Tag Archives: information seeking

“The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?”

Article Authored By: Amanda Hencz, Megan Carbiener, Marisol Carrasquillo, Laura Downs, Kayla Jackson

Reviewed by: Amanda Hencz

Link to article: http://www.informationr.net/ir/22-3/paper768.html

Article synopsis and description of how this article represents an international perspective.
The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How do They Experience Information, takes a look into how individuals experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage in Australia experience information. The authors reiterate that having access to information online and knowing how to understand what is available can increase the opportunities afforded them. Phenomenology was used to look at two participants through interviews and results show that there is a link between being socioeconomically disadvantaged and not having the proper skills to navigate the internet effectively, leaving them further disadvantaged. The authors also argue that this information could greatly benefit other organizations that work with this population. This small study was based in Australia, but the overall assertion is that for a person to benefit from online use, then there needs to be a higher level of digital literacy.
Core research question(s).
As homelessness is on the rise, we have to assume there is not a way for them to have open access to obtain information. Therefore we as information professionals would like to find ways to provide access. Our research question is:
How can library professionals assist individuals that are experiencing homelessness obtain information?
By providing the homeless population with access to the internet so they can submit resumes, go on job interviews, take online classes to better their education, or simply to find a shelter near them. We are offering them a better chance to overcome the situation they are in. Not only do we have to offer the devices we have to offer support for use on how to utilize it to their own. Since libraries are closed we could start by going to shelters and giving them access to computers or tablets for a short period of time. While we are there we can ask questions, such as: do you know how you can benefit from internet use? Then we can show them how to email and how to research job listings.
Methods used to answer the research question(s).
In our article, the researchers used the methodological approach of Phenomenology to study the lived experience of this phenomenon – those experiencing homelessness and a lack of online information access. I found that this method worked especially well when studying individual lifestyles because it can be difficult to fully empathize or understand the holistic experience of these individuals without evaluating a broader amount of the lived experience of the socially excluded. Through this phenomenological study, the researchers collected data from these individuals in order to try to piece together their experience. A series of interviews with multiple people allowed the researchers to gain personal insight into the lives of those experiencing homelessness while also experiencing a digital divide. Having access to the internet is much more than Googling or scrolling through social media. Online access allows people to stay connected with the world around them, build their identity, and discover news and information. Without consistent and reliable internet access, these people with housing challenges are unable to fully participate in our modern, digital age. Through this method and study, the researchers found that this group of individuals experiencing homelessness understand the essential yet inadequate amount of information space they have exposure to.
Findings and conclusions.
From their study, the authors present four themes: the endless information journey; uncontrolled information space; inadequate information space; essential information space. The participants likened finding information online to an “endless journey”, with both positive and negative aspects. The convenience and practical information that was available are the positives, while the “uncontrolled information space” is a negative. Concerns about “fake” and inappropriate information were brought up by the participants. The online information space was considered inadequate because of the complexity of information and the negative interaction with organizations online. Despite this, the internet (accessed via smartphones) is an essential information space, as it holds all their personal information, and provides access to anything they need to know. Through this study, the authors found that public libraries may not be connecting with this group of community members, as they did not consider it a trustworthy place, or a place that could help them with their information needs. The authors conclude that access to the internet and the information it holds is not enough to address this digital divide. An understanding of the holistic experience of people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage and how community organizations interact with them will offer deeper insight into how effectively support this group.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
American libraries can use research from countries around the world to help provide a better environment for their particular homeless community. There could be immigrants among their homelessness as well. Being able to communicate among these residents and having them feel included within the library setting is the goal. The research approach in the study was known as phenomenological which “brought a fresh perspective to the socioeconomic disadvantage by focusing on the information experience of those affected”(Smeaton, 2017). Using research provided from global studies could bring about better services designed for the diverse populations within a library’s community because this provides thought provoking ideas that might not have been considered prior.

Kathleen Smeaton, Christine S. Bruce. “The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing
Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?” (202,Sept)Information Research: an International Electronic Journal. Information Science, Information Management, Information Systems, Information Retrieval, Digital Libraries, Information Seeking Behaviour, Information Seeking Behavior, World Wide Web, WWW, University of Borås, www.informationr.net/ir/22-3/paper768.html

Information Behavior of Migrant Hispanic Farm Workers and Their Families in the Pacific Northwest

Reviewed By: Julieta Garcia, Cassandra Swartzwelder, Alexis Harmor, and Ysied Gillette

Link to article: http://www.informationr.net/ir/10-1/paper199.html

Article Synopsis & Core Research Question(s)
Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, and Cunningham’s (2004) article explores the everyday information behavior of migrant Hispanic farm workers and their families in Central Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Despite Yakima Valley’s rich and successful agricultural production, along with its many assets such as high education, hospitals, & museums; it’s also an economically distraught city with high levels of unemployment and poverty. Yakima is a multiracial and multicultural city with three predominant groups, the Native American Yakama Tribe, Hispanics, and Caucasians. These three distinct and very polarized ethnic groups, constantly compete for resources, and most of all at the low end of the socioeconomic scale. The Hispanic population ranges from 4th generation farm migrant workers that speak English and hold some education to new arrival farm workers that possess the little education and are non-English speakers. The authors wanted to understand how this community of mostly Spanish speaking people get their information and how do they do it. The study took place in and around the two Community Technology Centers (CTCs), where members of the community can come and take classes, get information, and find assistance. Both CTCs (12,000 base clients) consist of a room with 25 computers open six days a week for classes and personal use. The study was guided by three core research questions:
1) What role does interpersonal information-seeking play in the lives of migrant Hispanic farm workers and their families?
2) What are the information grounds of these workers and their families?
3) For what types of situations do these farm workers share information using what media?
The authors of this Yakima Valley exploratory study utilized, in their methodology, used both qualitative and quantitative methods during their field observations at both CTC’S and in the surrounding community. Data collection approaches employed during the study included thirty to sixty minute in-depth interviews with CTC users. These interviews were not recorded because of the University of Washington Human Subject presented concerns regarding this at-risk population, which by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Belmont Report Code of Ethics, emphasizes on a systematic assessment of risks and benefits ration when human subject studies take place. Additional at length interviews were administered to staff and administrators. All interviews and questionnaires were provided in the primary language (or language of proficiency) of the subject. Bilingual questionnaires contained verbatim questions as those presented in the user interviews, and a sign-up sheet for participants to indicate their reasons for using the CTC. Data collection and analysis by the authors included the interviews or surveys of fifty-one CTC users and eight CTC staff. Collected demographics for the studied population indicated that most users were between seventeen and thirty years of age, 57% were male, 58% had jobs in agriculture, and household size is between two to eleven people. Throughout the study, to ensure validity and consistency in data analysis, the authors kept field notes (a record of their observations and contexts as well interacted with participants), method notes (description of their techniques for collecting data), and theory notes (documentation of ideas and connections with the study’s theoretical frameworks, and other phenomena) (Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, & Cunningham, 2004).
Findings & Conclusions
The study’s data analysis was consistent with the authors’ expected results. These anticipated results included the participants’ vacillation to participate due to their immigration status. Other findings also demonstrated that participants were hesitant to ask for information at the usual places like libraries or other information centers because of language barriers and lack of trust. Furthermore, the study showed that “immigrant and migrant farm workers may engage in the form of ‘interpersonal source berrypicking’” (Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, & Cunningham, 2004). Unlike most people who only spend a short time on searching for information, immigrants wait for the source to come to them, which can last a lifetime. This study proves that immigrant and migrant workers seek information from trusted interpersonal sources such as family, friends, & other trusted sources in barbershops and hair salons, food banks, co-workers, and church officials. Many of the participants that used the CTCs to find information centered on job finding, income support, ESL, GED, translation help, recreational information, computer help, etc.
The transitory migratory patterns and immigration status of the migrant farm worker population makes it notoriously difficult to study this community. Their collective reluctance to participate in studies, censuses, or any activity that collects their personal data or demographics is usually unwelcome as it could jeopardize their work/status. The authors further found that language is a huge problem for immigrant families, especially when documents and information portals are only written in English. Many families will consult or utilize their children, who have become familiarized with English, to translate and will eventually become their family’s main source of information. The utilization of children as translators and major sources of information drastically change the parent/child dynamic by placing the child in an adult role, often taking care of adult responsibilities such as cashing checks. Immigrants also turn to media for information. Spanish-speaking radio and television stations that serve the migrant community play a significant role in providing immigrants with information. The only Spanish radio station (KDNA 91.9FM) is housed with one of the CTC in the area with 60,000 listeners.
Unanswered Questions & Further Research
The authors recognize the need for future research concerning the differences between information grounds and habits of illegal immigrants versus legal immigrants. Several mitigating factors that influence the difference in information patterns and service disconnects, such as the city library or free health care, reside in the low or general lack of language and literacy skills. Also, as earlier stipulated in the study, the ever-present fear of negative employment opportunities or immigration status outweighs their informational needs and therefore avoidance of places where they might have to provide some documentation. Despite the authors’ steps to ensure reliability and validity to this study, their small drawn sampling group of approximately 50 individuals was very low considering its much larger potential of 12,000 people in relation to their population ratio. This significantly lower representation creates concerns about statistical significance and accurate population representation.
Further research in the Yakima Valley could answer what additional barriers exist between the three main groups, their shared resources, and what can be done to facilitate intercultural relationships. It could be argued that because the CTC is a newer provider in comparison to the NCEC that its users did not trust or felt comfortable to participate in the study. Another factor could be that despite Yakima Valley’s twenty plus physical libraries, their actual conditions and service offering are unknown. The Yakima Valley library’s service further comes into doubt when accounting for the area’s persistent low socioeconomic level and the likelihood of not possessing the resources to staff bilingual individuals, staff or volunteers, or house a CTC. The library’s only official information is the one provided by the library’s website, which is English based and a small Spanish collection. Regardless of the multiple reasons, the current extensive collection of post-secondary educational resources, churches, and cultural institutions could be utilized as a bridge to build trusted interconnected relationships between ethnic boundaries and pool resources for all residents.

Fisher, K. E., Marcoux, E. B., Miller, L. S., Sanchez, A., & Cunningham, E. R. (2004).
Information Behavior of Migrant Hispanic Farm Workers and Their Families in the
Pacific Northwest. iRinformationresearch, 10(1). Retrieved from