considers how social factors of a particular context interact with each other and influence human behavior. In this case, the authors are concerned with the sense-making praxis of their research participants in order to appreciate how each participant’s past and future goals inform the way they navigate their situation.

Since their aim is to understand the information gaps and needs within the refugee integration dynamic, they require a framework that can appreciate the individual needs of each status of refugee and the universal challenges within or presented by host society institutions. In their words, “the situational approach to information behaviour enables dynamic interactions in context to be captured such that individual and contextual characteristics can be combined to determine information needs” (p., 7).

To collect this data, Oduntan & Ruthven utilize the qualitative research method of in-depth, semi structured interviews. They interviewed 20 individuals of different origins and stages of the refugee integration system. Of their population sample they interviewed 11 females, 9 males, including 2 participants under the age of 18 as well as individuals from families.

Findings and conclusions
The findings of the study indicate that in information behavior, information gaps are conditioned by micro and macro level situations. Individual situations and gaps of refugee seekers are embedded in an overarching macro level situation.

Ideal situations for refugees and asylum seekers as they have varying but unrestricted access to provisions to meet integration needs. Asylum seekers are provided with basic needs as they await decisions on their asylum applications. However, despite the ideal nature of the situation there were still individual and contextual information gaps such as misconceptions of specific provisions refugees were entitled to or inconsistencies in services provided due to lack of information.

Unideal situations refer to refused asylum seekers which are the category with restricted access to provisions to meet integration needs. Although basic needs can be provided they are heavily impacted by restrictions and limits. Information gaps at the macro and micro levels put asylum seekers at a disadvantage in terms of provisions and information.
Situational information behavior is the combined individual experiences and contextual conditions which in turn give us informational needs. In the case of forced migration, time and place are fundamental for situational investigation as this situational approach can provide better understanding of information needs.This means that a refugee can have their needs met and institutions can better design their responses to help refugees integrate.

Application in U.S. Context
Information is not only essential but a means of survival in many circumstances. The American Library Association (2006) has access to informational resources as one of its core values of librarianship. However, American libraries must stay vigilant and continuously review their policies, approaches, and technologies to ensure they can provide the services to keep up with developing technology, change the ways information gets generated and accessed, and provide services to meet the needs of diverse populations.

The study’s findings underscore the importance of creating practices that deliver information regardless of individual and contextual factors. Information will no longer create privilege; instead, it will create equal access to integration provisions to forcibly displaced people, refuge-seekers, and refugees. One key factor that American libraries can learn from the study is that access to information is not equal, so it is up to libraries and Library and Information Science professionals to bridge the gaps. Some of the methods that can help bridge the gaps are by frequently seeking ways to address the needs of the community, such as creating informational documents, videos, and webpages in different languages, working with an organization to help specific communities, creating programs services to help track the users and the services used.

Another point of connection is how American libraries play a role in the process of meeting the needs of refugee patrons, especially those in the thick of refugee integration. There is undoubtedly a strong emphasis on local living in our cities, some of it healthy and some of jingoistic. In this local-political introspection, libraries cannot forget that their patron consists of types of people, including those without the securities of citizenship or volitional immigration. Whether it is serving as a conduit of information about and access to important host society institutions or providing the training and information itself, libraries need to do the work of community mapping to make sure their efforts to take care of their city inhabitants truly takes care of all inhabitants.

Investigating and Proffering Solutions to the Information Seeking Behaviour of Immigrants in the United Kingdom

Reviewed By: Sabah Abdulla, Devon Cahill, Catherine Mulligan, Vernon Stephens and Karla Quintero

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2336/

Adekanmbi’s article examines the information seeking behavior of immigrants in the UK with its main focus on asylum seekers. The author’s method of research is a systematic literature review of existing data collected by several researchers who had different findings. The objectives of the study are to: focus on immigrants’ sources of information, analyse their information needs and requirements, investigate the barriers to obtaining information, and investigate the information seeking behavior and determine what can be done to improve access. By the end of the study, the author answers the set research questions and is able to identify the sources and information needs of immigrants to the UK. The author then advises information professionals to adapt to their recommendations to better assist new immigrants with accessing information. This article represents an international perspective in that it helps researchers/information professionals look through a more comprehensive lens and better understand the various immigrant cultures in their communities.

Core research question(s).
New immigrants face many challenges, however, one critical problem is access to information. In response to this, Adekanmbi poses several research questions concerning access for immigrants to free information: Why do they seek access to information? How are they accessing information? And what can be done to improve access for new immigrants? What are their informational needs, for example, for finding housing and employment?
Entering a new country and trying to communicate one’s needs to someone who does not speak the same language creates anxiety. The author’s research shows that new immigrants overcome this obstacle by communicating through their social networks and through friends rather than seeking out city agencies. This is primarily because of the language barrier. Through social networks, they find out where to access trustworthy information to accomplish their goals of attaining goods and services.
What can cities do to improve how they provide new immigrants with access to free and fair information? According to the research, city agencies should keep lines of communication simple. For the author, libraries play an essential role for new people arriving in a new country because information professionals strive to offer free and fair access respectfully.

Adekanmbi’s research questions, analysis, and conclusion are derived from an aggregate of existing research via an extended literature review on the topic rather than original research. The cited resources are selected for their relevance to the three core focuses of the research questions: information needs, information sources, and information barriers of recent immigrants. In the article, both data and anecdotal information are used as the foundation for the thesis and conclusion.

The author describes their approach as “taxonomic description,” which allows for a multi-level categorization of pertinent information beginning with high level concepts (themes) and narrowing down to related sub-concepts. The author chooses this method so that the reader can follow their argument efficiently. Although the author’s focus is immigrant information seekers in the UK, they rely on mostly international findings to formulate their study because little research has been done in the UK.

Interestingly, the author notes that a limitation in this study is the trustworthiness of the methodology of the resources used. It seems obvious, therefore, that a UK specific study is still desperately needed to determine the information seeking behaviors of immigrants there. However, the information collected and analyzed here is a good starting point for such a project.

Findings and conclusions
Information Needs: For Adekanmbi, the recurring informational needs of immigrants in the UK corresponds to health, education, employment, legal/political, and housing. The author divides these into two main groups of information: orienting and problem-specific. Orienting information pertains to the new culture and life in a new country; cultural and religious situations; identity, and other more extensive societal contexts. Problem-specific information consists of language, employment, health, legal, education, recreation, transportation, and banking.

Information Sources: The author finds that new immigrants first seek a trusted person or social networks for easy access and to communicate in person. They use the media or the internet when friends are unable to provide answers. Community organizations and job centers also provide information on policies and procedures and access to the wider community.

Information Barriers: The major constraints that prevent immigrants from getting information are limited access, inadequate language proficiency, structural barriers, and cultural differences. These obstacles stem from a wider context of migrant settlement issues.

The aim of Adekanmbi’s study is to investigate the information seeking behavior of recent immigrants and to propose solutions. The research is based on an analysis of existing data in this field. The author’s findings indicate that, for immigrants, access to information directly influences how quickly they settle into UK society.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
Since some immigrants are not used to using libraries in their home countries, outreach and networking with community organizations and possibly other trusted government agencies are essential. Adekanmbi’s findings show that new immigrants are first and foremost looking for someone they can trust to provide the information they need. Hopefully, through successful networking, new immigrants will learn that a library is a place they can trust.
Public libraries in the U.S. and other countries, provide immigrants, particularly asylum seekers, a safe, friendly, and free place to find what they are looking for. Libraries offer free access to the internet and supportive resources, often in an immigrant’s native language, and services that help them not only adapt to their new found home but also guidance and information pertaining to the country they have moved from.

The author lists three steps libraries can take to design services for diverse populations that can apply to any local context: (1) get to know the community you are serving by collecting necessary data, (2) get prepared by tailoring the library’s mission to support multicultural populations, and (3) recognize new opportunities for innovative programs and services the library can provide by communicating respectfully with immigrant populations, assessing what their needs are, and adjusting accordingly.

Adekanmbi, O. F. (2019). Investigating and Proffering Solutions to the Information Seeking Behaviour of Immigrants in the United Kingdom.