Serendipity dimensions and users' information behaviour in the physical library interface

Björneborn, Lennart
December 2008
Information Research;Dec2008, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p38
Academic Journal
Introduction. Outlines an exploratory study concerned with the types of information behaviour users employ to find materials in a public library. Special focus was on what dimensions in the physical library may affect possibilities for serendipity. The overall aim of the study was to develop a conceptual framework including models to describe users' interaction with library spaces. Method. The study took place at two Danish public libraries during 10 months in 2006. Naturalistic observation of users' information behaviour was supplemented with qualitative interviews with 113 users and think-aloud sessions with eleven users. Analysis. Data from observations and interviews were transcribed and analysed in an iterative process of categorization and condensation. Results. Observations and interviews in the study resulted in a model of different ways of finding library materials using and combining different types of convergent (goal-directed) and divergent (explorative) information behaviour. The paper introduces a conceptual framework suggesting that libraries can be viewed as integrative interfaces inviting users with different interest spaces to interact with the diversity of human, physical and digital library resources. Conclusion. The typology of convergent and divergent information behaviour and the identified serendipity dimensions may have implications for how the integrative interface of public libraries could be designed to facilitate both forms of behaviour.


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