People need information for various purposes. To accomplish this, information is organized in way that it can be easily recalled and retrieving the information fulfills a user’s information need. An information need evolves from awareness something is missing. In order to create better systems to facilitate the user interaction, the reasons and methods users employ to seek out their information needs must be understood.
This briefing enables the reader to understand the definition and importance of information seeking behavior, assumptions and factors affecting information seeking behavior, and current models of information seeking behavior.
Users develop information needs that are a gap in the current knowledge of the user. Information needs have also been described as anomalous state of knowledge which must be refined (Belik, Oddy, & Brooks 1982) and an incompleteness in the user’s picture of the world (Taylor 1968, p.181) These needs are the root of the problem for information seeking behavior. The concept of a need is mental process which exists only in the mind of the user.
Information seeking is a fundamental human activity in the pattern of collecting information and satisfying the users’ information needs. Information seeking behavior (ISB) can be defined how a user proceeds in gathering information from the recognizing a lack of knowledge to fulfillment of understanding.
Seeking information is not a straight-forward action. While attempting to find information, users can be described as in the information search process (ISP). How they go about this search process can be called an information seeking strategy.
Purpose and implications
It is necessary to identify and understand the profile of users who operate a system. In reviewing users and information needs, Dervin and Nilan identified a shift in information science from system orientated to user orientated by "...adjusting the services to meet the specific needs of an individual..." (Dervin & Nilan 1986).
The study of information seeking behavior is essential to the development and design of information systems in library science. Research and understanding allow for better service by establishing success and failure rates and allow for improving service.
During investigation into information seeking behavior, researchers usually accept several assumptions about the foundation of the user’s behavior. Though most models and research uses these assumptions, they are not guaranteed to affect all users or apply in every situation.
It can be assumed information seeking is purposeful, cognitive, contextual, value-based, and dynamic. Information seeking is purposeful as the search is meant to solve a problem, complete a task, or answer a question. The information need exists in the mind of the user, relates to their situation, and they make the evaluation as to whether their search was successful.