Information Seeking and Information Sharing Behaviour in the Climate Change Community of Practice in the Pacific: Implications for Models of Library Services in Scientific and Technical Libraries
Focusing on one ‘community of practice’ – climate change – this research examines the extent to which traditional concepts of library services in scientific and technical libraries (and consequently models of library development) in the Pacific region are aligned to the identified information needs and dominant modes of information seeking and information sharing behaviour of stakeholders. A quantitative survey research methodology was utilized to collect primary data from a census of the identified ‘community of practice’ in order to determine dominant behaviours, perceptions and attitudes amongst respondents towards information seeking and information sharing. The prominence of informal networks for communication and information exchange and the value still ascribed to face-to-face encounters and the development of personal relationships was a dominant theme as was the reliance on internet technologies to acquire and share information. Libraries, at both the regional and national level, were viewed as less useful than alternative pathways for both information seeking and information sharing. A detailed literature review of capacity building initiatives in libraries in the region over the preceding two decades confirms that capacity across the region remains low and the perception and status of libraries within the government sector in the region is poor. Acknowledging the rapid shifts in the information landscape towards electronic access to information and the proliferation of web 2.0 pathways for communication and information, it is argued that if capacity in library and information management in the region is to be strengthened there needs to be a re-evaluation of the role of the library not only in relation to the need for alignment with the goals and objectives of the host organisation but also in light of attitudes towards information and information seeking and information sharing behaviour. Consultations within the climate change community during 2011 have highlighted the clear need to improve access to information and data both nationally and regionally in the Pacific and the value of establishing a region-wide portal mechanism for collating and disseminating climate-related information. Within this context Pacific libraries within the government sector and at the regional level must redefine their role and the services that they offer if they are to be valued and seen as useful and relevant to stakeholders.