Description: This qualitative study uses narrative analysis to explore the outcomes of information seeking and use among public library users. Twelve women between the ages of 51 and 72, all residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas who self-identified as regular library users, were interviewed to gather their life stories and their experiences using the public library. The participants in this study used information to enable learning and, often, a change in their affective state. The participants used the new information they encountered constructively, to engage with the knowledge and experience they possessed; this use of information always involved reflection, dialogue, or both. The outcomes from these actions are the creation of new knowledge, a change in the participants' meaning schemes, and/or an affective change. In addition, the narratives strongly suggest that information seeking and use by adults in public libraries can sometimes facilitate or, on its own, precipitate a perspective transformation and the adoption of new meanings. Overall, the findings support Mezirow's theory of transformative learning as a model for understanding information use and outcomes among users of the public library. The major implications of this study are two-fold. One, it introduces to information science Mezirow's theory of transformative learning which could provide greater understanding of how adults use information, and the outcomes that arise from this use. Two, it provides library professionals with information about the library in the lives of their users and concrete information about how libraries can enable transformative learning.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Kenney, Brian